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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.
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.
... "there is no spam"...
dmz17: this is how I finally found one of these spam sites yesterday for the very first time: turn around your laptop and look for the model type and type it into google with an other technical word, e.g. "laptop model bluetooth" etc... same probably works for cellphones etc.
Their content is in fact completely useless.
l hate these sites especially when doing a seroius search .....
"Oh, that's hard. Let me think for a minute. Wait - I've got it! The spammer is worse! [insert eye roll here]" - hyperkik
[sticks tongue out and goes thbbbbbbbbbbb]
We it depends on which side of the fence you are standing on.
Look I hate that junk as much as the other. I wish I could prove that it is having a negative effect but I can't. I wish I could prove that the ads will degrade those on my site in that visitors will treat them like a banner but I can't.
The only thing I can do is do the best I can do to uphold what I think is the integrity of those businesses advertising, Adsense, and my site. Whether or not I convert while I do this is another story. I can only speculate.
EPV - I wanted to post something about your TRAINS example but lost my post last night when trying to reply.
That example the advertisement was designed specifically for the publication and IT's audience and it's demographics.
Now Adword advertisers don't have this control. They have a one size fits all type ad that gets placed hell who knows where. Not conforming to any demographic on any one particular site. It is a WIDE spread demographic than what you get from search results.
|EPV - I wanted to post something about your TRAINS example but lost my post last night when trying to reply. That example the advertisement was designed specifically for the publication and IT's audience and it's demographics. Now Adword advertisers don't have this control. They have a one size fits all type ad that gets placed hell who knows where. Not conforming to any demographic on any one particular site. It is a WIDE spread demographic than what you get from search results. |
That TRAINS ad wasn't aimed at a "demographic" (age, sex, income, etc.). It was aimed at a special-interest audience (railfans). And it was a perfect example of how big companies (in this case, Canon) target niche audiences by using special-interest media.
You're correct in suggesting that such an ad, if it were an AdSense ad, might turn up on inappropriate sites. The inability to control where ads appear (or won't appear) is one reason why a company like Canon--or, more likely, a media buyer at its advertising agency--might be reluctant to buy contextual PPC ads. But if the media buyer had such control, the company might be willing to pay a premium for the ability to pick or block advertising venues. Why? Because even at a cost of several dollars per lead, a PPC lead can be cheaper than a lead obtained by traditional means.
By the way, someone drew my attention to a new WALL STREET JOURNAL article that quoted Jupiter Research as predicting that online advertising will total $8 billion in 2004 compared to $12 billion for magazines. Jupiter believes that, by 2008, online ad spends will exceed magazine ad spends by half a billion dollars, with the spread increasing after that. Clearly, online advertising has a great future. I think we can safely assume that (a) Google will want a piece of that mainstream advertising market, and (b) Google will do whatever it takes to acquire mainstream advertisers (even if that means raising a hue and cry on Webmaster World by getting tough with AdSense spammers).
|If you can prove that adwords can effectively build a brand, then I would say that such sites can hurt the brand. |
I can't "prove" anything, but I can tell you about a friend of mine who is a much bigger Adwords advertiser than I am.
He's a manufacturer, CEO of a family owned company which is a major player in his industry. They advertise in many places, and one thing he really likes about Adwords is that the company name is seen by lots of well-targeted eyes besides those who click through to his site. He considers that exposure to be a valuable part of his advertising mix.
One day while checking stats (yes, a CEO who checks his own site stats), he spotted some referrals from trashy Adsense sites. He had serious concerns about what being seen in such sleazy contexts might do to his hard-earned reputation for quality, not only in the eyes of consumers, but also the hundreds of stores who sell his products.
He still likes Adwords, but his ads no longer appear on Adsense, and won't until there is some control over where his ads appear. He has bigger things at stake than just immediate ROI on this or that click.
Every legitimate content site in that sector has been robbed of the chance to show this company's ads.
