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This 41 message thread spans 2 pages: 41 ( [1] 2 > >     
Google's Mediabot negative filter generates PSAs
PSAs don't pay, let's get rid of them!

 6:31 am on Sep 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

I've been doing a lot of research recently into the cause and elimination of PSAs but this topic has barely been touched compared to everything else in WW AdSense forums.

To bring you up to speed on the issue in past threads:
AdSense Stop Word Threads [google.com]

From these threads I found lots of hints but nothing satisfactory. Contacting Google about this issue only got a few more hints, but nothing satisfactory, they are very tight lipped about their negative filter in AdSense.

So, here's what I've learned trying to identify and eliminate PSAs:

* If you install the alternate ad code in AdSense you can detect PSAs loading this code from your servers which will show up in your log files and you can determine just how serious this problem is on your web site.

* If you have a serious amount of channels defined you can easily spot which channel is most likely displaying PSAs with clues like $0 for a channel with 1,000 impressions.

* Most of the topics Google forbids are not surprisingly in their negative filter list so terms like guns, porn, etc. will trip the PSAs and many times it's a combination of words on a page which wouldn't appear to be offensive whatsoever.

So knowing this, how do you get rid of the PSA?

I've found it works pretty easily doing the following:

* Copy the page to a temporary file name like temp1.html, remove any potentially offensive words, upload to the server and display the page. You should initially see some default ads on the page. Now wait for the mediabot to come check the page, usually within the hour, and redisplay the page in your browser. If you continue to get actual ads on this page for a whole day you've probably fixed the problem.

* If the ads disappear and PSAs show up, try chopping up the page content into sections and put them on the server as temp2.html, temp3.html, etc. Then display each page and wait for the mediabot as before. Note - consider your navigation, page title and possibly even meta tags are causing problems so you may need to peel it down.

* Once you've determined which part of the page is causing the problem further narrow down the specific sentences, etc. as temp10.html, temp11.html, etc. and again load those pages and wait for a verdict from the mediabot.

* When you know what's causing the PSAs, try assembling everything left as maybe temp20.html and see if that page will work. You know the drill, load the pages from your domain in the browser and wait for a verdict from the mediabot.

* With a clean page, replace your original page with the corrected content and wait for Google to reindex, could take a couple of weeks. If you're impatient just redirect the old page name to a new corrected page name and get immediate results, but this could impact your SERPS so be careful.

One last set of notes - GET RID OF ALL THE TEMPXX.HTML FILES WHEN YOU'RE DONE as you don't want Google indexing these. Also, use a different set of file names with each test as mediabot seems to remember page names with offending content so keep using new page file names to test with and don't use names you might actually want to use as that name could get stuck in Google's memory, not a good thing to happen.

Hope this helps some of you and if anyone else has better methods or information please ad to this thread.



 11:53 am on Sep 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

Any ideas about how one can adapt this guide to work on a forum site?


 12:35 pm on Sep 15, 2005 (gmt 0)


Thank you for the effort of putting this information together for all WW members. Excellent work! Indeed incrediBill. :-)

I know that nobody here knows the stop-word list, but I have one page that would not display ads. I looked at the copy and the code again and again, but I could not see any stop-words. It's a page containing a photo of a village in Italy. The page before shows the same village - and displays ads. The page after shows another village of the same region - and displays ads. So it's not a lack of ad inventory. It's definitely a problem with the page.

Just out of curiosity, have you seen such a behaviour in your research as well? (I am displaying alternate ads that point to an aff partner right now, so I'm happy, but I would like to understand why this happens.)


 1:00 pm on Sep 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

I don't see anyway around it on a forum site. Since they content is generated dynamically, they can't always display the "correct" ads. They do a remarkably good job, for the most part.

Tropical Island

 1:03 pm on Sep 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

I recently split a very long page of information about living in our area into 4 separate pages to make it easier on my users to get directly to the info they needed.

