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CTRs plummeted last Tuesday. No explanation?
internetheaven




msg:4547892
 4:25 pm on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'm struggling to understand what has happened. CTRs were between 4% to 8% across various sites from 1st Jan to 12th Feb. Since the 12th of Feb, they have been at 0.5% to 1%.

Obviously, our revenue has plummeted. It's the same sites and we get our traffic from the same places we always have (social media, organic search, repeat visitors etc.) so why would the ads suddenly be unclickable?

I've looked at our sites through various proxy IPs as our traffic is worldwide, and the ads I see look relevant and perfectly fine for all countries I checked.

I have non-Google Network advertisers turned off - but I always have. I have various categories blocked - but I always have. The ads are the same size and in the same place. Just suddenly, on the 12th of February, no-one wanted to click the ads any more? It's been over a week now.

It doesn't make sense.

 

Play_Bach




msg:4547902
 4:41 pm on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

> It doesn't make sense.

I came to the conclusion awhile ago that what statistical information we get is not necessarily the whole picture. This may be deliberate to thwart those trying to game the program, or it could just be an unknown amount of days in processing clicks that delay and skew the results we see.

Chapman




msg:4547907
 4:53 pm on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

I too have been experiencing severe CTR depressions since the 11th. However, it hasn't been every day. I'll have a day or two that are relatively normal (perhaps I dare say even good) and then a day or two that make me check that I'm still online.

internetheaven




msg:4547909
 5:00 pm on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

This may be deliberate to thwart those trying to game the program


I did have those kind of tin foil thoughts initially! For example, whereas we might get 100 clicks on one site per day at around $0.77 a click. We will get 1 click ... at $8.97 earnings for that click. It's just odd.

I too have been experiencing severe CTR depressions since the 11th.


Well, that's what I was hoping to read when I came on forums. i.e. hundreds of people saying their CTR had dropped since the 12th. Then I could hope that Google were going to fix it. But I'm on 3 different webmaster forums and no-one else seems to have raised this issue?

Str82u




msg:4547911
 5:13 pm on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

I mentioned noticing this in message #4547878 here [webmasterworld.com...] but there was also a traffic loss for us during the same period though the CTR remained normal to high-normal most of that time.

Chapman




msg:4547922
 5:37 pm on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

I also mentioned it in the "Stuck Thread" yesterday.

HuskyPup




msg:4547948
 6:22 pm on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Me too:-)

internetheaven




msg:4547967
 7:05 pm on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

So ... what happens? Does Google just not pay you for clicks for a couple of weeks every now and then?

It's been almost two weeks and we've earned practically nothing, compared to $$$$s the previous 6 weeks.

Play_Bach




msg:4547971
 7:22 pm on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

So ... what happens? Does Google just not pay you for clicks for a couple of weeks every now and then?

Who knows, that's the problem. My stats at times border on the surreal and laughable. Nothing I can do about it, so I've just come to accept that they're potentially very volatile with no connection to anything real time.

internetheaven




msg:4547977
 7:33 pm on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

But that doesn't make any sense. Surely it is impossible for this to be a stat or other technical problem?

If you earn $100 a day from traffic for 6 weeks, then suddenly earn $1 a day for 2 weeks (despite no change to traffic source or volume) then there is some fraudulent behaviour going on with Google?

My PPC ads across several industries have not suddenly dropped in price. Is it really true that Google just stops tracking clicks for Adsense publishers sometimes? Is there a quarterly investors report coming up soon that they need better figures for? There must be an answer.

netmeg




msg:4547983
 7:44 pm on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Well you could ask support if they see something weird going on. Supposedly what they're there for.

I had a bit of a crash on the 15th, but it recovered by the 18th.

I guess I'd start looking page by page if I were you. And also maybe look for changes in my traffic - coming from a different place, or more mobile (or less) than usual, or...?

You might also check to see if there's any big change in your unmatched ad requests.

[edited by: netmeg at 7:46 pm (utc) on Feb 22, 2013]

Play_Bach




msg:4547985
 7:45 pm on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

> then there is some fraudulent behaviour going on with Google?

The problem is there is no third party over sight to monitor what Google is or isn't doing. As publishers, we must take whatever stats Google gives us and we don't know how they keep score. That's why I've just come to accept that it's very possible that the stats we see aren't the whole picture.

HuskyPup




msg:4547989
 7:54 pm on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Just like 3.9% of average earnings today is normal for me...I really feel like someone is syphoning my account at source sometimes.

internetheaven




msg:4547994
 8:02 pm on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

You might also check to see if there's any big change in your unmatched ad requests.


I've checked every stat that Google has in the admin section and compared it with every stat from the previous weeks. There is practically no change. 0.01% difference in some stats.

That's why I've just come to accept that it's very possible that the stats we see aren't the whole picture.


Again, you're using the word "stats". Please clarify. I'm saying that I was earning $100 per day and are now earning $1 a day. That's not a skewed stat. That is what I'm earning.

