A new word that I learned today: Scad

Scad (noun). A sponsored search result that is purposely designed to deceive search engine users. It has nothing to do with Stamp Collectors Against Dodgy Sellers, but it is a portmanteau of the words ‘scam’ and ‘ads’.

The word is invented by the Alliance Against Bait & Click, which is comprised of “a diverse group of leading experts, organizations, and companies working together to stop bait & click and make deceptive sponsored search results a thing of the past”. Among these experts, organizations and companies are: 1800 Contacts, Rosetta Stone (not just famous for her language learning software, but also for the Adwords case they lost against Google), and Professor Eric Clemons (“Google’s business model is misdirection“) of the Wharton Business School, and Professor Ben Edelman of the Harvard Business School.

What, in my opinion, stands out is that the Alliance fights scads in the name of consumer protection, while it’s mainly big companies, of which some have battled Adwords before, that participate in the Alliance. The National Consumers League seems to be a stranger in their midst.

To understand something, it can be helpful to understand what something is not. In the videos on the Alliance’s website, there are some examples of scads. All the ads that I saw had a trademarked term in either the title, text or URL of the advertisement. I wonder what the Alliance thinks of advertisements that are triggered by a trademarked keyword, but that don’t contain the trademark in the advertisement’s visible elements.  Are these deceiving too?

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