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Very bad two days
Anyone else noticing a decline in earnings and poor targeting?
max_mm




msg:1402093
 7:40 am on Feb 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

AdWords Related thread: [webmasterworld.com...]


Just wondering if Anyone else noticing a sharp decline in overhaul Adsense performance.

Jan was my record month with earnings well into three figures per day.
I am notice a sharp decline on all fronts since the beginning of Feb.

Page impressions are right on daily average target (+-5%) while CTR is down by approx 1.2% and “effective CPM” is down by almost 40%.

I have a network of sites (7 sites) on a wide range of topics. The traffic on the sites hasn’t changed much since the begining of Feb +- same number of daily viewers across the network , while earnings continue to slide daily (adsense alone, other aff products i have linked continue to sell well).

I did notice very poor ad targeting on a few pages recently. Pages which used to display very good targeted ads and this may explain the bad CTR and “effective CPM”.

Is there any major adsense update going on?….anyone else noticing this happening since the start of Feb?

P.S.
I did not update any of my content recently to warrent such update.

 

george123




msg:1402183
 1:50 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

"This is turning out to be a really good day for me"
europeforvisitors, i am a european guy have done the whole Europe by Autostop from A7 -A1 E1 -E5 in the seventies (slept in vondelpark , and spending nights in Paradiso and Cosmus ,i guess is in your country)with many pages about Europe ,in the most competive searces about Europe i don't find you there.I wish i was the Joe end user to see how he find's your page.

alika




msg:1402184
 2:15 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

Trend-watching be damned, they have changed the system.

It's really hard, if not outright erroneous, to claim for system-wide changes when stats fluctuate because NOT EVERYONE is experiencing it.

Dynamoo




msg:1402185
 2:17 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

It's not the earnings per click, which is a complex beast, but the clickthrough rate which is steadily dropping.

alika




msg:1402186
 2:20 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

If it's CTR, then it must be some on-page factors. It simply means that people are not clicking on your ads anymore. One possibility of course is that the number of clicks that G reports is erroneous, thus showing a lower number. Why not try to change something on the page first, maybe you need to change colors or users have become immune to the ads.

My CTR is fairly stable, approximating January's levels.

taps




msg:1402187
 2:27 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

My theory is:
The less traffic you get from Google search the more your CTR will drop.

Why? Because you'll lose a lot of visitors who just stop by to read an article and who move forward using one of the Adsense ads.

The less traffice you get from Google search the more frequent visitors are left. They stay with your site and read more articles. And they are used to Adsense.

Freedom




msg:1402188
 2:39 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

I wonder if it has something to do with that not all click throughs from ad to website were getting processed properly before and now they have fixed it, or vice versa. = It was working fine and now it's kaput.

The ads have remained the same and no big advertisers have dropped out that I can see. So I think the issue lies somewhere in the Googleware that counts the click throughs from ad to website.

How else can one explain a sudden drop in rock solid CTR's when no major advertisers have changed?

However, my CTR was back up yesterday and is starting strong today but the EPC is down. So this leads me to think we could have some sort of smart pricing issue.

I don't know. I've been through these hiccups before. Thank God it's not as bad as last time.

esllou




msg:1402189
 2:43 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

taps' theory is actually very good and probably the best I have seen on here to explain the double whammy I have suffered in last 48 hours....G index and G adsense both clubbing me.

alika




msg:1402190
 2:44 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

I wonder if it has something to do with that not all click throughs from ad to website were getting processed properly before and now they have fixed it, or vice versa. = It was working fine and now it's kaput.

Sounds plausible - but NOT in our case. So if there is an iota of truth to this, then it must be done across the board (which is not the case).

venkata1




msg:1402191
 2:46 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

yeah, My earnings and CTR declined almost 30% since the first of feb. I think its definetely got something to do with the latest google policies..

But its too early to say..
got to wait and watch.

Regards,
venkata

theBear




msg:1402192
 2:57 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

Sounds plausible - but NOT in our case. So if there is an iota of truth to this, then it must be done across the board (which is not the case).

No it need not be across the board. Multiple running copies of different code can cause such a situation as can multiple active different control databases. As can (since this is all "context" relavent) different contexts.

europeforvisitors




msg:1402193
 3:06 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

Taps:

Interesting hypothesis.

I wonder how members who've seen huge drops in CTR over the last few days are doing in the latest Google update? Is there any correlation between percentage of Google referrals and the percentage of impressions that result in clicks?

