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What's the big problem with MFAs
Tell me what the problems are
guru5571




msg:1341753
 5:14 am on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

I got an email from a staff writer at a very large magazine today in response to some comments I made to him about MFAs and Adsense arbitrage. I believe he is more interested in arbitrage than anything else. He seems really interested and wants to do some investigating into this and wants me to get him pointed in the right direction. I think it's a good opportunity to get some major coverage on MFAs. I haven't got back to him yet, but I plan to. I hope you guys can come up with some good points to make. Whether this comes to pass as magazine article... I really have no idea, because I don't know how serious he is, but I would like to give him some good and accurate info on this.

 

david_uk




msg:1341754
 5:52 am on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

From the surfers point of view, the majority of ads that appear on the right of Google search pages, and on content sites are MFA's. Many of them lead to pages that consist solely of adsense adverts and no content. Many people have wised up to this fact by their experience of what they find when clicking them, and make a point of never clicking the ads as they regard them as nothing more than spam.

Google itself is dependant on advertising. At the moment the issue of people avoiding clicking on the spam is not an issue for them, but it may be increasingly so.

From the point of view of advertisers, they are a purely un-necessary layer of middle-men they have to pay to make a sale. Without them their advertising costs might reduce. Advertisers are interested in making a sale to an end consumer, and accept Google as their middle man. There are only three parties that count.

1, the advertiser with the budget who ultimately foots the bill for everything.

2, the publishers who deliver targeted traffic to the advertisers - their best chance of making a sale. Unless adsense works for advertisers, they won't advertise on Google.

3, Google itself who acts as the intermediary between the two (for a commission of course).

All other parties (MFA's) do not contribute to this relationship. They exist to bleed advertisers dry, and offer nothing in return. Removing them is good for advertisers, publishers and Google. Only problem is that Google hasn't wised up to this in any meaningful way as yet.

Say someone sees an interesting ad on my site. They click it, it leads to other interesting ads. They click one of them and it leads to a similar site. They ultimately see an advert for an interesting product, and click on it to reach the site when somebody is selling it. Each of those clicks has to be ultimately paid for by advertisers. The advertiser doesn't expect to get a sale from every click. They accept that there is a conversion rate, but they don't accept that they should have to pay for all of these middle men.

From the publishers point of view, they displace adverts that pay well. There are plenty of threads here on this. MFA's cannot possibly pay what real advertisers do. Google's faulty algorithm just thinks they are possibly going to. Us webmasters know that the opposite is true, and it's something Google needs to resolve.

I'd suggest reading a few threads on MFA's to get the full picture. I'd also suggest contacting Google's press office and asking them to comment on MFA's and state what their long term strategy is to deal with the problem they have created.

makes a little sense




msg:1341755
 6:09 am on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

Suppose you walk past a store in a city and see a really cool item you want to purchase. Well, you walk in the door and ask to purchase that item but the clerk tells you the item is not at their store and points you to the store down a few blocks away. You then go to that store, and are amazingly told the item is not carried there either. And you are again, pointed in a different direction to another store.

By the time you've gone to several "stores", you're confused and are angry at the original store you saw the sign of the item for sale.

david_uk




msg:1341756
 6:20 am on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

You'd then give up trying to buy it altogether, and boycott all of the stores you visited.

Scurramunga




msg:1341757
 6:22 am on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

I am not sure if the magazine you refer to is most likely to attract an audience of Adsense publishers or Adword advertisrs. However if it is the latter, do you think that such an article and any subsequent articles may contribute to an overall loss of Adword advertiser confidence?

guru5571




msg:1341758
 6:30 am on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

It's one of the top business magazines in the world. They carry a lot of tech articles. I think everyone here knows the mag, but I don't want to put the cart before the horse. I just want to get this writer a lot of good information. Obviously he will take it from there.

david_uk




msg:1341759
 6:34 am on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

In the grand scheme of things I'd suggest probably not. The circulation is never going to be big enough in printed form to make any real impact worldwide. Also, today's news is tomorrow's chip wrapping as we say here in the UK. Or at least us oldies who can remember when they wrapped chips in newspaper would :)

Even if it did lead to advertiser loss of confidence, that may be a sacrifice worth making. I think that the ONLY thing that will make Google deal with the problem is negative publicity and advertisers switching off. They clearly aren't going to listen to publishers.

