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Issues with Google Search Network partners
search network
vikingpwr

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7836 posted 6:33 pm on Mar 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

The company I work for has a KW list of over 100,000 listings. The classic Head / Tail scenario where majority of imps/clicks come for small percent of listing. Like everyone else out there our goal is to optimize ROI on our ad spend with Google Adwords. Again like everyone else we do this by lots of testing to determine the optimal settings.

I am looking for feedback from others regarding these some issues I have recently noticed with Google Search Network partners:

1. We receive 90% less impressions when we turn the search network setting off.
2. The CTR is 50% worse when we turn the search network setting on.
3. Our backend Conversion Rate is 80% worse when we turn the searcg network setting on = poorer quality traffic.
4. For some reasons our tracking system is rarely able to record the referring URL of the search network partner. The one's we do get on occassion are Mapquest, Ask, and MySearch domains. But majority of the time we get no referring URL. This is troublesome since we have no visibility into where our listings are being shown - even though our Avg. CPC is upwards of $17 per click.
5. In cases where we have recorded the click referring URL we noticed that our ad is not part of a search listing result but rather a "sponsored ad" that may have nothing to do with that the content on the page (i.e. directions from a street). This is extremely troublesome, since Google either is not or does not know how to police what ads their search network partners are showing. The potential for fraudulent clicks is huge not to mention the quality of the click is much worse too.
6. I have no evidence that this may be the case - but it looks like search network partners know which listing have the highest CPC and in turn display these to users - irrespective of what search result/content is on their site.

Questions:
1. Does Google penalize you for not using the search network partners. I would have thought that 90% of imps would come from Google's site vs. search network partners. With hours of turning off the search network partner setting our imps count for certains campaigns went from 10,000 an hour to 100 hour.
2. Have any of you had similar observations about the quality or lack their of with Google's search network partners. Clearly the value of a click is worth much more on Google's site vs. a partner, however, the cost you pay is the same.

Moderators - please do not remove this post. I am not trying to bash Google - I am just looking for help. Thx

 

poster_boy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7836 posted 7:04 pm on Mar 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

Have any of you had similar observations about the quality or lack their of with Google's search network partners.

The performance of search syndication partners vary dramatically. I've found that many larger syndication partners (with recognizable names) have a higher conversion than Google.com, the vast majority (of all sizes) have similar conversion, while several larger syndication partners (with unrecognizable names) have dreadful conversion. (i.e. 0%)

Our backend Conversion Rate is 80% worse when we turn the search network setting on...

My guess is that this is due to the latter group.

venrooy

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7836 posted 7:10 pm on Mar 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm having the same problems with the search network partners - but thankfully I'm able to capture the url of those sending lowsy traffic. There are a couple on the search network that send me tons of traffic with absolutely no conversions. However after contacting google about the worst offenders they have told me that there is no way to seperate these from the search network - which is a real shame because there are some on the search network that send high quality traffic.

What I've been able to do is track and log the countries of those being sent to me by the worst offenders, and have found that over 90% come from a specific few countries that provide me 0 or close to 0 conversions. So by excluding these countries from my campaigns, I've been able to reduce the crappy traffic coming from these search partners by 90% while keeping the traffic from the higher quality search partners.

I hope that explanation made sense.

vikingpwr

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7836 posted 7:12 pm on Mar 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

Poster_Boy

Do you have the same issue with not being able to record the click referring_url? I understand Google wanting to keep some anonominity abouth who their search network partners are - but there has to be some accountability.

venrooy

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7836 posted 7:17 pm on Mar 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

There might be a few that I can't capture - but the worst offender I've been able to capture - and was able to eliminate most of their bad traffic by comparing the over all conversion rates of the countries being sent to me by them.

vikingpwr

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7836 posted 7:30 pm on Mar 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

I already have these campaigns IP targerted.

My theory is that many of Google's search network partners are displaying the high CPC terms that I am bidding and at the same time blocking the referring url, so people like me can not directly see that they showing my ad lisitng when they are not supposed to.

toddb

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7836 posted 8:24 pm on Mar 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

I posted a similar thread recently. We have in the past recieved very high quality from the search network. We recently noticed that it has gotten terrible for us. We have shut it off for some campaigns. That helped ROI.

vikingpwr

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7836 posted 8:41 pm on Mar 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

My main concern is that the search network partners are showing our ads when they shouldn't. This is akin to stealing money from us. Google doesn't seem to care since they need more revenue or their stock will get hammered even more. The workers at Google are probably sitting on stock options and want them to be worth something, so they in turn are also turning a blind eye to what is happening.

If I am paying Google to only show my ad when someone types in a designated search term - and instead this is not always the case, then Google should be liable.

poster_boy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7836 posted 9:39 pm on Mar 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

Do you have the same issue with not being able to record the click referring_url?

