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"Made for AdSense" sites
europeforvisitors




msg:1422641
 7:57 pm on Jul 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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.

 

Freedom




msg:1422791
 10:55 pm on Aug 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

We know where i stand on this issue.

However, I sometimes fear that Google puts out that "Don't make websites just for adsense" rule as a Public Relations factor for the benefit of their advertisers - and never seriously thought about enforcing it. They are too greedy to enforce it SERIOUSLY.

(They might enforce it to a lame degree)

I know for a fact that they put out a lot of recommendations and "policy" issues that they have no hope in hell of enforcing because they are incompetent when it comes to policing the web. One only has to concede the fact they lost the war to spam websites to see this. (they got their you know what kicked in the spam war).

They put out these policy issues and turn them into urban legends, promoting fear amongst webmasters - with no hope in following up on them. Fear is their greatest weapon. And once a spammer realizes this - he free's his conscious to create all kinds of junk sites.

However, I disagree with their passive policy, their fear promotion. And I see and feel the webmaster community losing respect for the AdSense because of the very type of websites we are discussing in this thread.

YOu have to agree, no matter what side of the fence you are on, that the advertisers respect for AdSense is slipping. That's a fact jack.

Aurbicus or however it's spelled, take a break. Breathe. Relax man! Your keyboard is going to overheat.!

:-)

Freedom!

birdstuff




msg:1422792
 10:58 pm on Aug 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

Going over the line in one area may not be enough to get a publisher whacked, but going over the line in several areas--or going over the line in one area while playing suspiciously close to the line in several other areas--may lead to a manual review and a penalty. Revenues and conversion rates may also come into play, making it even harder for a simple list of rules (no matter how specific) to keep "grey hat" publishers out of trouble.

If the line is clearly drawn, going over it could and should draw an immediate and permanent expulsion from the AdSense program. No accumulation of "little" going over the lines. If a publisher chooses to skirt the line, he does so at his own peril.

After a few dozen "I accidentally crossed the line and got canned" posts on Webmasterworld" there will be very few gray hats left and quite a few newly conservative ones. I simply cannot see a way that Google can't come out in better shape with clearly defined rules.

Yes, there will be a few publishers who choose to fly by the seat of their pants. They will most likely be gone after a short while, and AdSense's signup method and other tracking tools they have at their disposal will make repeat offenders signing up multiple times very rare.

As far as innocent publishers getting booted unfairly due to quirks in the algorithm, that will always be the case. Google can and does give second chances with a somewhat hot-or-miss appeals process, so that shouldn't be a major problem. At least no more of a problem than it is right now under the existing system of "invalid clicks".

Clearly defined rules will free up more than enough customer service reps to easily handle the occasional appeal.

Disclaimer:

EFV: My posts in this thread are in no way meant as personal attacks on you, and I hope they aren't perceived that way.

You are among a relatively small group of WebmasterWorld members whose obvious experience and common sense add huge value to any discussion. It's simply that while I tend to agree with you most of the time, this is one topic where we apparently disagree completely.

[edited by: birdstuff at 11:10 pm (utc) on Aug. 2, 2004]

arubicus




msg:1422793
 10:59 pm on Aug 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thanks freedom I will do that. Going out for a while to eat and take a breather!

alika




msg:1422794
 11:16 pm on Aug 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

YOu have to agree, no matter what side of the fence you are on, that the advertisers respect for AdSense is slipping. That's a fact jack.

And what does this mean for us publishers, many of whom have Adsense as a significant part of their income? No advertisers ... no bidding war ... no income for us. All the more reason that G must begin to enforce some quality restrictions

Freedom




msg:1422795
 11:41 pm on Aug 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm a publisher too. earn a nice $$$ check every month. So this is my biggest fear. However, Google won't enforce a junk site policy.

They are lame ducks when it comes to this sort of thing. The only thing they care about is fraudelent clicks. Discontinuing AdSense on junk sites will be a rare occurence - especially now that they are a public company.

The only way it will change is if there is a rise in the protest from AdWords advertisers. If the advertisers started complaining - oh yeah, you'd see some action then. Until Google gets that prod, don't look for it to happen.

I'm an Adwords advertiser too and you can bet I will be protesting (with url examples).

Freedom!

blaggard




msg:1422796
 10:03 am on Aug 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

Freedom , Birdstuff:

Surely then if there is concern over spam/junk sites, then why not allow advertisers to block url's as a webmaster can block advertisers url's appearing on their site.

If advertisers continue to let ads run on junk sites then everyone can start writing junk sites :-) or if they don't, then where's the financial incentive for someone to maintain a junk site? without ad revenue which is surely what it was created for... doesn't that break the cycle?

No need then for complicated terms and conditions, as much of this post appears to advocate or discuss, with no means to police it effectively.

