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|Going from "Great" 0.03 bids to "Poor" 0.50 bids |
How can this be
So I've had a campaign running for keyword and I happen to have keyword.org as the domain. Ad and landing page are all about keyword. Suddenly overnight all the keywords that were getting double digit CTR's have been reevaluated to "poor" and I've been asked to pony up 20X more per keyword.
Anyone else seen this and why would this be when everything is relevant? BTW I don't use analytics or anything else to allow any tracking of conversions from their side, but I can tell you the kw's that got bumped up high were converting.
|Most affiliate programs run their own search campaigns, and don't allow affiliates to use their domain as a visible URL |
That is a massive simplification - there are distinct groups of merchants. Some specifically do not want to run adwords ads themselves, preferring affiliates do it for them. Clickbank for example. Some merchants don't mind affiliates competing with them using the same url. Finally there are many who wont let affiliates use their url, either to avoid competition and increased cpc or to avoid dodgy affiliates damaging their reputation by for example using competitors trademarks.
But to claim most run their own adwords campaigns is silly. Its a sub-group of a certain type who do. For those who want affiliates to run campaigns, why shouldnt they? Google should be careful they dont penalise all affiliates. Fair enough try and prevent multiple affiliates promoting the same product at the same time in adwords, but affiliates in and of themselves are not the problem.
I wonder how much affiliates have really contributed to googles profits and specifically adwords success since it started. I suspect affiliates really drove the boom in adwords. Adwords should be thanking affiliates ;-)
Adwords maps keywords it thinks are related to the keywords you have chosen for your ad group.
e.g. You bid on "The Police Concert Tickets"
Look in your logs and you will see that you have bought clicks for "The Police Tour Dates"..
This is Google greed..
An advertiser must choose exact match or phrase match to avoid this, but these are seldom used by most advertisers.
Also, your bad experiences with Google ads have nothing to do with the little guy. You will notice that eBay will show up for even the most obscure search and it is the in-house marketing team that is causing this to happen, not an affiliate. By squeezing out the little guy the adwords results will not be improved.
Google considers affiliate to be bottom-feeders and therefore not worth dealing with..
|Most affiliate programs run their own search campaigns, and don't allow affiliates to use their domain as a visible URL. |
Those affiliate programs are unsuitable for Adwords campaigns, then. You will have to find affiliate programs that do permit this. Amazon, for example.
DTM PPC is available, as always. And most merchants allow their affiliates to do it, few (<25%) disallow it. And of those that do disallow it per public policy, many of them will make exceptions if you communicate properly with them and are determined to add value to their efforts (and not just trounce on their domain name and trademarks).
Cloaking your aff urls is also a fallacy - you can't (and shouldn't) hide the truth. Referring someone to a place to buy is not a problem in itself, neither is tracking it or getting paid for it. There are reasons to do server side redirets (like deep linking from a database / datafeed to target product pages), and none of those reasons have to do with secrecy. It's not hard to detect the final redirect url contained in cloaked or redirected urls.
I am sure it's frustrating being tagged, I would feel exactly the same way. But there are tons of people, including affiliates, who are not getting whacked at all. So dispel with the G hates Affs, links must be cloaked, they don't want our biz stuff - it does nothing positive for anyone. If it were true, all affiliates would be flicked off everywhere for every keyword. As an affiliate who does both DTM PPC and PPC to my own affiliate websites, I can attest that this is not the case. So either I'm some sort of freakish exception (I have many aff sites and several adwords accounts and several dtm ppc projects and several merchants i run ppc for as a consultant, some using aff links for my compensation - so i'm sybil the 16 headed exception) or the blanket they-hate-affs answers (guesses) are incorrect.
We got whacked and we don't have any affiliate links.
|Geez, I thought *that* stopped working about a year ago... |
Didn't Google already make changes that eliminated most affiliate landing pages?
In any case, what is it that you offer on your site that isn't provided at the merchant itself? I don't see any added value from what you have described.
Surely you don't consider the adsense boxes and "other 3 products" to be "added value"?
As a consumer, I want to see them improve quality further, but don't have much hope.
