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Publisher self-censoring
I have pulled negative pages from my site.
RonS




msg:1433832
 5:34 am on May 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

I am embarrassed.

I have railed against the media and their biases for a long time. Today I am part of the problem.

Today I pulled the few negative pages I had on one of my sites regarding a product, because other pages I have on this site earn decent money from that product through AdSense. I am concerned that the Negative Campaign Filter may be applied to that whole site due to the sparse negative material.

AdSense keeps the lights on this site which provides a wide range of information in a niche market. But what good is this site if it isn't providing the WHOLE story? But what good would the site do if I have to shut it down due to lack of revenue? I am so conflicted.

At first blush I thought that the filter made sense, but now I'm not so sure that it won't have a chilling effect on the truth. I'm proof, I guess. I hope I'm the exception rather than the rule, but I doubt it.

...I guess some on the left were right all along; without even applying the pressure themselves, advertisers do exert tremendous control over the content of the world.

I'm so ashamed of myself.

 

mickeymart




msg:1433833
 5:45 am on May 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

cant really blame you... its all about whats more important... the dough or the info

incrediBILL




msg:1433834
 8:25 am on May 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Bourgeois sell out capitalist

welcome to the club :)

peewhy




msg:1433835
 8:49 am on May 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Your other option id to remove Adsense and stop this income and see if you feem far better for it.

Who is judging you?

guitaristinus




msg:1433836
 10:58 am on May 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

A couple of days ago I awoke with the words in my mind, "Part of the solution or part of the problem." I thought about a site I've made that gives hundreds of visitors a day the wrong information. To fix it would take several days of boring work. I thought a little about deleting the site, but I couldn't do it. It only makes about a hundred a month, but I didn't want to give it up. I told myself that all my future sites will be "good" ones.

I have another site that couldn't do better in the SERPs. Some info on it could be updated but I'm not going to touch it, or any site linking to it, because doing so might cause it to drop and I'd make less money.

Geez, now I'm thinking about doing the right thing... Probably won't... But I would feel better... Heck.

jetteroheller




msg:1433837
 1:11 pm on May 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

I wrote last year an extreme critical report about very bad designed xyz widgets with much danger for other equipment.

Now 2 companies sent me xyz widgets for a new testing.

They like critical reports, where only the good survives.

They do not like uncritical Hurra press, where everything is good.

spaceylacie




msg:1433838
 1:24 pm on May 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Advertisers rule my world. I didn't even realize that I should be embarressed by this.

jetteroheller




msg:1433839
 1:26 pm on May 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Advertisers rule my world. I didn't even realize that I should be embarressed by this

And?

There are always good products to promote and bad products where it's a honest to stop people buying it.

spaceylacie




msg:1433840
 1:32 pm on May 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

;-( I purchased something from one of my advertisers, an affiliate, I was disappointed. You can get better stuff, for free, online.

But, the company has good repeat sales. I know because I get a smaller percentage for repeat sales. I'm not going to outright tell my visitors that the product sucks, that's just my opinion.

jetteroheller




msg:1433841
 2:16 pm on May 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'm not going to outright tell my visitors that the product sucks, that's just my opinion.

That's the difference between a made for advertising site and a quality site.

I tell my visitors what sucks.

One time, I made a mistake, I reported a software failure, where I actually did not read the manual good enough.

Their tech support wrote me, I corrected my web site. Now I have a very good contact with them, even after the mistake.

A product tested good on a very critical site is much more valuable for the producer of this product than 10 tests in the Hurra, everything is fine press.

ember




msg:1433842
 2:21 pm on May 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Money rules all. Always has. Always will. It is the world's curse and corrupts us all.

hunderdown




msg:1433843
 2:29 pm on May 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

RonS, I think you're being a bit hasty. I really doubt that companies using the Negative Campaign filter are going to be taking the time to inspect every page of every site on which their ads appear. They are going to be looking at ones that send them lots of non-converting traffic, and putting those on the list.

What if your site is sending them "quality traffic"--traffic that converts? Wouldn't it be foolish of them to put you on the Negative Campaign list? They would then lose business.

Just my opinion.

spaceylacie




msg:1433844
 2:44 pm on May 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

I was thinking the same thing as hunder when I first read the post, but then I started thinking about my own experiences.

If someone visits my site and decides to purchase from the first ad they see, just because they recognize the brand, and end up with a crappy product, that's not my fault. I'd love it if they looked around for a while instead, and found the better, free stuff.

