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Bad Adsense targeting is back
or is it just me?
ownerrim




msg:1465043
 1:24 am on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

Once again, I am getting off target ads and once again I have none of my adsense-alloted magic bullets (200 to the box, one box only, url-filter brand)

Anyone else seeing this?

 

suidas




msg:1465044
 1:57 am on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

What value can we get from messages like this? What does its posting tell me? What do ten messages responding that they've seen X tell me?

I wager: nothing. Revenue fluctuates for many reasons. People generalize too quickly. People are differently incented to discuss their revenue depending on what's happening to it. And, for some of us, there are financial consequences to filling these boards with optimism or pessimism.

dflayfield




msg:1465045
 2:04 am on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

For the most part I have had only minor relevancy problems over the last 9 months, but today relevancy is horrendous. CTR has fallen by 50%. My site is strictly for an American market with pages for almost every city/town in the country. A page that is clearly about "Los Angeles Widgets" is getting ads titled "Cheap Tokyo Widgets". Pages about "Texas Widgets" are getting ads titled "London Widgets". No wonder click through rate is down. There is no reference to Tokyo or London on these pages and there are multiple ads per page that are targeted to the same city.

I have always had problems with AdSense targeting on a very small level. For example a page about "Madison, Wisconsin Widgets" would have an ad for "New York Widgets". But it has never been this bad. Almost every page of the site has between 50% and 100% of the ads mistargeted.

Anyone else seeing this problem? Is it my site or has there been a major alg change for the worse? One qualifier I must make is that my dedicated server went down for almost 24 hours yesterday. That is the only thing I can think of that may have caused this.

So what does everyone think.... Isolated incident or AdSense-wide changes?

jbgilbert




msg:1465046
 2:05 am on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

What value can we get from messages like this? What does its posting tell me? What do ten messages responding that they've seen X tell me?
I wager: nothing. Revenue fluctuates for many reasons. People generalize too quickly. People are differently incented to discuss their revenue depending on what's happening to it. And, for some of us, there are financial consequences to filling these boards with optimism or pessimism.

1) If the message is inappropriate, the modertors will handle it.

2) Read before you write! He did not complain about "revenue". He is noticing "poorly target" adsense ads and just wants to know if others are seeing it.

3) The post interested me enough to read it, because many of us use the forum to keep in touch with such things.

ownerrim




msg:1465047
 2:29 am on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

In the case of mistargeting, sometimes it's helpful to know if the poor targeting of ads is a general phenomenon, or just an isolated occurrence.

But there are other reasons for posting comments like this. Google employees (adsense advisor) do occasionally monitor these threads and, hopefully, use them for constructive purposes. Frankly, I hope AA is reading because everytime I have written adsense from my account (and sent screenshots and urls), I've not gotten anything constructive in return. And this was at the height of the last off-targeting wave a couple weeks back. It was as though no one there was willing to admit what was an obvious problem.

I wrote adsense and asked if they had any plans to increase the url filter limit. They were nice but basically said nope. However, if adsense would simply bump the limit from 200 to 250, I could, through my own diligence, get the off-topic ads gone. Which would be good for me the publisher, the advertiser, and the adsense program as well.

suidas




msg:1465048
 2:52 am on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

Quick reply:

I didn't mean to suggest the post was inappropriate. But I'm interested to know how people perceive the value of anecdotal posts like this. After reading these posts for hours, I picked a new one to reply to. You're right the topic wasn't explicitly revenue, but surely we discuss these things with revenue in mind.

expert_21




msg:1465049
 2:56 am on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

it's just daily flunctuations, as usual.

hamster77




msg:1465050
 9:45 am on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

I've noticed that the ad targetting is much broader on my sites since yesterday and as a result the ads aren't very relevant - and obviously of no interest to visitors unfortunately.

For example - a site featuring info on blue widgets up 'til yesterday used to pick up very highly targetted ads related to "blue widgets". Yesterday and today the ads are only related to "blue", with not a single widget-related ad out there. Adsense is picking up the right words, but not seeing them in the right context at the moment, so the ads are pretty much useless. I know those blue widget ads are still out there, but I'm not getting any of 'em.

Hopefully this will sort itself out. I'm feeling slightly embarrassed for the non-relevant ads my site visitors are getting subjected to at the moment.

europeforvisitors




msg:1465051
 12:34 pm on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

I've noticed that the ad targetting is much broader on my sites since yesterday and as a result the ads aren't very relevant - and obviously of no interest to visitors unfortunately.

