Last Sunday, I reported an issue which I observed with Tech Stuffer. It was a redirect issue where users to Tech Stuffer were being redirected to an unknown website – asnews.com.sg. After investigating deeper, I came to a conclusion that the issue was with an AdSense ad unit. Upon loading, the ad unit(s) will redirect users to asnews.com.sg immediately. I made a post on Google’s AdSense support forum. After my report, I found other users are facing the same issue making it clear there is noting wrong with techstuffer.com, my devices or my network. Now the issue of asnews.com.sg redirect seems to be spreading even further with more users complaining of redirects.
Just after I finished publishing my previous article on asnews.com.sg redirect issue, a few other users reported the same problem. A user made a post on AdSense product forum complaining about the same issue. In comments to my previous article, a few user said there were facing the similar issue. Upon doing a quick search over the Internet just a few minutes ago, I came to know the issue is spreading its wings and there seems to be no response from Google so far.
A user in /r/techsupport sub Reddit on Reddit complained about an issue of asnews.com.sg redirect. According to the user, the redirection took place when visiting YouTube as well. Another user has reported the issue on Malwarebytes forum with no convincing response. A similar entry was made on Avast forum as well where the response to the issue seemed cold. A user on a forum called Thai Visa Forum made a post to report the same issue.
As mentioned in my previous article as well, the Singapore Hardware Zone forum also had a user with asnews.com.sg redirect complaint. According to the user’s post, the redirect happened when visiting YouTube. On HubPages, a user claimed the same issue occurred on multiple computers while visiting HubPages. An entry made on an Australian property related forum – Property Chat draws attention towards the same issue. Simon Hampel, the founder of Property Chat acknowledged the issue and blocked a few ad networks to be on safer side.
The reason why AdSense ad network is at the fault here.
A similar issue was reported back in January 2015 where users reported redirects to a number of URLs with lemode-mgz.com being the most common destination. The entry posted in AdSense product forum on 4th January 2015 saw no response until Google AdSense team acknowledged the existence of the issue on 16th January 2015. It took Google more than two weeks to accept it publicly that a few ad networks were playing nasty, resulting in redirects.
I have strong reasons to believe asnews.com.sg redirect issue is similar to the issue reported in January 2015. I have investigated the redirect with multiple setup and scenario. For example, redirects does not take place on my mobile devices. If ad blocker is enabled in a browser, or if AdSense is disabled on Tech Stuffer, the redirect does not occur. A device scanned for malware returned no positive results either.
I used Google Publisher Toolbar to examine ad units on techstuffer.com and found that the ad network serving the affected ad is Adform. A screenshot from my report can be seen below with Adform as buyer of the ad and asnews.com.sg as the destination URL.
After blocking Adform from AdSense settings, the issue is no longer active on Tech Stuffer. The reports made by other users and my investigation on this issue makes it clear that AdSense ad unit(s) is the only culprit here. I don’t think this is a DNS hijack or malware related issue. The issue is being reported from multiple locations including Australia, Singapore, India and Thailand.
Now almost a week has passed since my report on AdSense forum as well as reporting the infected ad unit using Publisher Toolbar, I have not received any response so far. I don’t know Whether this is an intentional or unintentional issue, and I am not sure if Google AdSense has taken note of this widespread issue. For a publisher like me, advertisements are only working way of income. Majority of Google’s profit is generated from advertisements it self. Google playing deaf and dumb towards such issue makes me go sad. When a user redirects from a website to a third-party site, it is a loss of readership. This is same as a potential customer coming to your shop but moving to another neighbouring shop.
There is nothing against Google here. But being the biggest ad serving network, it must take this issue into consideration especially when an infected ad unit is under question. If this is not an AdSense issue, disabling the infected ad network, removing AdSense code or turning on an ad blocker will not make the problem go away. I hope Google responds to this issue and it will be taken care of at the earliest.
If you are a publisher or a visitor of a website and facing the similar issue, I request you to send me your input.