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Coverage dropped below 70%

     
9:43 am on Jan 5, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Just as the title says coverage dropped below 70% by the end of December and it still hasn't gone up. I have 2 responsive ads and matched content with ads. I see blank spaces frequently and strangely matched content doesn't show sometimes either. I'm not talking about the ads inside of it but the entire thing. Isn't matched content supposed to show all the time?

Please help because my revenue has dropped by 50%-75%!
5:09 am on Jan 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I'm not being overly affected by the coverage drop, either, although coverage is down a couple of points since December. Per robzilla, I checked coverage by country. I get the vast majority of traffic from the US and Canada, and coverage from those places has stayed about the same. It's the coverage from about 30 of the other 60 countries that's down. Russia, for example, was 85% and is now 33%. The Netherlands was 95% and is now 20%. Add all those up and it explains the overall drop of a couple of points. So it seems, at least for me, that Google is not showing ads to some foreign traffic. I don't use the ad balancer.
7:06 am on Jan 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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something happening guys my fill rate goes up to 40% now do you see any increase today ? earning went up from daily $2.4-$5 to $26.5 as of today. something happening I didn't do anything, no major traffic increased. I was impacted by this update nearly 90%
6:10 pm on Jan 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Does anyone suffering from this coverage issue cache any of their URLs? If so, have you noticed any difference in ads displaying on this URLs? Wondering if caching URLs is worth it in order to not have to be indexed again by the Adsense crawler.
9:59 am on Jan 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Major countries, where most of our traffic is coming from have experienced insignificant drop. I have run an experiment by increasing ad balance to 95% from initial 75% and kept it so for 6 days. The report showed that most of the countries with poor coverage begun to improve, but this have not had much of an impact on the revenue and also started to see all this hideous green download buttons and pdf converter ads.
7:02 pm on Jan 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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On the topic of geo-location. Someone (@youguess) in the AdSense Help Forum thread raised an interesting theory, suggesting that the MediaPartners-Google index is geo specific. So pages previously requested from the US, live in the US index. But if the same page is later requested from the UK, it may not be present in the UK index. So this would explain what several people have observed, that is that coverage tends to be lower in the countries that are not the main source of traffic. In fact this should be observable on a larger subset of sites. Because traffic might be high to specific page in your main country, but traffic is likely to be sparse when comes from a location that provides little traffic in general.
11:23 pm on Jan 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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If that were the case, I would expect coverage to improve over time. It also sounds quite inefficient and impractical, keeping separate indexes, especially for the purpose of content analysis. Besides, certain Asian countries send me more traffic than most Western European countries, but their coverage remains considerably lower. Conversely, other Asia-Pacific countries like Japan and Australia have much better coverage rates. The countries that tend to have lower coverage rates tend to be the ones with relatively low RPMs. Since I don't really seem to be losing revenue, I'd be tempted to think it's as if AdSense is setting the ad balance for me; except for the fact that some of you are actually losing a lot of revenue with the reduced coverage. Still a mystery.

To those of you who have indeed lost a significant portion of revenue, which countries contributed most to your earnings? Is anyone even seeing a drop in coverage for US traffic?
12:33 pm on Jan 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I don't have a drop in coverage or traffic. Just a drop in revenue.
8:59 pm on Jan 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I think they are deleting there index every 2 weeks. I see my coverage flux every two weeks it seems. Today I see even more blank ads which is driving me nuts. I hope this implementation cost Google a lot of money. They are making Media.net look really good at this point.
11:12 pm on Jan 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Found this forum after googling why my adsense revenue dropped so much.

A bit of what I've noticed over past two months. First I have two sites on the same niche:
    * Wordpress site | static content | 2 years old
    * Custom site | dynamic content & urls | 6 months old

First issue CPC. Occurs on both sites but most easily noticed on Wordpress site
Wordpress site has not had any code changes for over a year. Monthly CPC, CTR and RPM are basically flat (within +/- 10%) from January '17 until December '17.

