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Topics too sensitive for the stop word filter?
AdSense doesn't like my site.
nick420




msg:1464534
 3:21 pm on May 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

We recently added the AdSense code to about 5000 pages of our site and non-PSAs are only showing on about 4 or 5 of them. I contacted Google to see if we had a problem on our end and they came back with the pretty stock response of...

"Do note that we currently do not run paid Google ads on web pages that are determined to contain potentially sensitive, negative, or non-family safe content by our automatic content-targeting system."

It went on to give two specific examples of topics they feel are too sensitive. But, there are two issues with what they said:

First, the topics are not prohibited by their terms and you would have to use a broad definition of sensitive for it to apply (plese sticky me if you would like to know the topics or visit my profile).

Second, the few pages that do have paying AdSense ads on them are dealing with the same "sensitive" topics. I also see AdSense ads all over the Internet on pages with the same topics as ours.

Does anyone have any experience with this? My initial thought was that maybe our pages were too complex for Google to determine which relevant ads to place on the page, and the “too sensitive” argument was just an excuse. But after a little experiment, I am not sure this is the case.

The few pages that have the ads are paying very well, and the potential for additional income is huge if we could get them on most of the other 5000 pages. Thanks for any help.

 

level80




msg:1464535
 3:55 pm on May 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

There is a list of "stop words". If any of these words appear on a page - Google doesn't show a paying ad. This was partly over the controversy caused over for instance showing suitcase advertisements on a page that was an article about finding dismembered body parts in a suitcase. Due to the nature of your site I think a number of words on your page may be triggering this (people in the funeral business have the same problem). My suspicion is that words like death, fatality, die etc are probably what's causing Google's Adsense bot not to show paying ads. If you reworded the text of the pages slightly it might show more paying ads. It seems the most likely answer... there are other threads on this forum which may give more complete lists of what the stop words are - of course nobody knows exactly apart from Google.

I had some experience of the same thing - I use Adsense on a site about computer games - so encounter PSAs on some pages that contain the stop words.

Fiver




msg:1464536
 4:07 pm on May 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm not sure stop words are all there is to it.

I had well targeted ads for months, they all went to PSA. Editing has done nothing. Nor has replacing the text from one site entirely with the text from another which is successfully showing targeted ads.

mediabot comes back. but doesn't seem to care.

still PSAs - same content on two sites - one shows ads the other doesn't.

The one that does happens to have page-rank. Anybody seen consistency in that respect?

Teknorat




msg:1464537
 6:02 am on May 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

With your site I'd say a heavy re-write may be in order. Have "fun". :¦

nick420




msg:1464538
 7:53 pm on May 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Yeah, I'm drawing the same conclusion. I have read about this problem in other threads now and know I have my work cut out.

Fiver




msg:1464539
 8:18 pm on May 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

on that note, has *anyone* had consistent success getting rid of PSAs with extensive rewrites?

not one offs, but is anyone confident they can convert a PSAs only page back to its former targeted glory? (or even, you know, ads)

Cus all I've had so far is a bit of luck, and a lot of unluck.

icedowl




msg:1464540
 8:23 pm on May 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Where is this "list of stop words"? I think I might've tangled with one or more of them on one page.

level80




msg:1464541
 10:31 pm on May 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Google has the only "list" the rest are partial list - but it's pretty easy to guess the list of words on it - things like death, terrorist etc..... just think of the pages an advertiser wouldn't want to advertise on and you get the picture...

annej




msg:1464542
 11:21 pm on May 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

on that note, has *anyone* had consistent success getting rid of PSAs with extensive rewrites?

The problem is that the stop words or word combinations seem to change from time to time. So even if you do successfully rewrite it may not hold.

I tried some rewriting and in the case where there is just one or two stop words it's pretty easy. Just use a euphemism in those cases. But with some I felt like I was rewriting so much it was affecting the meaning of the article so I decided to heck with it. I just don't use adsense on those pages.

Fortunately I just have a few articles on my sites that get PSAs. I can see how a personal injury site would be really hard to writefor in such a way as to not show any offending words.

icedowl




msg:1464543
 5:55 am on May 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

The problem is that the stop words or word combinations seem to change from time to time. So even if you do successfully rewrite it may not hold.