No doubt there will be some complications with advertisers perhaps cherry picking where their ad appears using the argument; it's a 'junk site' for legitimate sites but ones they don't want to advertise with, but that could be discussed and sorted out if it ever came to pass?

but what do i know :-)

birdstuff




msg:1422797
 10:52 am on Aug 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

No need then for complicated terms and conditions, as much of this post appears to advocate or discuss, with no means to police it effectively.

Explicit terms and conditions would make it easy for Google to "police it effectively". With the vague TOS that exists now Google likely receives a multitude of "Is this site in compliance?" or "Is this page spamming?" emails. The site is then looked at and a canned response is sent in return, all of which takes an enormous amount of time.

A clear TOS would eliminate the vast majority of these emails because it would be clear to all what is acceptable and what isn't. This would free up AdSense customer service personnel to concentrate on following up on the (much fewer) valid complaints.

I do think the ability for advertisers to block individual publishers is a good idea though. Anything that would help weed out low quality sites is a good thing.

ronburk




msg:1422798
 9:43 pm on Aug 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

To prevent someone jeopardizing the AdSense program is Google job, not yours as long as they did not violate any AdSense TOS.

Sorta. However, when I'm searching for something and Google sends me to a site that is nothing but machine-generated text designed to sell AdSense ads, I report their butt to Google. Every Single Time. Google gives me a link for reporting crappy search results, so I use it. That's what it's there for. If everybody did the same, I bet Google search results would get less crappy more quickly :-).

ogletree




msg:1422799
 10:03 pm on Aug 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

Why don't you just get out of adwords if it is just so bad. I'm really sick of this thread. These sites are not hurting anybody. They populate areas where there are no real websites. Take away all the spam and you just have normal sites that have nothing to do with the kw typed in. Sites made for adsense are not going away. G approves them and sends large checks to them every month. If the person is making money then the adwords advertisers are making money. I do the same thing with Aff sites and they are even more picky. They love us.

Also don't you have better things to do then reporting AS publishers to G. That is just mean they are not hurting you. If that is all you can find then you don't know how to search or what you are looking for is on a site that was poorly designed. Generated SPAM can be beat by even the most novice SEO person.

FromRocky




msg:1422800
 10:13 pm on Aug 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

Good point.

But,
That's what it's there for.

Where? I can't find it.
You mean "Dissatisfied? Help us improve"

HughMungus




msg:1422801
 10:23 pm on Aug 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

They are lame ducks when it comes to this sort of thing. The only thing they care about is fraudelent clicks. Discontinuing AdSense on junk sites will be a rare occurence - especially now that they are a public company.

I would think that once they go public that they'd have enough money to start hiring more people to do the policing and/or build a better algorithm to do so...?

Macguru




msg:1422802
 10:28 pm on Aug 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

Congrats for your 1 000 th post, HughMungus.

buckworks




msg:1422803
 10:49 pm on Aug 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

They populate areas where there are no real websites.

That is flatly false.

Take away all the spam and you just have normal sites that have nothing to do with the kw typed in.

Also wrong.

If the person is making money then the adwords advertisers are making money.

Not necessarily ... sigh ....

I have a strong sense that some people posting comments in this thread have not in fact seen the sort of trash pages that others are talking about.

europeforvisitors




msg:1422804
 10:59 pm on Aug 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have a strong sense that some people posting comments in this thread have not in fact seen the sort of trash pages that others are talking about.

Or they're profiting from them. :-)

arubicus




msg:1422805
 11:42 pm on Aug 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

buckworks - uhhh

support your last post please

I see you disagree but for what reason.

What I see here is that those who do not like those "trash" pages, spam, poorly designed sites, or even SEOed pages that rank well or show adsense ads and profit from them just want everybody to play by the rules and ethics that you WANT. Since you would rather not go against your ethics you try to FORCE others to abide by them. Who is worse? You or the spammer?

alika




msg:1422806
 12:13 am on Aug 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

If the person is making money then the adwords advertisers are making money

take this instance, for example --

if the publisher simply created a page with no content except the keyword and the ad - and the user has no other choice to get out of the site except to click on the ad, how can you be sure that the advertiser is making money in the same way as the publisher? the user simply wants to get out of the crappy spammy page, with no interest on the advertisers product.

the advertiser does not want just a click - the advertiser wants a click on their ad only because the user is interested in whatever they are advertising. then, and ONLY then, will the advertiser make money.

the quality of the lead that the advertiser is getting is important to the success of adsense.

alika




msg:1422807
 12:25 am on Aug 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

These sites are not hurting anybody.

This is the whole point of this thread -- "Made for Adsense" sites ARE hurting the program.

Why? Advertisers are staying away from the content network because they do not want their ads to show in what they perceive to be "low quality" and "spammy" sites. Just scan the threads here and at Adwords forum how many are saying "I turned off the content network option."

