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|"Made for AdSense" sites|
In another thread, a member posted the URL (since removed) of what might be termed a classic "Made for AdSense" site. For the benefit of newcomers who haven't seen such sites, let me describe what this one is:
The overall topic is "widget ------ling." The site's home page consists of links to pages optimized for keyphrases such as "widget ------ling in Springfield," "widget ------ling in Shelbyville," "Christian widget ------ling," and so on. The site has several hundred pages in all.
If you go to the page on "widget ------ling in Elbonia," you'll find a block of standard text that has been modified via a script or search-and-replace program to read something like:
"This page is about widget ------ling in Elbonia. If you're interested in widget ------ling in Elbonia, you can read our information on widget ------ling in Elbonia or chat about widget ------ling in Elbonia to learn all about widget ------ling in Elbonia."
The left column consists of AdSense ads disguised as a navigation bar. (Colors have been modified to eliminate ad borders and make the the "Ads by Google" hard to see.)
Clearly, this site violates the Google TOS, which state that an AdSense publisher's pages can't be created "for the purpose of displaying ads" even if the content is on target. (One might also think that the borderless ads disguised as a navigation bar would violate the TOS, but they don't, because Google made the mistake of listening to publishers who insisted that control over ad colors was necessary for "site aesthetics.")
I'd like to think that, when Google discovers sites like this, it takes action. Such sites are bad for users, bad for advertisers, bad for Google Search, and bad for the credibility of Google's "content network" among current and future advertisers. The question is, what can Google to do to discourage the creation of such sites? Here are some ideas for discussion:
1) Require that publishers obtain Google's approval for each site or subdomain where the AdSense code is to be used. Better yet, use technical means to ensure that code isn't displayed on non-approved domains or subdomains.
2) "Sandbox" revenues of new accounts and new sites under existing accounts for a reasonable period--say, 60 to 90 days--or until the AdSense QC team has done a couple of spot-checks to make sure that the site is legitimate.
3) Perform regular spot checks of any account that has revenues above a certain figure.
4) Tighten up the color and layout requirements for AdSense ads: e.g., require that the ads have borders and don't allow them to be used in lieu of navigation bars.
5) Work more closely with the Google Search team, so that any site banned by Google Search is also banned by AdSense and vice versa.
These steps might not eliminate the problem of "Made for AdSense" sites that threaten the viability of contextual advertising and clutter Google's search results, but they'd be be a step in the right direction.
I wonder - how exactly are "made for adsense" sites defined?
Martinibuster has it right.
Judge not, lest you be judged.
Shades of grey apply here.
Yes there are some totally spammy 'made only for Adsense' sites that offend my sensibilities, but there are far more that are shades of grey.
There's an awful lot of sites changing the colours to resemble a navigation and placing the ads so close to the navigation bar that it can be easily confused. Personally, that doesn't bother me too much, but its not far from the 'adsense for navigation' that some seem to find offensive.
I personally have a finance site that does exactly that, y'all think thats wrong? How many of you are doing the same thing?
Anyone fancy getting on a soapbox to clearly define the moral difference here - its taking advantage of visitor confusion just the same.
Having said that, I think the criteria should be "value to the visitor". If the site is purely a device to pack'em off to an Ad without seeking to answer the search query, then that is bad for all of us in the long run.
We voice about people not following google TOS,
but how many of us really read the TOS carefully.
Sometimes it is left to our interpretation and we follow what someone has already has done.
This section may be a bit off topic
To give an example when I initially joined this forum I thought it was ok to use my Domain name as userid as I had seen many active members in this forum use it, today my old account was revoked and was told to create a new account and I was pointed TOS 18 of this site
I have seen some "Made for Adsense" site running as sponsered AD (including adwords) in the google site.
I think google would have definetly thought about it and would have realized that it is very difficult to police the same and hence has introduced "smart pricing".
A lot of spam sites make a lot of money for Google, the publishers, and the advertisers. Some do not. "Smart pricing" is supposed to make site-quality less of an issue.