I rewrote my troublesome page, being very careful about the words I used. It now has its good targeting back and I've got my fingers crossed that it holds.

richmondsteve




msg:1464544
 6:47 pm on May 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

nick420, I'm in the same boat. I have a site dealing with crime which has been showing AdSense ads since late June. I've had the PSA/AA problem on several occasions. For the last 2 months daily clicks are down 98% because the high-traffic pages are showing PSA/AAs. Before that, I was seeing 3-digit daily clicks and acceptable earnings despite the fact that the types of ads displayed were very low EPC. Adwords ads are only being shown on a very small number of the pages overall and except for a couple of *unusual exceptions, those pages have content that's not quite the core focus of the site.

Every singleAdSense publisher with a related site or any AdSense publisher who is a newspaper with an article about the same topic *only* shows PSAs and AAs - I've been checking for 2 months. I contacted Google in March and got the same response as you. Unfortunately, in my case, I have yet to be able to find any rewrite that will cause Adword ads to be displayed since the same words that trigger the filter are the words necessary to get the Adwords ads to display. Besides, without those words, SERP positioning would dive and SE referrals would disappear. Interesting, dilemma, eh?

I'm not sure if anything I've posted here might be helpful, but I've posted numerous posts to this forum since last summer about trigger words. In case you're not aware how to search this site using google, you can do a search for site:webmasterworld.com richmonsteve <phrase> and find relevant posts of mine. If you substitute <phrase> with 'trigger word' or 'crime' you'll probably find a couple of dozen posts.

* I have come across two pages (we're talking out of several thousand, though I haven't checked all of them) which show ads relevant to the focus of the site, including a couple of ads that used to show on hundreds of pages. I have done significant testing, but can't figure out why these pages show ads or how to get the other pages to. And I know what I'm doing with the testing.

Jenstar




msg:1464545
 8:05 pm on May 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

Every singleAdSense publisher with a related site or any AdSense publisher who is a newspaper with an article about the same topic *only* shows PSAs and AAs - I've been checking for 2 months.

One of the things about their stop word filter is it is pretty flexible. AdSense has commented before that they have that flexibility to add words/names as breaking news stories occur to prevent any embarassing ads appearing. This could be used to add specific people's names (such as kidnap victims, or victims of violent crimes) as well as specific events (Madrid bombings, for example).

Yes, it is sometimes a pain, especially when you cannot exactly figure out what stopword phrases (or combination of stopwords on a page) are causing the PSAs, but Google does not want any repeats of the early problems with inappropriate ads. [webmasterworld.com] Overture's ContentMatch is now suffering from the same problem [webmasterworld.com].

Jenstar




msg:1464546
 8:09 pm on May 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

More threads on stop words:
[webmasterworld.com...]
[webmasterworld.com...]

Really good discussion with how it pertains to news sites:
[webmasterworld.com...]

And even more:
[google.com...]

This has come up alot ;)

richmondsteve




msg:1464547
 12:18 pm on May 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

Jenstar wrote:
One of the things about their stop word filter is it is pretty flexible. AdSense has commented before that they have that flexibility to add words/names as breaking news stories occur to prevent any embarassing ads appearing. This could be used to add specific people's names (such as kidnap victims, or victims of violent crimes) as well as specific events (Madrid bombings, for example).

The filter that is affecting my site and all related sites and newspaper pages is affecting pages about sex crimes. It could even be broader than that, but I haven't investigated. The ads that had shown previously were for criminal background searches and similar services related to personal safety and were highly relevant to both the content on the pages where they were shown and the interests of the site's visitors. There isn't a creative way to tweak the wording of a page about Ohio's sex offender registry without it losing necessary keywords to retain SERP positioning and SE referrals *and* have relevant context so that anything but PSA/AAs are displayed. It's a double-whammy catch-22. And I know for a fact that there are relevant advertisements still available who are participating in content site advertising through Adwords. It's entirely due to a very sensitive filter. And the filter is totally inappropriate considering the relevance of the ads to the visitors' purpose for visitng the site in the first place. Google claims that they can't whitelist the site, but that's really something they should consider.

