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Jenstar reveals data about Adsense Smart Pricing

 6:46 am on Oct 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

I just read Jenstar's blog about smart pricing. I want to be shocked, although I'm not. Let's just say disappointed.

How in the hell can Google be so stupid as to count Smart Pricing on an account basis rather than at worst domain basis. No wonder... That explains a lot.

It is really ridiculous.



 8:33 am on Oct 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

There's a great song about this phenomenon. "some of them want to abuse you. Some of them want to be abused."


 1:48 pm on Oct 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

The big guys are "patenting" obvious concepts and legalities will keep small guys out of business

The obvious response to that is, "If it is so obvious, why isn't somebody already doing it?" Because you can't sustain a patent for an idea that somebody else put into use before the date of your application. The fact that something looks obvious in retrospect does not mean it was obvious beforehand.

I will add that I really don't like software patents or business model patents, and I really wish our nation hadn't headed so heavily in that direction. But it's not as simple as "They're patenting obvious ideas" - there has to be an innovation. But at least Congress isn't extending patents in the same reckless manner it extends the duration of copyrights every time a Disney property is about to fall into the public domain....

I think the problem is NOT smartpricing but the active removal of non-performing ads from our ad blocks - somehow I feel that Google is not doing THAT as well as it used to - maybe cause there are just TOO MANY advertisers.

I don't think that there is any doubt that if Google provided us with the necessary information, we could honestly tweak our own sites up to much better performance (and, if we chose, dishonestly do the same thing) than that provided by their automation. Automation is good, but with a single algorithm trying to process millions of pages, at a certain point you run into the "if your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail" phenomenon.

That said, for the past month I've seen a slightly higher eCPM with a significantly lower CTR, so they must be doing something right on the relevancy front.


 6:54 pm on Oct 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

Why doesn't it "penalise" bad advertisers (ones with poor conversions/those who don't allow tracking of conversions?) like it does "bad" publishers?

Gosh - that makes me a bad advertiser then ;)

I don't use conversion tracking as the options Google offer simply don't fit my need. I'd *like* to use it, but as it stands for me, it's a useless tool.

So how do Google work out what isn't working for me and discount my clicks? Same way they do everbody else's I suspect - guesswork. I don't suppose Google are about to say to me that if I use conversion tracking they will then know what works *for me* and discount non-working clicks accordingly? Didn't think so.

As an advertiser, the thing that would give me the most confidence to spend more in content is good policing of the MFA sites.

I don't want to see MFA sites buried at the bottom of serps where they hopefully won't be found. Many MFA sites get traffic from gaming adwords, so search position isn't relevant.

I don't want them to fart around with smart pricing in order to second guess what works for me. If I foul up my campaigns that's my loss. What I want them to do is to remove sites that do not conform to the TOS.

As a publisher, I want to see them boot MFA's so that I don't have to look at my site and do it myself. The sites I boot are all non-conforming ones, yet Google won't remove them.

They want people to report sites that don't comply, and I would like them to take this further. I'd like to see a check box on the feedback form about ads asking "Do you think this site does not conform to the TOS" or similar wording, then when x number of people click to say that it does that triggers an immediate review and they will get booted if they don't comply.

I'd also like to see the ability to select on keywords (like Chitika) and I'd like them to look at how ads work on your site using historical data before the target bot makes the decision to boot a well paying ad and replace it with a MFA site.


 7:08 pm on Oct 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

What I want them to do is to remove sites that do not conform to the TOS.

That's labour extensive. We're talking Google.

Gosh - that makes me a bad advertiser then

Me too; I don't track conversions. But if we were both using conversion tracking and I was dismal at converting while you converted 100% there is no monetary advantage for you. Publishers sending me traffic get smartpriced down because I'm an idiot, can't write copy, and have an order page that doesn't load.

That can't be fair. And, if it really loses Google money as well, then it's not smart either.

[edited by: oddsod at 7:10 pm (utc) on Oct. 31, 2005]


 7:09 pm on Oct 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

Indeed. Google is as guilty on the adwords side as the adsense side. Listening to reports would already make a huge difference.

