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Now Publishers are "recycled ads" outlets
Businessweek puts slam on AdSense publishers
ronburk




msg:3093497
 9:17 pm on Sep 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

In the new Businessweek article [businessweek.com] on click fraud, the article consistently and repeatedly refers to the content network as an outlet for "recycled ads" that search engines use to "boost" their profits. The word "recycled" is used 5 times in this article to refer to content network ads.

Wow, talk about beating the drum of lousy PR for AdSense publishers! The article really makes us sound like the dregs of the advertising world, and makes the SEs sound downright sleazy just for putting ads on our websites (quite apart from the issue of click fraud).

The quotes from Google reps continue their strategy of yelling "no problems!" while humming loudly and putting their fingers in their ears. But the article cites an example of a big AdWords buyer who repeatedly told Google that a particular AdSense publisher was delivering invalid clicks. Google denied and minimized, and then essentially said "uh, yeah, guess something's going on there we weren't detecting."

Geez, what a PR disaster this article is for AdSense. Google better get on top of the perception that AdSense is a giant rip-off for advertisers real quick, because the AdSense image is on a real downhill slide now.

 

gregbo




msg:3105939
 10:18 pm on Oct 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

To the extent that BW advertises and is supported by ads online, they are exposed to click fraud, so it's not as if they are merely throwing stones at search engines. (This is not to say that I agree with everything in the article.)

calman




msg:3106025
 11:25 pm on Oct 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

For those who think that Business Week is about to fall by the wayside because of the decline of the traditional newspaper and magazine business, think again. They are well aware of trends in the publishing and advertising world and are well positioned to adapt to the many changes. They have long known of the increasing importance of internet advertising.

Remember that they are already fully immersed in the internet advertising world. They receive considerable revenues from their well visited website, and I am sure they are anticipating the internet to contribute a rapidly increasing proportion of their total revenue stream. I know that several publishers expect to receive up to a third of revenue from the internet by 2010.

Just as an aside, Business Week - with their high-end corporate clientele - are able to charge for their internet advertising at rates that Google AdSensers can't even begin to dream about.

Andreals




msg:3106205
 3:19 am on Oct 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

Business Weeks' circulation declined 5.5% in the last six months and last week they laid off twelve staffers. Forbes and Fortune were unchanged during the same period. (look it up)

<sarcasm>
No they're not bitter and taking cheap shots at the competition. Are they?
</sarcasm>

edit: here's a link, one that should pass as informational here.
[mediaweek.com...]

[edited by: Andreals at 3:24 am (utc) on Oct. 3, 2006]

ronburk




msg:3106295
 4:38 am on Oct 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

from the linked article:

BusinessWeek announced it is laying off dozen employees [...]

In other news, MediaWeek announced they still have no plans to hire a copyeditor for their web content. "We don't think Web visitors really read the little words, like 'a', they explained."

:-)

Andreals




msg:3106545
 9:32 am on Oct 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

Maybe is edit for Eastern Europe.

europeforvisitors




msg:3107516
 11:03 pm on Oct 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

Google provides advertisers no data on the degree of fraud expected, and offers no third-party auditor information to help advertisers judge whether they are buying what Google claims it is selling. That's completely different than the magazine advertising world.

AdSense is a direct-response medium (at least for CPC ads), so you're making an apples-and-oranges comparison. Magazines need to audit their circulation figures because impressions are what advertisers are paying for and, in most cases, it's hard to measure return on investment directly, as department-store magnate John Wanamaker pointed out years ago when he said: "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half." With AdSense cost-per-click ads, advertisers (a.k.a. direct marketers) can directly measure their ROI.

gregbo




msg:3107542
 11:24 pm on Oct 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

With AdSense cost-per-click ads, advertisers (a.k.a. direct marketers) can directly measure their ROI.

By your logic, thus there is no need for audits. Interesting. I wonder what would happen if Eric Schmidt or some other G executive made such a claim.

Andreals




msg:3107705
 2:25 am on Oct 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

Apples vs Oranges...

Test case one: Assume that both the AdSense CPC model and the Magazine circulation model are both scrupulously honest and both executed competently by equally talented teams.

AdSense wins because its ROI can be measured more accurately thus making its application more efficient and experimentation with it would be easier.

Test case two: An AdSense clone is operated by clever thieves and a similar Magazine circulation model is operated in a similarly corrupt way.

The corruption of the AdSense clone will be discovered rather quickly because few of the clicks would convert, too few to provide a decent ROI. But the corrupt magazine ad seller could profit from the fraudulant ads for years because its results would be mixed in with results from all the other ads being run in other media. The ad buyer would be afraid to drop any of the ads so long as sales supported the budget.