Yes, it is sometimes a pain, especially when you cannot exactly figure out what stopword phrases (or combination of stopwords on a page) are causing the PSAs, but Google does not want any repeats of the early problems with inappropriate ads. Overture's ContentMatch is now suffering from the same problem.

Don't get me wrong - I understand and agree with the desire to prevent ads for luggage from showing on a page with an article about someone killed and stuffed in a suitcase. But a parent who is reading an account of a child molested by a neighbor is not going to be offended by an ad about a criminal background search service. So I understand the problem Google is trying to address, agree in theory with their filtering and understand the method for tweaking and testing text (I've been doing that since June on various sites), but I find no way to accomodate this filter and feel that it's common sense that sites such as mine should be able to appeal to be reviewed for at least some form of limited whitelisting (it's a 5+ year old site which is high-traffic relatively speaking and was showing well-matched AdSense ads for months). Obviously that's in my best interests, but it's really in the best interests of the site's visitors, the advertisers and Google as well.

taxpod




msg:1464548
 1:57 pm on May 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

nick420,

Is it possible that all the advertisers in your topic have elected to not participate in AdSense? They seem to be pretty much attorneys in that area. It would be natural for them to want to advertise in a "sensistive topic" area considering what they are advertising. It doesn't make sense to me that PSAs would show up on your site unless all these advertisers opted out of AdSense.

Have you tried writing to advertisers in the keywords your site targets? Maybe if they asked G why their ads aren't appearing on your site something might get done.

Then again we are talking about Google who once they get a notion, they are so impressed with it that they just know it can't be wrong.

Jenstar




msg:1464549
 2:32 pm on May 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

But a parent ... is not going to be offended by an ad about a criminal background search service.

But advertisers could feel the opposite way, and that is the biggie. What is appropriate for one person who may have gone to a site willingly dealing with sensitive subject matter, an advertiser could feel is completely inappropriate subject matter for his/her ad to be appearing on - especially if the ad was triggered by the keywords "background checks" and not any of the other details in the story. There is a big difference between a page on how to get background checks, and pages with personal first hand stories of sensitive subject matter.

AdSense is catering to the advertisers, since they are the ones footing the bill. And all it would take it one publicized case of an unhappy advertiser who saw his/her ad on a site *he/she* feels is inappropriate, and you could see a flood of advertisers opting out of content sites - which would end up hurting all publishers.

It is a fine line that AdSense has to walk on of what is appropriate and not appropriate, and they are constantly tweaking it. But I am fairly certain they will continue being overzealous, so to speak, in the strength of their filter, than have another "burn, baby, burn" or suitcase incident that ends up being widly reported in the media.

Jane_Doe




msg:1464550
 5:36 pm on May 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

on that note, has *anyone* had consistent success getting rid of PSAs with extensive rewrites?

Yes.

richmondsteve




msg:1464551
 6:11 pm on May 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

But advertisers could feel the opposite way, and that is the biggie.

Jenstar, I agree. I'm sure it's hard for you and others to fully understand the situation since I've only shared a few details. Of the sections of the site utilizing AdSense, one particular section with a few hundred related informational pages receives the vast majority of AdSense impressions. I'll walk you through a scenario that's representative of the majority of those viewing those pages.

After reading about a local sex crime or hearing about a convicted sex offender in her area, a parent visits a search engine in order to find the local sex offender registry and related information. The parent searches on something like "<location> sex offenders", sees a listing for my site, clicks it and is taken to a page with information about that locality's sex offender registry and links to relevant internal and external pages about the registry, registration laws and access. In a skyscraper, 4 AdSense ads are shown - all for the following types of services: criminal background checks, aggregator searches of sex offender registry records, sex offender registry alert services, private detective services and self defense videos/products. I think you'll agree that I'm not looking through rose-colored glasses when I say that these ads are appropriate in every sense and are a great fit for the pages they're being shown on.

So those were the ads that were showing for many month until a week and a half into March. I know for a fact that a number of these advertisers are still opted-in to Adwords content site advertising and are targeting the same keyword phrases that result in high SERP positioning for the site's pages and represent the bulk of search phrases for SE referrals to these pages. If you substitute <location> with a U.S. state in the search phrase I mentioned above and do several searches in Google, you'll see the type of advertisements that previously showed on this section of the site. Though it may not be relevant, I'll mention that the average EPC for these ads is extremely low due to the low cost of the services being advertised and their conversion rate.