If he wants to advertise on other sites just go to that site and advertise. He won't because it would cost way too much. What AS has done is lower the cost to advertise on a website. You can now run an ad on some big sites for very cheap. I was about to talk about citysearch.com but they don't seem to show them any more. That speaks volumes. Big sites make way too much off of selling CPM ads for way more than AS pays them. I have done banner advertising on big sites and it is very expensive and very bad ROI. AW is still way better for the advertiser than going to a site directly. Complaining about AS is like complaining about ads on your free webmail account. You get what you pay for. AW is cheap compared to direct banner adverts. You will start seeing less and less AS on big sites because it just does not pay that well. AOL still charges a bundle for there really bad converting ads. Big sites are used to getting a lot of money for selling eyeballs reguardless how well they convert. AW sends very targeted traffic for a very low price. Any AW budget will out convert a high dollar banner ad anyday for a lot cheaper.
Any website with lots of traffic makes way more money off of CPM ads.
|If he wants to advertise on other sites just go to that site and advertise. He won't because it would cost way too much. What AS has done is lower the cost to advertise on a website. You can now run an ad on some big sites for very cheap. |
More to the point, AdSense has made it possible for companies to advertise niche goods and services on targeted pages and sites. That's the network's real strength: The fact that it lets a seller of purple widgets buy "purple widgets" pages on Washingtonpost.com, or--even better--on special-interest sites such as abc-widgets.com, purple-widgets.com, or widgets-of-selected-colors.com.
In other words, AdSense takes the traditional idea behind an ad-network media buy (aggregation of traffic) one step further by adding a degree of targeting that traditional ad networks, portals, etc. can't match.
Buck - Yes we already establised that there needs to be some control for advertisers. Again google needs of should, in my opinion, offer this control. This will help eliminate some of the problem but not all.
We also established that google needs to decide what they want out of the sites that show their logo and advertisments. Decide and start eliminating some of the sites they feel don't fit into thier ideals for the program.
We all keep arguing and coming to these same points really.
EPV - "That TRAINS ad wasn't aimed at a "demographic" (age, sex, income, etc.). It was aimed at a special-interest audience (railfans). And it was a perfect example of how big companies (in this case, Canon) target niche audiences by using special-interest media."
Right that is true no doubt. But in Adwords the audience may not be what they get due to keyword targeting rather than market and media targeting. The ad you were referring to is a general ad. Some ads you will see will target specific demographics within that audience such as age, sex, income or whatever they wish. This may be a turn off for many main stream advertisers as there is less control in the adsense market. Especially with the tiny little 1 sentence ads. There is not much for pre-selling or conveying any sort of company message.
Again we are back to control.
"By the way, someone drew my attention to a new WALL STREET JOURNAL article that quoted Jupiter Research"
This is a good thing to know. Thanks for sharing.
|Right that is true no doubt. But in Adwords the audience may not be what they get due to keyword targeting rather than market and media targeting. The ad you were referring to is a general ad. |
No, it was a targeted ad for a general consumer product.
|Some ads you will see will target specific demographics within that audience such as age, sex, income or whatever they wish. This may be a turn off for many main stream advertisers as there is less control in the adsense market. |
Of course, but many other ads are targeted by topic. An ad for amateur-radio antennas, for example, will run in QST Magazine because that's the #1 ham magazine. Demographics are irrelevant: It doesn't matter if the reader is 18 or 80, male or female, making $20,000 a year or $100,000 as long as he may be a prospect for a triband beam.
|Especially with the tiny little 1 sentence ads. |
Don't forget Google's new "image ads," which are available only on the content network, not on Google SERPs. IMHO, these were introduced not to give more choices to current PPC advertisers, but to sell contextual advertising to mainstream advertisers and ad agencies.
|Again we are back to control. |
I'm all for advertiser control, and I don't think there's any doubt that Google will have to--and will--offer more advertiser controls in the future than it does now. AdSense is a first-generation product, and we can expect to see evolutionary changes and product extensions in the months and years ahead.
|we already establised that there needs to be some control for advertisers. |
That's not what my story was about; it's true but it's a side issue. The point was to show one case in which some very real harm caused by the trash sites reaches a lot further than just filling some SERPs with crud.
from an adwords forum poster re content network site
|I turned it off for all of them when I started gettign ppounded by junk clickers on one particular campaign. It was just too much trouble to keep track of for the low conversions I was getting in the last several months. Most of the clicks were coming from junk sites that were only vaguely related. |
There's that term -- junk sites.