If the ads on a spam site generate clicks and those clicks generate a healthy ROI for the advertisers, the only people upset will be competitors. If the clicks don't convert, smart pricing supposedly kicks in to make running the ads non-productive for the publisher.
The system basically polices itself (if it works as intended).
That's the rub, and I think the source of efv's concerns. What should Google do if they find out the "spammy" sites are converting for advertisers as well or better than the content ones?
This has been my experience as an advertiser, so I have no problem with them. The problem efv addresses is the large, corporate sites that don't want to be associated with us subhuman smarm that produce pages with less than 3,000 words of unique content. Even worse, some of us aren't very good web designers :O).
I dunno, someplace between 3,000 word pages and pages with ads as the sole content there might be happy medium.
Do nav bars count as content?
The TOS says pages that were built soley for the purpose of displaying ads (make money?) are not eligible, even if there is real content on the pages (if I recall right).
That is not as clear a statement as it looks, by a long shot.
I've seen some pages that offer nothing but a couple lines of "content" a "back" or "home" link and an adsense ad block that provided real, useful content in those few lines. I'd bet that a some of these pages were auto-generated instant-sites. But they are still useful.
I've seen other pages with hundreds of words of useless "content" and adsense. On those pages the only useful content seems to be the adsense ads.
Does adsense count as useful content? I can imagine situations where Google would look at the page and say it does. I don't think that was the intent, but still.... who knows.
I think the problem are mostly with the unreviewed sites.
But it's entirely possible to take a clean site that was submitted and reviewed and later add new pages that clearly lack substance, but which work great to dump clicks into the adsense blocks.
And while we are talking about it, who would pay for greater quality control?
The advertizers? maybe they would bid higher if the ROI was greater, maybe not.
Google? Not likely.
That leaves the publisher, via even lower payouts.
|And while we are talking about it, who would pay for greater quality control? |
If the AdSense network is perceived as the Wild West, fewer advertisers will be willing to risk their money in Google's "content network." This will result in less competition for ad placement, lower bids, and ultimately less money for publishers.
Two things to keep in mind:
1) Mainstream corporate advertisers and advertising agencies are pickier about their ads and direct-response marketing than the typical Webmaster World member is likely to be. That's partly because they have brand identities to protect, and partly because the ad managers and media buyers are answerable to bosses. Webmaster World members can say "Traffic from keyword-rich nonsense sites converts just as well as traffic from legitimate sites" all they want (whether or not they're correct), but that premise is a tough sell on Madison Avenue, where advertisers have deeper pockets than most of today's PPC advertisers do.
2) The impact of spam on e-mail marketing, the increased availability of popup blockers, and such draconian measures as default ad-blocking in Norton Internet Security show what can happen when spam and other annoyances go unchecked. Google knows this, and it knows that it can't afford to let its SERPs or the AdSense network be taken over by spammers.
|If the AdSense network is perceived as the Wild West, fewer advertisers will be willing to risk their money in Google's "content network." This will result in less competition for ad placement, lower bids, and ultimately less money for publishers. |
I absolutely agree with EFV. It is our interest and the interest of Google to make sure that Adsense remains a viable program for advertisers. I am also an Adwords advertiser and I have opted out of the content network after reviewing the quality and ROI of some sites where my ads were displayed.
It is our long term interest to help Google - all we need is a Google page where everyone can enter the URL of a site that in his/her judgment break the TOS and let them be the final judge. This will decrease the cost for Google and help the program remain viable for publishers, advertisers and Google.
I also have another problem with these “made for Adsense” sites and that is that by ‘lifting’ other people’s keywords they are systematically infringing on trademarks of others and diluting the brand of many companies. Google should take note that their rather relaxed trademarks policy will bite them back in another way.
As I said I dropped out of the content network – another reason is because I do not want to see my brand associated with some very questionable spam sites.
EFV; I mostly agree with you. Lower payouts to publishers could happen either way.