I know first-hand that the advertisers *do* want to advertise on such pages. In fact, a number of the advertisers either added similar information pages to their own sites and/or created gateway type sites with similar information. A few weeks ago, after significant testing, I was even able to get these ads to appear on some test pages for a short period of time, before they were replaced by PSAs. I am still not certain why they were displayed, but I suspect they were do to the site's theme and the filter kicked in a short time later.

That's pretty much the situation.

johannamck




msg:1464552
 7:02 pm on May 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

The problem is, the ads are not selected on a case-by-case basis.

A content site with the keywords you mentioned could be a site like yours; or a news story about a man wrongly accused as an offender; or a story of a child that was murdered etc. In some cases ads can be interpreted as offensive.

Google errs on the side of caution, but not all the time (or not often enough)?

Right now there's a story on excite about a man being laid to rest, and it has google ads about pet memorials and burial plot re-sale opportunities. Tasteless? I think so.

Bottom line: It's important to remember that not all websurfers know how Google ads work. They assume the webmaster personally reviewed and selected the content of the ad.

ChrisKud5




msg:1464553
 7:13 pm on May 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

I would not give any paid ads to any of the subjects on your site either.

A stipulation should be placed in the adsense TOS that states "if your site is nothing but a way to get money out of other people, you get PSA's"

richmondsteve




msg:1464554
 8:20 pm on May 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

johannamck wrote:
A content site with the keywords you mentioned could be a site like yours; or a news story about a man wrongly accused as an offender; or a story of a child that was murdered etc. In some cases ads can be interpreted as offensive.

I agree that such potential exists. General purpose news sites are especially at risk given the breadth of topics covered. I limited AdSense to a collection of related informational pages where there wasn't even negligible risk that the ads would be tasteless or offensive. Google may not feel it's in their best interest to override filters or manually review sites which appeal to be vetted, but it's something they should consider. Perhaps there are very few sites like mine which are affected to this extent and the lost incremental revenue isn't significant enough (or known) to bother with. Personally, given the number of low quality publishers and TOS violations I see, I feel that Google should vette all sites prior to inclusion and periodically thereafter, but I'll save that discussion for another day.

These advertisers lost 5-figure monthly clicks from my site alone and I haven't seen any AdSense publisher pages with related content show anything but PSA/AAs in 2+ months so I think some filter tweaking may be in order. Just my 2 cents. Life goes on.

richmondsteve




msg:1464555
 8:30 pm on May 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

ChrisKud5 wrote:
I would not give any paid ads to any of the subjects on your site either.

A stipulation should be placed in the adsense TOS that states "if your site is nothing but a way to get money out of other people, you get PSA's"

You're talking about nick420's site, right? Not that it bothers me if you're talking about mine, but if you are you may be confused about its founding and purpose. I founded mine in 1998 to serve as the first comprehensive, current information source of its kind and didn't even try to monetize it (and then just in hopes of subsidizing expenses) for nearly 4 years. My site pretty much *is* a PSA. ;-)

httpwebwitch




msg:1464556
 3:39 am on May 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm having the same problem, on a site about medically-relevant pelvic health issues. I'm getting nothing but PSAs. Rewriting is not an option - discussing impotence treatment without actually using the word "****" sounds like silly kindergarten babble.

annej




msg:1464557
 4:24 am on May 15, 2004 (gmt 0)


I've just decided that some topics don't work well with AdSense.

I have a hobby/history site that works well with AdSense but even then some pages just get PSAs so I don't use AdSense on them. It doesn't seem to take much to make a page a PSA page. History includes war and death.

The other topics I have sites on simply don't work with AdSense simply because the ads come out so poorly targeted. I'd hoped the new targeting would be better but had to take the ads down again.

ChrisKud5




msg:1464558
 5:03 am on May 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

Richmondsteve-

No, not your site! I do not even know what your site is.

Sticky me with it I am always interested in seeing other peoples work

Take Care

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