If they spent more than 30 seconds on the site, and took the time to look around at what all is available, they'd realize for themselves which is the better product. I'm not going to hold their hands if it costs me money.

buckworks




msg:1433845
 2:55 pm on May 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'm so ashamed of myself.

Listen to your heart here. It's telling you something important. Do what you truly believe is right, not just what's expedient.

The universe needs more people with the courage to speak the truth as they see it even if it costs them something.

spaceylacie




msg:1433846
 3:00 pm on May 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

There's a fine line here. As Mother's Day was yesterday, I'm thinking about words from mine, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all".

europeforvisitors




msg:1433847
 3:05 pm on May 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

If you can deliver the right audience and have a professional site, advertisers (at least the intelligent ones) aren't going to block your domain because of negative reviews.

Note the word "professional." There's a difference between writing:

"The Tokyoco TC-1 camera hunts while trying to focus in low light, and noise at ISO 800 is unacceptable"

and:

"The Tokyoco TC-1 camera sucks at focusing in low light, and the company's engineers must have been stoned on sake when they added the noisy ISO 800 setting"

Think "responsible journalist," as opposed to "crackpot blogger," and you'll be able to serve your readers without driving advertisers away.

hunderdown




msg:1433848
 3:38 pm on May 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

spacylacie, I don't understand how your statement contradicts mine. You are talking about how you feel about hasty visitors. I was talking about how advertisers might evaluate a site.

Why remove good material from a site just because some visitors don't browse enough to find it? As I said, I doubt that you're risking anything with advertisers (at least not the sane ones).

Here's another reason to keep "negative" content--a site with deep and balanced content is more likely to be respected, to get good links, and thus to rank high in the search engines.

spaceylacie




msg:1433849
 3:50 pm on May 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Oh, I meant that my first thought was, what are the chances that an advertiser will actually see the negative content and filter a site?

But, then, starting thinking, I wouldn't dream of adding negative content about one of my advertisers.

I think it's just the niches we are in, in mine, I think people need to be more creative and every product out there is pretty shabby when it comes to this. I don't tell people this outright, I just publish my out content, without being competitive, and hope they will get a clue.

europeforvisitors




msg:1433850
 4:48 pm on May 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Something else to consider is whether you want to spend time writing reviews, articles, etc. on products and services that you find unworthy of your time and the reader's.

In a publication like the NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, for example, most lousy books won't get reviewed unless they're so important that the readers expect coverage. Why? Because there's room to review only a fraction of the books that are published each week, so it makes sense to devote the available space to books that people might be interested in reading.

Similarly, if you're writing about travel destinations in Indiana, you'll probably write about the Amish country or Indianapolis instead of Gary, just because you probably don't have time to research or write about every town in the state and it makes sense to focus on areas that will interest your readers. Ditto for vacuum cleaners or computers or anything else: If you have a notebook-review site, you don't have to publish a review of the Crapco LT-1 laptop just because it exists, unless Crapco is such a major player that readers will expect a review of the new LT-1 model. That isn't self-censorship; it's simply good editorial judgment.

spaceylacie




msg:1433851
 4:55 pm on May 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'm not going to work, I'm just going to play on webmasterworld all day!

Great view points on the subject.

I'm sick from a sun burn I got at the beach, chills and nausea... oh, the hazards of my job!

Having a great time chatting with everyone here. I might have learned something today.

hunderdown




msg:1433852
 5:17 pm on May 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

The original point revolved around taking down content that was already on the site. I agree with spacy and efv that there's not much to be gained by reviewing books or gadgets or travel destinations or ____ (fill in your focus here) that you don't like.

BUT if you already have that content, I'm just saying this: "don't take it down out of fear of offending an advertiser." They won't even notice, and if they do they'll be far more concerned about conversions from different sites.

RonS




msg:1433853
 2:54 am on May 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

The decision that I made was based upon the fact that about 50% of the referals I send to the advertisers were from the negative review page.

The other half were from members of the community chatting about the product.

I decided that it would be extremely likely that they would have found the extremely negative content. The content showed the after-effects of using the product when not used 100% correctly, and was quite graphic.

I had always believed that I would be an honest and faithful journalist if I were to be one. Sadly I found that I could not risk the loss of revenue nor the potential loss of the entire community for the sake of one bad product, ethics would need to take a back seat.