I was having the opposite experience when you described the broad targeting that you were seeing. My home page was displaying ads for (let's say) Elbonian unicycle tours when my site's overall topic was Elbonian travel. Of my 4,000 or so pages, only three are about unicycle tours, and there was no mention of unicycle tours on the home page. It's a bit as though Google had decided to display four leaderboard ads for Peruvian albino gerbils on a 4,000-page site about pet care. The ads weren't wildly mistargeted (at least they mostly had something to do with Elbonian travel), but they were far too specific for the topic of the page and the audience.

It often seems that Google is rotating not just ads, but also its ad-matching algorithms from day to day or even hour to hour.

ownerrim




msg:1465052
 2:33 pm on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

EFV, that is roughly the same phenomenon I am
experiencing. They are placing ads on the site
that match one or two keywords, but still
end up being TOTALLY IRRELEVANT to the subject
that drew my visitors in the first place. It would
be the same as if I had a site about web development
and they gave me ads about brown recluse spiders
and spider venom antidote.

Hate to beat a dead horse, but GG or AA if you read
this, how about lobbying to get the url filter limit
increased? I never used it at all till 4/2/04. Now,
I'm at the limit and--this is pretty funny actually--
I am going through my url filter list on a daily basis
and picking the ones that I think are NOW SAFE, and
removing them so I have room to filter this 2nd
round of "spider venom ads".

dflayfield




msg:1465053
 3:37 pm on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

What EFV and ownerrim are describing is the same thing i am seeing....on a page where it is important that 2 keywords be associated with each other like "wisconsin" and "widgets", adsense is picking up only one of them and serving the first available ad for that word....so you end up with ads about california widgets on the wisconsin widgets page...well the folks in wisconsin couldn't care less about widgets in california. and we aren't talking about this kind of targeting for just one ad in an ad group or just one page of the site....they are all that way

at first i thought it might be that my server went down on tuesday and googlebot just needed time to reindex but it is still happening and the fact that others are experiencing similar problems i dont think it is related to the downtime....

AA, any comments on what is happening with relevancy?

Never_again




msg:1465054
 3:50 pm on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

But I'm interested to know how people perceive the value of anecdotal posts like this.

They are of no direct value and in themselves useless. I get very tired of people attempting to draw conclusions from a few hours of data. That being said, I would not discourage the posts because their value come from the fact that they spark some good thoughtful posts like those of EFV who draws from a large sample and broader experience before posting inferences.

[edited by: Never_again at 6:22 pm (utc) on April 29, 2004]

7_Driver




msg:1465055
 3:59 pm on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

Well 28th April saw our CTR halve(!) - to a record low - today is even lower.

This isn't normal day-to-day fluctuations - it's MUCH bigger than that.

Relevancy appears to be the key - the ads are relevant for the site as a whole - but often not relevant to the content of the page they appear on. Relevancy used to be spot-on.

At least if this effect on CTR is typical, Google will be swapping back to the previous algo pretty soon - after all it hits their revenue too!

peterdaly




msg:1465056
 4:02 pm on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

Well 28th April saw our CTR halve(!) - to a record low - today is even lower.

This isn't normal day-to-day fluctuations - it's MUCH bigger than that.

Same here...and I agree.

dan_popescu




msg:1465057
 4:12 pm on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

"Well 28th April saw our CTR halve(!) - to a record low - today is even lower."

Same here. And I see very badly targeted ads - the same set of ads displayed on the home page is showing on many other pages too, although it shouldn't.

ganderla




msg:1465058
 4:20 pm on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

I agree, even though the ads that are showing are high paying ads, no one is clicking as they are un-targeted. I would rather have my ol' low paying ads with a real CTR.

ken_b




msg:1465059
 4:24 pm on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

Targeting for my site (1,200+ pages) has been on the much more general side the last two days.

A few pages have sufferd from totally off target ads such as home entertainment systems on a car page.

That apparently resulted in a CTR right on the lower edge of my long term (several months) average.

