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Publisher help for the mediapartnerbot: When?

     
1:08 am on Jan 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Come on, Google--your mediaPartnerbot isn't smart enough to distinguish between "100 bananas" (as in the fruit) and "100 bananas" (as in the contents of one's wallet).

To use a better real-life example, yesterday I published an article on packing accessories. On a page about nylon-and-mesh packing cubes and folders, I said that such items had made the world "a better place for travelers who'd been organizing their packables with shoeboxes, corrugated cartons, and hotel laundry bags."

So what's AdSense displaying on that page? Ads for moving boxes, corrugated cartons, and shipping supplies.

Would it be that hard to let publishers help the mediapartnerbot with hints on what the page is or isn't about in the form of special meta keyword statements that could function as include or exclude filters?

1:25 am on Jan 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I know there are a few examples of such things but I think overall MPB does a good job. If a new tag to "help" the bot determine the accuracy of the page and ads to be served were added to the equation, I think that would open AdSense up to loads of spam and/or unethical users.

I feel it needs to just concentrate on its formula for targetting but keep that formula well and truly to itself.

1:31 am on Jan 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I can understand the problem with positive keywords/hints, but I'd have thought allowing publishers to provide negative ones to help the targeting algorithm would be safe enough.
3:52 am on Jan 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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'negative hints' could in fact benefit google:
- better targeted ads for advertisers, publishers and consumers
- mediabot would get more input -> less staff needed, less costs to 'teach' the bot manually
- I don't see how it could be abused (if limited to 1 or 2 negative hints per page)... something like 'exclude the food turkey' on a page about the country 'Turkey in Europe' still would/(should) not display 'online casino' ads.
=> indirectly it can already be done in a very limited way by excluding advertisers manually, so 'negative hints' per page would just be the next logical + very useful step
7:21 am on Jan 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Negative keywords is a feature I requested right at the very begining. Rather than individually blocking all advertisers by the domain name who advertise XXXXX, just block that keyword.

This would also help for unsuitable ads, as you can never know what ads show on your site, for viewers in another part of the country.

9:17 am on Jan 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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When we could use negative keywords, I cannot imagine someone could abuse this feature.
This would certainly benefit all of us (publishers, advertisers and users).
Great idea.

ASA?...

11:09 am on Jan 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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europeforvisitors:

I liked your suggestion (made yesterday in another thread) that Google should allow "helper" keywords as long those keywords are actually on the page. If those keywords are located in the page content, it seems to me there would be little chance for abuse.

About 120 of the pages on my site have similar targeting as in your example. It baffles me why the bot will target a single occurance of a non-relevent keyword/phrase when the copy has multiple instances of any number of correct keywords and phrases, including in the title and URL.

If Google does use "theming" in any way, apparently it isn't used by the MediaBot on the page level.

2:27 am on Jan 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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My problem is that Chicago hotels get advertised on a page dedicated to Dallas hotels (for example). It's as if the Chicago hotel sites choose broad targeting for their ads, and Google just sees my "Dallas hotels" page as a generic "hotels" page. I've ensured that "Dallas" appears frequently, including the title & URL. But nothing seems to help. The Google Team assures me that there is no "broad matching" going on. But their attempted explanations don't give them much credibility.

Has anyone successfully dealt with this sort of targeting problem?

Thanks!
Kerry

2:36 am on Jan 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Kerry:
I've seen exactly the same behavior. I've experimented by removing sections of content, adding bogus content, and I can only get the ads to change only after MAJOR content changes on a page.
Re: other comments: the ads that Google has available and how they "ration" those ads across a myriad of sites must also figure into whether an ad for Dallas hotels actually gets displayed on a page that refers to 'Dallas hotels', maybe (?)
2:47 am on Jan 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Maybe the mediabot picks the highest earning ads for the keywords it finds on a page?

> Has anyone successfully dealt with this sort of targeting problem?

I would say it was the advertiser's fault for making crummy adword bids. Perhaps some other parts of your page match some weird criteria -

Like if the advertiser chose matches for "Brand Hotel Elm Street", and you some how had that combination on your page.

2:54 am on Jan 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Maybe the mediabot picks the highest earning ads for the keywords it finds on a page?

Maybe, but if that's the case, the logic is faulty. An ad for "beer tapping systems" may have a higher CPC than an ad for "Munich hotels" or "Munich tours," but it isn't likely to attract many clicks from readers of a Munich Oktoberfest travel article.

6:27 pm on Jan 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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For some stupid reason the folks at G seem to think that any paid ad, no matter how far off track, is better than nothing.

That was the gist of a reply I received last week concerning poor targeting -- sometimes there is no inventory of relevant ads.