BTW, I'm starting to get relevant data on the gradual changeover to YPN and Chitika. I can't use YPN as much as I'd like to but the numbers look good on the pages I can. And Chitika is performing surprisingly well.

Off to convert more pages....


 7:13 pm on Oct 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

First off, I'm not convinced by a long shot that smart pricing is across all sites. In fact I think it's even more granular than a site. I think that it goes down to the page level. This is not just an out of the air theory I made up. It comes from looking at very detailed channels on a high volume 100K+ visitor a day site. The EPC can vary widely even on pages in the same site. Sometimes 500% or more. Then of course I can easily see other smaller volume sites go unaffected when smart pricing apparantly kicks in.

Here is my take on it...

Smart pricing is prompted by large jumps in revenue. It takes place not in real time, but AFTER you have already pocketed the increased revenue.

Pages that contriubted the bulk of the increase will be hit with much lower EPC when smart pricing kicks in. Pages that did not contribute to the increases will not be affected (or nearly as much).

Here is some advice to those with larger sites. We just started contacting advertisers directly with good results. None of them like Google taking a share of the profits and it's easy enough to get them to try running ads directly on your site if you have things setup properly.

1. Create an 'advertiser page' with clear, simple guidelines on how you sell you advertising space.

2. Start with a small 'trial run' with a review with 30 days. Don't expect them to spend thousands with you the first month.

3. Outline the advantages over Google adwords. Cheaper, flexible ad format, very targeted traffic, etc.

4. Write up a review on their product/services.

We just got done signing on an advertiser that does A LOT of business with Adwords simply by writing up a review on their product (it is a good product of course), contacting them on the phone (email is less effective), and giving them a price per-click better than Google. Even BETTER is that the advertister put a link and a littler blurb ON THEIR SITE back to ours linking to the review we wrote.

So not only do we now have a good advertiser that is paying us directly and no Google middle man... we also have an advertiser that's giving us a reciprocal link.

The review concept is huge for getting advertisers attention. They want their products to get noticed and nothing will do that better than a favorable review of their product. It makes them putty in your hands.

Good luck!


 7:20 pm on Oct 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

Have you checked if what you did is ok with the adsense TOS? I would think they'd have a problem with it. But in any case congratulations on a shrewd move.


 7:27 pm on Oct 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

Not sure how it is any of Google's business who I pull on as an advertiser. Once they come on and buy ads directly on our site then it has no contextual component and is just like any other ad.

I've had my own ad system on my sites long before I started using Google adsense. Most advertisers are small time folk that like the easy 'paypal' signup and low cost.

Google relies on the laziness and distrust between advertiers/publishers to line their pockets. If you take the time to call advertisers (not necessarily going down the list of ones that show up on your adsense), you would be suprised how many want a better EPC than what they can get through Google.


 7:52 pm on Oct 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

I agree with you totally. But I thought I saw something somewhere that they didn't want you to contact advertisers directly. Maybe someone more familiar with the fine print will clarify it.


 9:20 pm on Oct 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

You can't seek out "AdWords" advertisers - but Google cannot stop you from saying "Advertise Here" on your site and providing advertising arrangements.

I wouldn't jump into Google stock right now if I was on fire and G-Stock was water. I'd be willing to venture a guess that their network wide pageviews has fallen by a significant margin in the last 30 days.

Everything I've been seeing for some time points to a massive publisher fallout. Some folks seem to be happy still - I pray that those of you who are do not fall victim to MFA websites plaguing your ad space - along with smart pricing due to conversions not being tracked... etc... etc... etc: Before you know it, you'd be better off with all-clicks at .02 each. It makes me seriously want to puke.

I'm just thanking my lucky stars that some other options came up right as the ship started to sink (for me anyways).


 9:28 pm on Oct 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think you're making an important point. But at the same time, 90% of adwords advertisers have open contact pages and methods for you to contact them regarding advertising. They also are using other forms of advertising such as affiliate programs (CJ) or impression programs like FastClick. So it would be hard to imagine how Google could enforce but the most blatant offenses.