My own Google referrals have climbed noticeably in the last couple of days (both in raw numbers and in comparison to referrals from Yahoo and MSN). CTR for the month so far is in line with January's, though, so I don't see any correlation between CTR and Google referrals on my site.

venkata1 wrote:

yeah, My earnings and CTR declined almost 30% since the first of feb. I think its definetely got something to do with the latest google policies.

I wonder if it's possible that Google has changed its definition of a "valid click." For example, if someone clicks away instantly from a page via AdSense, maybe that doesn't count. Or if a person clicks more than X number of ads in a single visit to a page, maybe the additional links don't count. Or whatever. Google might feel that raising the threshold for a "valid click" could discourage made-for-AdSense scraper sites by making their clicks nearly worthless. If this were the case, some legitimate sites might be hurt in the process, but in the long run those legitimate sites might benefit from lower "smart pricing" discounts as a result of higher conversion rates from valid clicks.

[edited by: europeforvisitors at 3:15 pm (utc) on Feb. 4, 2005]

howiejs




msg:1402194
 3:08 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

"The less traffic you get from Google search the more your CTR will drop."

VERY interesting point. Each search engine has a different demographic - and different conversion.

AZEvil




msg:1402195
 3:58 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

The less traffic you get from Google search the more your CTR will drop.

Actually when you compare Yahoo, Google and MSN, the best CTR is usually MSN users. I have seen this across every site that I run. MSN users account for 3 times as many clicks as Google users even though each accounts for around 38% of my traffic. My thoughts are that maybe Google detects the referrer and discounts clicks from users through MSN. How many people who are seeing drops benefitted from the new MSN being taken live? Since it did, my traffic through MSN has increased quite a bit and my CPM has been cut almost in half, but my CTR is up from around 9% to 10.5%...and my sites were not affected by the latest Google update.

Macro




msg:1402196
 4:03 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

For example, if someone clicks away instantly from a page via AdSense, maybe that doesn't count. Or if a person clicks more than X number of ads in a single visit to a page, maybe the additional links don't count. Or whatever.

I think you may have something there. This can be tested. If your ads are too close to the top of the page move them down. This will delay the click. Moving the ad may impact on CTR by reducing it but if the EPC goes up for that page over the next few days then it bears a bit more research and counter checking.

icedowl




msg:1402197
 5:15 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

My own Google referrals have climbed noticeably in the last couple of days (both in raw numbers and in comparison to referrals from Yahoo and MSN).

Ditto. My Google referrals out number the others considerably (from Awstats):

Google 1674
Yahoo 612
MSN 94
AOL 65

But my CTR has tanked. Half what it had been.

europeforvisitors




msg:1402198
 5:39 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

The more I think about the "ignored click" hypothesis, the more sense it makes.

Let's say that Google wants to discourage made-for-AdSense sites that exist only to drive traffic to advertisers. An extreme example might be a scraper site that defeats the back button, disguises AdSense ads as navigation links, and has content of little or no inherent value on its pages.

When a user comes to the scraper site, she thinks "Sheesh, not one of those" and immediately click an ad to get information on widgets or whatever she's been searching for.

Now, Google knows (from a statistical analysis of many types of pages) that a click referral is likely to be of poor quality if the user clicks an AdSense link within X seconds. It also knows that pages which have certain characteristics (e.g., scraper directory pages) convert poorly and are likely to violate the AdSense TOS.

So, with that knowledge in mind, Google doesn't charge the advertiser or credit the publisher for the user's click. This reduces the value of the page to the scraper site's owner, and--over time--the number of uncounted clicks can also be used to adjust the accountholder's overall "smart pricing" discount downward. Over a period of weeks or months, the combination of uncounted clicks and a big "smart pricing" discount for advertisers renders the made-for-AdSense site virtually worthless. This approach is infinitely scalable (unlike manual site reviews), and it doesn't require Google to get into confrontations or dialogues with publishers who have been exploiting weaknesses in the system.

If Google is really smart, it also feeds the uncounted-click and "smart pricing" information to the Google Search team, who add it to the probability factors that help determine whether a page is spam or of low inherent value to users.

(Disclaimer: Please note what I said about the above example being extreme; I'm not suggesting that everyone whose CTR has slipped is operating a scraper site.)

Lion




msg:1402199
 6:22 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

I am having exact same problems from february. January was perfect month, but something is going on with google adsense and adwords january was 1 to 10 were 1 is adwords and 10 adsense now it's down to 1 to 1 something is wrong

ronin




msg:1402200
 7:08 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

Now, Google knows (from a statistical analysis of many types of pages) that a click referral is likely to be of poor quality if the user clicks an AdSense link within X seconds.