I can't wait for G to introduce program/s or advertiser feature/s that will reward sites with good content and punish the junk sites. G's rebate incentive to adwords advertisers when they choose to participate in the content network is a sure sign that G is recognizing advertisers' hesitance to participate in the program. Now we need G to make more commitments to improving the program rather than just rewards.
"No, it was a targeted ad for a general consumer product." - EPV
That is right but the advertisement was MADE SPECIFICALLY for that magazine! They control the audience and what publications they advertise on. Adword advertisers even image ads are not specific to any one site and their users. Hence this statement I recently read:
"Most of the clicks were coming from junk sites that were only vaguely related."
Give those advertisers a little control.
EPV, I knew you were going to bring up image ads. Run just a banner campaign and see what happens to the advertisers ROI as well as your income.
"The point was to show one case in which some very real harm caused by the trash sites reaches a lot further than just filling some SERPs with crud." - Buck
just wanted to explain that the opposite can be true.
G can never add control it would kill AS. People would only pick a few sites. They may think your site stinks. Maybe they don't want there ads next to your picture epv. :) Be careful what you ask for. You really don't want to open that door. I really don't care it would be a feature that very few people would pay attention to. Very few people would micro manage to that point.
|G can never add control it would kill AS. |
Wrong. Absolutely, utterly wrong.
Adding better control for advertisers is the biggest thing that could strengthen Adsense.
"People would only pick a few sites. They may think your site stinks. Maybe they don't want there ads next to your picture epv. :) Be careful what you ask for."
You're obviously not considering this from the advertisers point of view!
You say people would pick only a couple of sites - you really think so?
If Google was to introduce the filter, the pricing would need to get more complicated as the price per click effectively would become tied to the popularity of the site - ie widgets on yahoo would cost 75c while widgets on junk dot com would be 5c.
How they would implement something like that would be interesting - perhaps a tiered system, ie widgets on yahoo (tier 1) is 75c, on sydney morning Herald (tier2) 50c, on salon (tier 3) 25c etc etc (sites are just randon examples) and then the advertiser could pick what tiers of content they want to work with - and within the tier they'd have to use, let's say 75% of the providers. So there is still a degree of QC on the advertisers behalf (if they're micro about it).
The tricky bit would be in determining what tier the content site should belong to - traffic and adwords demand are two obvious keys...
But in the end it all comes back to Google QC - which, at the moment is awful, and is why we're having this very long and interesting thread.
As a publisher/webmaster, I get to filter out some advertisers that I don't want advertised on my site. But I don't want to filter out too many, because it limits me. There's not much sense in me being too picky.
I imagine that it would be the same from the advertisers' point of view. If they are too picky, they run the risk of not having anywhere for their ads to be placed. So I'd think that they'd filter out the obviously junky stuff or embarrassing stuff, and leave the rest—even the "second tier" stuff.
Hmmmmm very good and interesing points. I like.
"G can never add control it would kill AS."
Even I don't think that this is true and I am off my rocker.
And who wouldn't put an ad next to EPV's picture! He has a look of honesty, integrity, and wisdom. Maybe I can put an ad with my picture on it and some of that will rub off on me. LOL
After reading this for a few days think it is time to comment on a few of the points discussed.
I think that Google already realizes they have a problem with the program and a lack of return to the advertisers and are struggling with solutions. They have made major pricing chamges effective in April in a so called attempt to match conversions to price. Apparently this still has not drawn back advertisers, as yesterday they started a rebate program to entice advertisers to use adsense.
From the publishers viewpoint the continuing errosion of epc has resulted in disatisfaction.
As others have noted in this thread the program is at a crossroads in my opinion. The economic forces of the IPO, Overtures lawsuit, revenue growth reductions will force Google to re-evaluate this program.
