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Great YouTube video on AdWords abuse
shorebreak




msg:3188753
 5:23 pm on Dec 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Each week brings dozens of new articles on click fraud, all with different takes on its extent & Google's efforts in mitigating it; you've all seen this and you all have your own opinions.

FORGET CLICK FRAUD - IT'S NOT WHAT MATTERS

What the industry's not talking enough about is DISTRIBUTION FRAUD. Most call this 'search arbitrage', but that's not the right language; nor should we be implicitly condoning this fraud by calling it arbitrage. The practice of buying large numbers of AdWords ads (typically at very low CPC's) and sending those users to pages filled exclusively with search ads (whether from Google, Yahoo, Ask, SearchFeed/Miva or some other PPC firm) is nothing if not fraud.

Why? Simply because paid search ads are bought by advertisers with the explicit understanding that those ads will only be viewed as a *direct* result of a search performed on a search engine. Contrary to this understanding, Distribution Fraudsters are taking *search ad feeds* (as distinct from contextual ad feeds) and showing them on domains whose sole purpose is to receive low-CPC clicks from Google AdWords and provide no option to the user but to click on a high-CPC *search ad* within the site.

Secondarily, it's correct to call this Distribution Fraud rather than Search Arbitrage because this practice goes against the T's & C's of AdSense.

There's a great, great video on YouTube that thoroughly covers this and which I recommend people view and share.

[youtube.com...]

You all know about search arbitrage, but my point in saying all this is that we in the SEM world need to start calling it by its true name - distribution fraud. It's one thing for the search engines to condone 'search arbitrage' - whose very name implies people just trying to make an honest middleman living - and wholly another for them to condone fraud.

-Shorebreak

[edited by: encyclo at 2:08 am (utc) on Dec. 16, 2006]
[edit reason] added link [/edit]

 

FiveTone




msg:3190647
 7:04 pm on Dec 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

Another thing to remember about sites like these is that PPC arbitrage alone is probably not sufficient to generate the income that these spammers brag about on black hat forums. They're most likely also using bots, autosurfing, pay to click, high yield investment programs, or other illicit means to defraud advertisers.

Google and others are much too lax in the enforcement of their own requirements for publishers.

AdWordsAdvisor2




msg:3191445
 12:42 am on Dec 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Any parked domain site can now be excluded using the site exclusion tool, including sites that are part of the AdSense for Domains search partners network.

AWA2

Kobayashi




msg:3191470
 1:14 am on Dec 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

So is the ability to exclude sites on the search network limited to parked domains or any domain?

[edited by: Kobayashi at 1:15 am (utc) on Dec. 18, 2006]

westsider




msg:3191695
 7:03 am on Dec 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm coming in a bit late on this topic and I just watched the UTube video and I believe this issue is a lot more complex than creator suggests. I'm also beginning to think that "online publishers" -- i.e. people who make money from advertising on their websites -- may not have much in common with folks sell products from their websites. I've spent the past 25 years in the print magazine/directory advertising world and I can assure you that publishers are struggling mightly with the paradigm shift from print to online.

Probably the most important factor facing publishers is that that Google is able to make massive amounts of money selling ads at CPMs as low as $0.50. This is fantastic for Google and the product sellers but really bad news for publishers. It's simply not possible to assemble and publish any kind of legetimate content with revenues of $0.50 CPMs. The only advertiser-supported publishers who are really making money on the web are low cost "spammy" content sites like About.com, or Wikipedia, that takes advantage of free writing (actually Wikipedia is non profit but they could be making money if they wanted although they'd probably have to start paying for writing).

Now I'm not trying to create sympathy for the MFA sites, but there's a thin line between MFA and legitimate publishers and I'm not sure I'm confident that Google algos know how to tell the difference.

For example, should Superpages be banned from AdWords because a user has to go two pages deep to get past the national ads. Or how about business.com which is pretty much 100% advertising on the first results pages. Should Google get into the game of telling publishers how much advertising they are allowed to put on a page. I know that the LPG guidelines as that the ads should be clearly labeled, but is a spammy MFA labels the ads as such, does that solve anything.

Another example is the venerable Thomas Register (100- years old) (thomasnet.com) which earns its revenues from the sale of organic listings. Should it be banned from AdWords where they spend millions. These are all good publishers and they are simply trying to figure out how to survive in an Internet world where one player can make money and 1/100 of the traditional ad revenues.

Again, I object this term "arbitrage" being bandied about as some negative quality. The publishing world is built on "arbitrage". In the magazine world we spend lots of money trying to get people to read the magazines. It's called circulation. Hopefully, we make more money on the ads than we spend on circulation. We spend money on editorial because it allows us to spend less on circulation to get the traffic.