Key_Master




msg:1341760
 6:39 am on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

And don't forget the MFA sites making money on content scraped from other sites.

jomaxx




msg:1341761
 6:39 am on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

What are you hoping to accomplish here? To give Google a black eye and try to shame them into banning MFA's? I believe that might lead to a Pyrrhic victory.

We've already had the "click fraud" hype; I don't see how it's in our interest to damage advertiser confidence any further.

Besides, it could backfire and inspire thousands more people to try to get on board what they imagine will be a gravy train.

guru5571




msg:1341762
 6:50 am on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

Yep I thought of scrapers too, but thanks for mentioning. I welcome any ideas so that I don't forget anything important to include.

David_uk,

I agree with you about what happens to yesterday's newspaper. However, it's not the article though, it's the story. Everyone in here knows it by heart, but no one in the wider tech or business community is aware of the scope of the problem. One article in a well respected mag could have a good chance of bringing a lot more articles and making it a topic of conversation outside the Adsense forum on WW. That's how it changes. When CNBC anchors start asking Eric Schmidt or stock analysts about it.

edit: Again to reiterate. I have no idea if anything comes of this. It all depends on what this write thinks. I just want to give good, honest, comprehensive info.

Ricky_G




msg:1341763
 7:11 am on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

Check this out. A very detailed discussion here

[webmasterworld.com...]

Thanks
Ricky

Scurramunga




msg:1341764
 7:23 am on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

I agree with you about what happens to yesterday's newspaper. However, it's not the article though, it's the story. ......One article in a well respected mag could have a good chance of bringing a lot more articles and making it a topic of conversation outside the Adsense forum on WW. That's how it changes. When CNBC anchors start asking Eric Schmidt or stock analysts about it.

That's what I had in mind. If it lead to further discussion, wouldn't there be a further danger beyond loss of advertiser confidence? Say loss of public confidence? This point might sound alarmist I know. MFAs have been topics of discussion before and this may well end up as fish n chip paper material.

guru5571




msg:1341765
 7:32 am on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

That's what I had in mind. If it lead to further discussion, wouldn't there be a further danger beyond loss of advertiser confidence? Say loss of public confidence?

To the contrary. I think it will force Google to fix the problem. Which in turn would increase advertiser confidence in Google's ad network. In the long run it helps Adsense/Adwords viability. It's good for everyone except MFAs. Yes Google may lose some short term MFA income, but they'll more than make up for it with an even better ad network.

Scurramunga




msg:1341766
 7:37 am on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think it will force Google to fix the problem. Which in turn would increase advertiser confidence in Google's ad network.

One can only hope.

ken_b




msg:1341767
 2:26 pm on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

"Bite the hand that feeds you" comes to mind.

jomaxx




msg:1341768
 3:09 pm on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

It will NOT force Google to act on this problem. Given that inevitable fact, nothing good is likely to come of this.

The whole issue is too muddled to be expressed cogently to a broad audience anyways. Are we talking about arbitrage specifically or all MFA's? Is ALL arbitrage wrong, or just cases where the site bends the rules too far? Which specific rules in the TOS do you want Google to start interpreting differently? Are you prepared for what will happen if Google bars sites from blending ads, for example? A lot of people here will might suddenly find themselves on the wrong side of the TOS.

humblebeginnings




msg:1341769
 5:43 pm on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

"What's the big problem with MFAs"

One of the most important new problems of MFA's is us spending too much time discussing them.

I know that some of you have experienced that if you ban MFA's with your competitive ad filter, ECPM goes up. I had that experience too in the past. But I see clear signs that the effect is rapidly fading.
I have several pages that only display ads that lead to pages with other ads. Those ads pay me well.

I am also not really bothered with visitors clicking on ads leading to pages with more ads, as long as it doesn't become a whole chain of zero-content pages.

So I really believe the problem isn't significant as long as Google will improve their methods to control it to certain degree...

maxgoldie




msg:1341770
 8:01 pm on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

The most insideous form of MFA sites are those domain parked ones -- they offer nothing of value to the visitor, nothing at all. And, they undermine consumer confidence in Google ads in the ways that David outlined above.