Ah. But hold on a second before we gallop off into the realms of speculation.

I don't have any more time for AdSense-scraper sites than most others around here and I'm certainly not defending them. But let's look at this (somewhat simplistic and exaggerated) example:

a) 99% of scraper sites send low quality visitors
b) 1% of scraper sites send high quality visitors.
c) 99% of editorial sites send high quality visitors
d) 1% of editorial sites send low quality visitors.

The danger for Google of drawing assumptions from statistical analysis rather than actually tracking performance case-by-case is that a b) type site will actually get paid what the a) type site gets and the d) type site will actually get paid what the c) type site gets. The d) type site will prosper and continue to send low quality visitors and the b) type site will probably be abandoned.

If Google is still bold and imaginative enough to want to have a hand in shaping the landscape of the net, this may well be close to its intentions.

But if Google is beholden to shareholders, it will be tracking sites according to their performance - not according to their editorial quality.

martingale




msg:1402201
 7:20 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

Dammit. I had been playing with an expanded 2nd ad block over the last few days. I had been expecting EPC to drop, and was wondering whether overall revenue would drop. And it did--overall revenue dropped, so I went back to my original format and revenue returned. I thought "OK, informative".

Now I have no idea.

What I really need is some randomization, serve randomly different ad formats to different users I guess, so I get information over the same time period.

europeforvisitors




msg:1402202
 7:41 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

Ah. But hold on a second before we gallop off into the realms of speculation.


Well, my speculation was posted in response to speculation that Google was manipulating CTR. To paraphrase an old saying, "one unsupported 'what-if' scenario begets another." :-)

But if Google is beholden to shareholders, it will be tracking sites according to their performance - not according to their editorial quality.

IMHO, it isn't that simple. To serve those shareholders, Google must attract and retain advertisers--including potential advertisers who may be leery of the "content network." Google also has to think about the effect of "scraper sites" on search quality, which in turn affects search traffic and AdWords impressions. So even if "scraper sites" were delivering high conversion rates (which is doubtful), Google's overall corporate objectives might not be served by encouraging them to flourish.

Ultimately, advertisers are Google's customers, and serving the needs of advertisers is how Google meets the financial demands of stockholders.

venkata1




msg:1402203
 7:47 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

I disagree with the statement,

"99% of scraper sites send low quality visitors"

Scap sites as YOU call them, rank well in search engines primarily because they meet the requirements of the search engines.

SO although the site contains Cheap infomation,
since the traffic that comes from search engines is highly targeted, the visitor who lands on the so called scrapper site, SHOULD see valid, targeted ads on the pages.

And he/she ONLY clicks on the ads when they WANT to visit the site advertised. ( an no, im not talking about sites that are trying to mislead people and want them to click on the ad. I'm only talking about the sites that are made for adsense only)

So, there is NO question of decrease in the qulaity of visitors.

I'm not ashamed to reveal that I maintain tons of the SO called scrap sites. Infact my sites pull Better than sites I advertise on adwords.

Regards,
venkata Ramana

amznVibe




msg:1402204
 7:48 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

Now, Google knows (from a statistical analysis of many types of pages) that a click referral is likely to be of poor quality if the user clicks an AdSense link within X seconds.

Um this logic is faulty. I certain hope Google doesn't rate that way.

Person visits site page 1, spends a minute on it.
Person selects page 2. Realizes its not what they want after another minute.
Hits back button to go to page 1.
After a second on page 1, because they have already seen it,
they notice an adsense ad that is something they want to know more.
So they click after a second or two of page load time.

I am sure that happens every minute of everyday somewhere.

I also really doubt that google filters smart pricing that tightly, it's too subjective.
It is probably more related to page rank and internal/external backlinks, etc.
Considering there was a Google deepbot crawl at the start of this month,
it is easy to believe the value (not to mention traffic) of clicks has changed on a wide variety of sites.

flyerguy




msg:1402205
 8:15 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

"SO although the site contains Cheap infomation,
since the traffic that comes from search engines is highly targeted, the visitor who lands on the so called scrapper site, SHOULD see valid, targeted ads on the pages."

tar·get ( P ) Pronunciation Key (tärgt)
n.

a) An object, such as a padded disk with a marked surface, that is shot at to test accuracy in rifle or archery practice.
b) Something aimed or fired at.
c) An object of criticism or attack.
d) One to be influenced or changed by an action or event.
e) A desired goal.