We can discuss what they will do in regards to certain types of sites, but realistically the economic situations for Google will drive the market. No matter what kind of site you have, if it converts they will keep it...if not then will not continue. They have passed the "lets get ads" out there stage and now must drive profitability for the program. Would expect them shortly to have a minimum click or return rate threshold to determine who stays in the program.
If "spammy" sites work then they will stay. The comments regarding that this will be the downfall of the program if Google does not maintain a certain "idealistic" content evaluation of sites ignores that this is nothing new to the publishing community, just a different program in adsense. The practice of sites developed to generate a monetary return only is not new or original.
Time to take off them rose colored glasses, realize that google needs to drive a return for the new stock holders and will loose some of their idealistic goals in the process. The market (advertisers) will drive Google's decision making now as their revenue stream is so tightly tied into the adsense/adwords program.
I have no problem if they start using the same rules in AS as they do AW. If it don't perform then it gets PSA's. There should be a min CTR.
|If "spammy" sites work then they will stay. The comments regarding that this will be the downfall of the program if Google does not maintain a certain "idealistic" content evaluation of sites ignores that this is nothing new to the publishing community, just a different program in adsense. The practice of sites developed to generate a monetary return only is not new or original. |
Junk sites are like weekly shoppers or those bulk-rate advertising supplements that you get in the mail. They may work for some advertisers, but they're limited in the types and numbers of advertisers that they draw.
The challenge for Google is how to keep sites with questionable content (or no content) that deliver satisfactory conversion for some advertisers without requiring all advertisers to take potluck. AdSense will fail to reach the larger and more lucrative mainstream advertising market unless it provides more choices and controls to advertisers.
|Time to take off them rose colored glasses, realize that google needs to drive a return for the new stock holders and will loose some of their idealistic goals in the process. The market (advertisers) will drive Google's decision making now as their revenue stream is so tightly tied into the adsense/adwords program. |
Idealism has nothing to do with it. (See above.) Improvements to the AdSense network will be driven by advertiser demand and by competition from other networks.
BTW, it isn't hard to envision any number of competitors to Google in the contextual ad space over the next few years. Aside from Overture and smaller players like Quigo AdS**ar, we may well see the emergence of specialized networks in profitable niche markets as OEM equivalents of AdSense enter the marketplace.
So after 7 days and 200+ posts, what have we sorted out? That some of us disagree? :)
I suppose (who really knows?) that the folks who build the real questionable sites are never going to want to see greater quality control. That doesn't mean they don't think it would be good for "the program", just that it's easy money for them now and they don't want it to stop.
My guess is the folks that build the highest quality sites are always going to want better controls because they think it will result in more money for them.
Another guess is that most of the folks in the middle haven't even noticed, or haven't an idea of what to do about the situation.
I wonder though if the folks at the most immediate risk aren't those with any kind pages producing a low return for Google and the advertizers.
Those could be some trashy auto-generated pages or some very high quality custom content stuff. If ROI is the criteria, quality of content becomes a lot less important.
Could that mean that folks getting really low CTR, or EPC are at risk? How about those with low CTR and low EPC, are they at risk? Maybe, but I'm just speculating.
Again, auto-generated pages don't need to be junk pages. And well thought out custom pages might well be poor performers.
But the fact that Google is giving rebates to advertizers to get them to use content sites is a bad sign for publishers.
That strikes me as a stop gap measure they are trying so they can avoid tightening up the publisher criteria. If it doesn't work, it seems likely that some adjustments are probable for publishers.
Of course, it's also possible that Google feels their smart pricing has taken care of most of the problems seen prior to the change, and their offering the rebate is an incentive to get the AdWords advertisers who opted out before smart pricing to give it another go. If the rebate covers the losses that the advertiser perceives he will see from using the content network, then he's got some insurance to go ahead and try it out again. If he finds that the content network is converting better now, yay for him, yay for Google, yay for the AdSense publishers.
Let's hope you're right Jonathan, and that it works then.
But I noticed that the rebates go to $1500.00, while the Adwords promo coupons they were giving out at the PubCon last February in Florida were $300.00 (if I recall right).