Oetzi; I'm sure keyword stuffed pages can infringe on trademarks, but they don't have to. Still, I can see where that is a real concern. Just as not wanting to be associated with some sites is.
|Just as not wanting to be associated with some sites is. |
Quality is important to make sure that advertisers opt in the content network. We can't have the situation where advertisers are opting out of the content network in droves because the sites are too spammy or too low quality.
Another problem is the perception of the lead. Advertisers may not be too happy to learn that they got a click on their ads -- not because the user is actually interested in their product or service -- but because the only way out of the site is to click on an ad. The user may have brought "traffic" to the advertiser but not the quality traffic the advertiser was hoping for. Soon, Adsense will have the reputation of the type of traffic that can be brought from these popunder networks or other dubious sources of traffic -- and advertisers will opt out in droves.
>> The user may have brought "traffic" to the advertiser but not the quality traffic the advertiser was hoping for.
I am saying this again : Adsense clicks from SEO'd sites (spammy or not) converts waaay better than adsense clicks from content sites which has a large source of repeat visitors.
If you want proof , just add a related affiliate link in your SEO site and in your content site!
>> I do not want to see my brand associated with some very questionable spam sites.
Its your decision ...As someone said Amazon and Ebay ads appear in millions of spammy affiliate pages . Do they harm their brand? . I bet not! ...
|Amazon and Ebay ads appear in millions of spammy affiliate pages |
The decision in choosing a site where you want your advertising to show is different from a decision from the perspective of Ebay or Amazon in growing their affiliate program.
When you buy advertising through Adsense, you pay for every click - whether the visitor buys or not. So your goal is to try to find sites that will bring you users who will become customers. With affiliate program, Ebay or Amazon will not care where their logos and banners are shown -- since they don't pay until that site (spammy or not) converts. Amazon or Ebay doesn't pay for each click sent by the spammy site.
You're comparing apples and oranges here. Pay per click and pay for performance are two different things with different decision making processes.
I've noticed that every time someone mentioned on this forum how good he/she made a good fortune on AdSense, the SPAM sites become a hot topic. Just my observation.
My second observation is that AdSense program is stronger than ever although someone mentioned that 75% of the top listed sites are SPAM sites.
|As someone said Amazon and Ebay ads appear in millions of spammy affiliate pages . Do they harm their brand? . I bet not! ... |
See Alika's comments about the difference between affiliate programs and PPC ads. Also, Amazon and eBay aren't mainstream advertisers; they're commercial Web sites with populist roots. There's a huge difference between Amazon and eBay and the companies that spend nearly $250 billion per year on offline media in the United States alone.
According to Jupiter Research, online ad spending in 2003 was a mere 3.5% of offline ad spending. In 2004, paid search is expected to grow 35% to $2.6 billion, or barely more than 1% of total U.S. advertising expenditures. There's a huge upside potential for PPC advertising, but it won't be realized if the online ad networks fail to deliver the targeted audiences (not just targeted keywords) and controls that advertisers expect and receive from traditional media outlets.
"Adsense clicks from SEO'd sites (spammy or not) converts waaay better than adsense clicks from content sites which has a large source of repeat visitors."
So in the short run, the crummier G's serps are, the more money they make.
-more spammy adsense sites being created =
-more spammy site adsense ads being shown (and clicked on)= more $$$
in the long run?
The PPC marketplace for advertisers is nearly a perfect market, where the price of placing an ad is determined by supply and demand.
Ads with better conversion rates will be in higher demand, and cost more for the advertisers. Ads with lower conversion rates will have less demand and be cheaper for the advertisers.
This will be true for publishers as well -- those who can deliver high conversion rates will earn more than those who deliver low conversion rates.
The problem at the moment is that none of the big PPC players provide this data to their advertisers or publishers.
If advertisers could see that ads running on site A had a 20% conversion rate at 25 cents per click but ads on site B had a 18% conversion rate at 7 cents per click they would obviously be rather spend their money on site B than site A.
Once the tools and technology are in place to track conversions, the lousy sites will dissappear by themselves.
