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Google finally looking at MFAs?

     
12:01 am on May 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I just saw this in the WW Adwords forum, in a message about an alert on the Adwords login screen about additions to the Adwords TOS:

We've also added some language to anticipate Google's retrieval of advertiser landing pages. To further improve program quality, our system will soon visit and evaluate all landing pages specified in AdWords ads.

Does this mean curtains for the dreaded MFAs?

12:10 am on May 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I doubt it.

This was a topic of discussion at the Boston Pubcon. I think there are some posts about it in the AdWords forum, where people's campaigns were being priced out of profitability.

Afaik, this isn't to do with MFA's specifically, as none of the people complaining about it arbitrage to AdSense.

2:42 am on May 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

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To further improve program quality, our system will soon visit and evaluate *** all *** landing pages specified in AdWords ads.

It says *** all *** ... :P

3:49 am on May 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

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To further improve program quality, our system will soon visit and evaluate *** all *** landing pages specified in AdWords ads.

Three thoughts:

1. Affiliates used to use AdWords ads to send clicks directly to the merchant. AdWords made a change a few months ago to start requiring landing pages. It's possible this is something to make sure the click goes to a landing page as opposed to directly to the merchant.

2. It says "system will visit and evaluate." Is it possible a computer, as opposed to a human, could visit a page and determine whether it's an MFA?

3. Lots of MFA's have been reported to Google. They shouldn't need any type of system to find them.

FarmBoy

4:18 am on May 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

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it has nothing to do with MFA's those are going to be around for a long time, they make money! They are refering to landing pages for ADWORDS, just another blackbox "algo" trick to rig click prices.

Just keep your cc on file, they'll find new and creative ways to tap it, the genius of google. ;)

4:23 am on May 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

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[....3. Lots of MFA's have been reported to Google. They shouldn't need any type of system to find them. ...]

Based on my own understanding, * system * means both manual verification by man-power and automatic verification by their sophisticated(?) algorthm.

I think that is a "by all means" approach, they would evalute ** all ** landing pages that just covers anything reported previously.

4:46 am on May 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I hope they seriously do take a look at the landing pages. Hopefully they will see all the pages that are MFA's hosting my ad.
6:54 am on May 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

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another interesting development is that they "may follow other links on the page"

[adwords.google.com...]

a page with ONLY ads and no navigation might be hurt by this.

10:11 am on May 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Quoted from AdWords Help Center.

[ ....Providing a high quality advertising experience for both *** users *** and advertisers is important to us...]

Google finally awares that before it got too late.... :P

1:26 pm on May 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I come here every so often and cannot take it any longer...

ALl you complaining about MFA sites need to work on your own. You complaining is a short term solutoin to a long term problem with YOUR site.

If you want to compete and can't do it on your own through your site, make an MFA.

Enough, it's getting old.

[edited by: martinibuster at 4:55 pm (utc) on May 26, 2006]
[edit reason] Softened tone. See TOS #4 & 19. [/edit]

1:58 pm on May 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

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hdpt00 hey its better then paying a psychaetrist lol, but why not complain and see what other people feel I think is a healthy thing I know I am studying psychology Group support works miracles :)

Anyways I just hope Google get serius about this cause mfa might benefitial now but in the long run I can see users turning away from ads because of the experince they get when they go to this sites.

5:21 pm on May 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I come here every so often and cannot take it any longer...
ALl you complaining about MFA sites need to work on your own. You complaining is a short term solutoin to a long term problem with YOUR site.

If you want to compete and can't do it on your own through your site, make an MFA.

Whatever side of the fence you are from, the MFA discussion isn't going to go away. Just like the smart pricing debate, the arbitrage debate, the debate on usefulness of various repetitive threads and so on.

The MFA problem is not caused by webmasters. It's a problem created by Google, and those of us with quality content sites are always going to be debating the problem, and how to resolve it.

It's all part of this forum - learn to live with it.

another interesting development is that they "may follow other links on the page"
[adwords.google.com...]

a page with ONLY ads and no navigation might be hurt by this.

I'd like to see this happen, but I see that the link says that advertisers can opt out of having the bot visit the landing page. The consequence of this appears to be a low quality score meaning they will charge your ads more to appear. The quality score algorithm as a highly debatable effectiveness now, so maybe nothing is going to change by this. Time will tell.

[edited by: david_uk at 5:36 pm (utc) on May 26, 2006]

5:29 pm on May 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Erm.... have any MFA's ourself by any chance?

Don't answer that. It's no ones business here.