Was going to write the exact same thing, thanks for saving me the hassle :)
|Google considers affiliate to be bottom-feeders and therefore not worth dealing with. |
Nothing annoys me more than landing on some ones affiliate page when I'm looking for a product. At least the big ones (shopper cnet, dealtime, etc) are all easy to avoid.
It isn't just affiliate AdWord users, im a 100% online retailer and my ads have dropped of the planet.
Im hoping its a technical issue over a actual major change. Im paying well over the top as iv always been number 1, now im 8 and still paying.
Whats the best course of action?
Has Google released any actual information?
|Google considers affiliate to be bottom-feeders and therefore not worth dealing with.. |
The problem is that 99% of affiliates add no value. Stay well within the other 1% and Google will be your friend.
(That's not to say that Google doesn't make mistakes and affect accounts that shouldn't be affected. But in general, affiliates can get along with Google.)
[edited by: Rehan at 7:40 pm (utc) on June 9, 2007]
|Whats the best course of action? |
If you are a merchant that got hit, just send adwords support an email. They will have you fixed up in no time.
It was a fact a year and a half ago that affiliates were being disinvited to the game. If you still have sites standing and you are an affiliate, it is just a matter of time.
There is evidence of hand reviewing so even if you are masking your URLs, they will find you.
Google is an affiliate.
They also encourage people to be an affiliate for Google products.
I don't think it's an anti affiliate thing as such just a simple message. If you sell a product or service use adwords, if not use SEO. Simple take heed and act. This promotes quality in the SERPs and relevance in adwords results. Kind of what they've always said, so consistent in a painful kind of way.
We have a very high quality information publishing site. The business model is mainly adsense and affiliates with some JVs. The adwords ads we've used are highly relevant, go to the right page, very good CTRs. You'd struggle to find low quality or low relevance anywhere.
Only conclusion is that it's a business model issue and if you have a business model similar to the one I've just described then it doesn't mean its a bad one it just means adwords isn't for you.
For those of you hoping that this is just a temporary technical issue, it is *not*. I spent an hour on the phone yesterday with a Google Adwords customer service rep, and she said that yes, they have made changes again to the Landing Page Quality guidelines and therefore pushed several advertisers out of the PPC listings with hyperinflated ($5, $10) bids. She could not give me a definitive answer on whether it's an algo or a human that reviews sites during a major change like this one and last July's. I pressed her on this. She said she thinks it's a combination of the two but doesn't know.
More bad news is that she said it is still being rolled out, and potentially more people will get whacked over the next few days (but she couldn't give me an actual timeline estimate).
I really pressed her on the question of Google targeting affiliates. She even put me on hold to talk to someone supposedly in the know to get me an answer. She came back and said that they do not systematically target affiliates as a whole, nor sites with affiliate links. But, she said they are taking more steps with each landing page tweak to weed out sites that do not add a certain level of "value" to their visitors (as other posters to this thread have mentioned). She wouldn't tell me if this "value" is human-determined or algo-determined, again saying that she didn't know.
I had her check several of my sites, and she put me on hold each time to check with some kind of editorial "specialist" at AdWords, and the result was that all of those checked sites were apparently not up to par with what they require. Not enough unique content. Not enough pages with different content. Too much on one page. "Try breaking your original content up over several pages so it's more readable." I'm an affiliate, and I admit that my landing pages are concise and single-paged (though they all have original content, written by me) and I don't have several pages per product/partner merchant. Why would I expend that kind of effort for each of my merchants when I'm simply trying to pre-sell and not get in my visitor's way as they go to the merchant's site to browse and hopefully buy?
This is what Google is getting rid of. Simple pre-sell landing pages are not good enough for their PPC listings any more. The Google rep pretty much agreed on this point. As an advertiser, you'll need a great deal of unique content on each merchant you're promoting and therefore each site and landing page. Presumably, only "super-affiliates" will be allowed to bid next to the actual merchants, going forward. Those that have a very content-heavy comparison website, or content-heavy in-depth site describing the products and the merchant in great detail, and (presumably) updated frequently. And of course if merchants themselves who use AdWords PPC don't provide much information besides a shopping cart and listings, they'll probably end up being whacked too.
