Following MediaGuido’s exclusive story this morning, the Guardian have admitted to using the services of the company which paid people to read their website. In a statement they claim they did not realise the service involved traffic whoring and have promised to stop:
“The Guardian is currently in a testing phase with a company called Vertical Searchworks who offer promotion of video content through a large network of US-based sites. We were not aware of our content being promoted through online reward sites, such as Swagbucks, as part of this testing phase. We would never knowingly promote our content through these sites. We are asking for this to be taken down with immediate effect.”
The real question lies with the advertisers who paid out on a performance basis. Will the Guardian be reimbursing those advertisers who were deceived into thinking their adverts were being watched by genuine readers?
SwagBucks is a Los Angeles-based “online rewards” website, which allows its 4 million users to make money by earning virtual currency for watching videos, completing surveys or clicking links, then exchanging it for cash. It is a ruse used by other websites to boost their traffic; they offer ‘SwagBucks’ for users who click on their links, boosting performance related advertising revenue. One website that appears on SwagBucks is theGuardian.com. As you can see below, users are being offered the chance to “earn an easy 1 SwagBuck when you watch 2 videos or read articles”
on the Guardian website.
Click on the offer and you told you will have “1 SwagBuck awarded when you watch 2 videos or read articles from our trusted partners”. The links from the “trusted partner” go to videos on the Guardian website.
Digital revenue for the Guardian was reported to be up 28.9% to £55.9 million last year. Guido wonders what the Guardian’s advertisers, who pay up depending on how many impressions its website receives, think about its traffic being inflated by users being paid to read its content…
*NB Nobody we contacted from the Guardian admitted having any knowledge of Swagbucks.
It is worth savouring Chris Huhne’s lecture to the Tories in the Guardian this morning. “Whatever happened to loyalty?” he hectors, with a straight face telling us how the LibDems are saintly but the Tories are experts in betrayal. He would know, having betrayed his own wife, his children, his party and knifed rival after rival down the years. Huhne’s column is becoming increasingly unhinged…
A D-Notice yesterday went out warning editors against naming spooks:
LEGAL NOTICE: DEFENCE ADVISORY NOTICE: IDENTITIES OF PERSONS CONNECTED
WITH THE SECURITY SERVICES – NOT FOR PUBLICATION
Please see below DEFENCE ADVISORY NOTICE
Editorial Legal Services
DEFENCE ADVISORY NOTICE
Private and Confidential: Not for publication, broadcast or use on social
To all Editors,
There have been a number of cases over the last 2 days where editors have
attempted to establish a link between a person’s identity and his
membership of the security services. Any such linkage is likely to cause
a significant increase in the threat to a person’s life and to that of his
family, major disruption to current security operations and a significant
cost in attempting to relocate households.
May I take this opportunity to remind editors that DA Notice 05 advises,
inter alia, that the following should not be published:
‘….. (b) the identities, whereabouts and tasks of people who are or
have been employed by these services or engaged on such work, including
details of their families and home addresses, and any other information,
including photographs, which could assist terrorist or other hostile
organizations to identify a target…..’
No responsible editor would want to name serving spies active in the field surely? It’s not like the authorities are looking for an excuse to go round smashing up journalists’ laptops. Oh…
…reports the Guardian this morning. Today, under cross examination, Dan Evans has confessed Coulson never actually used that word:
C.P. Scott would be turning in his grave…
In 2011 this blog ran a Guy News investigation into the Guardian’s offshore tax dodge in the Caymans. We followed it up in 2012 and Guido personally asked Alan Rusbridger and GMG plc’s CEO to explain the continuing holding of assets offshore. No reply was forthcoming. In 2012 we checked to see if GMG was still using GMG Hazel Acquisition 1 Limited, the controversial tax-exempt corporation which it set-up in 2007.
Subsequently in 2008 The Guardian claimed GMG Hazel Acquisition 1 Limited, a GMG-owned company, would be transferred into their investment partner Apax’s offshore structures, normally when this happens there is a name change. The name is unchanged to this day, strongly suggesting the ownership was unchanged. At the very least Apax/Guardian will have saved themselves $5 the million in stamp duty which would otherwise be due to HMRC by doing the transaction offshore:
No pronouncement from Polly Toynbee as yet. Guido is consulting beancounters on further tax implications of the deal…
Further reading on the Guardian‘s tax hypocrisy: