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This 121 message thread spans 5 pages: 121 ( [1] 2 3 4 5 > >     
To block or not to block?
That is the question (MFAs)

 1:16 am on Mar 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

I have one page on my site that brings in most of my AS revenue. I noticed via my AS tracking that the #1 clicked ad on that page is a MFA site. This ad is almost always showing in the #1 slot in the Google ad unit. People have mentioned blocking MFA sites as a way to increase revenue. But, isnt the fact that Google puts this in the #1 spot an indicator that it will bring me the highest price per click? Or is that wrong? If I block it, and Google shows the #2 ad, will that pay less?
Any thoughts?




 1:20 am on Mar 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

filter it asap for your and every real publishers benefit.


 1:21 am on Mar 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks. But if Google is showing it 1st, does that not mean it is bidding the highest, and therefore has highest per click price?


 1:44 am on Mar 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

I just started blocking a lot of these sites in the last 20 hours or so. I have to admit that my click through rate has dropped but not out of what I could consider to be a normal range. I'll have to run this longer to see the results.

One thing I will say is Adsense arbitrage is running rampant. A lot of the big guys are doing it as well. I had to ban the NY Times. They are arbing with a combo of their own ads and Adsense. A bare minimum of content, actually just enough words to target the ads and nothing more. You would never see this in the print edition.

I think they are all milking it for as much as they can while it lasts. They could care less about driving G's brand into the ground and I'm sure they'll be more than happy to help.


 1:46 am on Mar 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks Guru, let me/us know what happens to your price per click after blocking all the MFAs.


 1:50 am on Mar 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

But if Google is showing it 1st, does that not mean it is bidding the highest, and therefore has highest per click price?

That's an interesting observation and why do I say that?

On my sites I now very rarely see MFA's after I reduced my ad blocks to solely a leaderboard and an Adlink unit, yes, occcasionally some are in the Adlink unit, however in the Google SERPs I regularly see them for my most searched for terms in the righthand ads column.

Does this mean that the minimum "price bid" for them is too high for my sites but acceptable to Google in their SERPs?

I don't know the answer, can anyone explain this since I am about to start a small campaign for a very niche product of mine and would hate to pay over the odds?

Maybe this is an Adwords forum question?


 2:58 am on Mar 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

An ad gets into number 1 position by a combination of bid price and CTR. So a 50 cent bid and an ad with an 11% CTR will rank ahead of a $5 bid and a 1% CTR, because it should earn Google and the publisher more money.

How do MFAs get higher CTR? Think about it. MFAs don't have to write honest, accurate copy--just copy that will entice a click. Once the visitor hits their site, they'll click again to get out....


 4:00 am on Mar 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Makes sense, but has anyone ever reported getting higher price per clicks by blocking MFAs?


 4:03 am on Mar 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks. But if Google is showing it 1st, does that not mean it is bidding the highest, and therefore has highest per click price?


It means that Google thinks it might raise the most money based on a whole bunch of factors, but the algorithm that places ads is majorly flawed in that it doesn't take any account of what ads work well on your site - it uses data from the adsense network as a whole. Therefore ads that are trying to sell products and services to your niche will get bumped in favour of junky MFA's.

There have been many discussions on blocking recently. I did an experiment a couple of weeks ago to see if the algorithms had improved over the last 6 months or so. I dropped the blocklist to see what would happen. Well paid ads were dropped and replaced with some MFA's. MFA's cannot possibly pay you what advertisers with real products and services will - dump them.

Yes, people including me have reported getting high cpc thanks to blocking. When I started blocking last July, the immediate effect was that the ctr dropped to about 30%, but the epc increased by more than enough to earn me more money. Since then I have seen a steady increase in epc and earnings. Because ctr and clicks are generally stable, so is the effect smart pricing has on me.


 6:11 am on Mar 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

has anyone ever reported getting higher price per clicks by blocking MFAs?

I started blocking all unwanted ads in December, and my EPC went up 25% almost instantly. Whenever I am on a business trip, lacking the ability to check the advertisers and pages every day, the EPC drops like a stone. It goes only up once the new unwanted advertisers have been identified and blocked.


 6:14 am on Mar 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

I blocked some of the mfa sites for the first time about 3 days ago and my earnings did seem to go up a little. I assume it was from this block.

Try it. You can always put it back like it was.


 1:31 pm on Mar 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Works without fail here over 15 sites.

My filter was cleared for 24 housr recently and it cost me 25+ dollars! (20 percent)


 2:30 pm on Mar 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks, all - I have just blocked the 3 MFAs that show up the most on my site, and get clicked the most. It was hard to do since these are averaging about 50 cents/click. One of them was an MFA but also had a lot of affilliate links on it as well.


 2:38 pm on Mar 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

If they dont sell a service or a product DIRECTLY then no matter how pro they look they are sharing the advertisers revenue. Dump them all!


 2:42 pm on Mar 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks Nitrous - I blocked them as well. How long does it normally take before I stop seeing these ads show up?


 2:52 pm on Mar 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Well it can take 5 or 7 hours. And they dont stop all art once so it can be a day or so in my experience.

When you add them make sure you add the right part of the url.

dont add the w w w but just the widget.c o m part.
Not the blue.widget.c o m etc...


 3:19 pm on Mar 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Not to sound stupid but I have been reading a lot about MFA's lately. I know what they are but what does MFA stand for?


 3:28 pm on Mar 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Made For Adsense

But this is also used for all the spammy sites that are content free or mostly content free that are supported by ads.


 11:31 pm on Mar 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

OK I've been running this for a couple days now. No major changes in my income as of yet. I do notice about a 15% increase in CPC which happened the first day. My CPC is normally extemely stable, so definitely a change there. However, my CTR is hanging around the low end of my normal range. I'll continue to run this and see how it goes. At the end of the day my income is fairly inline. The one benefit I do see in this. My users will be getting more relevant and trustworthy ad landing pages, so maybe in the long term this will breed some goodwill for my site compared to other sites that don't filter.


 6:04 am on Mar 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

This was exactly what happened to me - instant drop in ctr but no loss of earnings. And you are right - better quality ads enhance the site and retain visitors. My earning started to grow after a couple of weeks. But the main point is that you aren't out of pocket at this moment, and things will improve :)

Contrast this experiment with the recent esperiences of those that have dropped their blocklists (Nitrous and myself to start with) who'se income dropped when we allowed the MFA's back.


 8:16 am on Mar 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

Plus if everyone did this then all the advertisers budger would go to the real publishers. And the freeloaders would have to pay more and more to get traffic.


 9:10 am on Mar 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

Contrast this experiment with the recent esperiences of those that have dropped their blocklists (Nitrous and myself to start with) who'se income dropped when we allowed the MFA's back.

You only dropped your block list for 24 hours on a Sunday. I don't think that's nearly enough time to test it out. Furthermore, sites that are irrelevant that may be on your block list should remain blocked. So if you remove your block list entirely, that's not really a fair comparison test, that in addition to the fact that it's a single Sunday. A test for a week would be more reliable.

Even nitrous conceded that the amount of time he devoted to the test wasn't a definitive amount.

Nitrous' test wasn't an unbiased test either.

David_UK tried this in another thread. iI expect to get similar results... Now I suspect that todays earnings will be low. Very low. Because in a few hours all thise spammy MFA sites will be back!

So he takes his banned list down for a day and receives a 25% dip in earnings. But he stated that this month already had a variance of about that much:

This month is lower at an average of 110 daily with a bad start early in the month of 90 ish. Its been steadily improving back to the usual 120+

If he dipped one day by 25% of his top amount, we're talking about his bottom level from the start of the month, which is a thirty bucks difference.

Then he states that many of the MFAs he was blocking weren't even advertising anymore!

