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Does competitor filtering in AdSense really work?
Geotargeted ads may be stealing your customers.
tszyn

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 213 posted 10:14 am on Jul 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

AdSense allows us to filter ads for competing sites. However, AdWords enables advertisers to target their ads based on geographical location. So if a webmaster who lives in country X visits his own site, he will not see the ads that are targeted to country Y.

The bottom line is that your competitors are free to target their ads to countries other than your country of residence, and you won't be able to filter them, because you won't even know about them.

Google should show webmasters a complete list of ads that have been displayed on their site, covering all geotargeted ads.

If you are at all worried about this (I sure am!), I suggest you write to Google to encourage them to display the full list of ads to webmasters.

Tom

 

chiyo

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



 
Msg#: 213 posted 11:18 am on Jul 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

and let you make direct arrangements? doubtful ;)

Basically any area of business activity has an associated risk, and some intelligence that you cant find out. Up to you to work out whether the returns are worth the risk.

Some things you can do maybe is to use a proxy server or anonymizer (though when i tried some they don't show js or iframe or whatever) or ask people in other countries to check for you..

But if you are better in your field, why worry about people finidng competitors anyway?

danny

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 213 posted 1:10 pm on Jul 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

But since publishers using AdSense can see (say) 50% of the ads running on their site now, letting them see all of them (ie, giving them some way to view the geotargetted ones as well) is unlikely to make much difference to whether they try to contact advertisers directly.

In fact, since geotargetting (alone with handling fraud-detection and payments) is one of the add-ons that Google provides that might be hard for a publisher to manage in direct deals with advertiers, geotargetting advertisers are arguably less of a concern in this regard.

chiyo

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



 
Msg#: 213 posted 4:42 pm on Jul 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

danny. i think its more due to the ease. If you wanted to find all those advertisers, even if just 50%. you would have to spend a lot of time writing down a prospect list from going to all your pages and noting down URL's, and advertisers change quote a lot. It may not even be worth the manual staff hours required.

With a simple list of all advertisers it can be easily automated, and much more cost effective.

killroy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 213 posted 4:57 pm on Jul 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hmm, wouldn't a serp be much more effective, and already provide a neat list of prospects?

I doubt this is much of an argument for Google. If their service was really so puny and useless that It can easily be outdone by a few direct agreements, then it won't be around for long anyways...

SN

europeforvisitors



 
Msg#: 213 posted 5:35 pm on Jul 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

The bottom line is that your competitors are free to target their ads to countries other than your country of residence, and you won't be able to filter them, because you won't even know about them.

AdSense was designed for content sites, and content sites normally don't have competitors that buy AdWords (with the possible exception of affiliate partners).

BTW, if you do have affiliate partners that are buying AdSense ads, you might want to consider not blocking their ads with the AdSense filter. I've found that having affiliate partners' AdSense ads on my site doesn't have any noticeable effect on affiliate revenues--probably because some readers who don't notice the affiliate links do notice the AdSense ads, and vice versa.

Jenstar

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



 
Msg#: 213 posted 9:57 pm on Jul 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

Google would never give publishers a list of advertisers, because that information could then be used to approach advertisers directly, effectively cutting Google out of the revenue picture for the relationship.

If you are concerned, use a proxy server based in the location you are concerned about. This will let you know what ads are being served based upon geolocation. But with ad rotations and daily limits, it might take a while to compile an effective listing.

tszyn

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 213 posted 10:14 pm on Jul 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

I don't want a list of advertisers. What I need is merely a list of ADS. Since I can already see most of the ads displayed on my site by simply visiting it, I don't see why Google would have a problem showing me the complete list.

Sure, I can use proxies located in one or two other countries, but I can hardly cover the whole world, can I?

Tom

Jenstar

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



 
Msg#: 213 posted 10:36 pm on Jul 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

It doesn't take much to determine the company from the actual AdWords ad.

If you are so concerned about competitors appearing on your own site, and do not have the time to check through Proxy servers, you probably shouldn't be running AdSense in the first place.