On the other hand, what kind of service am I offering if I don't tell the truth about a product the community uses with regularity?

So, here's what I did.

I put up a 302 redirect (and changed all of my own internal links) and put the page on another domain I run that has nothing to do with the first site's industry; if the advertiser bans the new domain due to the negative content, there will be no other pages affected by the loss of that product's advertising.

A chicken @#$@#$ approach, but it serves all of my goals... preserve the income for the community's sake, continue to get the word out on the product, and hopefully prevent the advertiser from knowing the true source of all of the links into that page, as they'll never know the secondary referrer.

Does this seem dishonest to anyone?

How are my ethics today? Better? Worse?

stuartmcdonald




msg:1433854
 3:51 am on May 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

Just put the line "Advertorial" at the top of every page you left on the site and you'll be fine. ;-)

People often read reviews because they're looking for opinions on the quality of something -- good or bad. They may agree or disagree with you, but your opinion is one of perhaps many that they use to then form their own opinion.

By removing/hiding your negative opinions, you switch from editorial to pr and diminish your value as an indpendent reviewer considerably imo.

1milehgh80210




msg:1433855
 4:43 am on May 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

As a user I avoid sites that only write positive, glowing 'reviews'. I might as well read an advertisement. And most products aren't that "perfect".

jetteroheller




msg:1433856
 5:10 am on May 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

By removing/hiding your negative opinions, you switch from editorial to pr and diminish your value as an indpendent reviewer considerably imo.

As a user I avoid sites that only write positive, glowing 'reviews'. I might as well read an advertisement. And most products aren't that "perfect".

Very true!

A site becomes worthless when the publisher moves to deep in the a....... of the advertiser.

Rachel




msg:1433857
 2:31 pm on May 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

"The Tokyoco TC-1 camera sucks at focusing in low light, and the company's engineers must have been stoned on sake when they added the noisy ISO 800 setting"

I would love to read a review site like this!

RonS




msg:1433858
 5:05 am on May 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

Let's recap:
I had a some negative content on my site when they announced the new AdWords negative campaign filter.

I put that content on another domain I own, and updated all references to it on the original site. This way the content is available to my visitors, but should an AdWords advertiser not like it, they won't ban the rest of my site.

For the first couple of days, earnings were consistent with prior experience. Then the search engines figured it out, and the only visitors to the negative content are people who find it through backlinks and links from the original site; about 50% of normal visits.

Amazingly, revenue from this content has dropped to 0. Not figuratively, but literally 0. NO clicks.

Amazingly, it appears that the only revenue generated by this content was by people searching for the content (the typical query was just the widget name, and my content was always top 5), FINDING THE NEGATIVE CONTENT, and clicking through to the advertisers' websites anyway! I am LM[bodypart]O.

And crying at the same time. This content accounted for nearly 10% of my revenue.

Now here's the kicker: Since the search engines dropped that content, the last three days has seen my CTR and eCPM climb.

<headshake>

hunderdown




msg:1433859
 2:21 pm on May 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

Interesting! Has the increased CTR elsewhere made up for the lost revenue on those pages?

RonS




msg:1433860
 4:41 pm on May 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

It's very hard to determine something like that, from a scientific point fo view, but here is my anecdotal experience.

My eCPM has been in the X range, +- 20% on a daily basis (if we exclude days where targetting was clearly bad). Also it should be noted that my eCPM on that content was 2.2X the eCPM for the site! which means that the rest of the site averages about .94

Looking back at the records, I removed the content late on May 6. I will report in multiplier of average eCPM:

5/01 0.87
5/02 0.81
5/03 0.80
5/04 1.35 (unusually strong day, followed by)
5/05 0.62 (targetting was way off on this day for me as well as others)
5/06 0.92 (day of removal)
5/07 0.92 (Basically three days EXACTLY
5/08 0.97 (as expected... .94 )
5/09 1.04
5/10 0.79
5/11 1.04
5/12 1.07
5/13 0.99
5/14 1.43
5/15 0.98
5/16 1.00
5/17 1.23
5/18 1.61
5/19 1.23 (partial)

Like I said, it's very early and non-scientific to draw any conclusions... but.....we all like to stare at our stats screen, at least every now and then. ;)

hunderdown




msg:1433861
 5:33 pm on May 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

So you ARE doing better overall since you made those changes?

This 31 message thread spans 2 pages: 31 ( [1] 2 > >
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