So what exactly is the problem with Superpages buying an ad on AdWords for the keyword "plumbers San Franciso" and then delivering the user to 50 pages of plumbing listings, although the landing page is very likely to be 100 percent ads.? Is the problem with AdSense? If a publisher buys AdWords, he/she simply has to make sure he doesn't run Google ads?

magicdan




msg:3191818
 10:14 am on Dec 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Great post westsider and Im with you 100% on that. The business model supports merchants and publishers and many posters wouldnt be here without it. I think one of the best examples is tripadvisor - Their ad layout and traffic purchasing is geared to the in out transaction when you come in off purchased traffic, and you probably will click on a fair few ads if you surf the site. The site is excellent though, great experience all round. What better way to increase your user base than offsetting the cost of sourcing it with the revenue you make from advertising.
This is a form of arb, just like any market you have good guys and bad guys, to brand them all with the same brush is narrow minded.

SlimKim




msg:3192101
 4:37 pm on Dec 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

if you watch the video, the first website it mentions as the culprit ... is not at all doing what the video creator says

they say the website / advertiser directs visitors to a webpage containing Google ads / adsense.

Not true -

the sponsored ads there are thru overture as you can easily see when you mouse over, so they are partnering with yahoo as do hundreds of other sites i personally know of

google makes money from the advertiser
yahoo and toseeka makes money from clicks at toseeka
and the advertisers at yahoo may or may not make a good roi, just like any other campaign

there are not just hundreds of these sites, there are thousands and soms use feeds from several different places or the more fornuate are able to obtain a yahoo partnership or work with a yahoo affiliate

you see fewer and fewer pure ppc arbitrageurs because it's increasingly more difficult to show a profit. The only way to do it on a big scale is to have a good working relationship with yahoo as an affilite and that don't come easy. You need several million searches per month before they will even talk to you. It depends on how you get your traffic, where you get it and how much you get.

If you look at the top 100 search engines, you will find most all of them involved in this practice of advertising their search results pages at their competitors SEs (some directly and some indirectly thru affiliates).

davidzhawk




msg:3192170
 5:20 pm on Dec 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Probably the most important factor facing publishers is that that Google is able to make massive amounts of money selling ads at CPMs as low as $0.50. This is fantastic for Google and the product sellers but really bad news for publishers. It's simply not possible to assemble and publish any kind of legetimate content with revenues of $0.50 CPMs.

Good point, but let's dig a little deeper on these $.50 CPMs. Why are CPMs on AdSense only $.50? Because of MFA sites, click fraudsters, etc - these Web sites - designed exclusively to make money from advertisers (as opposed to provide any valuable content to users) are watering down the CPMs for you, the legitimate publisher.

Assume that an advertiser gets 10 clicks from AdSense - 5 are from your quality online magazine and 5 are from MFA and click fraud sites. Your site's clicks convert great and the advertiser can afford to pay $1 CPM for each of these clicks. The MFA site clicks, of course, are worth $0.

Since most advertisers don't check logfiles to determine the origin of specific clicks, the result is that the advertiser averages the amount he/she is willing to pay for all clicks - thus, the average of $.50 CPM. In other words, "legitimate" publishers have their CPMs watered down by the "illegitimate" publishers.

Now, you may be asking yourself, why doesn't Google get rid of all these 'bad' publishers - the ones watering down the CPMs? Well, basically, because it would be economically damaging to Google to do so. The reality is that the ratio of "legit" publishers to "illegit" publishers is probably not 1:1 but more like 1:2 or worse. And, as noted above, most advertisers are not savvy enough (or don't have enough time in the day) to parse their logfiles to separate the converting publishers from the bad publishers.

And worse yet, many of these advertisers don't track ROI as closely as they should. The result is lower CPMs for publishers, but higher overall revenue for Google.

This is why, by the way, you have recently seen the rise of "alternative" content networks, like Quigo or Industry Brains. These companies are eschewing all questionable publishers and instead focusing on top-tier partners (MarketWatch, San Francisco Chronicle, etc). The result is much higher CPMs for the top-tier partners because there is no watering-down.

So, at the end of the day, it would be a win-win for both savvy advertisers and legitimate publishers for Google to get rid of MFA and click-fraud sites. Unfortunately, it would not be an immediately win for Google shareholders, so don't expect this process to take place anytime soon.

westsider




msg:3192251
 6:19 pm on Dec 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Davidzhawk,

I was actually referring to AdWords, not AdSense. I think most sophisticated advertisers are buying Google AdWords at a CPM of $0.50 (of course, we pay based on clicks).