So it comes down to original content, original content, original content. And plenty of it. Which Google can somehow objectively determine a minimum numerical value of that is "good enough for their visitors" using algorithms. "Original" and "unique" being key terms here. And by the way, if you as an affiliate use web templates that your merchant partner has provided to you (and if others are also using this so it looks similar to other sites or the merchant's site itself), as in a couple cases I did, then the bot sees you as not being unique, and whacks you.
Bottom line: If You're An Affiliate, You Must Become A "Super-Affiliate" To Use Google AdWords. Heed these words, think about them, decide if you want to expend that much effort to play Google's game.
Being a high-volume affiliate with many merchant relationships to diversify your portfolio, and decent but not very voluminous landing pages, is not going to fly with Google's PPC. Simple pre-sell landing pages just won't work, no matter how honest and relevant to the product they are. You're going to need to do pretty much what you must do to get high organic results, in my opinion, to stay in Google's PPC game. That is, design SEO'd sites with tons of unique content that can pass some kind of "quality" algorithm that Google will not provide any clearly defined ranking system for to help you with your development. And who knows what's next? Perhaps, to completely break down the barrier between organic and paid, G could require an unspecified number of inbound links to your PPC website as part of the formula for "quality".
All of this means as an affiliate you'll probably have to narrow your field and become an authority on one or two niches rather than promoting in volume, if you want to use AdWords. That, or hire a horde of good content writers and web designers. No one can be a super-affiliate web content writer, advertiser, marketer, and PPC maintainer, for more than a couple products/niches at once and still get more than 15 minutes of sleep a week.
I don't think it is Google out to kill off all affliates, and I think people give Google way too much credit sometimes.
They likely factor 100s and 1000s of components when scoring such things. Clearly something got changed, and those people who tripped their latest trigger are "caught."
The reality is though, it is just a game of the dog chasing its own tail. Google can never rid itself of affiliate sites, even if that were its goal, because ultimately all people have to do is mimic successful sites. It might take time... As it stands now, every time people think they have it figured out something happens that causes them to doubt themselves.
As long as they rely on automated systems, it just becomes a game of survival. I find it annoying to have to re-jump through hoops all the time, but at the same time it thins out the competition, so ultimately, it is probably worth it to me, even though it sucks.
My personal guess is this latest adjustment has more to do with structure then anything else. I doubt linking in/out or sideways had much to do with it.
I'd like to weigh in with some opinion after my last post. Apologies for the verbosity. :)
Google's attempt to make for a good user experience may sound great in theory if it's implemented fairly (Google's heavy-handed algo-automated processes rarely are), the hoped-for result being that it'll supposedly create an environment in which visitors only visit "valuable" rich content sites for each PPC ad. But they're missing the point that advertisers PAY for PPC clicks because they want the visitor to BUY something. A great informational site doesn't necessarily lead someone to buy anything. One with a good sales pitch does. Think of all those stylish iPod and liquor/beer ads in print and on radio and TV. How much truly useful content do they have? When the person who sees the ad goes to shop for and buy the beer or electronic device (equivalent of clicking on a PPC ad and visiting the landing page), they generally aren't going into a store to read a ton of information about the beer or iPod before buying.
IMO, content/information-heavy sites are primarily for the organic results. There's no reason they can't also be advertised on PPC listings, but again the market will decide that. Why shut out the pre-sellers and true advertisers who have a pitch? The titles and blurbs that Google shows for organic listings, you'll notice, are informational but not *ADS*. PPC listings, on the other hand, are formulated as *ADS* (with a few exceptions).
I think Google's PPC changes will be very bad for affiliates and small businesses alike without a big budget for web designers and content writers. It will push them out, plain and simple. The old adage that affiliates (and all business people) should diversify and never put all their eggs in one basket, is going to be severely restricted if they want to play in Google's game. You'll have to pick a couple things and work feverishly on them to keep them showing in PPC. Just as you must do to get organic result rankings. Only you have to pay for these clicks in addition to working like a dog developing landing pages. This defeats the purpose of bid-based paid advertising. It is supposed to even the playing field and allow anyone to get their ads shown, using a market-based approach (i.e. the market will decide which ads can show based on whether the advertiser is getting a good enough ROI to keep bidding). It also renders affiliates pretty much impotent in trying to compete with actual merchants, unless they have tons of money to hire out content work.