They are the most useless thing on the Net!

martinibuster




msg:1341771
 8:12 pm on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

The most insideous form of MFA sites are those domain parked ones -- they offer nothing of value to the visitor, nothing at all...

The most insidious form of information is the kind derived from a lack of knowledge. No offense, but that's a statement that can only be attributed to sheer ignorance of how people are looking for things online.

The benefit to the Advertiser
If you sold widgets, you would want to own widgets.com because there are so many people typing widgets.com into their browsers. For a widget seller, it's good to own widgets.com.

If you are a widget seller and do not own widgets.com, you can still advertise on widgets.com via AdWords for Search. If you sell widgets, and you can't own Widgets.com, then isn't an ad on Widgets.com the next best thing?

The benefit to the Visitor
First off, you must understand what people are doing when they are typing in domain names of sites they've never visited before into a browser. They are SEARCHING. The only reason someone is typing in a domain name to a site they've never visited is because they are searching for something specific.

If someone types: Widgets.com, they are searching for information on widgets, they may be researching prices on widgets, they may even be looking to buy widgets. Whatever reason they have for searching, what they are doing is searching just as if they were at a search engine, which is why Google AdWords includes parked domains as Search Partners, and not as content partners. There is no content because it's SEARCH.

This is also called Direct Navigation, and it's fairly well known that directly navigated websites tend to convert better [clickz.com] than regular searches.

The benefit to the user is the same as when they are searching: They find relevant information.

It's a win-win situation and only someone who is misinformed of the above facts, or willfully spreading misinformation, would argue otherwise.

maxgoldie




msg:1341772
 9:34 pm on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

But isnt this type of advertiser still that sort of "purely un-necessary layer of middle-men" that david_uk is talking about at the beginning of this thread?

My whole issue is that the argument you are making in support of their merits, could be also equally applied to what one would consider an MFA. I can see both the domain park site, and the garden variety MFA being useless to a visitor who is looking for good content to read/research. They can only be of value to someone who is actively out looking to look at ads -- which are not necessarily the majority of visitors.

Google also allows these sort of sites on content sites as well (I see them on my sites all the time), bringing into question the notion that they are search partners.
The whole debate against the so-called MFA is really about money. The perception, based on fairly universal empirical findings, suggests that the MFA-type site doesn't pay a publisher as well as a "regular advertiser". I bet that the domain parker pays less than the average advertiser also. (And then come the secondary arguments, such as they affect visitor confidence in ads, contribute to ad-blindness, etc.)

humblebeginnings




msg:1341773
 10:04 pm on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

"But isnt this type of advertiser still that sort of "purely un-necessary layer of middle-men"

The owner of a parked domain is not (necessarily) an advertiser. A parked domain can be host to ads, but these ads can lead to both more ads and "real" products. So the ads on a parked domain do not differ from ads on Adsense publishers websites.

"They can only be of value to someone who is actively out looking to look at ads"

Are you telling me Adsense ads are only of use to people who are specifically looking for ads?
You might want to skip the program then...
(No offense intended)

[edited by: humblebeginnings at 10:06 pm (utc) on April 13, 2006]

jomaxx




msg:1341774
 10:04 pm on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

maxgoldie: Domain parkers don't advertise. The whole principle behind domain parking is that they rely on type-in traffic and/or obsolete inbound links.

TypicalSurfer




msg:1341775
 10:50 pm on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

MFAs = zero due diligence by Google.

Google is the biggest hypocrite when it comes to webmaster quality guidelines and what they let into their publisher network.

Wanna tap credit cards all day long, no problem, throw up a few hundred MFA's, run a half way intelligent bot or join a reciprical click club and collect your check with the blessings of Google. The biggest scam going right now, but don't tell anyone, its a secret. ;)

IanTurner




msg:1341776
 10:52 pm on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think people need to define MFA's here.

There are lots of sites that rely on Adsense for the majority of their income, not all are MFA

However I have seen people putting up sites purely for adsense revenue which are high quality informational sites which could generate revenue from alternate sources if they so wished. Its just that adsense pays best at the moment - if another source starts providing a better income than adsense you can bet your bottom dollar that many would change their ads.

The changing of ads applies to the lowest quality scraper sites too - they use adsense because it pays best.