Now I am going to delete the old ban list and spend all day creating a fresh one. Because many of the old list no longer exist, or no longer advertise.

So if his banned list was obsolete, what does that tell you about the experiment?

I'm not saying that some ads shouldn't be banned. What I am saying is that these so-called tests are so flawed that any reasonable person would reject them out of hand.


 9:51 am on Mar 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

Blocked the MFAs about 3 days ago. Lost about 100 clicks per day but the remaining ads are worth more per click so that has yielded even money. The nice thing is that they are gone, I'll take that trade off.


 6:13 am on Mar 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

Day 4 of blocking MFAs

CTR down 1% earnings up 2 cents per click

gained $10

I would say block them, even if it's close it just looks better.


 7:06 am on Mar 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm not saying that some ads shouldn't be banned. What I am saying is that these so-called tests are so flawed that any reasonable person would reject them out of hand.

As stated, my tests didn't last for one Sunday. I started blocking Friday night UK time, and put the block list back late Sunday. The experiment lasted 2 planned days plus most of the Monday as it took that long for real ads to reappear.

However, in my experiment I said in the top post that the purpose was to see if Google had made any improvements to the targeting algorithm in the 7 months I've been blocking, and to see if the quality scores algorithm has any effect. I stressed that point throughout the trial, and I repeatedly stressed that I didn't think you could read much into any of the figures.

The result as far as I'm concerned was that having deleted the list, the MFA's came back very quickly and replaced well paying ads. Google have not made any attempt to weed out MFA's by either quality scores or targeting algo.

Back in July last year I reported extensively the results of my blocking MFA's for the first couple of weeks after starting to block. CTR dropped, and all other metrics rose - especially EPC and bottom line $$. Increasing earnings by blocking MFA's (especially long term) is a reality. One that Google don't really want to deal with, or know how to IMHO. Therefore my test concentrated on what ads showed.

If I had continued to allow MFA's on site, I would have lost money - I don't think anybody has any serious doubt on that fact.

As regards old and obsolete advertisers, for some time I've been saying that Google should provide information on the sites we have blocked. Specifically if they are a) still serving ads, and b) actually online. I personally go through the list to weed out these sites on a regular basis. I ask for the tools because it's quite a tedious job, but could be so simple if we had the tools above.

There were differences in the tests done by Nitrous and myself. His test concentrated on the financial aspect of releasing the blocklist. Yes, it was a short test, but the results were that he lost money. One of the main outcomes was indeed that the list was mostly redundant. So from this experiment we have learned that lists do need to be maintained. In my case the result was that Google's targeting hasn't changed - MFA's still need to be blocked.

Therefore both tests had their very valid points. The reality is that none of us can afford to carry out the experiment long term only to prove that we lose money, repeat visitors, site credibility and are smartpriced down to the point of owing Google for showing ads :)

I don't think you can reject the results out of hand. We both made it clear that there were limitations to the tests, and if you combine what we have learned from these two tests, it's a pretty powerful argument for effectively managing blocking.

1. I know from my past experience with blocking that removing MFA's from your site increases profits. I'm not the only one to do this - most people that have have reported a rise in earnings. Very few remove the block to see what happens.

2. It's clear that Google cannot, or will resolve the problem of MFA's appearing instead of real ads that pay money. The only way to do this is to block them yourself.

3. It's clear that the reason many lists are full is because they are not maintained.

Nobody can really argue against what both of us have repeatedly said in terms of quality of ads. If ads are relevant to what the visitor is there for, then it enhances the experience (especially as it seems these days most ads are in fact MFA's) and they will click back to your site, and will become repeat visitors. I know this having used a tracker for a while. It also enhances the look and quality of your site, as well as being more profitable for the publisher.

Replacing well paying ads (and I did name the ads that were replaced, and by what to Google) with MFA's is a no-brainer. Of course you are going to lose money!

