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Google AdSense Forum

AdSense Contextual Targeting Has Changed
They've changed how they weight the different elements on pages to target.

 2:50 pm on Jan 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm getting the impression the AdSense crawler algo has changed with the way it matches ads to the content on the page.

I use their <!Ė google_ad_section_start Ė> and ignore tags to help identify what content on the page to match - and my code has been the same code for 3 years. A couple months ago, rather than getting ads for "left handed light-blue widgets in Anycity" I started getting just "widgets in Anycity" ads. Close, but not nearly close enough. CTR has dropped by a 40%.

I sure wish we could get additional guidance from Google, moreso than what is currently available, on precisely how to use their tags. All I've found is a lot of heresay and contradictions.

For instance, can you wrap them around just 1 word? I read somewhere that wasn't a good idea. If not just one word, 2 words? A sentence? Somewhere I read even a whole paragraph wasn't enough (despite my experience for 3 years with perfect matching on sometimes just one word).

And then how many times can you alternate between the two tags? Can they be nested or do you have to repeatedly end start end start end start? And then if you do end start end start - is that spamming?

Then it seems if you don't use the tags in just the way they have programmed in their algo (that they haven't comprehensively instructed us to use - other than "make sure there's enough content") - you can be accused/flagged for kw stuffing? I mean really? You guys (Google) can't tell us how to officially use your own tags for fear of matching the wrong keywords to a page?

Guess what... users don't click anyway if the ads don't match the content!

Then perhaps if you use the tags too much on a page, will Googlebot think, "You're paying too much attention to ads! Begone!" And then you're gone.



 3:35 pm on Jan 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

Targeting just isn't that easy anymore. Because of the interest based ad stuff, and personalization, you cannot tell what your users are seeing. There's no reason to necessarily think what you see is what they see. You can use the tags, but there's no way to know if they're really working.

Contextual advertising in 2012 seems like it's trying to be more contextual to the user browsing your site than the actual content of your site. Since Google is all about numbers, I suspect that it is probably working out for them across a majority of the sites out there. But for some of us on the fringes, not so much. I have sites where my CTR has gone way up, and some where it has gone way down.


 3:50 pm on Jan 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think I'll try a set of sites soley wrapped around a very very very (3 verys) specific subject rather than just a very (1 very) specific subject. I wish Google would get some real competition for contextual advertising as such. eta on Facebook AdSense?!?


 1:47 am on Jan 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm making major changes to one of my sites and I wanted to keep track of Adsense relevance. But frankly before I even started I tended to get far fewer well targeted ads, than historically.

I mostly use Firefox for development so I set up the Google Chrome browser to block all cookies, delete all on exit, etc. This made a huge difference in the ads I saw. No longer seeing at least half the ads selling products and topics I looked into, perhaps months ago!

With this Chrome setup the ads are actually pretty well topically targeted to the site content. Now with this test bed, I feel a little more comfortable making major mods to the site, including how Adsense ads are delivered and placed.

I just wish I could switch off interest based ads. They probably work on average in very large sites, but not on smaller sites.


 6:23 pm on Jan 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

I used to use Firefox exclusively, then thought I should see how my pages look in Internet Explorer and was surprised at the difference in the Google ads.

If I went to a furniture page in Firefox a Google ad might show a supposedly local ad for concrete work in a town 120 miles away. In Internet Explorer the ad shown would be closer to relevance. I tried Opera and got the same close to relevance.

I don't use Chrome Google gets too much of my information already.

I don't think that interest based ads can possibly work unless Google is used exclusively and I rarely use Google search any more, because I can get better search results elsewhere.

A good example is a supermarket where I shop occasionally that has a club card, so they can keep track of what you buy. They used to send a monthly health report based on your purchases. I generally only buy meat there when they have a good buy and a few other small items. My health report would come back with fat way off the charts and an admonition to eat healthier. I eat healthy, but I buy the other stuff at a closer store.

It seems that's where Google is going, gathering an abundance of partial information to misinterpret a person's desires and handing out a lot of irrelevant information.