Conversion data may be useful for existing advertisers, but Google still has the challenge of getting mainstream advertisers to even try its PPC ads. Very few advertisers use any kind of PPC, let alone AdSense, and getting trial will be that much harder if negative word of mouth and media buyers' own experiences with the Web lead to skepticism about the quality of Google's content network.
There will never be good tools in place to track conversion data for the simple reason that the sale cycle of expensive products is very long and complex.
In most cases the sale of an expensive product (anything in the thousands $ and up) is the result of multiple exposures of the product to the prospective customer from different promotional channels including many clicks to the vendor site from different sites.
When people cannot measure the ROI of their ads they walk away from doubius channels.
Unless Google protects the integrity and reputation of the Adsense program, sooner or later it will fail. It is in everyone's interest to cooperate.
One great way to police these nonsense sites would be to allow advertisers to have more control over ads displaying on the content network.
I stopped using content ads a while ago, because conversion wasn't there. There were some sites sending me nice traffic that I'd be happy to receive more from, but there were too many that sent me loads and loads of junk traffic.
Let me exclude the junk sites from displaying my ads, and let me bid differently for content than I do for search and not only am I a happier advertiser, but Google has all the data they need to know which sites to look more closely at.
>> You're comparing apples and oranges here
i gave that example simply to say no ones brand will be diluted if it appears in spammy (percieved) sites ...I understand CPA is different from CPC . An advertiser has a choice here , if he finds content ads are not converting he can simply disable it.
The only problem now is since google dont give induvidual site stats one will have to disable the entire content ad even if there are some sites which convert good .
I still believe when stats like this will be introduced people will realise that SEO'd sites convert better!.
>> it won't be realized if the online ad networks fail to deliver the targeted audiences
A visitor become a targetted audiance (infact razor sharp target) when he types in "luxury hotels in hongkong" ... as a matter of fact he is more profitable to an advertiser than a surfer who reads about hongkong hotels in the travel section of NewYork times
>> According to Jupiter Research, online ad spending in 2003 was a mere 3.5% of offline ad spending.
Those maddison av types who control offline ad budget are into brand building but internet and especially Search engines/PPC will never be a branding platform ...Internet is a pull media and its better suited for ROI sensitive targetted advertising not some brand building . Thats the reason banner ads failed .
martinibuster has a valid point but I make the point that adsense publishers who follow the guidelines should fight to preserve the reputation of the AdSense program.
Like many of you, I have come to depend on AdSense for more then half my income. It's been good to me and I would like to think I am a publisher good to AdSense. I love the program and want to respect it.
Not out of greed, but appreciation.
Put me in the EFV camp because those "type" sites he describes lower the reputation and respect of the program for all of us. There is nothing I hate more then being sucked into one of these bait and switch sites (when researching something on the net)just to see some AdSense ads there.
It sickens me.
And when these %$#@ idiots build sites like those that could put in jeopardy the AdSense program then I WILL start dictating and lobbying for how there needs to be stronger QC and enforced guidelines.
Why? Because I will be d------d to h--l before I let some moron jeopardize the program for me and the money that helps support my family.
|The PPC marketplace for advertisers is nearly a perfect market,………….. The problem at the moment is that none of the big PPC players provide this data to their advertisers or publishers. |
Those two statements contradict each other.
|Once the tools and technology are in place to track conversions |
The problem that I see is that the tools and technology are not in place and that what affects the program will affect all publishers the same. You also have to account for all advertisers adopting these tools and technologies when they become available or just deciding that the whole thing is too much trouble and making a wholesale decision on the program and not single publishers.
|I still believe when stats like this will be introduced people will realise that SEO'd sites convert better!. |
is not a matter of conversion, is a matter of conforming to the existing rules and being true to the way the program is marketed.
|martinibuster has a valid point but I make the point that adsense publishers who follow the guidelines should fight to preserve the reputation of the AdSense program. |
In response to europeforvisitors..
I recently created a searchable travel site that uses dynamic word subsitution to 'stay on topic'... reconfigures title and text... It seems you are criticizing this specific type of page (which happens to have adsense ads among many others).