And europeforvisitors is right: "AdSense was designed for content sites, and content sites normally don't have competitors that buy AdWords "

You have to decide if you would rather have the AdSense revenue and lose some of your own in-site orders to competitors, or drop AdSense entirely so you don't have to worry about the loss of traffic. Sounds like a catch-22 to me, since both scenarios can make or lose money.

chiyo

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



 
Msg#: 213 posted 11:20 pm on Jul 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

Well there does seem to be a bit of "have my cake and eat it too" sentiment from some publishers to Adsense. I tend to agree with EFV that Adsense was designed for "content" sites like info resources, online magazines, maybe even blogs and other forms of content sites. To me for example, there is very little direct competition in terms of online info sites/mags in our area, and if there was, it's unlikely they will be using PPC as it is pretty hard to justify if there is no direct selling going in, but just branding - there are better far more effective ways to promote content sites.

I would think that for those for whom concerns like this become major may want to consider whether Adsense is the best program for them, just based on balancing returns with risks. For many sites, affiliate agreements give you far better control of who you do and dont promote. Adsense was never designed (IMHO) for this level of detailed competitor and revenue tracking but just simply for content sites who just want to bung on the code, trust google to deliver relevant sites, and concentrate on their side of the equation - i.e. developing a great content site that will attract targeted and qualified traffic for the advertisers.

tszyn

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 213 posted 11:20 pm on Jul 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

"AdSense was designed for content sites, and content sites normally don't have competitors that buy AdWords"

Well, I'm sorry, but apparently Google does not feel that way -- they implemented a filtering feature and the AdSense control panel explicitly says it's intended for blocking competitors. It does not say "You shouldn't be running AdSense ads if you have competitors who buy AdWords".

chiyo

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



 
Msg#: 213 posted 11:48 pm on Jul 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

No need to be sorry tszny but thanks anyway!

i know what you are saying tszny. But i think the reference to "competitor" was meant to cover all bases, as content sites sometimes do have "competitors" and competitors to site owners other businesses or sponsors, or affiliates, for varying reasons, even if they are a 100% content/info site. I agree, i was sort of surprised to see that facility and the wording, though i appreciate it being there, but i dont think google expects adsense sites to have to use this facility to a very precise or great extent. Then again i was surprised to see the nature of some of the sites that have been approved too. So i may be wrong!

The facility is limited to 200, is very simple and broad, and google does suggest that adding too many may significantly affect your revenue. It's not a major element of the program.

We DO have 2 to 3 sites we block, but its not a great disaster if these sneak through, or others we have not seen, just because there are so many ads being shown that they represent a tiny minority. I guess many would be like me.

Jenstar

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



 
Msg#: 213 posted 12:07 am on Jul 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have seen AdWords that were not used for advertising something for sale, but rather for advertising a new online community - there were not products in the regular sense, it was simply a tactic to increase visibility, and member numbers, and aside from the community, there was a lot of content there. The ad was something about "visit our forums for expert fuzzy blue widget discussion."

If I had a competing content-based site, I wouldn't particularly want to send my traffic to this AdWords advertiser through my AdSense links. So this option is there, even for content sites who might find similar content sites in their AdSense links.

europeforvisitors



 
Msg#: 213 posted 3:36 am on Jul 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

If I had a competing content-based site, I wouldn't particularly want to send my traffic to this AdWords advertiser through my AdSense links. So this option is there, even for content sites who might find similar content sites in their AdSense links.

What's your average clickthrough rate? Let's just say, for the sake of discussion, that it's 2%. Is it really worth worrying that an ad for another content site in the your category might turn up in a different part of the world, and that 2% of the people in that part of the world might click on it?

chiyo

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



 
Msg#: 213 posted 5:14 am on Jul 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

yes info content sites often have a distinct niche, distinct style, and different qualities. Best thing is to assume people will find "competing" sites and make sure yours offers the best resource for your niche. Content site publishing differs enormously from affiliate sites or "selling" sites, where sometimes there is little difference between diff sites. In fact when we find sites complementary and to various degrees competitive we email them, and welcome them aboard to the new niche. Sometimes they decide to merge with us. Another reason why "competitive" ads are just not a major concern for sites that are seriously offering information resources and e-mags.. I still think that if you get too picky about competitive ads appearing you are probably using the wrong ad server system or revenue generator and its an early sign that long term the synergies with AdSense are just not there...

