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Ah ha! THIS is why my AdSense revenue decreased by 90%!
Google now does NOT like?source=keyword
ThatAdamGuy




msg:1353285
 6:22 am on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

Interesting!

I've been racking my brain, trying to figure out why my earnings are so low, and now I've got it!

THE HISTORY:
A few months ago, I was earning a pleasant sum from AdSense.

Then, around mid October or so, Google started sending almost 100% PSAs to my main site!

After several e-mail exchanges, Google finally fixed that (thankfully!) and I thought that all was clear and I'd begin earning a decent chunk o' change again from AdSense.

But it was not to be!
/foo/popular-page.htm was once again showing 100% paying ads.
And ased on my logs, I could see that this page was also still getting a ton of hits every day. But my revenues were still in the dumpster! :(

Then tonight it finally hit me. From several internal and external links, I was using /foo/popular-page.htm?source=findwhat or?source=sidebar, etc. When I checked out the pages with these addendums, I quickly realized that Google was serving 100% PSAs under these conditions!

---

So now, of course, I'm quickly removing every trace of these?source thingies and will just do analysis based upon referrers in my logfile and other data. And I should, at least theoretically, be able to buy more than a cup of coffee a day with my earnings once again!

I'll try to remember to post back here again in a few days to let you know if my assumptions are correct. In the meantime, if you're also using anything like /foobar.htm?source=whatsit, you'll want to carefully check to see if this is killing your AdSense revenues, too!

[and boy, I sure wish Google had spotted or acknowledged this issue <sigh>]

 

techiemon




msg:1353286
 9:50 am on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

What exactely are these?

/foo/popular-page.htm?source=findwhat or?source=sidebar,

foobar.htm?source=whatsit

Shak




msg:1353287
 10:08 am on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

didnt Jenstar reveal this change some time ago, that the source=? had been dropped as part of the adsense algo

?

cant find the thread right now

Shak

killroy




msg:1353288
 10:40 am on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think the real issue here is that we though Google simply stoppedconsidering keywords in the QUERY_STRING part of the URL. But here we have a case with query_strings being used for a completely innocent purpose (internal referer tracking), and also causeing PSAs... Appearantly Google PSAed him completely, keywords or no keywords, simply because of hte QUERY_STRINGS.

SN

gmoney




msg:1353289
 11:49 am on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thanks, I just found out that I was getting many PSA's for source=findwhat etc. It is kind of funny because my source=adwords was not giving me PSA's :) Gotta go change some things.

Thanks for your post.

P.S. On another thread, I just posted about how great it is that I can have fun reading Webmaster World and still feel like I am being productive. It looks like my reading this thread was time well spent :)

ThatAdamGuy




msg:1353290
 12:42 pm on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

Killroy... yes, thanks for the clarification. Spot on. And gmoney, I'm really glad that I was able to help others by posting this. :)

In the meantime, I have also dropped adwords-tech@google.com a note about the situation. I can totally understand why Google would want to stave off the targeting manipulation with query string keywords, but to downright punish ANYONE using them... well, that seems rather counterproductive.

I'll post back here with anything I hear from Google :).

In the meantime, happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans, and best o' the midweek to everyone else.

richmondsteve




msg:1353291
 2:32 pm on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

I'm surprised there are publishers that aren't using the alternative ad parameter. It takes the mystery out of these type of situations.

Even if a publisher supports the services promoted via the PSAs, the only way to reliably track the URLs and # of impressions that aren't showing targeted ads is by implementing the alternate ad parameter pointing to a page whose stats you can access - such as a page on your own web server so you can parse your web server log for it.

I have thousands of pages on a site. It's not feasible for me to check each page every day and since the probability of seeing a paying ad on some pages isn't binary (0% or 100%) I log all page views to a database, which allows me to generate reports about AdSense by site, page or section and time period. But at its simplest, on *nix running Apache you could just grab from the Apache log.

# Impressions showing alternate ad for a given day.*
cat <log-file> grep "GET <alternate-ad-file>" grep <date> wc -l

* This is approximate since it includes any views of the page that weren't via the AdSense code (shouldn't happen, but I've seen it) and if your server's timezone isn't PST like Google's AdSense reports matching these figures with total impressions from the reports won't be based on the exact same time periods.

