Recently when I’ve searched on Google, I’ve noticed increasing numbers of ads that end with “aff.”

For example:

RAM Memory Upgrades
100% Compatible Memory for Desktops
Laptops & Printers. Free Ship! Aff

Gerbil for sale. aff.
Check out the deals now!

Disturbing Ghost Footage
warning: very freaky -aff.

All real examples, and the last was the result of searching for “Korean”, believe it or not.

Anyway, at first I thought “aff.” was some kind of neologistic abbreviation for “affordable”, but now I’m starting to have my doubts. It shows up in places where it just makes no sense.

So, what have I missed? What is “aff”? Is it the new “bling bling” or something?

Gareth Rees provides me with the answer: “aff” is a Google abbreviation for “affiliate”. It means that the person placing the ad doesn’t actually own the site they’re advertising; instead, they get paid by the site owner to drive traffic there. Google feels that it’s necessary to disclose this fact.

In other words, clicking “aff” ads is rewarding the same kinds of people who build all those incredibly irritating spam pages that look like useful information to search engines, but consist of nothing but keywords and links to other sites they want to promote.

So, that’s the last time I click on anything with “aff” in it…