I reject the statement that my test was "so flawed that any reasonable person would reject them out of hand". The purpose was to test if there were any improvements in targeting, and the result from that point is that there haven't been any. I did stress the purepose of the test throughout the thread. I did mention metrics, but only because people wanted to know, but I also stressed several times that I didn't think anything could be read into them.

The topics of long term effects of smart pricing, site credibility are relevant to the tests, but discussed more extensively in other past threads.


 9:44 am on Mar 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

The real problem with MFA sites is that they generate no conversions whatsoever, so smart pricing will reduce your cpc. So if you block them, the immediate response is a drop in your CTR, but overall within 1-2 weeks your cpc should raise as you generate a lot more conversions.

Not everything works for most people though. For example, my site is about music and instruments, and I don't block ebay/yahoo like many others since "Buy new and used guitars" actually works very well, and music.yahoo.com is good for my audience. How many conversions these actually generate I can't of course tell.

I just removed all MFAs from my block list a few days ago (leaving those which are off-topic to my site) and the result was 0,3% higher ctr, but about 25% lower cpc. After a few days I added the MFAs back again, and now cpc is getting back up, while CTR is lower. Result of course is higher overall earnings. But the changes in smart pricing can take up to two weeks before you actually see results, to quote my google rep. So don't panic if you don't see a visible change right after you block MFAs.


 1:09 pm on Mar 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

This rather implies that your Google rep is aware of what you are doing re MFA's, and in some way has confirmed or implied that smart pricing will catch up in a couple of weeks and do what we have been saying for a long time - increase cpc.

Or am I reading implications that aren't there?


 2:25 pm on Mar 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

Well, thanks everyone for participating in this thread. Here is my one day report: There is one page on my site which has been getting an average of a 50 cent CPC for a few months now. After blocking the MFAs for one day, the CTR was at its lowest its been for months, but the average CPC more than doubled to over a dollar/click. This is good. So, even though there is less clicking going on, I am making more.
If this keeps up for a few days, I am going to add the MFAs that I see on my other, lower CPC pages.
What I am in wonder about is why the drastic drop if CTR? Are the MFA ads written so much better? Anyone have an opinion on that?
Also, what is the feeling on eBay ads? Should I block those as well?

Thanks again everyone, and I'll try and report back if anything changes.

John Carpenter

 2:34 pm on Mar 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

The real problem with MFA sites is that they generate no conversions whatsoever, so smart pricing will reduce your cpc.

I think this is a common misconception. SmartPricing can only reduce CPC (not increase). If the advertiser does not report her conversion stats to Google, then SmartPricing is not applied.

Now, I don't see how pure MFA sites could report any conversion stats. SmartPricing is tracked using a script that you run on so-called "Thank you" pages (e.g. pages shown after purchase or other actions considered as conversion). Pure MFA sites display only Google ads. Hence, they have no "Thank you" pages and they can't use the SmartPricing tracking code.

If MFA sites cannot report their AdWords conversions to Google, then your AdSense earnings can't be affected by SmartPricing caused by MFA sites.

The bottom line, blocking ads that link to pure MFA sites can't affect SmartPricing on your site in any way (maybe only if the MFA sites edged out advertisers who do track conversions -- then you could actually earn more thanks to MFA sites).

(Disclaimer: I do not approve MFA sites. Sites without real content are spam.)

[edited by: John_Carpenter at 2:51 pm (utc) on Mar. 23, 2006]


 2:44 pm on Mar 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

Who says they dont convert. Its not important. What IS important is that you are sharing every adverttisers budget with them! I have no wish to.

Firts it was rge scrapers. Now its MFAs. Soonerr or later it will be something else - once the rest of us wise upo and just ban them because google wont. They wont because they get to keep almost ALL of the bid price! The MFAs feed them most of it back in advertising!

Whats left you get to share with the MFA. They help only themselves, not you. We dont need an extra "layer" to take more money. Ban them.

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