CPC in Jan '18 dropped by 44% compared to November '17 and 55% compared to January '17

So everything is constant on the site except CPC in January which is sort of to be expected except January '17 (with no site changes) had double the CPC & RPM of January '18

Second issue Coverage. Most noticeable on the Custom site. Timeline:
    * Pre November 22nd: Both sites had coverage of 97%
    * November 22nd: Both sites coverage drops to ~75%
    * December 18th/19th: Custom site experiences another drop, now at 50%
    * After December 18th/19th, both sites recover. Wordpress @ 90%, Custom @ 75%

My custom site generates a lot of urls, and individual pages might only be visited by a few people but the aggregate of those pages is a lot of pageviews. The second coverage drop around December 18-19 affected these pages the most and is where I was getting majority of revenue from (+$20 RPM) so I noticed the issue then and thought I had pushed some code that was affecting the UI but i hadn't changed anything around December 18/19. I got in touch with adsense representative who asked a bunch of nothing questions and I've followed up a couple of times and while i get an answer it's very much 'as your representative I'm also waiting to hear from the tech guys what is happening'

Third issue. Ad Quality.
I'm seeing some absolute garbage on my site which I've never seen before. My niche is not in the gutter at all it's similar to a tech news site. Say I go to a high traffic site (say the bbc site or reddit) those same garbage ads aren't displayed on the high traffic sites adsense so there is some part of the algorithm affecting smaller sites or awaiting some sort of crawl.

This would also explain a lower CPC & lower CTR as the ads are garbage

Fourth Issue. Communication.
Absolutely minimal from Google. They are allowed to change things, I don't mind that at all but even a newsletter saying 'hey site owners we are releasing a new adsense update which will require us to recrawl your site to ensure ad worthiness. Until that time you may see a drop in coverage and revenue, for more information please go to X"

Anyway just signed up to vent with everyone else!
12:03 am on Jan 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Hello X7RqH and welcome to WebmasterWorld [webmasterworld.com]
12:51 am on Jan 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@X7RqH
My custom site generates a lot of urls,

Why? Are you using session id's in your URL's? Is each page unique that is associated with the URL or can multiple URL's display the same content?
1:22 am on Jan 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@NickMNS

It's similar to a content aggregator with multiple updates performed hourly, each piece of content has a unique url. Roughly 1000 new unique urls per day. Sorry that i didn't make it clear in the first post.
2:03 am on Jan 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@X7RqH I see how that is problem, unfortunately with no solution that I can think of at this point.

The thing is that even making changes is risky, you can try something different but:
A- There's way to know if it will have an impact
B- How can we be sure that AdSense wont revert back or change again
C- Any changes made could then cause problems with search and rankings

Catch22
2:18 am on Jan 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I agree. I made the same comment to the Adsense representative that while Google have provided some information i don't have any *actionable* information.

It's taken a while to realise I didn't cause this issue myself - mainly via this forum - and that it's a Google change. I did try giving the ads a bit more 'space' but no change. Tried reducing # of ads as well but no success. Now I've stopped trying and now waiting on either 'the algorithm' to revert back or google to provide information on the change. Again a bit of communication from google and I wouldn't have as much of an issue!
1:56 pm on Jan 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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All, I have no specifics to report, for a variety of reasons, however this article may sum up the issue (let me know either way please): [marketingland.com...]
2:34 pm on Jan 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@pubpolicycomms this article doesn't provide any new information. It simply paraphrases the Adsense Support email that was sent out in response to publishers that reached out for assistance. It misses one very important aspect of the update. Sites such as mine have none of the gotcha's outlined, but are still impacted. The reason is the traffic pattern where few users visit many unique pages.

When a user visits a page that is not in the index AdWords doesn't bid on the impressions, but Mediapartners-Google bot crawls the page and adds it to the index. The next time the page is visited it is no longer new. But for sites that have few users visiting many pages, where nearly each page is unique the users land on a page that is not in the index, so ads are not displayed. The crawler is sent, these new page are indexed, but given the many pages the next visitors view other new pages and it could be weeks before the same pages are viewed again. Since there has been such a time lapse between views the page has since fallen out of the index and the subsequent page view is considered new again. Meaning that very few ads are ever shown to users and Adsense is essentially wasting resources by sending a crawler to a page that wont be visited again.