Arbitrage is the art of buying traffic at a lower price than you sell it - any site could do it, it is fairly trivial to work out an RPV (Revenue Per Visitor_) for a site - if your revenue per visitor exceeds what you can buy traffic at then you can make a cut - whether it is adsense -> adsense - adsense -> ebay - overture -> amazon or any other combination.

The art is in having a site that converts its visitors to revenue in the most efficient manner.

Now this leads to some serious questions:

1. Google makes money from every click on one of its ads - do they worry too much about the site which generates them the click?

2. Is there any great difference in revenue model between the low grade scraper site and a high quality publications like the Ideal Home Magazine both are generating income from advertising revenues - both will be attempting to maximise their advertising revenue.

If you start to think about these in an objective manner you will see that the things that matter are

1. How much the advertiser is willing to spend per click.

-- This is totally dependent on the return the advertiser is getting and how ignorant of ROI calculations the advertiser is. I'm sure Google and other search engines are making a killing out of naive advertisers at the moment, as the advertisers become more savvy this additional income will be lost. But in general you can say that advertisers are making a good return on their investment - otherwise they wouldn't keep on doing it (aditionally you have to think about whether they are making more from PPC advertising than other types of advertising - for the most part the answer to this is YES)

2. How naive the visitor to a site is.

This is difficult to grasp for people who have lived and worked with the web for years - the majority of Joe Public doesn't have a f***ing clue about website quality - they couldn't tell a paid link from an unpaid one. They are only interested in finding what they want, preferably as quickly as possible - and if this means clicking the first link on every page they encounter until such time as something appears to be right they'll probably do it.

(Having reread this it was very much stream of consciousness stuff)

maxgoldie




msg:1341777
 11:12 pm on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

Are you telling me Adsense ads are only of use to people who are specifically looking for ads?

No, I meant that domain park portals are only of value to a visitor who is looking for ads -- not to one who is looking to read and/or research info.

This is difficult to grasp for people who have lived and worked with the web for years - the majority of Joe Public doesn't have a f***ing clue about website quality - they couldn't tell a paid link from an unpaid one. They are only interested in finding what they want, preferably as quickly as possible - and if this means clicking the first link on every page they encounter until such time as something appears to be right they'll probably do it.

ah..this is exactly what I am getting at. The average visitor wants to find what they want, and as quickly as possible, not end up wasting their time in a pointless, endless labyrinthine maze of ads, with no other content. How would that help a visitor who is looking for a direct lead? (and not some "purely un-necessary layer of middle-men")

IanTurner




msg:1341778
 11:17 pm on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

And if you think arbitrage is confined to the online world think again - PR companies have made a living out of it for years out of their clients - effectively all they do is buy ad space at one price from the provider and sell it on to the advertiser at a profit (whether they take a kick back from the seller or a fee from the advertiser or in fact both, as most probably do, it amounts to the same thing.)

And the sort of money some of them make is just mind boggling.

ken_b




msg:1341779
 11:24 pm on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

hmmmmm

Anyone in this thread care to admit to running or attempting to run one or more MFAs?

Just curious.

IanTurner




msg:1341780
 11:26 pm on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

ah..this is exactly what I am getting at. The average visitor wants to find what they want, and as quickly as possible, not end up wasting their time in a pointless, endless labyrinthine maze of ads, with no other content. How would that help a visitor who is looking for a direct lead? (and not some "purely un-necessary layer of middle-men")

Yes but most put themselves in the labyrinthine maze by their own inability to search in an effective manner.

If the visitor is from country x and searches for widgets (when actually what he wants is widgets in his own home town) - if he gets non ad laden informational and commercial sites from country y which have no relevance to his own needs then does this serve him any better than getting a site full of ads for widgets in his own country. The answer is no and the ad laden sites that direct him quickly to where he wants to go are much more valuable than the 'quality' informational and commercial sites which don't.

Tanith




msg:1341781
 11:36 pm on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

ken_b - You have your sticky mail turned off :)

No one is going to openly admit to having MFA's its against Google Adsense TOS.

ken_b




msg:1341782
 11:54 pm on Apr 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

ken_b - You have your sticky mail turned off :)

Yeah, I prefer on-board public interaction for the most part.

No one is going to openly admit to having MFA's its against Google Adsense TOS.

One would think that, but ya never know ...... :)

This 78 message thread spans 3 pages: 78 ( [1] 2 3 > >
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