Wanamaker would agree...

europeforvisitors




msg:3107706
 2:27 am on Oct 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

By your logic, thus there is no need for audits.

Nonsense. Click fraud is obviously worth preventing, which is why Google makes an effort to identify and nullify fraudulent clicks. But the fact remains that direct marketers who have a positive ROI from AdSense don't have the same need for audited circulation figures as magazine advertisers do, because they can track the results of their advertising directly in dollars and cents.

rbacal




msg:3107724
 2:49 am on Oct 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

But the corrupt magazine ad seller could profit from the fraudulant ads for years because its results would be mixed in with results from all the other ads being run in other media. The ad buyer would be afraid to drop any of the ads so long as sales supported the budget.

I agree with your overall point, but you are aware that there are methods that companies use to track ROI for particular ads in print pubs, right?

Andreals




msg:3107740
 3:08 am on Oct 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

...methods that companies use to track ROI for particular ads in print pubs...

Right, methods inferior to ppc, methods more subject to fraud. There only needs to be a very small percentage advantage for one method and it will prevail in the long run. That's what has old media so distressed.

darkmage




msg:3107768
 3:55 am on Oct 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

I was going to mention it earlier but if you are worried about click fraud, then don't think that the print media is a safe place. Audit numbers are very rubbery indeed. Plus, as I have mentioned in the past, print is often used for brand building where no particularly action is required - Coke is a good example.

Anyway, here are a few questions to show you how rubbery the numbers can be:
If someone subscribes, do they read each copy of the magazine? Compare this to someone who buys it off the shelf.
How do you define readership? Trust me, there is no answer to this and I have seen numbers bounce around by multiples. Were' not talking 100,000 versus 105,000. We're talking 100,000 versus 500,000.

Readership, response to ads and ROI in print media is a game of luck not skill (I'm being kind), more like total BS. This is one reason that advertisers are flocking to Google/PPC over print.

KenB




msg:3107769
 4:00 am on Oct 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

Nonsense. Click fraud is obviously worth preventing, which is why Google makes an effort to identify and nullify fraudulent clicks. But the fact remains that direct marketers who have a positive ROI from AdSense don't have the same need for audited circulation figures as magazine advertisers do, because they can track the results of their advertising directly in dollars and cents.

I think this is a very important point. Click fraud needs to be prevented to make AdWords and CPC advertising a more valuable advertising medium for advertisers. Since advertisers can measure their ROI on AdWords advertising they have a highly effective means of measuring how much advertising value they are realizing out of AdWords. If there is a lot of fraud, then this lowers the value of this advertising and they can lower their bid prices accordingly and spend more of their ad budget else where.

While this is counter intuitive, the ones who get hurt the most by click fraud is not advertisers (since they can measure their ROI and adjust accordingly), but Google and honest AdSense publishers. Honest AdSense publishers are the ones who actually suffer the most as click fraud significantly lowers the per click value of AdWords ads displayed in AdSense thus significantly reduces the amount of advertising revenue honest websites can earn from AdSense.

So the most important reason to fight click fraud is to insure CPC advertising is a good value for advertisers so that they will be willing to spend more money on it and bid higher for clicks as there good ROI.

gregbo




msg:3108916
 11:05 pm on Oct 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

Nonsense. Click fraud is obviously worth preventing, which is why Google makes an effort to identify and nullify fraudulent clicks. But the fact remains that direct marketers who have a positive ROI from AdSense don't have the same need for audited circulation figures as magazine advertisers do, because they can track the results of their advertising directly in dollars and cents.

Suppose the clients would receive even better ROI as a result of audits that revealed the type of issue covered in the Tuzhilin report regarding duplicate clicks?

gregbo




msg:3108920
 11:09 pm on Oct 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

Right, methods inferior to ppc, methods more subject to fraud. There only needs to be a very small percentage advantage for one method and it will prevail in the long run. That's what has old media so distressed.

Actually, just about everything that is tracked through PPC can be faked. The types of things people are using, such as referring URLs, are trivial to fake. Fraudsters know this.

gregbo




msg:3108932
 11:20 pm on Oct 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

Anyway, here are a few questions to show you how rubbery the numbers can be:
If someone subscribes, do they read each copy of the magazine? Compare this to someone who buys it off the shelf.

That's not fraud. In particular, neither the publisher, some competitor, nor some interested third-party (e.g. an investor in the publication) is influencing advertiser spend.