This is a major concern for publishers of websites such as mine as there is no possible solution. Crawler error, URL parameters these issues can be addressed relatively easily, but traffic patterns cannot be changed. I have raised this issue with AdSense support, and the only responses I get always leads back to check you crawl errors or you must be using dynamic URLs. No and No. This issue is real, it may impact only few websites out of all the sites but given the uproar here and in the Adsense Help Forums the number of impacted sites is still significant.

Can you please go back to whoever you can at AdSense and explain the issue of the few visitors to many pages and find out if the message has been received that this is a real problem. Then can you please come back here and let us know if this specific issue is being addressed or not such that we the impacted, can taken the necessary steps to move past this.

Thank you!
5:57 pm on Jan 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Just reporting in that although our coverage rates don't seem to be down (we're at 95%) our traffic is not down much - but our revenue is less than half. We have served more than a million page views this month, and more than 2,000 clicks. We don't know if some visitors are seeing blank pages. Google really needs to give out some information as to what is going on. Did they have a ton of advertisers stop using them? Are they clawing back that 2 billion dollar fine from us?
6:29 pm on Jan 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@Unshiny of the 1M, PVs how many different pages were served? ~50k?
9:53 pm on Jan 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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They're probably well aware of the inner workings of their bot, and I'm not convinced it's about index "freshness". It doesn't make much sense from a technical or management perspective; besides, sometimes I see empty ad slots on popular pages, often times I see filled ad slots on very impopular pages (as in: not visited by anyone in 1-2 months). Geography so far seems more closely related, but I'm not sure how that figures.

It's too bad we have to read between the lines here, the communication being so scarce. The MarketingLand article not only refers to the possibility of crawler access issues, but also of "policy changes". I hope it's at least obvious that it's not as simple as crawler access; I'd say most webmasters here are well versed enough technically to rule that out, and nothing has likely changed on so many webmasters' ends in this regard either. Furthermore, many of us can see the coverage instabilities starting right around the same time in these past months, so this is clearly something that resulted from changes on Google's end.

An unwillingness to explain that this is simply a technical issue of some sort, suggests to me that it isn't. However, I would expect policy changes to be well-communicated to publishers, and now the Head of Publisher Policy Communications can't tell us what's up for "a variety of reasons".

This is all very puzzling -- and a little disappointing.
10:39 pm on Jan 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@Robzilla
However, I would expect policy changes to be well-communicated to publishers,

There is no way that one could characterize AdSense's action on this as "well-communicated" but they have said explicitly that this is policy change. Here is the quote from AdSense Support in an email that I, and many others received as response to a request about this coverage issue.

As part of Google’s efforts to increase brand safety for advertisers, AdWords and DoubleClick Bid Manager have adopted more restrictive bidding on ad requests coming from URLs that are uncrawled. This is necessary to avoid the risk of ads running on sensitive content.


This is verbatim from the email... As you can see there is no mincing words. This is a change in policy that was, according to them, rolled out on December 15th.
9:15 am on Jan 27, 2018 (gmt 0)

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OK, but my coverage started dropping around Nov 9-10, over a month before that policy change.

It would make more sense to keep a page in the index and then recrawl when deemed necessary rather than dropping it out, waiting for another hit, and then recrawling it. The latter would shrink the size of the index considerably, but I doubt size is an issue, and the payoff is empty slots and millions of lost impressions. And the behavior is inconsistent: I see unfilled slots on popular pages and filled slots on impopular pages.

Therefore, the issues some publishers are experiencing may be the result of not properly granting AdSense crawler access to their sites. Google says the problems aren’t widespread, but the changes — which are still in early stages — are affecting some publishers more than others. (Blank ad spaces can also appear if the ad impression simply isn’t fulfilled.)

This is a confusing paragraph in the MarketingLand article, I think the bolded parts are an important distinction: the "problems" referring to crawler access, which oddly enough is the topic of the article even though its effect is the smallest, whereas the "changes" (allegedly still in "early stages") refer back to Google's "changes to buying processes on the Google Display Network". I doubt it's just about "uncrawled pages".

