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I'm with Jenstar in personally not blocking genuine advertisers. I don't block genuine advertisers unless there is a persistent problem with mis-targetting, and in that event I will email Google first before blocking, as targetting issues can often be dealt with at their end.
However, with blocking MFA's it's a different story. It's been my my experience that blocking MFA's does reduce CTR, but increases the bottom line, and you don't see scummy scraper ads on site, which visitors appreciate. I've recently installed one of the tracking scripts, and I notice that page views of visitors who click on ads are mostly more than visitors that dont, so visitors who click on ads come back to the site. I firmly believe that this is because of the quality of the site, and the quality and relevance of the ads.
I started blocking MFA's last July when epc hit rock bottom. I hadn't blocked any ads to that point, believing that Google were correct in showing highest paying ads. But at the same time I looked at the ads on my site and was dismayed to see MFA's ads appearing all the time when there seemed to be no shortage of genuine ads. I simply could not believe that MFA's could pay more that real advertisers (major ones).
The immediate result to blocking was that I saw a dip in CTR by nearly 60%, but the revenue gained from the increase in what real advertisers pay per click meant that the bottom line $$ figure was not affected. In the long term, I've seen a steady CTR and I've also seen the knock on effect of smart pricing liking the improved quality of clicks.
It's my belief that there are major flaws in the targetting algorythms Google use. Although their intention is to show the highest paying ads (as Jenstar points out it's to their advantage too) this is over-complex and often has unintended consequences.
Firstly "Highest paying" does not mean (as most assume) the highest bidder. It means who Google "Think might" be the best option. They take into account many factors in this decision - one of them being CTR on an ad over the network in general. The basic principle is that an ad with a CTR of 10% but $0.05 will give you a better return than one that pays $1 per click, but has a really crummy ctr. Fine in principle, however that ad may have a low ctr on the network in general, but it might do really well on your site - especially if your site is the perfect niche for that advert.
The unfortunate effect of this is that I have seen good ads removed from my pages and replaced with MFA's repeatedly. It's my belief that Google's algorythm gives zero weighting to how an ad has historically performed on your site. I think they are aware of this major flaw and have been trying to address this by various means, but I'm not at the point I can trust their algorythms and remove the MFA's from my block list.
Why do MFA's have a high CTR? I can only really make a comment here that's relevant to my niche. Most of the ad copy written by genuine advertisers in my niche is deadly dull, whereas the ad copy written by the MFA's is often very eye catching. Hence they may be getting more clicks as a result.
I would agree with Jenstar that caution should be exercised with blocking, but removing MFA's only has worked very well for me in the long term. If you embark on blocking, you need to keep a very careful eye on things.
But somebody on a shopping tour discovering a page with an AdLink to all the vendors what he is searching for can also click maybe 10 times.
When the first 3 clicks are leading to MFAs, he shure stops to evaluate further ads.
This is an extrem example, but I am shure, that CTR is negative influenced by MFA.
Keeping the ad space clean should lead to a higher CTR.
or how to spot, a MFA site?
There is no real content. The content reads like automatic generated by software.
A sensless bla bla only to give a search engine the false idea, that there would be content.
Some times, the content is written smaller than the text in the ads and also with less contrast to the background.
My famoust MFA example uses a generator like
What ever keyword, You type in front of the domain name, the software generates a shopping page with this keyword.
For example, You can also type
and You look on a shopping page with great resoruces to buy widgets.
[edited by: martinibuster at 8:02 am (utc) on Jan. 11, 2006]
[edit reason] Widgetized & examplified url. Example.com is set aside for this purpose. ;) [/edit]
How to spot an MFA site. Have a look at ads appearing on your site and patterns will become obvious. Clearly you need to use the adsense preview tool to do this! My basic question is "Are they selling good or services, or does the site have genuine information content?". If they are, they count as a genuine advertiser. To me, a MFA site will have little or no content and, lots of ad blocks. I also count most directory sites as MFA's.
Ogletree:- In a previous discussion on blocking MFA's a few months back, ASA confirmed that blocking MFA's to make more money was a legitimate use of the filter provided that you had effective means of monitoring any changes you made to the list to ensure that you aren't adversley affecting your income. Since blocking MFA's, my income has on average doubled. OK, not all of that is due to blocking, but as I have made very few changes to the pages with ads on over the last few months I suspect that rather a large percentage of it is.
Have you never looked at the ads that are on your site and wondered if you couldn't make more money from real advertisers that from the scrapers, click traps and all the other crap we know doesn't pay well? Google don't know what works best on our sites - we as webmasters do. Therefore our experience of our visitors profile is in my view an essential part of making monetisation work.
A block list doesn't have to be large to be effective. You just have to be careful what you block. I never use the preview tool for blocking - I have to physically see the ad appear on the site before I block. My block list is not that large, and I occasionally go though it and root out sites that have dissapeared / no longer serving ads.
There are a number of factors besides raw bid level that determine which ads get matched to your site - CTR and "relevance", for example. I'm sure the bigger MFA sites are aware of them and are working them to their advantage in order to get the maximum number of clicks at the lowest price.
I would like to reply to David's post regarding screening MFA's. I was considering joining to start a thread on this a few days ago, until I saw this thread which addressed some of the same concerns.
From my limited experience as I publisher, I must concur with what David says about the need to filter MFA sites. Over the last few months I have had some success in progressively rasiing my, ctr, epc and income with gradual optimisation changes. Each time I take a positive step up with optimisation I see immediate benifits. However, some time after going two steps foward I always seem to take a step backwards as I can only assume (putting market forces aside) that smart pricing begins to kick in.
Recently I had made changes to my ad formats. The result being that the changes had more than doubled my income. Within a couple of weeks though I noticed epc on certain pages had dropped dramatically. In some cases where it did drop ctr had also dropped and in other cases it had not. So in an effort to prevent my entire site being affected and after not having used my competion filter for some time, I embarked on a mission to try to identify why these changes were occuring. Using the preview tool I noticed that there were a number of MFA sites advertising on the affected pages, so I killed them off and removed ads from the worst affected pages. Immediately I saw positive results and as I mentioned earlier I had used the filter in my earliest weeks of Adsense with positive results, mainly to kill the off topic ads and poor content sites.
This time it was the MFA's that I was specifically after and interestingly enough I found a couple of ads that led to nowhere. By ads pointing to nowhere I mean there was one ad that pointed to a site that returned a server error and another that led to a blank page. I waited two days before I acted on these and finally removed them also. I can only speculate, but I am of the assumption that MFA's can not pay all that well as they are only there to bottom feed on cheap clicks in order to make a profit. So if the MFA's are coming in cheap, doesn't that contradict Google's line about the best ads being served first? I think that Jomaxx's suggestion is looking very plausible.
I any case, most MFA's, especially the scrapers and directories are utter crap and of very small benefit to readers. Every time I check their PR it is almost certainly to be a zero, so if they are useless form a search engines perspective, then how could it be useful from the perspective of trying to provide genuine quality to the reader?
David, I have a question. Can you recommend any US and UK proxy's so that I can view real time ads on my site without having to use the preview tool? are there any free ones?