The original is page one. Page two, three & four immediately started receiving relevant ads however the original page one started receiving disaster ads, eg. 2000 tents available, disaster relief planning, etc..

I've been over and over the page trying to find the trigger words that are causing it without luck. I finally removed the ads except for one ad block that runs in a common border. Also the ad links unit will not present categories.

I guess Bill's method is the only solution to finding the problem unless anyone else has any ideas. Before the changes everything was fine with this page.


 1:04 pm on Sep 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

I've had to do this technique for a few publishers. What incrediBILL mentions about the navigation (ie. the content on the page that doesn't change from page to page, such as navigation, headers, footers) etc is good advice. The filter often works on a combination of words, so a combination of one word/phrase in the navigation and one in the actual "article" content could trigger PSAs.

Those with chronic PSA issues should take a close look at their navigational content and see if part of the issue is there. Making the change to the navigational wording can solve a PSA issue that plagues many pages on the same site. Then it isn't such a painstaking page-by-page process to figure out what is causing the PSAs.


 4:34 pm on Sep 15, 2005 (gmt 0)


Ever run into PAGE TITLES being the cause of the PSA?

I'm not positive but I think a page name actually caused PSAs once! I'm not sure if the Mediabot checks the words in the page name but removing that one word from the page name seemed to be the only fix.


 4:49 pm on Sep 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

Any ideas about how one can adapt this guide to work on a forum site?

My web site is dynamic but not a forum, so much of my content is random as well.

Being that the forum is dynamic you can simply save a copy of a specific forum page displaying PSAa and use my methods to identify what part of the page you see is triggering the PSA.

Now there are some mechanisms I've applied to this problem for a dynamic web site which is a pre-emptive strike to block and filter words that might trip the Mediabot's negative filter from either being entered or displayed. You really need to filter at both the input and output stage as Google's Mediabots negative filter seems to change based on current events so whatever pages displayed ads last week might not display ads this week.

During data entry you can block the profanity and certain keywords you know will trigger a PSA and allow the author to re-write his content to get around these negative words.

Before displaying my pages I have code that does a global search-replace in the page that finds all suspect words in my current negative filter list and either substitutes the word or simply eliminates it if there is no good substitution word that won't trigger a PSA.

Not a perfect solution but it's a start.


 5:57 pm on Sep 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

Ever run into PAGE TITLES being the cause of the PSA?

Yes, I believe so, I can't remember offhand if it was a stand-alone issue or something that was in conjunction with another on-page issue. I'd have to dig out my testing data on it to be certain though.


 6:00 pm on Sep 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

Yes, because of current events a page that has had perfectly targeted ads might suddenly show PSAs because of an event that has happened in the world. Some of them do seem to be lifted after a certain period of time, or perhaps scored/weighted differently.

In general, the fact that a page will trigger PSAs is a good thing, to avoid some of the poorly timed ads showing up on certain news pages (suitcase ads on a page about body parts being found in a suitcase is one of the very first examples from the beginning of the AdSense program). But they can be difficult to deal with when you have sites that skirt close to those very same issues.


 6:38 pm on Sep 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

That was incredibill work incredibill. Hate to state the obvious, but it's a shame that we need to waste our time with these workarounds for a cutesy idea meant to help Google's PR machine.

Why do we need PSAs? They are making something so obvious and simple into something very complicated. In terms of their algo and in terms of work and headache for the customers helping their bottom line.

Do away with PSAs. Create a run of site ad and let people bid on it. When you would have shown a PSA, show a ROS site instead. I know it brings up other issues, but those issues are far easier to deal with than PSAs.

If you don't like the ROS idea, use categories like Yahoo is trying out...do so on a domain basis.

Speaking of Yahoo, they are following this same ridiculous path (so far) of PSAs like lemmings. DOH.


 6:47 pm on Sep 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

Why do we need PSAs?

PSAs are there to keep advertisers ads off pages of questionable content, it's all about protecting the advertiser.