5:38 pm on May 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Most of the anti-MFA whining we see here illustrates a clear misunderstanding of how and why MFAs work for their owners.

The current discussion included.

You may not like the way they work, you may not be willing to use the methods that make MFAs work, or you may simply not be skilled enough to make them work for you. All of which are your problems and/or choices.

If you think Adwords looking more closely at landing pages is going to be the end of MFAs, or anywhere near it, you are probably going to be sadly disappointed.

Of course you could always go back to actually working on your own sites.

5:49 pm on May 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Oh right. So having a site at the top of serps, a respected, and oft quoted authority site, and having been asked by more than one respected researcher / author to publish chunks of my website in their books is what then?

What are your suggestions for improving my site to remove MFA's without blocking them?

5:50 pm on May 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

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The only SKILL I see doing a MFA is the skill to confuse and mislead. Only Enron executives, magicians and crooks need this skill. The real skill is to develop a site that actually makes visitors feel they are getting something in return for their time.
5:56 pm on May 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I know that there are some who are bored with the daily anti-mfa drumbeat and find it monotonous.

However, this is not the thread to discuss that. So please, let's stay on topic.

If you wish to discuss the anti-mfa daily drumbeat, feel free to start a discussion over in the WebmasterWorld Community Center [webmasterworld.com] forum. :)

Thanks!
;) Y

9:03 pm on May 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I guess what makes the (is) "Google finally looking at MFAs?" discussion so hard to measure, is that its impossible to tell what G is really up to. What they appear to be doing on the surface could always have manifold intentions. That is likely why these threads invariably end up in ambiguity.
1:23 am on May 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

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[....The MFA problem is not caused by webmasters. It's a problem created by Google, and those of us with quality content sites are always going to be debating the problem, and how to resolve it.]

MFA/ spammer ads is a weakness of the AS management control, it probably could not be eliminated completely, but for sure can be minimized.

That is the * CHOICE * of Google to decide * WHEN * and * HOW * much effort they would pay to address it. I would consider that is just a cost Google need to pay for running the AS programme.

3:16 am on May 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

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If you were Google and were going to wipe out a whole sector of websites from Adsense would you tell anyone what you were planning or when you were going to do it?

No.

Be patient, it is a cancer they have and when they take it out and it will be quick, decisive and ruthless.

It will make BIG headlines and their stock will shoot up and everything will be better for everyone who is left.

Timing and positioning is everything in life.

3:51 am on May 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

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[.... Be patient, it is a cancer they have and when they take it out and it will be quick, decisive and ruthless.... ]

They will tell it big but do it quietly.... :P

3:55 am on May 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

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This thing with the AdBot is targeting more than MFA sites. It's looking at the whole range of advertisers.

If Google really does everything they say they are going to do, it should get expensive for low quality landing pages to arbitrage. In which case it's probably a better idea to not filter them because the low quality score will cause their ads to cost more per click.

Would anyone object to that?

[edited by: martinibuster at 3:58 am (utc) on May 27, 2006]

3:58 am on May 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

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It will make BIG headlines and their stock will shoot up and everything will be better for everyone who is left.

100% WRONG! The exact opposite will happen after poeple realize how much MFAs contribute to the bottom line. Think investors care about quality, they care about profit.

Hope you aren't running your own stock portfolio.

4:08 am on May 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

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[ .... If Google really does everything they say they are going to do, it should get expensive for low quality landing pages to arbitrage. In which case it's probably a better idea to not filter them because the low quality score will cause their ads to cost more per click....]

In fact, if day one Google had that in place, there would be no MFA etc at all, no one would pay more to earn less, the MFA/ spammer ads will just disappear at once.

In this case, publishers don't need to filter MFA/ Spammer ads, the native ad serving alogrthm will make that in effective and eliminate the MFA business (that actually no longer a business on top of AW/AS).

4:19 am on May 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Well, I guess we will have to wait and see. Are you a Gambler? I am and I'll put $100 on the press and the stock jump.

20 years ago I said people would advertise on public bathroom walls and I was laughed at.

Stock portfolio? Invest in phalanx of corporate America, ha!

5:10 am on May 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Google has been testing adlinks inside ad units for some time. I had them on one site a few weeks ago for a brief period of time. This basically does the same thing as an MFA without the falsifying ad copy. A related keyword may be almost as luring as false copy.

So now it's in Google's interest to get rid of those MFA's simply because they get a bigger cut if someone goes through the adlinks. The only difference is the "Misleading" factor, which is attributed in by the false copy writing of the ads is no longer there – which, in term of “business ethics” is better.