How do you define readership? Trust me, there is no answer to this and I have seen numbers bounce around by multiples. Were' not talking 100,000 versus 105,000. We're talking 100,000 versus 500,000.

OK, if I apply your logic, how do you define a click? an impression?

Andreals




msg:3109131
 3:59 am on Oct 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

Actually, just about everything that is tracked through PPC can be faked. The types of things people are using, such as referring URLs, are trivial to fake. Fraudsters know this.

Right, just about everything. The one thing that cannot be faked is ROI which is the noose around the fraudster's neck, the essence of the crime. This will be sorted out and ppc will prevail because it is more accountable, fraud notwithstanding. The traditional form of ad impression fraud is perpetrated by the publisher, click fraud is perpetrated by a lesser creature.

Fraud is as old as civilization itself and civilization always wins. Else there would be no civilization.

[edited by: Andreals at 4:03 am (utc) on Oct. 5, 2006]

gregbo




msg:3110287
 10:27 pm on Oct 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

The one thing that cannot be faked is ROI which is the noose around the fraudster's neck, the essence of the crime. This will be sorted out and ppc will prevail because it is more accountable, fraud notwithstanding.

The noose isn't around the fraudster's neck because the fraudsters incur negligible costs (compared to advertisers or honest publishers).

Andreals




msg:3110365
 12:01 am on Oct 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

The noose isn't around the fraudster's neck because the fraudsters incur negligible costs (compared to advertisers or honest publishers).

Enforcement is lax while the dollar volume is still in the eight or nine figures, but as we approach the trillion dollar mark the noose will prevail. Fraud is illegal in every jurisdiction, time is on the side of the legitimate actor.

davec




msg:3110802
 10:55 am on Oct 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think one of the problems is that people are lumping adsense in with domain parking ads. Although many Adwords advertisers might not know, Google (rather underhandedly in my opinion) have grouped domain parking sites in with the search network not the content network.

From my interpretation most of the accusations from the Business Week article don't focus on problems with content sites, but rather domain parking ads (search network) or pure arbitrage (where the vast majority of sites are running ysm/overture ads).

KenB




msg:3111296
 6:01 pm on Oct 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

Although many Adwords advertisers might not know, Google (rather underhandedly in my opinion) have grouped domain parking sites in with the search network not the content network.

I had forgotten about this, but I do recall being quite upset as an AdWords advertiser when I learned that in order to opt out of parked domains I had to opt out of the search network. It was one of the things that really caused me to opt out of the search network for my AdWords campaigns.

fearlessrick




msg:3112136
 3:25 pm on Oct 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think one of the problems is that people are lumping adsense in with domain parking ads. Although many Adwords advertisers might not know, Google (rather underhandedly in my opinion) have grouped domain parking sites in with the search network not the content network.

After reading the BW article and wading through the arguments presented here, I found Davec's statement (finally, after 12 pages) to be the one that mattered most. The real "fraud" relates primarily to parked domains carrying related ads.

Who really benefits from parked domains is the question that publishers and advertisers should really become focused on.

If what Dave says is true (and there is no reason to doubt the veracity of his statement) there are three distinct entities benefitting from this practice.

1. Google - they benefit by deriving revenue from clicks generated on parked domains.

2. The owners of parked domains. A discussion on a previous forum and an article made it clear that domain parking is a multi-milion dollar enterprise overall.

3. The registrars and hosting companies. They derive a significant income from servicing parked domains.

Now, the case can be made that advertisers are also benefitting from clicks to their sites, however, it's pretty obvius that these clicks are reducing their ROI, so it's actually a detriment.

Since it's G who has made the decision to put parked domains into the search network and not the content network, they've actually done small publishers a large favor. I'm happy to know that I'm not competing for clicks with abcd123-whatever.com. Let the search network sort them out. It makes the content netowrk actually look like quite the white hats by comparison.

The question of why Google allows them to even a. exist in the seach results, and b. carry advertising, is a puzzler, and one questions the strategy by G because there are literally millions of parked domains.

By monetizing them what is there to gain besides the obvious immediate and recurring revenue stream? I doubt that Google could be so naive to believe that by monetizing the parked domains the owners would have incentive to add content and make the web all the more robust.

I have to believe that G sees parked domains as a cash cow and cash flow opportunity. Lots of money is flowing between advertisers, domainers, registrars, hosting companies and G, and now that the spigot is open, nobody has an incentive to turn it off.

While I could go on in this vein for pages, I'll leave my post at that in hopes that others will contribute their opinions, ideas, solutions.

