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This 39 message thread spans 2 pages: 39 ( [1] 2 > >     
As far as I'm concerned, AdSense/Content network is broken
Huge amounts of worthless and fraudulent clicks

 6:56 pm on May 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

Now that Google allows advertisers to block up to 25 sites we decided to turn back on the content network, setup some serious tracking, and see if we could make it profitable.

After all is said and done I've come to the conclusion that for all intents and purposes the AdSense/Content network is completely "broken".

We are seeing huge amounts of worthless/fraudulent clicks from the worst of the worst scaper/autogenerated sites. 100s of them. Blocking the "top 25 worst offenders" barely makes a dent in the profitability (or lack thereof) of advertising on the "content" network.

Now I realize that it could be different in other industries but I highly doubt it. I'm sure these jerks have setup identical scraper/autogenerated pages/sites and clickbots for every possible money keyword that exists.

In my opinion the first step Google needs to take is to immediately allow advertisers to block as many sites as they want. This 25 site limit is a joke. I realize it's a new feature and they might still be testing and/or building up their infrastructure to handle more blocking, but they need to get this out there immediately if you ask me.

If Google does not fix this ASAP we will have no choice but to go direcly to the sites that do perform and work with them directly, cutting Google out of the profit loop.

This is just so blatantly broken I'm amazed that Google has allowed it to go this far. It really sickens me they know exactly what is going on, and have allowed this to happen. This is starting to smell like another FindWhat if you ask me. I could even see a class action lawsuit on the horizon.

For the record we have developed a custom tracking system that allows us to track clicks, conversions, etc. back to the original "content" site where our ad was clicked, and I know with 100% certainty that my figures/analysis is correct.

Anyone else have any comments on this?



 12:35 am on Jun 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

A sad commentary but I'm afraid Google has a long way to go to ensure that it is sufficiently policing its advertising network.

Some fraud is inevitable but as this post attests, it appears to be getting to confidence-breaking levels. That can only be bad. I think Google will come to realize - if it doesn't already - that allowing scraper and other sites by those without basic standards of decency are only encouraging unethical behavior across the board. And that can only be bad for medium- and long-term profits.


 4:25 am on Jun 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

it may not be necessarily Google problems. In my experience contextual ads convert 5 times worse than true searches. You absolutely have to run separate campaigns for true search vs contextual ads. And you should almost never pay more than 5-6 cents per AdSense click visitor.
And track the results.


 4:32 am on Jun 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

In my opinion the first step Google needs to take is to immediately allow advertisers to block as many sites as they want. This 25 site limit is a joke.

No, I think the right way to go would be an opt-in, rather than opt-out, that is "Display my ads on these websites only." Otherwise it'll be a part time job to block new websites that carry your ads


 8:48 am on Jun 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think the obvious answer here is for Google to slow down and approve AdSense publishers with more rigorous standards. A scraper site is easily picked out. They make billions every quarter... time to invest some of that into hiring an army to weed out ridiculous publishers.


 9:06 am on Jun 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

Site targeting is coming....


Until then, i'm not running with the content network because I simply got scared off watching my logs. Click after click would hit the home page, with no follow up CSS or image requests. I don't care if there might be a positive ROI; I refuse to pay for any clicks that are so blatently automated.


 12:21 pm on Jun 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

I just reread the info on that link and it seems clearer than before. I'm still wondering if smart pricing gets thrown out the window for targeted sites. Also, will a second ad unit on a publisher's page be counted as additional impressions? Will the impressions from second ad blocks somehow be discounted (for example counting as .5 impressions versus full impressions)for advertiser billing purposes.


 1:38 pm on Jun 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

I don't think simply going to an opt-in versus an opt-out model is the right answer.

My logs reveal hundreds of sites I would have never known about that convert great and we want to advertise on those. If it was an opt-in model, how would you identify all the sites you want to advertise on?

It's no big thing to fully automate the process. We could easily extend our tracking system to automatically block any domain with less than X conversion ratio.