So what do they serve instead of PSAs? For a few pages concerning New York City restaurants up pop ads for restaurant in Oregon, Alexandria and Minneapolis. (I wonder what the delivery time is on that pizza.)

I pointed out that this doesn't serve any of the parties concerned -- visitor, advertiser, publisher, Google -- but G's reply didn't indicate that anybody there was too troubled, no hint that they were trying to improve, just seemed as if they didn't care. That's a pretty apathetic attitude when doing business.

And of course, G can afford to be apathetic when it comes to the AdSense program. The party carrying the biggest risk is the publisher. Google doesn't pay for the space, and if it doesn't produce the publisher is the one directly affected, both financially and by visitor perception (Why the heck is a NYC site carrying ads for a Virginia restaurant?). Advertisers can get totally untargeted clicks on their ads, hopefully just a very small number. G's risk is minimal to non-existent -- except for ticking off the advertisers and publishers.

Well, let's just hope that the competition heats up and G is forced to get somebody who better understands the business of business in there.

6:53 pm on Jan 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I published an article on a monastery in Germany this morning. Some of the ads are on target, but I'm also seeing ads for "corporate relocation" on the first page. Apparently Google thinks "relocation" is a natural fit for a page that has the words "restoration," "reconstruction." and "reconsecrated."

And what does the "Sheraton Plaza Jerusalem" have to do with a monastery in Eastern Germany, even if the monastery does offer rooms for the night?

BTW, I'm tempted to write an article on "BIRTH OF A NATION" just to see what Google would come up with. Ads for maternity clinics and urination devices, perhaps? :-)

8:08 pm on Jan 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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EFV, you've posted a few complaints recently about poorly targeted ads, but IMO the examples are too bizarre. For example, articles on a monastery in Germany or "nylon-and-mesh packing cubes"?

I don't know how any bot could achieve a great enough level of understanding to reliably find well-targeted ads for those pages. I'm not sure such ads exist. The only alternative I can see is allowing you to pick and choose what specific ads you want to run on those pages.

8:39 pm on Jan 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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jomaxx:

EFV, you've posted a few complaints recently about poorly targeted ads, but IMO the examples are too bizarre. For example, articles on a monastery in Germany or "nylon-and-mesh packing cubes"?

There's nothing bizarre about packing cubes. Search Google for that term, you'll get a long list of vendors that sell them. For that matter, my article lists one of the major products by name and also contains words like "luggage" and "suitcases," so it shouldn't be that hard for the mediapartnerbot to determine that the page is about packing (as in travel) rather than packing (as in crates and plastic peanuts). The problem is that the bot seizes on one word that has multiple meanings and picks the wrong meaning. In this case, it's the word "pack" or "packing"--and if the publisher could include what others have called "negative keywords" for "packing supplies" or "moving boxes," the problem would be solved easily.

As for the article about the Lutheran monastery in Germany, the mediapartnerbot hasn't had any trouble figuring out that the page in question is about accommodations. It's serving up two other hotel ads on that page, both for hotels in Europe. But there's no reason at all why a hotel in Jerusalem should be included in the third of four ads, because there's no reference to Jerusalem in the article. I suppose I could monitor the page and manually block any domain that offers hotels outside of Germany or Europe, but a more effective solution would be the ability to have the mediabot recognize and honor positive keywords such as "Germany" and "Europe."

8:59 pm on Jan 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I suppose I could monitor the page and manually block any domain that offers hotels outside of Germany or Europe

I was very tempted to do this but that's not our job. It would turn all of us into de facto AdSense quality control people while what we're supposed to be doing is developing good content. It's Google's job to use its highly touted technology to serve either relevant ads. As the folks there say, "we know what a page is about, and can precisely match Google ads to each page". Heh!

I'd much rather G served the PSAs than poorly targeted ads as it would at least allow me to serve an alternative ad from which I might make a few pennies or some teasers to drive traffic to other areas of my site.

9:52 pm on Jan 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I'd much rather G served the PSAs than poorly targeted ads as it would at least allow me to serve an alternative ad from which I might make a few pennies or some teasers to drive traffic to other areas of my site.

In my case, it doesn't have to do that, since there's no shortage of default ads for my site. (When in doubt, Google generally uses ads that relate to my site's title or the affiliate links in the margins.) The problem is simply that Google occasionally seizes on an isolated word or phrase and makes assumptions that are wildly out of context. That wouldn't be an issue on a news site where stories come and go, but it means lost income day after day, week after week, month after month when it happens on "evergreen" pages that could be displaying appropriate ads and earning revenues for the advertiser, Google, and the publisher.

 

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