KenB




msg:3112184
 4:04 pm on Oct 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

After reading the BW article and wading through the arguments presented here, I found Davec's statement (finally, after 12 pages) to be the one that mattered most. The real "fraud" relates primarily to parked domains carrying related ads.

I agree. This was a really good post.

Who really benefits from parked domains is the question that publishers and advertisers should really become focused on.

If what Dave says is true (and there is no reason to doubt the veracity of his statement) there are three distinct entities benefitting from this practice.

1. Google - they benefit by deriving revenue from clicks generated on parked domains.

2. The owners of parked domains. A discussion on a previous forum and an article made it clear that domain parking is a multi-milion dollar enterprise overall.

3. The registrars and hosting companies. They derive a significant income from servicing parked domains.

Now, the case can be made that advertisers are also benefitting from clicks to their sites, however, it's pretty obvius that these clicks are reducing their ROI, so it's actually a detriment.


I fully agree with this assessment. Like I already mentioned Google ads on parked domains was a primary driving factor for me to exclude my own AdWords campaigns from the search network.

Since it's G who has made the decision to put parked domains into the search network and not the content network, they've actually done small publishers a large favor. I'm happy to know that I'm not competing for clicks with abcd123-whatever.com. Let the search network sort them out. It makes the content netowrk actually look like quite the white hats by comparison.

There still needs to be a cleaning up of the content network. There needs to be higher standards for acceptance into the AdSense program and Google should require that individual sites be approved before AdSense ads can run on them. This would hurt revenues in the short run, but it would add lots of credibility to the program and reduce some of the problems with fraud that we see.

The question of why Google allows them to even a. exist in the seach results, and b. carry advertising, is a puzzler, and one questions the strategy by G because there are literally millions of parked domains.

I have found this same thing to be very puzzling. It doesn't make any sense from a quality standpoint. It must be that Google sees parked domains as a way to increase their own profits. This is an example of Google falling to the temptations of the "dark side"

By monetizing them what is there to gain besides the obvious immediate and recurring revenue stream? I doubt that Google could be so naive to believe that by monetizing the parked domains the owners would have incentive to add content and make the web all the more robust.

In the big scheme of things Google depends on people trusting Google's search results, trusting the Internet and trusting Google's ads. Parked domains and MFA sites that are of little quality and contribute nothing to the greater good of the Internet negatively impact the experience of average users and hurt efforts to build confidence in the Internet among the average user.

While I could go on in this vein for pages, I'll leave my post at that in hopes that others will contribute their opinions, ideas, solutions.

You made a very good post.

One solution should be defining parked domains in a third category (e.g. "parked domains") and allow advertisers to opt out of parked domains without opting out of the content network or the search network. Some advertisers may decide to stick with parked domains some won't. This would at least give AdWords advertisers to determine what kind of ROI they get from parked domains and see if parked domains are a viable place to advertise. This would eliminate the corporate "welfare" that parked domains currently enjoy by being lumped in with the search network.

I think the more control advertisers have over where their ads are shown the more likely they are to trust AdWords advertising and increase the amount they spend on AdWords advertising.

I'd also like to see a merging of Google's site targeted CPM option and their CPC bidding, whereby advertisers could target a CPC campaign to specific websites. This would reward really high quality content sites by allowing advertisers to bid up their CPC prices in order to get their ads shown on these "premium" content websites.

moTi




msg:3112329
 6:32 pm on Oct 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

there seems to be a common misunderstanding of what purpose parked domains serve.

many users have the habit to search for widgets not by typing "widgets" into the google search box but by typing www.widgets.com directly into the browser address bar. sometimes it's curiosity, sometimes a direct expectation to serve a need.

if the user happens to land on a parked domain, sees ads directly related to widgets and then clicks, why should this be a bad thing for advertiser roi? quite the opposite, accurate ads on a parked domain deliver the purest targeted traffic one can imagine. in most cases, parked domains don't appear in the upper serp positions, because they have no content. "high quality" parked domains solely live off massive direct type in traffic. the user is in need for a widget, he types in the widget url and is delivered ads fitting to the widget. what else can one expect when typing in a widget domain? you can hate it if you like, but this is a million dollar business, because it's clever marketing.

martinibuster




msg:3112337
 6:50 pm on Oct 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

there seems to be a common misunderstanding of what purpose parked domains serve.

Right, it's incredibly annoying to read the misinformed statements sometimes made about parked domains.