 1:50 pm on Jun 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

No, I think the right way to go would be an opt-in, rather than opt-out, that is "Display my ads on these websites only

That would be a major step in the right direction (speaking from a publisher point of view).

we will have no choice but to go direcly to the sites that do perform and work with them directly

It's happening now. I'm taking several calls and numerous emails a week from AdWords advertisers who have opted out of content sites and want to go direct.

Bring it on, it's far more profitable. For both sides.



 2:00 pm on Jun 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

It may be a little more profitable from an advertiser standpoint, but you lose the scale. We would much rather see a 200% ROI with 20 times the volume versus a 250% ROI with much lower volume. As an advertiser it would be a real PITA to manage 100s of different additional ad campaigns at 100s of different sites. Most just wouldn't do it. It would be better for everyone if Google just fixed their *$*@&!% program.

Hey Google! I'm always reading about how you have all this cash and don't know what to do with it. Why not hire some people to review the sites your ads are run on?!

... hmm ... maybe this is HOW they ended up having so much cash they don't know what to do with it - by scamming us advertisers. This really is starting to stink.


 2:21 pm on Jun 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

Until (G) disallows scraper sites, the problem will not go away. We are now losing 2gig a month in bandwidth from not only content theft, but from direct links to software we have due to scraper sites. In all cases, the scraper sites are in poorer countries, where $100 a month is a living. These people ARE in violation of adsense TOS by creating sites just to display adsense ads. They are also costing legitimate original content publishers by direct theft. I pay for the bandwidth with 0 return from scraper sites.

Both Adsense and Adword customers are all very annoyed about scraper sites. Now, (G) must be doing something right obviously, but common sense tells me that if you tick off your advertisers and legitimate original content publishers, at some point, that bites you in the behind.

(G) has the ways and means to stop it, they just refuse to do it. Just my opinion


 8:33 pm on Jun 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

To GG or AWA - are your people aware of all of this? Is anything being done to address this problem?


 11:35 pm on Jun 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

Adsense scraper sites and Adwords advertisers just looking for ROI from affiliate sites are the ones ruining the program.

[edited by: spaceylacie at 11:39 pm (utc) on June 1, 2005]


 11:38 pm on Jun 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'm not exactly sure what you mean but there's no way in heck you can blame any of this on AdWords advertisers. I wouldn't even try to blame the scraper sites, clickbot owners and other button pushers - because they are just taking advantage of a broken system. Sure what they are doing is at the very least "morally wrong", but if you ask me 100% of the blame should be placed on Google. It's their program, they have allowed it to happen, and don't seem to be doing much about it.


 11:45 pm on Jun 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

Yes, Google is the one that has to fix the problem.

But, what are they going to do when Adwords advertisers want to just promote scraped content(affiliates only) and Adsense publishers maintaining scraper sites want to promote these sites? Let them have each other.

Let us serious publishers, and serious Adwords advertisers meet.


 2:22 am on Jun 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

GG stopped by the Bourbon Update thread Part 3, early today. He sounded pretty concerned, but told everybody to take a rest from watching the PR and the SERPs.

He hasn't been heard from since. I think he's a brave soul to venture into a discussion at this point.


 2:28 am on Jun 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'm going to New Orleans, gonna ask a question if I can.


 6:45 am on Jun 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hey, limitup, tell me what your average bid is. Because if you pay over 25 cents - it's not Google's fault but rather yours and I can show you how you can easily fix it.


 6:49 am on Jun 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Because if you pay over 25 cents - it's not Google's fault but rather yours and I can show you how you can easily fix it.