All in all, with Google's recent focus on ad sustainability [adexchanger.com] in mind, I think the coverage issue is "simply" a result of them taking a more critical look at their third-party inventory, cutting out ads and/or networks that don't cut mustard, and thereby shrinking the pool of available ads for all of us publishers significantly. So I'm returning to my original theory that this is all quite similar to the YouTube story, where ad impressions are sacrificed (and potential revenue lost) for the sake of the health of the bigger ecosystem. I couldn't find any reliable data on digital ad spend per country, but (in line with what I see in my performance reports) I would expect this to affect traffic from Northern America and Western Europe much less than, say, Western Asia or Eastern Europe, because the competition seems to be much fiercer (leading to higher RPMs and a bigger pool of ads). Ad quality tends to go hand in hand with prices, so taking out a big slice of low-quality ads at the bottom of the pricing pool would tip the balance between supply and demand -- which perhaps we've been spoiled by, with coverage rates near 100% -- and lead to empty slots.
11:19 pm on Jan 27, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@ robzilla
OK, but my coverage started dropping around Nov 9-10, over a month before that policy change.

Similarly, my coverage dropped on Nov 15th to 75%. Previous 3 years was consistently 97+%. I saw a second drop on Dec 18th
I would expect this to affect traffic from Northern America and Western Europe much less than, say, Western Asia or Eastern Europe, because the competition

My site is North America traffic heavy and January 2018 CPC dropped by over 50% compared to previous January 2017
3:08 am on Jan 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@robzilla - My coverage dropped around Nov 9-10, but that's when Ad Balance came back, so I assumed that was the reason. Not sure if that's applicable to you, of course.
3:53 am on Jan 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Ad balance came back online Nov 6. There were other reports of coverage drops in mid November, they might have pre-rolled it out to some in November. In hind site if I go back to the August 8th dip, it looks like an early test of this. Coverage didn't drop overall, but AdWords impressions fell steeply and were made up by third parties, this was rolled back after a day or two and then blamed zloan-top un-clickable ads.
8:39 am on Jan 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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My site is North America traffic heavy and January 2018 CPC dropped by over 50% compared to previous January 2017

Sorry to hear that. That's a fairly long stretch of time, though. Unless your coverage started dropping around the same time, perhaps it's smart-pricing at work.

@robzilla - My coverage dropped around Nov 9-10, but that's when Ad Balance came back, so I assumed that was the reason. Not sure if that's applicable to you, of course.

It is and it isn't. I did forget (and feel stupid about that now) that I enabled the Ad Balancer for 1-2 days after it came back, and that will obviously have had an impact on coverage (the biggest temporary dip in my charts), but looking at the charts [imgur.com] again the dips in coverage for a country like India seems to have started on October 30. It's almost as if they liked the idea of Ad Balance so much they added a master slider and turned it down a notch there.

To those who've lost significant revenue because of this, what's your click volume like? Were you depending on high-volume, low CPC clicks?
9:18 am on Jan 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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To those who've lost significant revenue because of this, what's your click volume like? Were you depending on high-volume, low CPC clicks?

The salary range for someone in my niche is 150000-250000 USD so high average CPC. I posted earlier that i had a consistent range of +/- 10% for all of CPC/CTR/RPM for 12 months on one site then in January 2018 CPC died but CTR stayed the same.

Nov-Dec Coverage died on both sites. Ad 'quality' has dropped on one site as well so I'm seeing two somewhat separate but related issues with CPC and coverage.
12:14 pm on Jan 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@NickMNS Sorry for my slow reply... we have about 1100 different pages on the site. Click volume is basically unchanged. Unique visitors and returning visitiors unchanged. The CPC is fairly low in our niche.

Perhaps I'm not fully sure what you are asking? Thanks....
3:20 pm on Jan 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@Unshiny with 1M PVs going to 1100 pages you have a site that fits the Many PVs on few pages and as evidenced by your 95% coverage rate "Brand-Safety" seems to be having little to no effect.

Have you checked your impressions by Ad-Network?
1:44 am on Jan 29, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@NickMNS... Thanks for your help. Yep looking at the "by ad network" report now. Far and away the top impressions are google ad words followed by Criteo US. Not sure what to do now. We are not big enough players to have a "real adsense rep"... And the respondents in the public forum on google adsense are rude to say the least. So I am at a loss... Thanks for listening.
1:49 am on Jan 29, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Are you seeing a drop in AdWords impressions?
This 248 message thread spans 9 pages: 248