Sharper




msg:1353292
 3:29 pm on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

Minor improvement:

cat <log-file> grep "GET <alternate-ad-file>" grep <date> wc -l

becomes

grep "GET <alternate-ad-file>" <log-file> grep -c <date>

or if you have more alt lines than dates,

grep <date> <log-file> grep -c "GET <alternate-ad-file>"

Probably slightly off-topic and not important, but hey, I at least thought grep -c was cool when I first noticed it. :)

I'm sure there's probably a regexp way to do it in one grep, but I'm not THAT much of a glutton for punishment...

dougb




msg:1353293
 4:01 pm on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think the real issue here is that we though Google simply stoppedconsidering keywords in the QUERY_STRING part of the URL. But here we have a case with query_strings being used for a completely innocent purpose (internal referer tracking), and also causeing PSAs... Appearantly Google PSAed him completely, keywords or no keywords, simply because of hte QUERY_STRINGS.

Hey, here's a crazy theory that's probably is far-fetched: is it possible that AdSense tries to enforce automatically the "don't use competing contextual advertising services on the same page" item of the TOS? And, seeing "FindWhat" in the URI, which is perhaps on some kind of stopword list, it concluded that some of the pages on the site might be in violation, and that it should show PSAs sitewide until the site is reviewed by hand by someone at Google? What I'm suggesting is that it's the word "FindWhat" that might have triggered the problem rather than the usage of the source parameter per se. Just a thought.

Jenstar




msg:1353294
 4:17 pm on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

I sure wish Google had spotted or acknowledged this issue <sigh>

They probably didn't want to publicly announce (particularly for advertisers to get wind of) this major loophole for publishers to chose ads for whatever keyword they liked, whether or not the content reflected the?keyword or not. I first reported it on October 26th.

Major loophole closed in AdSense:
index.html?keyword no longer displays those keyword ads
[webmasterworld.com]

While some people were using this legitimately, others were abusing this to have high paying keywords show on pages where there would not be those keyword ads showing otherwise.

I do believe that once the URL with the?keyword is indexed that it will show targeted ads for the page content, but not show ads based upon your?keyword choice, unless this has changed since a month ago when I reported this trick no longer worked.

richmondsteve




msg:1353295
 5:31 pm on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

Sharper, nice improvement - definitely more efficient. I was trying to lay it out conceptually so each step of the piping was intuitive, but in production on a large log file yours is the way to go.

And, you are right - regex can be used to do the calculation with a single grep command. I haven't tested to see how much faster it would be though.

ThatAdamGuy




msg:1353296
 6:17 pm on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

DougB wrote:
Hey, here's a crazy theory that's probably is far-fetched: is it possible that AdSense tries to enforce automatically the "don't use competing contextual advertising services on the same page" item of the TOS? And, seeing "FindWhat" in the URI, which is perhaps on some kind of stopword list, it concluded that some of the pages on the site might be in violation, and that it should show PSAs sitewide until the site is reviewed by hand by someone at Google? What I'm suggesting is that it's the word "FindWhat" that might have triggered the problem rather than the usage of the source parameter per se. Just a thought.

Hmm... I see where you're coming from, but with my site, this doesn't seem to be the case. For instance, I used "source=gt" on some pages (indicating "GoTo," which is now Overture), and I can't imagine that being in Google's blacklist. Furthermore, I seem to get PSAs even from using source=foobar or any random string.

JenStar wrote:
I do believe that once the URL with the?keyword is indexed that it will show targeted ads for the page content, but not show ads based upon your?keyword choice, unless this has changed since a month ago when I reported this trick no longer worked.

I'm not so sure this is right. Otherwise, my pages with "source=gt" would not have been showing PSAs this last month.

Give it a try yourself. Take any consistently-non-PSA-generating pages and append "?source=myleftfoot" or whatever. Check back a day later. In theory, the mediabot should have spidered it by then. I'll bet you it's showing PSAs.

Maybe the problem is the word "source"? Hmm.

Jenstar




msg:1353297
 7:30 pm on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

It could also possibly be the difference between the? or the =, or when there is a combination of the two. When Google made the switch, it would spider the?keyword and show the targeted ads to the page, not the content. I haven't checked since then, though - they could have flagged all?keyword, even if the keyword isn't a true keyword but something used legitimately for tracking purposes. It could show PSAs because it is something many were using for scammy reasons, but which could have caught many honest publishers in the crossfire.

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