Why not share for anyone who is bidding over 25 cents? Or is the fix to reduce the bid below 25 cents? :)


 12:04 pm on Jun 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Yes, there is. The 25 cent figure comes from my own experience, because for me (discounted software) true search converts 5 times better than AdSense.
The trick is simple. If you bid 25 cents for a keyword for true search, you'll probably do just as good bidding 5 cents ... as long as you don't bid on the same keyword.
This is how it works. Let's take "Kitchen Appliences".
Top three bids are in the 30-60 cents range. So if you want to run a successful and profitable campaign, you have to advertise on sites that are of interest to people who buy kitchen appliences, yet you don't want to compete for the same keywords with other advertisers ("kitchen appliences" is way too expensive). Well, recipe websites are a perfect match. Makes sense, doesn't it? Ok, which keywords should you bid on? How about "2 cups all-purpose flour". How many people search for "2 cups all-purpose flour"? 0.
How bids are there for "2 cups all-purpose flour"? 0.
How many websites Google indexes that have "2 cups all-purpose flour"? 124000. According to Google.Co.Uk
at least. Check out the first 10 listings - two websites carry AdSense (one has PSA banners for some reason). Basically, that's the trick. Serious marketers know about it. For instance, if you enter "carrot cake", you'll see that people bid on the term.

Essentially, if you are in business of celling kitchen appliances, there are thousands of keywords and abbreviations you can bid on and 5 five cents that will drive decent traffic. And this approach works for everybody. Say, you bid on "widget" 25 cents. Well, see what sited display your ad for this keyword and analyze that web page for other keywords that you may bid on. In my business I go to www.download.com and pick up names of software and bid on unpopular names


 12:05 pm on Jun 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Oh, yeah, this is strictly AdSense only approach. Forgot to mention that.


 2:55 pm on Jun 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

David, you are correct of course. I have both an adsense and adwords account.

From an adsense publisher point of view, I have reduced the number of ads on my site by about 45% because of what you mentioned. I estimate that this weeds out about 58% of these minimum bid ads. I look at the ads, and if I see ads like ebay or other ads that are not appropriate, and some times ebay ads are on top of the advertisers I am looking for, I reduce the number of ads. This forces a bidding war, which means that adword advertisers must put more ‘people power’, (formally know as man power), into monitoring the ads. And not all advertisers have onsite programmers to automate this. So the few cents that they save on ads, is nullified by labor costs to monitor and consistently change their bids. Consistently changing bids I feel makes it much harder, over say a quarter, to know what one's returns are because they fluctuate so much.


 5:13 pm on Jun 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

To GG or AWA - are your people aware of all of this? Is anything being done to address this problem?

limitup, our people are very much aware of the strong opinions expressed on this and other threads. I've already discussed this thread with several colleagues, and included a link to this entire thread in this week's Advertiser Feedback report, as just one example.

I can also assure you that we're in this advertising thing for the long term - which means keeping several very important groups happy over time. Specifically, it is absolutely key that advertisers, publishers, and users alike continue to trust and value what we provide. So, yes, we are always working to both grow the system, and to improve quality for everyone concerned.

Know that feedback on this topic has been heard, and will continue to be heard.



 5:25 pm on Jun 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the reply. What's very confusing to me is the fact that Google knows about this huge problem, but so far has done nothing meaningful to solve it. Can you shed some light on why this is? You say in your AdSense TOS that you don't allow sites specifically made to show AdSense ads, and yet I would guess at least a full 50% of the sites showing your ads are just that. Why do you allow this? These sites generate low or no ROI for advertisers, and you know this. As far as keeping several groups of people happy, just remember - without advertisers Google is NOTHING.


 6:04 pm on Jun 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the reply. What's very confusing to me is the fact that Google knows about this huge problem, but so far has done nothing meaningful to solve it. Can you shed some light on why this is? ...

limitup, while I understand the importance to you of your question (and their answers of course), I'm not really able to speak to them - for two reasons.

Firstly, I'm not a part of the AdSense team, and don't have an insider's view of what is being done in the area of your concern.

And perhaps more importantly, as someone who posts on this very public Forum as a Google representative, I'm not in a position to comment on questions that revolve around Google's business practices, or future plans. GoogleGuy and I tried to make this clear, in advance, when he introduced me to WebmasterWorld, long, long ago - and I've taken the opportunity to repeat it several times since then.