I pick b) and e) in the instance of a search engine user. A scraper site is not their target, it is an annoyance. A one paragraph scraper page description of mesotholemia is an insult to someone dying from the disease. Why should Adsense value clicks from these sources as highly as from a health journal?

Since they can't practically or objectively review all Adsense pages for a 'quality review', the best they can do is penalize based on traffic patterns and conversion rates.

They are simply figuring (probably correctly) that people who are dumb enough to interact with a spammy scraper site are not smart enough to give much value to their Adwords advertisers, who spend their Ad money looking for people who do something other than blindly trolling the web clicking anything they can be suckered into clicking.

ronin




msg:1402206
 8:32 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

I disagree with the statement,
"99% of scraper sites send low quality visitors"

So... you would agree that such a statement forms part of a "somewhat simplistic and exaggerated example" then?

To serve those shareholders, Google must attract and retain advertisers--including potential advertisers who may be leery of the "content network."

That's an excellent point.

But do AdWords advertisers primarily see their adverts as tools for increased branding and awareness or do they see them as a sales avenue?

Are they more interested in the bottom line (sales volume) or in the editorial context in which their brand name appears?

My guess is that large, traditional offline companies with no experience of affiliate marketing will be more cautious of having their brand name appear on scraper sites.

In which case, as you say, Google would want to find a way to automatically detect clicks from scraper sites and devalue them somehow.

But in the long term, I suspect AdSense will continue to do best where it's already proven itself: providing a sales avenue for smaller companies more familiar with the web and less touchy about where their adverts appear, as long as they convert.

Either way, I'd love to get some sort of insight from Google as to how smart pricing is determined... the company has the influence to shape the web for the better and it could help to clear up some of its content network (not the very worst offenders obviously) by having, for example, a smart pricing self-assessment questionnaire on the Adsense website...


venkata1




msg:1402207
 8:35 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

I really dont care about the theories involved..

The sites were ACCEPTED by google adsense. And I think the staff at google are Not ignorant of the fact that the sites contain cheap information.

As long as the websites meet google specifications for Adsense, it is Ok.

and friend, someone dying from mesotholemia should rather consult a doctor personally than browse the internet in seach for information. That would be foolishness :-))

flyerguy




msg:1402208
 9:04 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

"and friend, someone dying from mesotholemia should rather consult a doctor personally than browse the internet in seach for information. That would be foolishness :-))"

I guess you speak for everyone looking for a -

Asbestos Lawyer ... Bankruptcy Lawyer ... Child Custody Attorney ... Class Action Lawsuits ... Divorce Lawyers ... DUI Lawyer ... Find a Lawyer ... Incorporation ... Legal Advice ... Malpractice ... Mesothelioma Attorney ... Patent ... Personal Attorney ... Prepaid Legal ... Real Estate Lawyer ... Tax Attorney ... Will.

- because for a second I thought you were just looking to make a cheap buck at their expense. After all, they ARE just keywords, aren't they, and definitely not people? Everyone should be happy they have their own personal expert in these fields such as your scum-sites conveniently making a buck before sending them off to businesses with actual legitimacy.

Google can be as 'non-evil' as it wants, unfortunatly there are those such as yourself as a scraper publisher who ruin it for legitimate businesses and waste the collective time of humanity with spam. Email, website, doesn't matter, no one wants and no one cares.

What this thread about is that Adsense could be cracking down on nonsense scraper crap so go find yourself a new job buddy; mcdonalds I hear is a good start to learn responsiblity and customer service.

Zygoot




msg:1402209
 9:14 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

The sites were ACCEPTED by google adsense. And I think the staff at google are Not ignorant of the fact that the sites contain cheap information.

Wrong. Only the site you mention when you signup gets reviewed. All other websites you own with Adsense are not manually reviewed by Google.

snoremaster




msg:1402210
 9:26 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'd like to add my 2 cents worth. Our site has been seeing very consistent figures for months in terms of CPM - the avg 30% drop happened around mid January and has hovered consistently around that level since. Feb 1st, 2nd and 3rd were worse and today seems to be better again but not back to where it was last year.

If you make a minor adjustment to your site you know it can mean a large difference in your google ranking and adsense stats. On Google's end it's a complex with thousands of variables many of which influence each other in ways that nobody can understand. If Google in mid Jan changed something that sprung to my awareness instantly it might not have registered in many other places simply because the complex of variables ends up affecting many people differently and most probably not at all. Google might just be tweaking variables to hone the engine to maximum efficiency. Having said that they did seem to have tweaked a big one this Feb. 1st and threw lots of untargeted ads around. The good thing is that we have more influence over the process than car dealers do over what theyre going to have to sell next year because we react and they listen.

