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AdSense CTR down by factor of 25!

Is Google checking for clickfraud?

4:55 am on Apr 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Yup... another "My CTR is down" thread... sort of.

I have one site where I have a fairly small amount of traffic, around 100 uniques per day, but my CTR is consitently in the 25% range, moving around from 20% to 30% daily.

Yesterday the CTR was less than 1%. My tracking software confirms it. 1 click.

Midday when I noticed this channel's low production, I checked the site quickly and saw ads appearing. Usually when this site isn't producing (usually happens once every 5 or 6 weeks) I am getting PSAs. Nope, not this time.

So this evening, I went back and looked just a little bit more closely.

Let me tell you briefly about the site. It's a very small niche site of a certain type of widget. There are many brands of this widget. The site has one page of each brand of widget. Normally, the ads appearing on each page are targeted to that brand of widget. Perfect.

Well, the targetting is so off, that the wrong brand of ads are showing up on each page. So a page about A widgets shows ads about B widgets, hence, no clicks.

I was discussing this with a partner, and it dawned on me... If I were G, how would I check for click fraud? Purposely mistarget a particular site, and see what happens to CTR. If it doesn't decline, then it's probably not a product-interested human and maybe not a human at all doing the clicking.

My other sites are showing no signs of weakness. Just this site, referrals are normal, hitting the same keywords in the same proportion...

Am I going mad or is this a possibility. Or both?

5:08 am on Apr 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I think it's pretty irresponsible for Google to place other unrelevant advertisers in "harm's" way just for the sake of judging click fraud on a low-impression site.

They have smarter ways of dealing with the problem.

6:34 am on Apr 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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This hypothesis has been done a few times, and I find it quite interesting.
The problem is, if I were Google and wanted to do suc a test, I would not ads for "A brand widgets" on pages for "B brand widgets", I would put ads that were even less related to the page.
11:55 am on Apr 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I would put ads that were even less related to the page.
You mean like the PSAs?

I don't know, maybe it's just paranoia. How could it be an accident that one site all of the ads are off by a page?

Hello, ASA? I run a few very nice little content sites. I do my best to provide good content, and highly directed/qualified traffic to my AdSense pages. Why do you guys toy with me all the time?

Is there a "Second Spider" indexing from behind the grassy knoll?


12:00 pm on Apr 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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other day i was having CTR of 25 and immediately my epc was reduced to 10% of what i was getting earlier

google does keeps track of every thing

especially referer and country stats
i was using adwords and then google played the game and decreased my epc to negligible

12:13 pm on Apr 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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do you use alternate ads? try seeing if the problem is that there is currently a shortage in ad availability.

I can't remember if PSA's count as impressions, but worth a try

3:04 am on Apr 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I just use background color instead of an alternate ad... but I was seeing ads, just not well targeted.

Next day CTR rebounds to mid teens and today as well. Tonight I'm looking at my indexed pages, and I see that, it appears to me, that Google has backed out recent additions to their index.

About 3 days or so ago, I got a large increase in indexed pages one one site from #*$! to xxx * 1.75... This has been consistent for 3 days.

Now it's back to EXACTLY xxx.

I also had another site go from 59 indexed pages to 83, and now it's back to 59.

Perhpas the index IS/WAS off by a page or two, and that's why I was seeing the wrong brand ads on my pages? Now they're backing it out?

Maybe I'm just paranoid.

3:08 am on Apr 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

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This is my best month ever and my worst friday in months almost 50% off

Is this an omen?

oh my...