With that said, please know that I am passionately interested in the quality of both the AdWords and AdSense programs, and give you my word that I will forward your comments to the right teams.



 6:09 pm on Jun 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

I am an Adsense publisher first and a minor Adwords player. But I think in terms of its medium- and long-term health, Google should listen to the constituents in this order to resolve this matter:

1) Users - without them, there would be no other constituents on this list

2) Adwords advertisers - without them, there wouldn't be money

And that is my ENTIRE list.

I considered putting Adsense publishers such as myself a distant third. But let's face it, the guys in 1) and 2) will look out for the interests of Adsense publishers who are producing something of value to the people in 1) and 2).


 7:19 pm on Jun 2, 2005 (gmt 0)


I have to respectfully disagree with some of the things you say.

Without quality content adsense sites, then adwords is just another web advertising program that has been around since ads were 1st sold on the internet. The entire concept of Adsense and Adwords allowed (G) to go public. All of their revenue comes from advertising. The program is so successful that there are now a number of ‘copy-cats’.

There are only a limited number of ads that can be placed on the 1st search result page. When I look at the (Y) SERP’s, I have to really look hard to find the non-ad results. (G) pages are not like that, they are clean and crisp, but at the price of only 10 ads, (or what ever it is per page). If you are in a niche with big companies and BIG advertising budgets, then the littler advertisers get put on page 2, where at best, 50% of the searchers find your ads. An Adsense site allows them to be seen where otherwise they would have a 50/50 chance. Not really good for advertising.

The adsense sites are an important part of the (G) business plan. Otherwise, it would just be ads on a page like (Y) use to be before the rumors of them also doing content advertising.

All of this boils down to the Pareto Principal. The 80/20 rule of Vilfredo Pareto. When I reduced my ads in April, my May payout went up by 10% even though I reduced the ads, at that time, by 33%. This is because 80% of my payout from adsense is due to 20% of the advertisers. I just got rid of the advertiser that didn’t want to pay anything.

The more adword advertisers that opt-out of content advertising, apperently because of scraper sites, the more ‘real’ adsense publishers will reduce their ads. If it continues, at some point, there will be no ‘real’ content advertising, and all you have is (G) being just another sponsored site with ‘real’ ads only showing in their results.

But, that’s just my opinion.


 7:33 pm on Jun 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

I don't have any data on this obviously but I would guess that the ads on G's SERPs represent the lion's share of their profits. They are going to HAVE to allow advertisers to block more than 25 sites in order to get advertisers really interested in advertising on content sites, and once most of the "worthless" and "bogus" clicks from these garbage content sites are eliminated, G's revenue from content ads will go down even more. I would guess that over 50% of G's revenue from content ads are from worthless sites that should not be showing their ads, or even worse, clickbots that generated bogus clicks. One way or another, that WILL stop going forward. It's up to Google how they want it to happen, based on their actions or inactions.


 7:56 pm on Jun 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

>>They are going to HAVE to allow advertisers to block more than 25 sites in order to get advertisers really interested in advertising on content sites

That’s just a band-aid. The scrapers will just purchase another domain name, and set up shop again. In my research, these are people’s means to eat, and they will spend a little more to just set it up again. The ONLY way to stop it is for (G) to enforce their own TOS for adsense publishers. Once the sites have been banned and they cannot get another adsense account, then and only then will the problem stop, as I see it anyway.


 8:04 pm on Jun 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

I agree 100%. Although we would be fine with just being able to block as many sites as we want - because we have custom tracking systems in place that could easily be upgraded to automatically block any site based on conversion rates (ideally via G's API, otherwise we could import a list every few days no big deal). I know a lot of advertisers don't have the resources to be able to do this though.

This 39 message thread spans 2 pages: 39 ( [1] 2 > >
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