Ok, so, I have been doing a little redesigning on Sugarrae as you all have probably noticed and I added the user photo plugin. The plugin will show pictures for commenters and authors – and since I have a lot of guest posts, I went to grab some photos of my guest posters from Twitter so all the posts would show author photos.

But, the “green brigade” has invaded Twitter (which means everyone tinted their photos green today) and I went to view the Google cache of Reese’s twitter page, hoping to find the non green picture of her to use for her profile picture here on Sugarrae. And I was beyond confused at what I saw (click images to see large versions):

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Yep. It is what it looks like. When you view the Google cache of many individual status messages, the Twitter users picture and name are laid right on top of a Google AdSense ad. [sarcasm] Wow, the advertisers must be loving the quality of that traffic! [/sarcasm]

So I click back and check the actual page thinking, “maybe Twitter is trying to monetize!” but nope. No ad on the actual page.

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Only on the cache. And again, not clearly displayed, but only under the photo/name of the person. I check a few more and find the same thing.

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I checked to see if it was a Firefox bug, but nope, it is happening in IE too. You know, it is already against the Google guidelines in my interpretation to be feeding Google millions of one line status messages:

Use robots.txt to prevent crawling of search results pages or other auto-generated pages that don’t add much value for users coming from search engines.

But being a bigger company, they seem to get away with it. But I wonder how Google will feel about them doing what looks like them not only cloaking (which is against their organic search guidelines, at least for this purpose!), but cloaking to serve Adsense ads on a cache with something laid on top of it.

Maybe this is a glitch of some kind? I don’t know what kind of “glitch” could cause this though – any ideas? And if it turns out Twitter was indeed cloaking Adsense ads, do you think Google will actually punish a big brand instead of slapping them on the wrist per usual?

Edited to add:

As has been discussed in the thread at Sphinn on this post, the ads appear to not be clickable due to the photo/username laying on top of them. But, as I commented in the Sphinn post:

Even if it isn’t clickable to the point of costing advertisers money, it adds to their impressions and drops their click through rates – which affects their bid prices.

Edited to add again:

I finally found a clickable one thanks to a suggestion by bunltd to look for shorter user names. A cache of a status of streko is finally clickable all the way to the right side of the ad title since streko’s username is short and the ad I was shown at the time had a long title. I wonder how this company (where the ad took me) feels about the quality of my click. Since the ad I got was for “Liposuction in New Jersey” I am guessing it cost a pretty penny.

Edited to add a third time:

Thanks to xDFuNK, we now know that Twitter has AdSense code on the page if you’re not logged into Twitter – which Googlebot wouldn’t be. Not just in the cache. But, the AdSense only shows visibly in the cache. If you view the page regularly while logged out, the Adsense ads are hidden. Googlebot can actually SEE the ads, but humans can’t, except for in the cache. Why only actually show the Adsense to Googlebot? Does anyone know if the code being on the page counts towards advertiser impressions and click thru rates even if only visible on the cache?