The problem is when you have a non-offensive page being penalized due to a false positive by the Mediabot that Google, even after reviewing the page, won't tell you how to stop the PSA.

So you're on your own playing a rousing round of Where's Waldo trying to locate the words causing the PSA on your page.


 6:53 pm on Sep 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

I understood that. That's why I'm suggesting run of site to replace PSAs. Run of site means you let people bid for placement on any piece of crap page. If advertisers think crap pages are only worth a penny, let 'em bid a penny. If they bid it higher, great. Better to earn something than nothing. But I bet ROS bids would turn out to be $0.05-$0.10-$0.15 cents.

But even better than that, if my site is about widgets, I'd like to show widget ads on all pages that would show PSAs. If the worry is the advertiser showing his ad on a crap page within a site about widgets, that could be taken care of by letting them opt into it through categories or something similar in the adwords interface.

These are 2 off the cuff ideas. If the adsense team spent some effort they could come up with plenty other ideas.

Although PSAs do solve an honest problem, there is a far better way to handle the problem. IMHO.


 9:09 pm on Sep 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

If it's the only Adsense display on the page, is it possible to redirect to a YPN account ad? Hmmmm...
I see that it simply asks for a URL, so how are affiliate ads used in place of a PSA?


 9:34 pm on Sep 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

The alternate ad can be a banner, banner server or HTML page with an ad included, basically as long as it fits within the original space defined for the AdSense ad it will display with any overflow being clipped:

How do I implement an Alternate Ad?

While you're at it consider tacking on a <noscript> section below AdSense to display ads to people with Javascript disabled, cover all your bases.

FWIW, putting YPN as an alternate ad may just result in displaying YPN's PSAs instead.


 11:22 pm on Sep 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

Through trial and error, it's possible to figure out what might be happening on your site. Seemingly harmless phrases can cause problems for example:

"I hate to tell you..."
"I could have died when she told you..."
"It's never okay to shoot from the hip when..."

This really becomes a problem if you write on topics like insurance:

"If your home is destroyed..."
"If you die and you don't enough insurance..."

I've learned to use phrases such as:

"If your home is ruined..."
"If you happen to pass on and don't have enough insurance..."

It also seems to me that accurate meta tags work. PSAs wll also target pictures, so if you're using alt text, you need to be careful there too.


 12:21 am on Sep 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

You can use YPN as an alternate. Since they don't share stop word lists or algos (at least I would assume they don't!) if something is trigger PSAs for a borderline issue, YPN could work.

I still think PSAs for stop word issues is a good thing. Even what you think could be the least offensive ad could be offensive in the right (wrong?) situation. Luggage ads would seem like a perfect run of network ad for cases like these.... until it is an article about a dismembered body found in a suitcase. Just like a CD burner ad with "Burn Baby Burn" in the text could seem inoffensive... until it is shown on a page about a housefire where small children were killed.


 1:56 am on Sep 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

Thanks Bill- I wasn't sure if the text box accepted html strings.
...and here I was creating pages and putting the replacements in an html document- duh.


 2:34 am on Sep 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

You can't always use YPN to replace adsense. If you have 3 ad units and two display ok and one has PSAs you wind up displaying both ad types on a page and break both TOSes. If you have only one ad unit, then it's acceptable.


 2:50 am on Sep 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

What is so terrible about PSAs? Do you never throw a dollar bill into a Salvation Army bucket or sent a check to the Red Cross? Publishing is a public-service business and throwing a little dead space at a worthy cause isn't all that bad, now is it? If nothing else, it makes you look good to your readers, which ought to be worth something.


 3:10 am on Sep 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

Actually, you can test changes to your pages quite simply without resorting to cutting and pasting into separate files. All you need to do is access the page with a random query parameter. In other words, if the page you're testing is


then make your changes and then access it like this:


Then make more changes and do this:


Keep increasing the value of the "bogus" parameter until you've figured things out.