I suppose the difference just speaks to the disproportionate cost of re-aquiring a customer. Still the difference is notable, if I have the numbers right.
What I meant by removing the glasses is that Google has already made the first shift away from their ideals in April with "performance based" epc's. This was a shift from their original content was king releases last June. They have further eroded those epc's recently (yes I know not for all) and now are giving out rebates. Sounds a like lot the auto industry in reverse. They have high inventory for rebates, Google has low inventory for adsense. Huge distribution system, but nothing to distribute. What this means as others have noted is that lower epc's at the risk of losing the publishing base, or start eliminating publishers.
I still think the low performing sites will be trimmed and that the non performing sites will be weeded out by this. The question of whether or not they are good for the program will be determined by those economic pressures and no others. Google has some major partners that are on CPM based contracts as noted in their IPO, and they must serve ads there first at the risk of higher revenue loses if they don't. The big boys will be served before the rest of the publishers has to be the economic reaity of this situation.
They have recently added websearch in an effort to tie adsense publishers into the main adwords program but by comments on this board the "slight of hand" wasn't very well accepted by publishers. (need to ask adwords users if they can opt out of websearch?) Now the rebate program.
I hope you are right Jonathan, but I don't think so at this time. Google has not continued their initial growth of advertisers, in fact haven't convinced many to remain with adsense. They are starting to isolate the publishing base at the same time. Not an envious position to be in short term.
|Google has low inventory for adsense. |
I have ads on virtually all of my pages, and well-targeted ads on the vast majority. I have seen the level of specificity in the ads increase over time, even on esoteric and "boutique" subjects, suggesting that their ad inventory is increasing and becoming more diverse.
It is possible that there is an inventory shortage for certain keywords or subjects, but I don't see a problem (as of yet) in the topics covered by my site.
|So after 7 days and 200+ posts, what have we sorted out? That some of us disagree? |
Certainly that. But also the following:
According to some publishers, Google has all-but-blessed the presence of AdSense on sites that were not only "made for AdSense", but are (in the words of their creators) spam. Some AdWords advertisers are concerned about the presence of their ads on this type of site, in part due to concern about performance, and in part due to concern about being associated with that type of site. Some desire the ability to opt out of particular sites (just as AdSense publishers can block ads from particular advertisers).
It has been suggested that many advertisers and ad agencies in the greater advertising world, where the bulk of advertising dollars lie, don't want to advertise in low-value media as a matter of policy, and thus they would not participate in a program where their ads will be placed on the online equivalent of a "weekly shopper" ad bulletin. This is raised as a concern for the growth and future of AdSense.
It has been noted that Google is offering rebates to entice AdWords advertisers to opt back into "contextual advertising". It has been suggested that this is because of an inadequate inventory of ads for AdSense. It may also be that they simply want to increase an adequate inventory such that they can better target ads, increase the average cost per click, and improve capacity for expansion.
|It is possible that there is an inventory shortage for certain keywords or subjects, but I don't see a problem (as of yet) in the topics covered by my site. |
I don't, either, probably because advertisers aren't as likely to shy away from specialized subtopics as they are from the most heavily abused keywords and keyphrases.
I don't see a shortage in ads, I also don't see the usage of a "rebate" to bring in customers into adsense as something borne out of desperation. I think is more of a case of "We are not growing as fast as before so lets try to hit those percentages again".
It is fair to say that contextual advertising as Google implemented it, has been a hit. But the fact that there is a much bigger market out there is where Google is going to make that growth rate.
Well then I guess Google likes giving money to their big customers then? How else can you explain the revenue gap noted in their IPO to the contracts with certain sites displaying ads? Google...most charitable business ever? How about they can't generate the expected revenue from ads in the program? Shortage of ads, resulting in % served less than forecast? Click rates well below targeted averages? Love it when they face the same publishing issues as the est of us. The SE adwords is a sucess I agree, think the verdicts still out on adsense.
| This 218 message thread spans 8 pages: < < 218 ( 1 2 3 4 5 6  8 ) > > |