The advertising world historically runs on CPM so I'm pointing out why the online publisher who can make money online is Google or spammy, low-cost edit sites.

AdWordsAdvisor




msg:3192753
 1:10 am on Dec 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

Were you at the Domaining & Address Bar-Driven Traffic session? Hal Bailey from Google said in that session that site exclusion was now available across the entire network, including Oingo and parked domains in the search network. Someone questioned him on this (they had been told different from their G rep) and he said again, "There is not a single site that you cannot exclude from Adwords." That is a direct quote - I wrote it down...

AWA, can you please confirm whether site exclusion is now supported on both search and content networks?

So is the ability to exclude sites on the search network limited to parked domains or any domain?

OK, some clarification:

First, for background, it's important to note that Hal's comment was made at a domain park panel (as mentioned by Mel66) in which he was, quite naturally, speaking on the subject of parked domains.

His intended message was that any parked domain in Google's Search or Content network can be excluded. There evidently was some confusion that he was referring to other sites in the search network - however, this was not his intent. I do apologize for any confusion.

In summary, one can exclude any site in our Content network and any parked domain in either the Search or Content network - but cannot exclude other sites in the Search network.

AWA

(PS to AWA2 - thanks for jumping in - in this thread and elsewhere. I feel much better taking off from Dec. 20 to Jan. O2 knowing that you are reading/posting occasionally. Many thanks!)

Kobayashi




msg:3192854
 3:23 am on Dec 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks for that clarification. I did not know parked domains were in both the search and content network. What determines if a parked domain is put into the search network or content network?

andye




msg:3193639
 7:38 pm on Dec 19, 2006 (gmt 0)


As an advertiser I buy search ads - they show on Google and other search engines. That's fine.

And parking sites, and sites just like those shown in the video.

Is THAT fine?

Two different cases, I'd say.

If parking sites (or any other type of site) is showing search ads as content ads, then that is a problem. So yes, as an advertiser I'm against parking sites being allowed in the search network.

But I didn't see any evidence in the video that the sites shown there were part of the search network, rather than the content network.

So when we're talking about arbitreurs paying to advertise on Adwords and then getting revenue through Adsense:
Could I live without them bidding up prices? Yes.
Is this the 'FRAUD! FRAUD!' that the OP made it out to be? Personally I don't think so.

BTW, one bit of the video did make me laugh - apparently it's a
"dirty little secret that Google profits from every click on the network."

Wish it had been kept secret from my credit card company! :) And here was I thinking that G ran the ads for free...

All the best, a.

jGirlyGirl1




msg:3194289
 7:23 am on Dec 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

I have a new site which launched 1 month ago, and doesn't have many inbound links, and I'm also in the sandbox. The majority of the results that appear when searching for my site are parked domains, and the (spammy) off-topic, content ads that appeared alongside my AdWords ad.

Today, in adCenter, I used the research tool to see what would come up for my domain, and low and behold the "Similar terms" are the spammy content of those ads on the parked domains...

jtara




msg:3194305
 7:42 am on Dec 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

In summary, one can exclude any site in our Content network and any parked domain in either the Search or Content network - but cannot exclude other sites in the Search network.

AWA

Foul!

IMO, the parked sites are less offensive than the MFA sites that are in the Search Network.

You call it search. I call it... can't use that word here.

I did not know parked domains were in both the search and content network.

Google is actually pretty transparent about this.

What determines if a parked domain is put into the search network or content network?

They are "premium" parked domains. Whatever that is.

IMO, any domain that is parked is not premium. It it were truly premium, it would have a better use.

If parking sites (or any other type of site) is showing search ads as content ads, then that is a problem. So yes, as an advertiser I'm against parking sites being allowed in the search network.

But I didn't see any evidence in the video that the sites shown there were part of the search network, rather than the content network.

Google has a funny idea of what constitutes a "search" site. Hint: it's nothing like Google.

andye




msg:3194505
 1:17 pm on Dec 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

Google has a funny idea of what constitutes a "search" site. Hint: it's nothing like Google.

OK, so tell me. I'm interested.

Search network sites that I know of are things like Amazon's book results pages, as well as the obvious sites that show G's SERPs.

But you're saying MFA sites are in also in the search network, not the content network? How can you tell?

Obviously if they are then I'm against that...

best, a.

beren




msg:3194517
 1:43 pm on Dec 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

But you're saying MFA sites are in also in the search network, not the content network? How can you tell?

You can tell because the site displays ads that are enabled for the search network but not for the content network.

And yes, these sites exist. I should mention, in all fairness, that Yahoo is much worse about allowing these into their affiliate network than Google is.

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