Trust me, this works. You'll see the Mediapartners bot come visiting the page each time you set the query parameter to a different value. Much easier than splitting things....



 3:34 am on Sep 16, 2005 (gmt 0)


Firstly, it makes Google look good, not me. At my expense. Secondly, I choose my charities carefully. I'm offended by the Red Cross, who gets a lot of PSAs. The CEO makes $400k+/yr in salary and they have perverted the initial concept they were built on. They were never supposed to sell blood. Now they do. Calling themselves a charity is itself a charity. When you need to raise millions just to pay the upper echelons of management their salary, you are no longer a charity in my book. You are a sophisticated corporation.

I don't want to detract from the conversation or start one about charities...and I don't care if people agree with me or not, but I just don't want you to think that I'm being this uncaring insensitive person. I actually have done a fair bit of research into charities and know people running some and have volunteered at a big one and seen it from the inside. It ain't pretty at all. It was rather disheartening in fact.

I do understand where you're coming from...hopefully now you know a little where my beliefs are. It is a deeper topic though. The smaller charities have to go through a lot of trouble to satisfy government requirements and by itself makes it hard for small caring groups to start one.

Whether I'm right or wrong, why should Google make the decision for me.

I suspect a lot of people hate them, they're just scared to say it out loud because it will make them look like bad guys.


 3:50 am on Sep 16, 2005 (gmt 0)


Good tip on incremental changes, I should've thought of that as I've seen PSA pop up on "blah.html?page=2" when there was 20 other pages showing ads.

However, you still need multiple pages when you get to the point you need to chop the page up into 3 or 4 (oe more) segments when you're stuck, unless you want to wait on the mediabot to validate 1 chunk removed at a time.

I'm a bit impatient for that ;)


 4:06 am on Sep 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

FWIW, I run a site about scuba diving on shipwrecks that used to get nothing but PSAs due to the histories of the wrecks mentioning the wreck death tolls etc. I emailed Google to ask them if they could fix the problem and within a couple of hours I got a positive response. Paying Google ads have been displaying on the site ever since without me doing anything to my code. Seems like someone manually reviewed the site and flipped a switch.

I'd imagine they did this because there's around 100 different wreck histories on the site and it's been live for the last 5 years i.e. they could see it was an established site with a readership that would be interested in scuba related Google ads.


 6:43 am on Sep 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

I had a page that I believe was showing PSAs because I used the term "killing germs". At least when I took out the word "killing" the PSAs went away.


 6:52 am on Sep 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

What I usually do is take a file and save as page1.html. Then I will make a minor change, and do save as page2.html I will usually make 10 or so slightly different pages. Upload them, visit them. Then I wait a few minutes to be sure targeting is done (or check the logs to make sure the mediabot has visited) then go back and see what has targeted and what has PSAs. Then I pick the version of the page I prefer from the ones showing ads, and upload it to the URL I want the page to reside on.

I find this much easier to keep track of changes, and remembering what is different as I am making each of the ten or so pages - much easier to do than if I was saving, uploading and checking, then making another minor change, saving, uploading and checking.


 8:41 am on Sep 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

Can someone explain what a PSA is please.


 10:34 am on Sep 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

incrediBILL, I'm not sure why you still have to split things up. You can just comment out parts of the pages and then reaccess the page using a different query parameter. Especially if you use section targeting.



 1:12 pm on Sep 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

PSA = what google choses to serve while not having determined the page content and hence cannot serve targeted ads.

Could not find any mention of comments to guide the mediabot, but this seems to work well:

<!-- google_ad_section_start -->
Content for ad-mach
<!-- google_ad_section_end -->


 4:03 pm on Sep 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

Can someone explain what a PSA is please.

Public Service Annoucement. It appears when Google cant figure out what the page is about, runs out of advertisements or you have a "stop" word.

They are basically advertisements for charities.

This 41 message thread spans 2 pages: 41 ( [1] 2 > >
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