PolishGuy



 
Msg#: 213 posted 5:41 am on Jul 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

europeforvisitors mentioned:

> AdSense was designed for content sites,
> and content sites normally don't have
> competitors that buy AdWords (with the
> possible exception of affiliate partners).

this is total nonsense!

of course everybody has competitors, moreover
if not direct then direct.

I know first class site about software for XXX, that is listed in google as hit nr 4 or 5 when you type "XXX" in google, but they don't want to go for AdSense because they have several good banners directly from vendors, and AdSense would simply discourage these vendors from having direct agreements with them, and they would rather buy AdWords... and for them this 200 addresses to block would quickly run out...

so for some publishers it is really a problem..

I wish you could block keywords, not just URLs/Links... in this way they could allow for AdSense banners that are in general about hardware, not software and thus it would not be competition to them...

chiyo

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



 
Msg#: 213 posted 5:51 am on Jul 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

PolishGuy. I think Europe was referring to direct competitors to their site. So it would mean that they would have to have a directly competitive info site on "software for XXX". And if that site is the best for people interested about "software for XXX" what do you have to worry about in visitors to your site finding competitive sites? They will soon know that your site is better.

As Europe said, the exception is for affiliate partners, so he has already made a disclaimer for what you describe.

In the situation of the site you describe i would only use adsense on pages which dont advertise your existing affiliates and parthers - basically as filler..

I need to ask if that site already has agreements with most of the vendors in the scope of the site (software distributors or manufacturers in the XXX area), why do you need Adsense, as it should theoretically mainly spit out ads for your existing advertisers or competitors?

It maybe is that the site is TOO specific, and you already have the poss Adwords advertisers signed up through other means. Adwords may work best for sites that have a good number of pages that dont as yet appeal to your own advertisers directly or maybe are only tangentially related to the real revenue-generating focus of your site. So you can just use the code on those pages.

Sorry if this is garbled, and not your fault, but still just a little confused.

I relly think if a site has more than 200 "competitors" it is probably not going to work well with Adsense. Esepcially in such a niche info area as "software for XXX".

eaden

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 213 posted 6:14 am on Jul 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

I find it useful to block ads which are not competitors, but inappropriate. Either due to the ad not having anything to do with the site, or "bad taste" ( say an ad about whale meat on a site about protecting whales ).

I think all that is required is to be able to block keywords, say I could put "whale meat" in my keyword block list, and no ads should appear with those keywords in the url, or the ad title or ad text.

I think this is a simple answer, that means the publishers can still block ads effectivly, and google doesn't have to give a list of advertisers.

PolishGuy



 
Msg#: 213 posted 6:30 am on Jul 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

> why do you need Adsense, as it should
> theoretically mainly spit out ads for
> your existing advertisers or competitors?

hm, it was not (!) about my site, it was site of my friend that is about software for "XXX"... why AdSense? I don't know... I was discussing this issues with him and he said "big no to adsense"...

I myself use adsense and I don't block it at all! not even one blocked site...

... but for my friend the ability to block keywords (!), not just addresses could be very helpful - because in this way he could advertise through adsense the "XXX" hardware, not software and thus he would not hurt his current advertisers...

chiyo

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



 
Msg#: 213 posted 6:34 am on Jul 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

yep i realised not your site, just using the word "you" generically.

>>because in this way he could advertise through adsense the "XXX" hardware<<

good point, good way to use adsense.

..as long as it does not distrct them from buying the software from your/his other advertisers!

Clark

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 213 posted 7:14 am on Jul 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

I really doubt Google is particularly "worried" about publishers signing up "their" advertisers. They have 100,000 of them. They seem much more concerned with quality and using that as the "source" of new clientelle. The benefit of getting a list of advertisers far outweighs "losing" customers to publishers.

NOT giving the list creates a motivation for publishers to click their own ads = fraud potential, not to mention unhappy publishers.