I would think it wouldn't be smart to call the advertiser and say "Gee, I saw your adwords ad on my site and I thought you may enjoy cutting Google out of the middle". Tact is important, but I would certainly drop Google in a second if I thought they were going to keep me from recruting advertisers on my own.

The bottom line is Google is a middle man in this process. It's no different than if I'm buying a product through a mail order store and reselling it then decide that I can get a better price from the distributor and then finally if I can sell enough, go direct to the manufacture.

Google may need to take a smaller cut to keep this from happening. That is why I'm not shy about encouraging publishers to try and get advertisers on their own. Google will gladly take a part of the profit from your site if you let them. Advertisers pay more, we get less, with Google stuck in the middle with little or no competition.


 10:21 pm on Nov 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

For those Adsense publishers who don't download their CSV and Excel or otherwise analyse their various stats I suggest it could be very revealing

I'm not clear on this comment. Wouldn't it be more revealing for those who DO analyse stats?


 3:22 am on Nov 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

As a publisher I don't understand why I have to loose money because an ad is not converting enough users. Is it not because the advertiser's site is simply not good enough to enroll people?
As a numerous web sites publisher, I don't understand why a poor converting page can affect a whole account with several web sites.
As a webmaster I simply don't understand Google anymore and to tell you the thruth it is probably the most disappointing feeling I have right now as I had faith that this company would change the world.


 5:44 am on Nov 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

I agree with you. I was very disappointed in the turn Google has taken. I can understand why they need publishers to place their ad buttons on your site to recruit publishers not advertisers.

A lot of their publishers are jumping ship and probably will keep on doing so unless Google can come out of it's secrecy/stealth mode and let publishers know what they need to optimize their earnings....It is getting awful murky in adsense land.


 2:25 pm on Nov 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

As a publisher I don't understand why I have to loose money because an ad is not converting enough users. Is it not because the advertiser's site is simply not good enough to enroll people?

NetPro explained this very sensibly in message #5 of the "Smart Pricing is Dumb" thread at:


Key comment:

"...if you're below average, then it obviously means that some other websites convert very well for the advertiser. So it's not down to bad copy."

Now for the question of why Google would compute and apply smart pricing by account and not by site or page:

It's just plain common sense, because it discourages publishers from trying to game the system at the expense of advertisers. Some publishers will never catch on, of course, because some publishers aren't very bright and others are too caught up in greed to recognize cause and effect. But for those who are able to think clearly, it will soon become obvious that trying to maximize clicks at the expense of advertiser conversions isn't a winning long-term strategy.


 3:26 pm on Nov 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

I was very disappointed in the turn Google has taken.

Just to clarify, smart pricing has been in place for over a year and a half. So it is not "new" in that respect.


 5:16 pm on Nov 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

So EFV, do you think that smart pricing is good?

What I can't understand in any kind of "Google is being honest" way, is how my traffic keeps going up, how I have quality sites in expensive keyword categories, authority sites in my field, new site targetted advertisers coming in almost daily to do CPM advertising via Google, no tools to keep this CPM advertising from hurting me, and my AS income keeps steady or goes down while the business Google gets goes up. And note, I'm not gaming the system. I leave that to the spammers...

On the other side of the coin, when I saw that Adsense would have to go, I felt I had to do at least a bit of due diligence to figure out what's going on, so I try out things on the Adwords side of it. Something I usually do every 6-9 months. Because if my income is steady or going down in the face of more traffic and clicks to Google, if Google is being honest about "smart pricing" or "CPM Ads" earning more for publishers, that means that either there is so much ad space that advertising became cheap, or on the other hand, ad space is stagnant but there are less advertisers there.

Is that what I found? Of course not. Advertising on adwords in my category, or ANY category got extremely more expensive. And a similar mind game. Where smart-pricing is meant to convince publishers and advertisers there is an honest hand at Google making sure everything is on the up and up, they are playing a mind game on advertisers. Removing the "deactivated keywords" and "reducing" the minimum price to one penny.