I agree that there are certain practices that Google should weed out because they are giving the visitor a very poor user experience. For example, Made-For-Adsense arbitrage should be outright banned. But a sales pitch on a landing page that is working very well to make sales, is not in any way dishonest or deceptive, and not illegal, is in no way creating a poor user experience. Again, the market decides this. Who is Google to decide how much content is enough content?
Let's not forget that Google has the vast majority of the search engine market share in the US right now. This arbitrary "quality" ranking is a frightening prospect in that it leaves only Google to decide what is considered "quality" when it comes to the majority of commerce on the Internet. It is never a good thing when a single entity, rather than the market itself, decides what the consumer masses should be seeing and buying. Google is supposed to be a (mostly) transparent provider of paths to information that visitors seek, and not a gigantic monster judgment beast that decides what people should and should not see, or for that matter what they should and should not buy.
--- and not a gigantic monster judgment beast that decides ----
Well, I think it kind a bit too late for that one.
We operate in a niche that is very popular, but at the same time there are no real competitors to play with. Every time I see a new company come up on the market it's like a given, 6-7 month tops. They start out strong, new content, new content, and then little ads here and there and a little more there as well, Then it gets scrapped, rewritten, reposted, re.... Then the summer comes and the market dies down, and some affiliates jump on the wagon. At the end of the summer the sites that were excited in February are pretty much sucked dry by Advertising Costs. Shopping season comes, they start advertising, make up for the summer loses and close down or move to EBay.
--- When the person who sees the ad goes to shop for and buy the beer ---
I am gonna go get me a SIX pack, its not too late yet....
It seems I have lots of work to do..
Judging by the evidence of the posts so far I now believe masking the outgoing URLs will make little difference. I will have to do a ton of work creating a navigable/searchable web site with hand-written content and useful features for consumers not readily found anywhere else on the internet.
I'm torn between doing the work and possibly wasting a ton of time and money or simply using DTM marketing using the merchant's display URL. I absolutely hate doing this however because just when you start making money, the merchant outbids you and you no longer receive any traffic.
I agree with spacedog.
If I make a 30 second commercial and pay 1.3 million dollars for it to be shown during the Super Bowl, or American Idol, or even on my local cable network in my specific city, I pay for potential eyeballs - I don't pay for the "quality" of my ad.
If my ad sucks, my fault. I lose money. They make money.
Never in the history of advertising has the medium set the rules. This will one day come back to bite google (with a little g).
google has become arrogant, moreso than Microsoft ever was.
|I agree that there are certain practices that Google should weed out because they are giving the visitor a very poor user experience. For example, Made-For-Adsense arbitrage should be outright banned. But a sales pitch on a landing page that is working very well to make sales, is not in any way dishonest or deceptive, and not illegal, is in no way creating a poor user experience. Again, the market decides this. Who is Google to decide how much content is enough content? |
I totally agree with you spacedog!
I know from our stats and experiments that some users just want to see the "blue round widget" that they searched for on the landing page and a big "BUY NOW" button next to it. Some users just want to buy the product they searched for in as little time as possible! I know for sure that i dont want to make a wikipedia out of my landing pages... there is no need for it.
|If I make a 30 second commercial and pay 1.3 million dollars for it to be shown during the Super Bowl, or American Idol, or even on my local cable network in my specific city, I pay for potential eyeballs - I don't pay for the "quality" of my ad. |
If my ad sucks, my fault. I lose money. They make money.
Never in the history of advertising has the medium set the rules. This will one day come back to bite google (with a little g).
I don’t know if I can agree with you here, rehabguy, because as far as I know the broadcasting networks can deny you air time. (By simply stating we don’t like your commercial, so we won’t run it on our network). But usually they will let you know why…
Like one of the posters suggested Google might be moving towards a unified monetized results where relevant and monetized results become one.
|Never in the history of advertising has the medium set the rules. |
I'm the farthest thing from a Google fan boy, I have taken them to task on many occasions however pertaining to the above quote, never before in history has the "ad" been the "product".
By that I mean the only product Google has is the information, or the "ad" (be it ppc or organic). people go to Google to see the information like people watch TV to see the shows. if a television show is bad, people don't watch, if Google’s products (search listings) are bad, people don't come back to search.