Displaying them will get publishers to disable irrelevant ads, and sure, competitive ads which G probably could care less about, but also allow the publishers to check out the "quality" of advertisers and report spammy publishers to Google. I've seen a site that doesn't belong in the Adwords program at all. Very "iffy" site.

tszyn

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 213 posted 9:26 am on Jul 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

"What's your average clickthrough rate? Let's just say, for the sake of discussion, that it's 2%. Is it really worth worrying that an ad for another content site in the your category might turn up in a different part of the world, and that 2% of the people in that part of the world might click on it?"

Yes, it is. Because the 2% who click those "Buy Widgets from Acme Corp." ads are likely to be the same 2% who would be potentially interested in buying MY widgets.

For each customer who is diverted to Acme Corp.'s site there is a greater than zero chance that he/she will buy Acme's product instead of mine.
In other words, the presence of my competitor's ads on my site can only DECREASE the number of sales I make.

Tom

chiyo

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



 
Msg#: 213 posted 9:33 am on Jul 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>In other words, the presence of my competitor's ads on my site can only DECREASE the number of sales I make.<<

Absolutely. But you DO make a "commission" for the lead (I know I know its small!), and the buyer will remember that it was your site that had a useful ad for them, so may come back.

Alternative is not to use Adsense but to sign up acme coporation and other significant suppliers in the industry to your site yourself.

It does sound like your site is a commercial site designed to sell something that it itself sells. Tell me if im wrong. If so I doubt that adsense will work for you, unless you just keep it on tangential pages that are less related to your main products.

danny

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 213 posted 10:48 am on Jul 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

I agree with chiyo. I don't see how AdSense can be a good fit for a site that is primarily designed to sell things. After all, the ads best fitted for a page selling blue fuzzy widgets are always going to be for other pages selling blue fuzzy widgets!

killroy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 213 posted 11:06 am on Jul 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

Well that is exactly the reason why I am lobbying for owner controlled keywords.

I might sell car modding such as hub caps and spoilers, and I'd offer my visitors a valuable service by showing ads for car stereos and alloy wheels.

SN

PolishGuy



 
Msg#: 213 posted 11:08 am on Jul 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

> Well that is exactly the
> reason why I am lobbying for
> owner controlled keywords.

can we sign (virtually) some petition and send it to google to be able to block KEYWORDS and not just URLs...?

for my friend it would be enough to block word "software" so that the Ads could advertise hardware....

Sharper

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 213 posted 8:53 pm on Jul 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

Blocking Ads based on keyword would be perfect. As an example, I have a book site (who doesn't have at least one?) covering lots of topics. Since it's not very specialized in terms of content, other than books, it would be a nightmare to try and find relevent advertisers for each individual page with it's own content without just using generic "book" sponsors.

Of course, it's an affiliate site, so I'm already trying to sell the books on each page. Other book sellers are definite competition.

Enter AdSense. I've blocked some of the obvious competitors (ads with direct links to Amazon.com, etc...), but still have "book" results showing in AdSense on many pages. Keyword blocking would fix this.

Take a car repair manual page, for example. I don't want ads for other car repair manual sites to show, if the person found my page and were looking for that, let them buy one through me! What I want to see on the AdSense portion of the page are ads for car part sites, car magazine sites, car repair sites, mechanics schools, etc... so that if someone was looking for those and found my pages with car repair manuals, the nicely relevent advertiser content would lead them to the target of their real needs. I can take care of the car manual people, but right now if they are looking for "57 Chevy parts" and get my "Reviews of 57 Chevy repair manuals" page, they go back to the search engine or have a choice of other repair manual sites through AdSense.

In short, what's needed isn't ads for the exact content on the page, but ads for complementary content to the page content. The only easy way to accomplish that is to let the AdSense publishers block specific keywords to tune the ads to leave out the things that are redundant instead of helpful to the web surfer.

Anyone from Google listening?

Clark

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 213 posted 9:20 pm on Jul 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

I agree with chiyo. I don't see how AdSense can be a good fit for a site that is primarily designed to sell things.

If Google will give sites that are selling things the right to use adsense, it will work for some and not for others. There are millions of websites and situations and combinations. Google has to cover all the bases it plans to work with. So even if you think it won't work for "selling" sites, they have to provide for the contigency.

Either way content sites have competitors too. NYtimes has USA Today and Wall Street Journal and WA Post etc.

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