So if Google has finally decided to take the right road it'll be better for all of us - except for the MFA owners of course.

6:11 am on May 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I just think advertisers are doing a lot of money with Adwords because
- they can pay MFA traffic and have benefits
- MFA owners can pay Google for the (our) traffic they buy and have benefits
- Google does his cut and still can pay to us our legitimate traffic and WE ARE HAPPY with this cut of the cake
6:22 am on May 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Interesting discussion.

I still think AdWords and AdSense are run by different departments with different KPIs. AdWords is the sales force of Google. They are the only ones actually selling something, generating turnover and profit. Adsense and Search are just providers of advertising space to AdWords. They are the product people. In theory, it is not in the interest of the AdWords-Team to have less advertisers. Less advertisers bidding for the same space means less revenue.

So, MFAs will only come to a halt in one of three cases:

1) Top Management decides to pull the plug.. They act regardless of bottom line or the wishes of the Adwords team. This is likely if the overall story of Adwords/Adsense and Google is at risk, e.g. the mainstream press reporting about this and/or analysts indicating bad ratings to them if this does not get fixed. But the danger must be really serious if top management has to act.

2) The Adwords team decides to pull the plug. Usually they would only do this if by allowing MFAs in they get massive complaints from existing real customers who not just complain but also pull out of the Adwords program. Which can realistically be the case today. Please always remember that the whole MFA story only works with REAL advertisers paying the overall bill at the end of the day. The tools of Adwords team: increase bid prices, or terminate Adwords accounts.

3) The Adsense team decides to pull the plug. They act on their own to protect their advertising space (i.e. us) from leaving to MSN or Yahoo! While I think this could be the case, I still believe that it is unrealistic. Which tools have they got? They could provide better blocking lists, or they could enforce the Adsense quality guidelines and terminate Adsense accounts. But done on their own, this means serious trouble with the Adwords team and with top management, so it's not an easy decision to make.

So, I still think the most likely scenario is #2.

The question of timing - either

a) The Plex is burning heavily already. In scenario #2 this means that advertisers are seeing little ROI (due to MFAs) and are actually fleeing the Adwords program. Then they have to act asap, regardless of the consequences. Or

b) They still can get away with allowing MFAs. But they want to prepare for the fight with MSN and Yahoo! In this case they will wait until Yahoo! or MSN go live on a global scale.

My take? I don't know - only Google knows. I think (b) is more realistic. It definitely makes sense to hit Y! and MSN hard during their startup phase.

Finally, will they announce their actions? Nope. Better not talk about this dark side of PPC advertising. It might make shareholders very very nervous. The effect of removing MFAs is not forseeable, definitely not for outsiders, but probably even for insiders.

Just think of it:
1 - MFAs gone
2 - Adspace can not be filled with ads!
3 - Advertisers happy due to lower prices
4 - Publishers unhappy due to significant less revenue
5 - Publishers leaving for Y! and MSN
6 - Whole Adwords/Adsense market shrinks. But how much? Can you predict? Can Google?

Oh, this is a tough decision to make. It puts the whole company at risk, and I hope that they make the right decision, because it will affect me as well.

6:36 am on May 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

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We've also added some language to anticipate Google's retrieval of advertiser landing pages. To further improve program quality, our system will soon visit and evaluate all landing pages specified in AdWords ads.

You guys have got it all wrong thinking that this move is to stem out MFA. I strongly believe that this move came about after a politician alleged that Google accepted advertising (Adwords) from a website that promotes child pornography. So now Google will visit all landing sites of Adwords to weed out these kind of advertisers (not MFA though)

7:12 am on May 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I think you both have valid points. I think the thing that is likely to get Google motivated to sort the problem out is a) getting sued and b) real advertisers not putting up with paying for MFA's - either by complaining or walking.

I do believe that advertisers are becoming aware of the hidden costs in Google of supporting a raft of useless middle-men. I sell advertising direct on my site, and one of the comments made to me by an advertiser who has turned off Google compelely is that the costs were high with dwindling returns in the form of people actually buying from him. The same is true in his opinion of content AND search.

Another fact is that even if Adwords don't give a monkey's about anything other than income, adsense support does. I've had a few conversations about the issue with them, and the impression I get from them is one of frustration.

I'd like to see someone at the top bang adsense and adwords heads together to act as a unified team rather than bitter enemies. That way the problem could be dealt with a lot easier. But hey - Google's a big company and will behave like one. Survival of the company and profitability play second fidde to the important work of in-fighting and empire building.

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