So you're enticed to try again. Of course, deactivated keywords are only reactivated for a day, or a few hours, and before long you have even more deactivated keywords than you did with the old system. Of course instead of being honest about it, they use different terminology than before, but make no mistake, your keyword is deactivated.

And your minimums are even higher than before. Like double. Without 20 cents per keyword, you can barely even exist in the Google system. All of which *should* be great for publishers. As great as Smart Pricing should be for advertisers.

But nooooo. Advertisers are clearly not benefitting from smart pricing and publishers are clearly not benefitting from the massive price hike adwords recently introduced.

I've read articles and many accounts of bids on non-existent keywords just to test the system that was all over the place and totally illogical.

I haven't heard a single theory that makes sense about how these mind games are truly helping the advertiser or the publisher.

If you've got one that accounts for all of the above, I'd love to hear it EFV. Although I've disagreed with many things you've said, I always respected your opinions. You are a smart bloke.


 5:22 pm on Nov 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

So EFV, do you think that smart pricing is good?

Yes. Mind you, I'm not saying how well it works or doesn't work. But the concept of adjusting bids to reflect anticipated conversions is a good one. Without smart pricing or something like it, advertisers would simply avoid the content network (especially when they come to forums like this one and read all the posts by publishers who'll employ every trick in the book to increase clickthrough rates).


 5:44 pm on Nov 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

"...if you're below average, then it obviously means that some other websites convert very well for the advertiser. So it's not down to bad copy."

i don't see how that statement explains anything.

targeted traffic makes a big difference in conversion... did they click on the ad out of curiosity, or did they click on the ad because they are seriously interested in the niche that your website serves? and do you actively ban adsense advertisers who are not relevant?

the other day i had to ban the jimmy carter foundation, because it was not the slightest bit relevant to what i do... while i feel guilty about banning a charity that is going to the extent of paying for adsense, they were knocking out advertisers who were actually relevant to my niche... what about the lower conversion rate from it affecting smart pricing in a negative way?

you can't count on google to always send you the best traffic... i've had to weed out garbage like female impersonator adsense ads, lol... a curiosity click to that trash isn't going to convert to a sale for the advertiser, but i'm going to take a hit because of smart pricing? *&^$#!

as a publisher, you have to protect yourself against the incompetence of google.


 5:46 pm on Nov 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Oh, ok. I agree with you 100%. The theory of smart pricing is great. In actuality they are allowing MFAs to flourish and quality sites are getting screwed and dumping AS.

Putting some dedicated resources to processing the reports of MFAs and eradicating them will do much more for the integrity of the system than smart pricing has or ever will.

Whenever I used adwords I always opted out of the content network. Except for site-targetted. But you are overpaying Google for that great deal. You're better off approaching the site directly.


 6:09 pm on Nov 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Now we got it. In theory, for what it is supposed to do, SmartPricing is good.

Is it really doing what it is intended to do? Has Google reduced rates for advertisers that don't get high conversions and reduced payouts to poor converting published websites?
I don't see it. Both sides are complaining.

Are more clicks being dropped as invalid? Maybe what you used to get paid on is counted as a click, but the income is now subtracted. Could they have set up the opposite of a 3 second in the paint rule?

Google's payout policy can't provide any help either:
"Although we don't disclose the exact revenue share, our goal is to enable publishers to make as much or more than they could with other advertising networks."
Boy, that sure helps a lot.

Here is an idea I would hate to think:
Do WE really know what kind of sites convert? I would like to think in my heart, quality content converts, but do we really know? If SERPS can give scrapers Page 1, what's not to say Adsense is giving all the money out to all the fresh new scrapers that keep popping up and popping up and...


 6:28 pm on Nov 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

I asked a similar question in the adwords forum and the consensus was that advertisers hate MFAs and that they also converted badly.

The only reason they appear to convert well is algo tricks. I figured out a couple but didn't want to post about it because the problem is bad enough as it is.