If Google ran every ad someone was willing to pay for and I was Microsoft, I would take out a ppc ad for every keyword saying:
Google search results suck
You should try using MSN search
Live search gives you what you want
In the short term Google would make money but eventually people would listen to that message and start searching on MSN.
If google doesn't get rid of these crap ass sites, people won't click on their ads and they won't make anymore money.
Read that again if you need to.
Google is setting rules to protect their future. They are not in this for a couple more years, they're in it for lifetime(s). If surfers stop clicking ads because the ads in the past have led to crappy "buy now" type sites that their surfers CLEARLY don't like then Google is dead. If that means ticking off a couple small time affiliates who are the problem and won't read the writing on the wall, then so be it.
Instead of fighting them or quitting, why not play by their rules? I do and make a ton of money because of it.
|Like one of the posters suggested Google might be moving towards a unified monetized results where relevant and monetized results become one. |
Just search on google for this string: tampa hotel
See how relevant results are especially in the natural result.
As far as for "monetized" thats what the google was all about ever since it went public. And all of the quality updates designed to:
1). eliminate the arbitrage: MFA and pay per action
2) increase the google’s overall CTR and aggregate PPC average
Google is just like us all about the $$$$$
But unlike us they don’t give a damn about one group of their clients – advertisers. We are paying a LOT of money give us the damn QUALITY CUSTOMER SERVICE. Not the bot BS…
Just my 2 cents
|why not play by their rules? |
I think we all want to play by the rules, unfortunately it is kind of hard especially when it is not clear what the rules are.
And when we call to our adwords “account management team” with problems and questions especially with landing page quality, they jerk us around – we spent TON of money. We want ANSWERS – quality sucks tell us WHY we do want to improve it!
It seems like a lot of this stuff is simply backwards. If you are an affiliate selling stuff or generating leads and you are making money, then as judged by the consumer you are providing value. You're filling a niche, making money, and the consumer is finding what they want to find.
The problem with irrelevant ads is more often than not massive arbitrage sites and Googles own broad match. If you are on a tight budget whether as a retailer (end destination site) or an affiliate and must operate on smaller profit margins, if your campaigns are not highly relevant then you will be out of business.
If you are a larger advertiser and lazily run everything on broad match, then Google will help itself to one campaign when the budget for another [more relevant] campaign runs out for the day and serve ads not as relevant from the consumer and the advertiser perspective. IMHO any relevancy problems are due to lazy advertisers combined with broad match. The switch from the old, old broad match to the current broad match provided much more room for Google to maximize revenue by making associations between related keywords and showing advertisers ads on keywords that they never intended their ads to show for.
Why attack long time advertisers regardless of their business model who are providing consumers with what they are looking for while using broad match to show more ads triggered by keywords they were not intended to run on?
Not every advertiser can be as smart as the Google engineering team and anticipate what the algo is going to do when showing their ads.
[edited by: skibum at 8:22 am (utc) on June 10, 2007]
Does anyone know if this is affecting the content network traffic as well?
I agree chinara.
Why does everything have to be such a big secret with google? Why does it have to be so complicated? NO other media outlet works this way why does google?
Anywhere else I advertise its pretty cut and dry. Its simple.
Nick Fox, who's in charge of ad quality and AdWords pricing at Google, is on a panel at SES Toronto next week and part of the discussion is on "relevancy and editorial review". Is anyone here planning to go?
You guys are AdWords arbitrageurs. Althought I'm sorry that your little gravy grain went off the rails, as a Google user, I can say good riddance to your garbage Web sites. Google, and users, want actual retailers to come up top in search results for sellers of a product, not parasite Web sites linking to actual retailers.
I've been watching this thread and my adWords account very closely since the first post, and would just add I haven't seen a single problem mentioned in this thread. One campaign averages .10 CPC with the maximum keywords at .25 CPC, 3- 4% CTR, the other averages .16 CPC and a few maximum at .28 CPC, CTR from 4 - 6%.
delete this post please wrong thread
[edited by: Web_speed at 6:22 am (utc) on June 10, 2007]
The same story
My lowest bids of 0.05 - 0.50 has crossed $10-$15
Should we call this a Google Adwords $10 Update
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