If a widget retailer had a chance to own widgets.com, would they buy it if were reasonably affordable? Most retailers would say, Hell yeah!

If a widget retailer had a chance to promote their widgets on widgets.com, would they purchase advertising there? Most retailers would say, Hell yeah! That's targeted traffic!

It's the least fraudulent kind of traffic. It's targeted traffic. Targeting doesn't get any more targeted than someone typing a domain name into the browser window. Get the clue, understand it, and get over it.

[edited by: martinibuster at 6:51 pm (utc) on Oct. 7, 2006]

europeforvisitors




msg:3112339
 6:50 pm on Oct 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

People aren't always searching for widgets.

In fact, we've seen statistics from search engines that show most searchers aren't researching purchases.

Even when users are researching purchases, they're looking for information more often than they're seeking to make transactions. (According to DoubleClick's "Research Before the Purchase" study of 2005, most buyers conduct multiple searches over a period of weeks before making a purchase.) Because of this, and because parked domains contain no real content, it stands to reason that users who click through from ads on parked domains represent low-quality traffic for most advertisers.

BTW, I agree with KenB's comment about how site-targeted CPC ads could benefit both advertisers and publishers whose audiences deliver value for advertisers. Another possibility would be a tiered network based on smart-pricing data; see the "Smart Select" thread at:

[webmasterworld.com...]

martinibuster




msg:3112341
 6:54 pm on Oct 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

Even when users are researching purchases, they're looking for information more often than they're seeking to make transactions.

Good point, EFV. But could that be a shortcoming in the widget retailer site? TripAdvisor and Amazon do an excellent job providing research information.

KenB




msg:3112364
 7:31 pm on Oct 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

there seems to be a common misunderstanding of what purpose parked domains serve.

many users have the habit to search for widgets not by typing "widgets" into the google search box but by typing www.widgets.com directly into the browser address bar. sometimes it's curiosity, sometimes a direct expectation to serve a need.


And my solution addresses this. By placing parked domains in a THIRD grouping, such that advertisers could, AT THEIR CHOOSING, specifically target or exclude parked domains with their AdWords advertising (without affecting site search or the content network), the entire issue of parked domains goes away as far as AdWords is concerned. The point is that the advertiser should be given control over whether or not their ads are displayed on parked domains.

A creative advertiser could even create a campaign that specifically targets parked domains to measure the actual ROI they get on parked domains to help them determine if this is an effective advertising method. This in turn would allow the market place determine the true value of advertising on parked domains.

Being able to quantify the true ROI for ads displayed on parked domains by means of being able to target or exclude parked domains explicitly would put an end to these circular arguments about whether parked domains provide junk leads (which I adamantly believe) or whether they are a good source of leads (as other try to promote). At this point in time there is no quantifiable proof/evidence that supports or rejects the true value of parked domains; there is only supposition and antidotal evidence.

It should be noted those who promote the value of parked domains as a lead source also have a conflict of interest as they are the ones who stand to gain the most by maintaining the status quo where advertisers can not opt out of parked domains without also having to opt out of the search network.

gregbo




msg:3112682
 2:45 am on Oct 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

If a widget retailer had a chance to promote their widgets on widgets.com, would they purchase advertising there? Most retailers would say, Hell yeah! That's targeted traffic!

It's the least fraudulent kind of traffic. It's targeted traffic. Targeting doesn't get any more targeted than someone typing a domain name into the browser window. Get the clue, understand it, and get over it.

Perhaps the fraudsters realize this, and manufacture clicks to these sites.

Whatever it is, something is hitting these sites enough that advertisers aren't getting the ROI they want.

gregbo




msg:3112696
 2:52 am on Oct 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

if the user happens to land on a parked domain, sees ads directly related to widgets and then clicks, why should this be a bad thing for advertiser roi?

Many parked domains are misspellings of common sites. The users may be confused and start clicking to try to get off of those sites. There are a lot of people who become confused when they don't get to the place they think they should be, and clicks from those sites would tend not to convert.

gregbo




msg:3112707
 3:01 am on Oct 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

Enforcement is lax while the dollar volume is still in the eight or nine figures, but as we approach the trillion dollar mark the noose will prevail. Fraud is illegal in every jurisdiction, time is on the side of the legitimate actor.

An order or two of magnitude of revenue increase won't cause some (formal) solution to click fraud to emerge, or some miracle law enforcement to appear that magically catches fraudsters. The reason is because of all the projections (including those made by people in this forum) that revenues will continue to go up. If such a solution was possible, it would have been invented and deployed already in anticipation of the higher revenues.

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