Google will very likely be very busy on this issue because badly targeted ads are going to affect their bottom line. They're going to want to come up with better figures this quarter than last so a few bad CTR days is going to hurt them probably worse than us because most webmasters aren't listed on the NYSE.

To assume like some do here that the coming of MSN search to this world is a blessing is not a given. Can you open a Yahoo/Overture account for your site like you could with adsense? If yahoo doesn't care about your puny clicks, does anyone believe microsoft will? You're going to have to ask yourself the question what choice of ad partner company is the best way forward for the independence of your business in the long term. Certainly it might be nice to get a few extra cents per click when someone goes head to head with adsense but lets hope there wont be just one survivor.

Right now Google does look after its bottom line which is our bottom line as well, and we make them good money. They offer small and large businesses alike a good advertising opportunity through adwords. Despite everything that we can find faults with we've only just started on this path and a lot of webmasters and sites can dedicate themselves to quality content because of adsense. What many companies tried and failed at in the late '90s we can now do because of adsense. If I was to reach any conclusion here it's that we got to give em a break so that they don't have to divert company resources to dealing with tons of unhappy people who don't really make them all that much money and who tell them what they already know. Let's keep them happy that they go the small fries on their side and lets help Google keep adsense's barriers of entry as low as it is today.

europeforvisitors




msg:1402211
 9:52 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

But do AdWords advertisers primarily see their adverts as tools for increased branding and awareness or do they see them as a sales avenue?

It's called "direct-response," and big companies (like little companies) have been doing it for years.

A lot of the people here equate "big company" with Coca-Cola or General Motors doing a mass-market consumer campaign. Better examples would be companies like GE, 3M, or (for that matter) General Motors using direct-response advertising or direct-mail campaigns to reach specific consumer and b2B audiences. Based on personal experience, I'd guess that the vast majority of 3M's ad budget (to name just one company) is spent to reach the kind of audiences that AdSense can reach: people who buy traffic-control materials, industrial sanding products, specialized healthcare products, proofing products for the graphic-arts industry, and so on. Such companies obviously care about their brands and where their ads appear, but that doesn't mean they're just running "brand ads"--most of their ads are intended to get inquiries that can converted into sales.

Are they more interested in the bottom line (sales volume) or in the editorial context in which their brand name appears?

The two considerations aren't mutually exclusive. And nobody has a monopoly on advertising media.

My guess is that large, traditional offline companies with no experience of affiliate marketing will be more cautious of having their brand name appear on scraper sites.

In which case, as you say, Google would want to find a way to automatically detect clicks from scraper sites and devalue them somehow.

Yes, and also for other reasons. (Don't forget the overall picture, including the tremendous financial and human resources that are required to cope with the flood of autogenerated scraper and affiliate pages in Google Search.)

But in the long term, I suspect AdSense will continue to do best where it's already proven itself: providing a sales avenue for smaller companies more familiar with the web and less touchy about where their adverts appear, as long as they convert.

Don't underestimate the importance of large companies. Google's AdWords API wasn't designed for Mom and Pop, and big companies spend enormous amounts on direct marketing. (That's why so many multinational ad agencies have bought up direct-mail companies, sales-promotion firms, collateral studios, etc.: Big advertisers have been diverting money from traditional media to alternative marketing channels for years.)

Either way, I'd love to get some sort of insight from Google as to how smart pricing is determined... the company has the influence to shape the web for the better and it could help to clear up some of its content network (not the very worst offenders obviously) by having, for example, a smart pricing self-assessment questionnaire on the Adsense website...

I think they'll keep the formulas for smart pricing, publisher compensation, fraud detection, CTR adjustment (if that's happening), etc. secret both for competitive reasons and to discourage gaming the system any more than it's already being gamed.

dregs33




msg:1402212
 10:17 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hi

The figures I'm seeing for this month are terrible.

Feb 1st - Normal
Feb 2nd - Awful - 25% of usual earnings
Feb 3rd - Normal
Feb 4th - Awful - 25% of usual earnings

My traffic is up across all sites which include all the major business sectors, all my sites have benefitted from the Google SERPS change.

dregs33

ps. Google can we please go back to last weeks system.

hitsusa




msg:1402213
 11:00 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

This reply from Google might shed some light on what many are experiencing:

<snip>
It's amazing what you can find out when you ask Google...

HTH

[edited by: Jenstar at 12:20 am (utc) on Feb. 5, 2005]
[edit reason] No email quotes as per TOS, thanks! [/edit]

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