It is important to remember that it is the advertisers who are putting those $$$$$ in your checks. Without them, those $$$$$ will turn to $. To say that these sites are not hurting anybody is the fallacy of the century.

buckworks




msg:1422808
 12:37 am on Aug 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

Arubicus, what I said needs no supporting. It's clear as it stands and you either agree or disagree.

I would challenge you to reconsider your sentence that lumps " "those "trash" pages, spam, poorly designed sites, or even SEOed pages" all together as if they were the same thing.

arubicus




msg:1422809
 1:10 am on Aug 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

"It's clear as it stands and you either agree or disagree." - buck

The only thing clear is that it is opinion.

"I would challenge you to reconsider your sentence that lumps " "those "trash" pages, spam, poorly designed sites, or even SEOed pages" all together as if they were the same thing." - buck

Not lumping together. Just gave an example list of common complaints from you people. Hence the "or" in my sentence. Any of them apply to the point I was making if you believe that any of these are morally wrong.

"and the user has no other choice to get out of the site except to click on the ad,"

Back button and close window.

"how can you be sure that the advertiser is making money in the same way as the publisher?"

How can you be sure they aren't?

"the user simply wants to get out of the crappy spammy page, with no interest on the advertisers product."

How did they get to the page in the first place. What turned them on to click within the site. What were they looking for when they found the page on a search engine. If the page, regardless of just a single keyword, was found with that word or subject in mind then who is to say the sites in those ads aren't in interest of that person.

Let me put it this way.

If a person were to be looking for "widgets"
Went to their favorite search engine and found your spam site with adsense ads and with a bunch of SPAM sentences loaded with those keywords. WOULD THOSE ADS STILL BE RELEVANT TO THE USER/ADVERTISER EVEN IF THOSE SAME PARAGRAPHS WERE USEFUL CONTENT?

buckworks




msg:1422810
 1:20 am on Aug 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

common complaints from you people.

Now you're lumping even more things together.

You seem to be missing the point that regardless of perceived relevancy or short-term ROI (about which we can only speculate) the trash pages give some Adwords advertisers the creeps, and cause them to stop allowing their ads to appear on Adsense.

That is a fact, not an opinion ... I know because I'm one of them.

ogletree




msg:1422811
 1:30 am on Aug 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

I must point out the absurdity of saying that these types of sites are driving away publishers. The whole point of this and a few other threads is that these sites are very successful and are getting more successful every day and that some people don't like that. If they were driving away publishers then why do we keep making more and more money. I can't remember where I said it but AW bidding is getting out of hand. Very few people have any clue of how it works. They just bid wildly without any consideration of how it works. That is why spammers and non-spammers make a lot of money in AS. It is a free for all right now. G would have to throw away a ton of money if they fixed what you call a problem.

buckworks




msg:1422812
 1:46 am on Aug 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

The whole point of this and a few other threads is that these sites are very successful and are getting more successful every day and that some people don't like that.

Nope, that's not the point at all.

Very few people have any clue of how it works. They just bid wildly without any consideration of how it works.

That might be true for some advertisers, but they're not the ones who survive as Adwords advertisers.

Ogletree, perhaps you could share your thoughts with us about how a billion-dollar company might think their brand image was well-served by having their ads appear on a page of machine-generated pseudo-English gibberish?

ogletree




msg:1422813
 1:54 am on Aug 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

What does G care as long as bids keep going up without an end in site. Big companies would not like this type of advertsing anyhow. They don't play games they throw there weight around and work out big deals they don't do things like the average AW bidder. Have you seen some of the places Coke and Pepsi put there ads. Beer companies will put their name on anything. Shoe companies will put their ads on anything that moves. Buckworks I would like to see you give better rebutals than "no it's not"

buckworks




msg:1422814
 2:02 am on Aug 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

Big companies would not like this type of advertsing anyhow.

And why is that?

europeforvisitors




msg:1422815
 4:06 am on Aug 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

Big companies use direct-response marketing all the time. (I've seen AdSense ads for British Airways and Virgin Airlines on my own site, for example.)

The "nichier" the product or the intended audience, the more likely the company is to use targeted direct mail and ads in special-interest publications. Just the other day, I saw an ad for a Canon digital SLR on the back cover of TRAINS Magazine. (The ad was specifically targeted at railfans.) Contextual online advertising has great potential for such advertisers, but only if it can deliver high-quality leads.

buckworks




msg:1422816
 4:34 am on Aug 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

but only if it can deliver high-quality leads.