No, I am able to track referrs on 80%+ of traffic. My offender list includes about 10 sites that represent over 10k+ non-converting clicks per month.

My main concern is that the search network partners are showing our ads when they shouldn't... I am paying Google to only show my ad when someone types in a designated search term...

This is a different issue and one that Google, in my experience, has shown an openness to rectify. In some situations, it's the publisher taking liberties outside of Google's knowledge.

vikingpwr

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7836 posted 9:49 pm on Mar 29, 2006 (gmt 0)


Do you have the same issue with not being able to record the click referring_url?

No, I am able to track referrs on 80%+ of traffic. My offender list includes about 10 sites that represent over 10k+ non-converting clicks per month.

I suspect that the terms you are bidding on are not being picked up by the same search partners that are showing my listing. Other than a user browser setting the only reason for us to be getting the referring URL is due to the site taking actions to prevent it from being passed.

My main concern is that the search network partners are showing our ads when they shouldn't... I am paying Google to only show my ad when someone types in a designated search term...

This is a different issue and one that Google, in my experience, has shown an openness to rectify.

Well, the fact that it is still happening shows that their openess is only on a case by case basis.

toddb

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7836 posted 11:10 pm on Mar 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

I do not understand. If you cannot see the referring URL, how do you know they are showing your ad when they shouldn't?

vikingpwr

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7836 posted 11:49 pm on Mar 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

In the cases I am able to record the referring URL I can physically see where the click came from. MapQuest seems to be the biggest offender - they show our ads regardless of what the user types into the search box.

In cases where we are unable to record a URL which is about 60% of the time these inbound clicks land on our site and immediately leave 100% of the time. I am able track dwell time and number of page requests (by page) for these inbound clicks. And 100% of the time they just leave with out responding to any of our call to actions.

When the click comes from google.com our response rates are 90%. When the click comes from a non google.com domain and we record the URL the response rates are < 5%. When the click comes from a URL that we are unable to record the response rates are 0%.

I think it is more than a coincedence that no URL = no conversions. It is like our listing is purposely being shown regardless of the search term and the user is incented to click on the listing.

So, given these data points it is clear to me to turn off the search network, however, by doing this my imp volume drops 90%! which seems absurb. I tought that the majority of my traffic would be coming from the goole.com domain - but instead the opposite is true. Maybe this is why Google's stock is going south.

venrooy

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7836 posted 5:13 am on Mar 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

Please keep us informed on how it goes without the search network. It should be interesting.

vikingpwr

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7836 posted 7:00 pm on Mar 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

I contacted my Google rep today and they would neither confirm nor deny that my ad lisitings were being shown even though a user never input a keyword that I was bidding on.

The rep did escalate the issue up the ladder. Within 10 minutes I noticed that Google generated 20 test clicks on my keywords. So, I am encouraged that they are taking this seriously.

venrooy

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7836 posted 2:48 am on Mar 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

Wow... I can't believe it. My rep contacted me and told me that she talked to a Tech. And they were able to block the worst offender on my list. Things are starting to look up. I don't know how they did it, but I'm not going to complain!

vikingpwr

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7836 posted 5:13 pm on Apr 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

Just got an upodate on this issue:

ADWORD BUYER BEWARE!

Looks like Google uses different keyword matching rules for its search network partners.

Let's say you are bidding on the term:

Chicago Dental Implants

and have it set to broad match. In Google's site the user would have to include the 3 terms above in their search in order for your listing to appear.

However, for search network partners the user would just have to include any of the terms above in order for your listing to appear.

Now this is total BS. No wonder 90% of our click cost was coming from these search partners and not converting at all. Our listings were being shown on MapQuest just because a user typed in a city name.

Here is basically what we were told:

"... With the broad match matching option, using our expanded keyword matching technology, the Google AdWords system automatically runs your ads on highly relevant keywords, including synonyms, related phrases, and plurals, even if they aren't in your keyword lists. The expanded matches will change over time as we learn more about which new keywords best suit the true meaning of your ads."

Let me rephrase:

"... Mr. customer Google is a public company and has an inflated stock price. In order for us to maintain our current valuation we need to continue to find ways to make more money. Since 99% of our revenue comes from AdWords we need to make sure that we get as many clicks as possible. To this end we will now be showing your listings whenever we want if we think we can make money. To make this appear legitimate we have given this new undocumented feature a name - "Expanded Broadmatch". Because we all know that a broad match is simply not broad enough."

AdWordsAdvisor

WebmasterWorld Senior Member adwordsadvisor us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7836 posted 5:32 pm on Apr 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

...To make this appear legitimate we have given this new undocumented feature a name...