 6:54 pm on Jan 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google's not stupid when it comes to their own revenue. If the stats don't show it profitable across the entire network, they're not gonna do it. They've never been particularly interested in the individual publisher.


 7:22 pm on Jan 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

I found this code on a large site:

google_alternate_kw_1 = "RED Widgets";
google_alternate_ch_1 = "#*$!x";
google_alternate_kw_type_1 = "broad";
google_alternate_kw_2 = "RED Widgets";
google_alternate_ch_2 = "#*$!x";
google_alternate_kw_type_2 = "broad";

With the adsense code.

Google ads on the page?

BLUE Widgets
WHITE Widgets
YELLOW Widgets
ORANGE Widgets

Nothing about RED Widgets.

Title tags just had "Widgets" in the title (along with other text)

So I guess that doesn't work either. I'm curious about that code though and it's origination. I can't find anything about it really.


 12:18 pm on Jan 28, 2012 (gmt 0)


You've run into a "Adsense Premium Publisher" site. They're given a lot more freedoms Adsense wise.


 1:58 pm on Jan 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thanks Bumpski. Interestingly, it wasn't working very well - the extra targeting. I changed the tags on my site the other day and google's targeting is COMPLETELY jacked again. Going from a solid 18 to 6 ecpm sucks.

In this case I think I overused the tags and set off some sort of alarm. Even though the targeting I was trying to facilitate was spot on correct. I just put them back to way-general targeting and I've since said to hell with it. I'm just going to build sites with "left handed red in anycity" widgets in the domain and the main source of content for the entire site.


 3:06 pm on Jan 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

it might just be that theres not enough ads to go around at the moment. the economy is shot so the number of advertisers has dropped.
you can fiddle with the targeting all day, but if google hasnt got any ads to give you then you'll be stuck with the interest-based stuff


 11:52 pm on Jan 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

This from the Official Google Blog earlier this week:

"But thereís so much more that Google can do to help you ..... We can provide more relevant ads too. For example, itís January, but maybe youíre not a gym person, so fitness ads arenít that useful to you. "

I think the era of optimising our websites to attract the right ads is over. Ads are becoming more and more "personalised" just like Search results.


 4:32 am on Jan 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

"...We can provide more relevant ads too. For example, itís January, but maybe youíre not a gym person, so fitness ads arenít that useful to you. "

That's funny. I'm at a website about fitness and gym stuff - but since it's January - Google is going to show me ads about snow shovels. They're brilliant. My wife and I can't stand it when we go to a site and it's showing off-topic ads from the site. And my AdSense account shows the CTR on interest-based ads to be crap. It just boggles the mind that they're doing this. They must know something about ourselves we don't know.


 8:48 am on Jan 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

User preference ads generate more income than ads based on page content, that's the unfortunate fact. A couple of ad serving companies are depending on that fact and doing extremely well finacially.

It's allowing some ad serving companies to outperform Adsense in specific areas and I think Google is changing Adsense to counter the threat.


 8:48 am on Jan 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

User preference ads generate more income than ads based on page content, that's the unfortunate fact. A couple of ad serving companies are depending on that fact and doing extremely well finacially.

It's allowing some ad serving companies to outperform Adsense in specific areas and I think Google is changing Adsense to counter the threat.


 4:57 am on Jan 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

We can provide more relevant ads too

They did a fine job when adsense was new. Now? Not so much. <sigh>


 2:20 pm on Jan 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

So this is why my CTR on a few sites is through the roof lately. Others not so much as many mentioned


 10:08 pm on Feb 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

The preferences and geotargeting determining ads REALLY sucks for destination travel sites. Someone from metrocity comes into the website looking for information about podunk and most of the ads come up about metrocity rather than podunk.

Oh, and I've been using the start and end tags for years and use at least one for each ad per page. I've also been known to target as little as a single short sentence with keywords and never had a problem. I agree with the other poster about probably not enough inventory for your specific ads, or GAdsense is in test mode again, testing to see if alternate ads work better for your site.

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