... AND if it does so in a way that does not create negative side effects (real or perceived) on the company's brand image.

arubicus




msg:1422817
 5:11 am on Aug 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

"The "nichier" the product or the intended audience, the more likely the company is to use targeted direct mail and ads in special-interest publications. Just the other day, I saw an ad for a Canon digital SLR on the back cover of TRAINS Magazine. (The ad was specifically targeted at railfans.) Contextual online advertising has great potential for such advertisers, but only if it can deliver high-quality leads. "

Correct EPV

Don't forget the PURPSOSE of the ad. Is the ad to sell or is it to reinforce a brand. Adwords is considered a selling advertising medium.

buckworks,

For one you never answered my question. You seem to want to avoid certain things expecially direct questions. Maybe you don't want to understand the view I am showing you.

"I know because I'm one of them." - buckworks

You are one of HOW MANY? Adwords is a selling advertising medium. Not a brand builder. If you can prove that adwords can effectively build a brand, then I would say that such sites can hurt the brand.

As far as your ROI and sellability. Again answer my question in my last post. Instead of complaining about those sites. Learn to capitalize on it for god sake. Spammers do. They can send you a S*** load of traffic. Capture it and monitize it.

europeforvisitors




msg:1422818
 6:03 am on Aug 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

Don't forget the PURPSOSE of the ad. Is the ad to sell or is it to reinforce a brand. Adwords is considered a selling advertising medium.

AdSense is a direct-response advertising medium. To use Google's own words, the desired result is a "sale or other business action." That can mean anything from an immediate purchase (such as a hotel booking) to a request for more information (which is likely to be the case with big-ticket products and services).

Forget the notion that big companies are concerned only with "branding." If that were true, big companies wouldn't be spending billions of dollars a year on direct-response advertising and direct mail. Existing PPC advertising is a drop in the bucket compared to offline direct-response advertising. (If you don't believe that, see the statistics that I quoted in an earlier post.) One would have to be very naive to think that Google doesn't want a piece of the "big company" direct-response market. But if Google does want a piece of that market, it needs to be ruthless in rooting out sites that deter mainstream advertisers--such as the made-for-AdSense spam site that I described at the beginning of this thread.

(Side note: Discussions of ethics and philosophy are irrelevant to the real question here, which is whether Google AdSense can meet its corporate growth objectives without maintaining standards of quality that meet the expectations of media buyers and other mainstream advertising professionals.)

stuartmcdonald




msg:1422819
 9:49 am on Aug 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

One way Google could address the proliferation of garbage "made for adsense" sites (and site scrapers while we're at it) would be to allow adwords clients to opt-out of some sites in the content programme. The sites that are getting discussed here adnauseum should then see a drying up of adverts (and money) and hopefully they'll shrivel up and vanish.

Unfortunately Google (and Overture) won't let you see who these "quality" (now there's a good one) sites are in their content programs - for good reason - the advertisers wouldn't be too happy to see who some of these members are. I keep using the content programme, because there are some sites I want my adverts to appear on - but there's a hell of a lot I'd prefer to skip over - I can't be alone here.

I use adsense and adwords, and I get a filter with the former but not the latter, make a filter available on both programs. That way Google doesn't have to police anything - it's up to the advertiser - suits me fine.

Simple solution really.

hyperkik




msg:1422820
 11:52 am on Aug 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

Since you would rather not go against your ethics you try to FORCE others to abide by them. Who is worse? You or the spammer? Since you would rather not go against your ethics you try to FORCE others to abide by them. Who is worse? You or the spammer?

Oh, that's hard. Let me think for a minute. Wait - I've got it! The spammer is worse! [insert eye roll here]

First, while the type of spam site at issue may be the "fast path to easy AdSense money", I and others here can attest that it isn't the only path to making decent money with AdSense (and I know some here with legitimate sites make a *lot* more than I do.) It's a slower growth curve (and a lot more work) when you create bona fide content, as opposed to slapping up keyworded spam garbage, so I can understand why opportunists aren't interested.

At least from what has been posted here, it is my present impression that Google is accepting the spam sites with their "made for AdSense" garbage pages because they want to, as much as possible, exhaust their inventory of ads - and they can't presently come close without those sites. If the body of legitimate sites continues to grow, or perhaps after they go public and they are less concerned with a temporary drop in AdSense revenue, they may well become more stringent about the "made for AdSense" sites.

I am reminded a bit of one of Google's other projects, Google Answers, where I am reluctant to recommend the service to people I know because Google isn't (in my opinion) sufficiently diligent about firing bad researchers. I personally feel the same way about AdSense, given the types of sites under discussion (and even the misleading way ads are now displayed on some sites with decent content).

Whatever Google's plan, with this discussion it is fair to assume that they and a lot of AdWords advertisers are aware of this issue.

dmz17




msg:1422821
 5:19 pm on Aug 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

Would someone sticky mail me example urls of "made for Adsense" sites? I would like to make an informed contribution to this thread.

Thanks in advance.

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