Unfortunately, if you think like a spammer and are any good technically, the rewards from Google are tremendous.


 7:59 pm on Nov 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Clark wrote:

(...) new site targetted advertisers coming in almost daily to do CPM advertising via Google, no tools to keep this CPM advertising from hurting me (...)

So, are CPM ads the real problem? I think some publishers with this same problem simply contacted AdSense support, and got the site-targeted method disallowed from their accounts. Support can do it if the problem is serious and recurrent, although they usually recommend using the ad filter first.

You may do the same if you are not willing to wait until the relatively new CPM method improves gradually (by permanent testing and result feedback, as always in Google).


 8:46 pm on Nov 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

I realize that SP has been around for a long time but I don't like the way it is headed.

Too many people are disappointed in the lack of useful information on Google's end that leaves some scratching their heads and wondering just what can be done to improve their site. Meanwhile, watching (and even reporting) known MFA's and scrapers get away with every dirty trick in the book.

Don't misunderstand me, I love adsense. Without it I could not be closing on my new home this month and SP isn't hitting me too hard but there is always next month or this month or even next year.....I am hoping a lot of this is taken care of soon and acting on even half of the reports they receive about these black hat sites would make the whole environment a better experience for everyone concerned, Google, advertisers and publishers.

Just my 2 pennies worth.


 10:34 pm on Nov 8, 2005 (gmt 0)


I'd be happy to ask AS to opt out of content network.

Jenstar reported that all it took was an email to AS.

But then Google started saying that they don't offer this. It appears it was an exception for Jenstar. This has been reported publicly. Has the situation changed?


 11:08 pm on Nov 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Google's payout policy can't provide any help either:
"Although we don't disclose the exact revenue share, our goal is to enable publishers to make as much or more than they could with other advertising networks."

Gee, someone ought to clue them in that their closest competitor, YPN, is kicking their butt on this front. I make about 7X the amount per click that I earn with Google. Google's ridiculous Smart Pricing nonsense is a classic example of how to take something that isn't broken and smash it all to pieces. Tell me again why they have all those PhD's working there.


 11:59 pm on Nov 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Clark, I knew it only from publishers' and advertisers' posts on this and other forums. It seems that advertisers sometimes find sites where the site-targeting method is not allowed.

I don't know if this has changed or it's more restrictive or difficult right now. I guess probably they don't want too many publishers disabling CPM ads before they have enough time to improve the method, excepting in cases where a specific publisher is repeatedly getting many low priced campaigns, in spite of ad filters. But this is a just a guess, I really have no data on the current situation, only past forum posts.

You should contact AdSense support directly. They surely are interested about the performance of the new CPM ads, and not only because they are usually nice people -which they indeed are in my experience. Google shares percentages of earnings with the publishers (unconfirmed statistics-based rumors are about 80% for publishers, 20% for Google in the partner network), and therefore if publishers lose revenue, Google will also lose some revenue.


 12:22 am on Nov 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

someone should start a petition to ban smart pricing


 3:22 am on Nov 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

someone should start a petition to ban smart pricing

A boycott would be more effective.

Less talk, more action.


 3:50 am on Nov 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

I removed ads from what I think are under-converting sites. Ads on about 600 pages gone tonight. But as you know it, without any tangible data behind that to substantiate, just a clue that target A is not buying, that topic B is not converting enough, that Site C has strong affiliate sales.
So as far as I am concerned SP is bad for:
- me, as I loose revenue from these 600 pages
- advertiser, as there is less exposure
- Google, as there is less money to earn
- and possibly users, as there is no product/service they can be interested in


 4:07 am on Nov 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

It is just a matter of time before Adsense world crumbles. They really have lost the plot. Very badly.

How could such a neat formula with such high hopes for so many webmasters go down the drain with stupid blunders like "smart pricing" and "lack of data".

"I will kill google" --- Microsoft exec.

This 218 message thread spans 8 pages: < < 218 ( 1 2 3 4 5 [6] 7 8 > >
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