Are you saying that Google might be falsifying all my stats for the last two weeks to make it look like everything is exactly the same, when in fact, they are not actually showing any ads at all and that is why there are no click-throughs?

jpch




msg:4548004
 8:16 pm on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Google might be falsifying all my stats


If Google, or any other Ad Network for that matter, was falsifying Stats and they were ever caught (think Whistle Blower) it would be very bad for their business. Hence, I doubt that is the source of your problem. Just my opinion.

ember




msg:4548006
 8:23 pm on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

I had a drop in CTR a few weeks ago, and it turned out that Comcast was blocking my site because they had determined that a site on the same server as one of my sites was doing bad things. So they just blocked that server and all sites on it. Since I don't have Comcast, I could see my site and it looked fine. But a lot of people could not see my site (or ads). Of course, I could also see in Analytics that we'd dropped pageviews.

Play_Bach




msg:4548007
 8:26 pm on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Again, you're using the word "stats". Please clarify. I'm saying that I was earning $100 per day and are now earning $1 a day. That's not a skewed stat. That is what I'm earning.

Earnings, Clicks, Coverage, Ad requests, CTR - all are part of our reports (i.e., stats). Unless you know something I don't, only Google really knows what the real numbers are. Pure speculation (at best) from what they give us is the reality.

internetheaven




msg:4548050
 9:34 pm on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Of course, I could also see in Analytics that we'd dropped pageviews.


But that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about traffic levels being the same, traffic sources being the same, no. of ads displayed being the same, percentage of interest vs contextual/image vs text etc. all being the same.

The ONLY difference, is that no-one is apparently clicking the ads anymore. Instead of 100+ per day, there are 1 or 2 clicks per day.

Unless you know something I don't, only Google really knows what the real numbers are. Pure speculation (at best) from what they give us is the reality.


Please could someone else weigh in on this? I'm really not understanding what Play_Bach is saying. Perhaps I'm just more of a Beethoven guy, but surely whatever Google is reporting as my earnings for the past two weeks is my earnings for the past two weeks?

Or am I going to see $1-$5 per day earnings in the stats, but I'm going to be paid $100 per day earnings come payment time next month? I really don't know what you're talking about when you say "stats are pure speculation" Play_Bach

netmeg




msg:4548186
 2:33 pm on Feb 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

First of all, why aren't you asking support? If I had such a drastic and unexpected drop, I'd be contacting them first thing.

Second of all, it would be pretty bad press for Google to be blatantly falsifying stats to such a degree; I guess nothing is impossible but I'd tend to doubt it. Even if they don't care about us, they do care somewhat about themselves.

Third of all, I don't believe Google has ever promised that all stats were up to date and to the minute. I am quite sure that some clicks take longer to verify than others. It's a HUGE system that has to be checked for fraud multiple times (checking the users, the advertisers and the publishers).

You might invest in some heat map software (you can get it for as low as ten bucks a month - no contract) to see if you can track clicks on your site. If the heat map doesn't show clicks either, then possibly your users aren't clicking, or something is preventing the clicks from registering properly.

Str82u




msg:4548196
 4:02 pm on Feb 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

I really don't know what you're talking about when you say "stats are pure speculation"
That's to say that you have to take the stats (statistics) from AdSense as the only source of information unless you have an additional tracking on the ad code (we inject ads on half our sites so I can see how many times the file with the code gets requested and can match that with the statistics from AdSense). That doesn't do any good for tracking CTR but there are solutions for that too if you look for them.

Bottom line is that only Google knows the true numbers so if there's a drop in CTR there are only a few reasons:
1. People just stopped clicking.
2. Ads changed content/behavior and don't attract clicks.
3. Google's cheating you
4. Google's filtering your clicks
5. Someone is hijacking your clicks

The most likely of those is usually #2 or #4, as someone else pointed out, Google has too much at stake to cheat anyone like #3. For #5 you can "Fetch as Googlebot" and look at a few pages source to see if your ad code is yours but that's not a thorough method of detecting hijacking or hacking.

Follow @netmeg's advice and take a few minutes to contact AdSense support or post on the official forum [productforums.google.com...] - the longer you delay the longer it will take for answers.

cabbie




msg:4548259
 11:20 pm on Feb 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

Have you checked your website thoroughly for a hack?
Checked your .htacess file or your servers configuration.

Have you checked your source of traffic?
If there is a lot of referral traffic, is that traffic bonafide?
Put up some affiliate banners and see if you make any sales from your traffic.
Put up alternative ads and see how they perform.

internetheaven




msg:4548261
 11:31 pm on Feb 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

Surely if my website was being hacked, then I wouldn't be getting ad impressions either? If someone was "stealing the clicks" then they'd have to be showing the ad too, right?

Mike

cabbie




msg:4548448
 10:11 pm on Feb 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

To me, your situation is describing what I think Google would do, if they suspected invalid clicking.
They show revenue in analytics and then take it away.

If you traffic seems to be exactly the same for a long while now,and assuming that it was always valid traffic, then one possible scenario, I can think of, is that a hacker has hijacked your traffic, perhaps redirecting to their own site. But, so as you do not get alerted,they create dummy traffic for you, even to the point of having an average CTR for your displayed ads.
A site making $100 a day could be an attractive target for such a scheme.
You may need outsourced testing from different locations and browsers and check different serps for your traffic and make sure there is no hijacking going on.

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