Vikingpwr, this is the way that AdWords has worked since October 2003 - and you'll find documentation in the AdWords Help Center - for example:

What is the expanded matching feature?
[adwords.google.com...]

What are keyword matching options?
[adwords.google.com...]

On these pages you will also find the information you need to not have your keywords expanded. In a nutshell, you'll want to use phrase or exact match.

AWA

toddb

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7836 posted 8:16 pm on Apr 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

AWA is right. We got goofed on this wonderous tool a long time ago. October of 2004 is when they really opened the flood gates on this though. And you can see on the number of ads when they increase or decrease the broad match settings.

TrustNo1

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7836 posted 10:36 pm on Apr 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

I want to know why parked domain services are part of the search network?

[threadwatch.org...]

vikingpwr

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7836 posted 11:45 pm on Apr 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

AWA -

Providing information links are helpful but your response is both patronizing and only further highlights the issue at hand.

I would agree that a consumer (i.e. me) should be very well informed before making a pucrchase decision, but there is also an expectation that the seller (i.e. Google) is making a conscious effort to overtly disclose any known features about their product which can have an adverse effect on the consumer.

At the very least there should be a disclaimer about broad match.

"Mr. AdWord buyer before selecting broadmatch please realize that the user may not necessarily have to type in all of your keywords in order for your listin to appear. We believe that expanding your broad match will provide you better reach while at the same time not hinder your targeting. Please click here for more information about Expanded Broad Match. If you would not like to see this notice anymore just click here."

My concern is that Google has a history of tinkering with its products which when done can have a huge impact on the AdWord consumer. The fact that your expanded broad match can be more widely expanded without notice is total BS. It cost me over $50K before I had a chance to properly react.

Why not provide the functionality to opt-out of an expanded broad match? or allow the the user to specify which terms can or can not be expanded on? This seems like common sense.

Come on Salar - I know you still read these posts. You already have your $18M pad in Atherton and needn't have to worry about $$$ anymore. Just tell Sheryl to get off your back about revenue forecasts and refocus your efforts on making Adwords a solid product.

To all here are my disclaimers about Google Search Network partners:

1. Many Advertisers choose to opt out of the search network due to much lower conversion rates. The good news is that you can obtain a higher postion at a lower price point, the bad news is that you will have much less visibility into where your traffic is coming from and at times the user may not have to include all of your search terms in a search in order for your listing to appear. I repeast - at times the user may not have to include all of your search terms in a search in order for your listing to appear. We call this expanded broad match. Google tells you that they do this for your own benefit, but in reality this is done to generate more revenue for Google.
2. If you are have listings that cost over $10 CPC and have them set to broad match, then Google will try everything in its power to show these listings. Even if all of these listing are 2+ words, that won't stop Google. They will use the word that is the most expensize and then do an "expanded" broad match on it. Search network partners know this and very much want these high CPC terms to appear. Ever wonder why you so often see listings for refinancing a mortgage, getting new auto insurance, joining a dating service, getting new ring tones, finding a lasik eye surgery doctor, consolidating your debt, etc... There is tremendous demand for these type of leads, so in turn advertisers pay a high premium for these listings. So, if you plan on bidding on these terms I highly recommend you do not turn on the search network - otherwise you will get lots of clicks and no conversions.
3. Many of Google's search network partners are compete SHXX. Google knows this, but does not want to throw away this revenue. It is easy to identify who these partners are. Just look in your log files and identify inbound clicks that have no referring URL. These are partner sites that purposely block their referring URL so you do not know how crappy their site is. Even worse is that Google doesn't care.

OK I am off my soap box. In all seriousness, I hope Google addresses this issue.


shorebreak

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7836 posted 1:26 am on Apr 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

IMO, vikingpwr's points are all good ones, and AWA referring to obscure AdWords FAQ's only serves to underscore the extent to which the advertiser community must realize that Google is looking out for #1.

We see Google CPC's and volume of searches per user having reached all-time peaks in early Q1, and since have been coming down. As more advertisers get analytics and ROI-based bid mgmt in place, the true [conversion] value of any search engine's traffic will become the CPC we all pay.

-Shorebreak

eyeinthesky

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7836 posted 2:43 am on Apr 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

Great post, vikingpwr.

As a long suffering Adwords advertiser, I must say Google owe it to us to let us choose which search partner we want our ads to appear on.

What I've done is to create a duplicate campaign for search network but this campaign has low low bids. Not the best of solution though.

mimmo

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7836 posted 5:16 am on Apr 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

I agree. We need to be able to exclude sites from the Google Search Network. It is no longer a collection of high quality search sites. I wonder how it is decided which site can be part of the search network.

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