I asked Adsense to specifically review this site before it went live - they had no problem with the site. In fact, they gave me suggestions for improving ad targeting and ASP methods.
We can argue for days which is spam which is not spam . My view is to let the market decide ...
Just give the advertisers individual site stats (atleast individual account stat) and tools to measure individual conversion rates and tools to disable on a individual basis ...Let the sponsors decide where to spend their money!
IMHO this is the best solution rather than letting some editor decide the quality of a site!
|I recently created a searchable travel site that uses dynamic word subsitution to 'stay on topic'... reconfigures title and text... It seems you are criticizing this specific type of page (which happens to have adsense ads among many others). |
I asked Adsense to specifically review this site before it went live - they had no problem with the site. In fact, they gave me suggestions for improving ad targeting and ASP methods.
This is an AdSense forum. It's not a web design contest so any criticism of your web type is not matter.
|And when these %$#@ idiots build sites like those that could put in jeopardy the AdSense program then I WILL start dictating and lobbying for how there needs to be stronger QC and enforced guidelines. |
To prevent someone jeopardizing the AdSense program is Google job, not yours as long as they did not violate any AdSense TOS. Spend your time to improve your site so that you can help supporting your family.
There are two types of advertisers that we want to minimize that could be affected by the "made for adsense" sites:
A -- Percentage of advertisers who will not even try and venture to participate in the content network because of the "perceived" low quality of publisher sites. They will not even want to test if there is any good ROI to be achieved in the content network. They think the sites are "spammy" and "low quality", however they define that to be.
B -- Advertisers who opted to participate in the content network may be turned off by the "perceived" low quality of sites where their ads are showing. Moreso if they are getting significantly less ROI than the search results. We've had a number here already who said that they have turned off the content network option for their ads.
B of course can be rectified if advertisers are given tools to select where their ads are being shown. However, since the program does not have that capability as yet, publishers are not able to maximize their potential revenue from Adsense given the exodus and non-participation of a percentage of advertisers from the program.
If the percentage of advertiser A & B increases, the Adsense publishers will be affected.
|A visitor become a targetted audiance (infact razor sharp target) when he types in "luxury hotels in hongkong" ... as a matter of fact he is more profitable to an advertiser than a surfer who reads about hongkong hotels in the travel section of NewYork times |
That argument might work if Google were a low-traffic search engine and most users were arriving on Site X from Yahoo, MSN, or some other search engine. But since Google is by far the leading search engine (and since its rivals have a strong incentive to filter out "made for AdSense" sites), it's likely that the visitor is arriving on Site X from Google. So there's no benefit to the user, because he'd have clicked on an AdWord if he wanted to click on an ad. And there's little benefit to Google, because it's sharing revenue with a publisher who's using Google's own search results to cannibalize AdWords clicks.
|Those maddison av types who control offline ad budget are into brand building but internet and especially Search engines/PPC will never be a branding platform ...Internet is a pull media and its better suited for ROI sensitive targetted advertising not some brand building. |
Who said anything about brand building? We're talking about large advertisers and ad agencies that spend billions of dollars a year on direct-response advertising and direct mail. (I remember being in a meeting for an airline's direct-mail campaign and hearing the production guy say, "I need paper specs as soon as possible so I can reserve time at the mill." Believe me, those people weren't thinking about brand building.)
We're talking big money here--a lot bigger than what Google is currently earning from first-generation PPC advertisers.
|We can argue for days which is spam which is not spam . My view is to let the market decide ... |
If it were that simple, the AdSense network wouldn't have any standards at all, and Google wouldn't bother to fight spam in its search results.
I think we should all worship the same God and practice the same religion.I mean, really,is anyone BUYING that Scientology crap? How about it, idealogues?
Couldn't have said it better as Alika did.
My high traffic web sites get visited by a google rep every few days. Sites with next to no traffic and little income get next to no visits. Chances are if you have a made for adsense site and it gets a lot of traffic you will get in trouble.
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