But EPC was WAY up. So earnings were not negatively affected.

ownerrim




msg:1465060
 4:49 pm on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

This type of phenomenon really hits sites that
are completely in sync with a particular niche,
i.e. where the subject matter is very in tune
with what a user is searching for. Ideally,
this is the type of site that adsense is
trying to capitalize off of. However, when the
targeting goes into the dumper on such a content-tight
website, so does the click-through. Why keep mentioning
the problem? Because it keeps happening. And recently it keeps happening despite the fact that, for a couple of weeks, the problem seemed to be fixed. How do you bring the problem to the attention of Google? Tech support? Don't count on it. Every time I've written them about it, they've very nicely responded--but the answer has always been a variation of "nope, looks good to us". And this is completely logical for them to say this. These guys in the google-plex are computer guys--->they are not familiar with the nuances of the many thousands of industries that operate sites carrying adsense. And I doubt they have a whole lot of time to analyze such problems. From what I understand, google maintains a relatively small work force. To me, it looks like they will need to hire more guys, or risk, over time, some brand value devaluation regarding adsense, which some other ppc program, yet to be born, may take advantage of. Actually, these postings are like offering free field research to the plex.

ownerrim




msg:1465061
 4:49 pm on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

whoa, that was long. sorry

dflayfield




msg:1465062
 5:12 pm on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

They are of no direct value and in themselves useless. I get very tired of people attempting to draw conclusions from a few hours of data.

First of all these posts are not anecdoatal. Anecdotal evidence is evidence that can't be substantiated with hard data. Even if it's only 24 hours of data, what we are seeing is real.

Second, this thread has turned out to be very useful. Many publishers are having the same problem I am having. How does that help me? I don't spend all day trying to find a problem on my side.

ownerrim, thanks for saving me several hours of my day.

nealw




msg:1465063
 5:20 pm on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

I am seeing terrible targeting over the past two days. CTR is down by a full 1% due to non targeted ads.

Most of my business is travel. For example on my Caribbean pages, I am now seeing ads for Hawaii. Well over 50% of the ads being shown on these Caribbean pages are themed correctly to travel but have "zero" to do with the content of the pages. Very frustrating.

If this does not improve soon I will make a change myself...with my feet.

Just my two cents.

Bluepixel




msg:1465064
 6:47 pm on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

Well my ctr/epc dropped too in the last two day :(. Site theming doesn't fit well to my directory/search engine.

ctr and epc 1/4 of what they were before

icedowl




msg:1465065
 7:17 pm on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

I've only seen one halfway decent day in the past 7 days. Generally, all has been on a downward spiral since late March.

newbies




msg:1465066
 7:29 pm on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have seen improving targetting for the past 2-3 days. Even on forum pages, new posts can get targeted correctly.

yump




msg:1465067
 7:42 pm on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

If I've read the posts properly, there's a very specific phenomenon mentioned here by 3 posters and you can add me to the list. To me that makes it worth talking about.

ie. the display of sets of adverts based on a specialised keyword which is relevant to the site, but too highly specialised to warrent a set of 4 ads. everywhere.

ownerrim
dflayfield
efv
and now add me, yump to that list.

On another thread I think Jenstar said it could be due to heavy bidding by a few advertisers on certain keywords (I guess if its careless bidding, they could accidentally cause a plague of 'obscure' keyword triggered ads?).

Nikke




msg:1465068
 8:10 pm on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

Well 28th April saw our CTR halve(!) - to a record low - today is even lower.

This isn't normal day-to-day fluctuations - it's MUCH bigger than that.

We've seen much a much broader selection of ads as well, and actually DOUBLED our EPC on it, so I'm really happy about it.

martinibuster




msg:1465069
 8:33 pm on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

Adsense is triggering ads based on my navigational links. Regardless of topical context, Google is pulling the EXACT SAME ADS for every page.

This is not good, and I hope Google can get a handle on it.

[edited by: martinibuster at 8:38 pm (utc) on April 29, 2004]

union_jack




msg:1465070
 8:34 pm on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

I thought it was only me, my ads are way off. I am down 70% on what I get usually...

hamster77




msg:1465071
 9:42 pm on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

I've managed to kill most of the way off-target ads that were picking up too much on the wrong keywords - hooray.

I've just noticed something different going on though on one site. It looks to me as though Adsense is trying to get a close-enough match based on spelling. This is a travel site where all the names are in the local language, although the site is in English. The ads seem to be targetting what the word might be if it was English... ie. a bit like "did you mean..." on search. Not surprisingly it's several hundred miles and a whole range of subjects out at the moment...

adamxcl




msg:1465072
 10:51 pm on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

Add another to the list of bad targeting. I'm losing a full 2-3% off my CTR and it's killing yesterday and today. I'm seeing ads related to the overall business but no where near where they should be. Like an ad for a Munich, Germany travel site on a page about campgrounds in Oklahoma. That isn't getting too much interest and not helping myself or Google. How about a rollback to a while back when everything was targeting and perfect, people were happy and we were all making money! It seems like every change is for the worse.

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