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Is the new Quality Scoring responsible for so many reporting declines

whereas some report increases in income from so called quality sites?

     
4:14 pm on Nov 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Anyone know when G implemented the Quality Scoring? I suspect it was about Oct 1st since my income and stats were going up or a healthy status-quo month after month for 3-1/2 yrs and suddenly nosedived at that time. We had a big revenue decline of 20% in Oct and 40% so far in Nov vs our average, far and away the most serious declines since we joined Adsense. It's somewhat surprising how this major event and gigantic change has not been publicized much and we never even knew about it until now!

Found this on the Google Blog today: "A word on ad quality. We know that you’ve worked hard to create quality content for your sites, and that you look for the same quality in the ads you’re displaying. That’s why we’re happy to let you know about a change in AdWords that will improve the quality of ads.

Recently, we have begun incorporating the quality of an ad's landing page into the determination of what ads appear on your site. The quality of the ad's landing page now affects the Quality Score that the ad receives -- this score helps to determine the amount an advertiser must bid to appear on your site. The lower the Quality Score, the more "expensive" it is for the advertiser to show up on your site. As a result, you should see fewer ads on your pages which lead to low-quality sites.

And what defines low quality? We've published a general set of landing page and site guidelines. We encourage advertisers to offer relevant, substantial content so that visitors can find what they are looking for when they click on ads. Ensuring that the ads that appear on your site are high quality is an important part of our efforts to make sure that we provide the best experience for your visitors."

[edited by: trader at 4:18 pm (utc) on Nov. 14, 2006]

hunderdown

4:18 pm on Nov 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

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They put this into effect on the content network starting last week. So your Oct. 1 change would be due to something else.
4:20 pm on Nov 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

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It's very possible they experimented with it earlier than last week with certain large publishers with many sites (such as myself) but never put it into effect across the board or talked about it until now.
4:21 pm on Nov 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

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So you buy adwords advertisements to land people on your adsense pages? Your post is confusing...
4:24 pm on Nov 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Quite a few members are very happy with the new QS claiming big increase in EPC.

[webmasterworld.com...]

I thought, I was in the minority as I am seeing fall in EPC..

4:30 pm on Nov 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

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We have noticed a lot of the mfa sites are using the site targeted option so they can pay less. We have filtered out a lot of them and our earnings have went up. You might want to check that.
4:40 pm on Nov 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

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So you buy adwords advertisements to land people on your adsense pages? Your post is confusing...

No, I only use Adwords sparingly, if at all.

But this would effect me big time because I am thinking what happened is G reviewed the Adsense Publishers sites and assigned a Quality Score to each URL, with good scores to larger established sites and low scores to MFA judged sites.

According to the blog the Adwords advertiser pays less to go on quality sites (and we assume pays more to go on low quality sites)? This would seen to result in MFA judged sites having fewer quality adwords advertisers and thus less clicks and smaller revenues. Hope this makes sense.

[edited by: trader at 4:50 pm (utc) on Nov. 14, 2006]

4:45 pm on Nov 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

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This update seemed to effect the MFA advertising side more than anything else. We have noticed better quality ads on our sites and a lot of the mfa .info site ads drop off in the content search.

So if your niche was full of MFA types of ads, then you might see a drop.

4:47 pm on Nov 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

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But this would effect me big time because I am thinking what happened is G reviewed the Adsense Publishers sites and assigned a Quality Score to each URL

The quality score refers to the landing page of the AdWords advertiser, not the publisher where the ad is located.

6:40 pm on Nov 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I noticed a major change in early October.

The two things that became obvious to me as the month progressed was a definite improvement in ad quality and a serious increase in CTR (23%). Ads seemed to be much more focused to page content. Earnings were impacted in a very positive fashion (30%).

It seems to make sense that an improvement in ad quality and relevance should increase CTR.

Looking back on my stats, the change started on October 3rd. CTR was much higher starting with that date and has continued on to the present.

A few things make the change fairly obvious in my case:
-the site is fairly substantial (approximately 1.5 million page views for month) so changes are meaningful and easy to observe.
-I have made no other changes in the site to account for the CTR increase.
-I have never used the ad filter so it cannot account for the CTR increase.

I suspect that Google is beginning to try to improve the AdSense content network. This includes the experiences of advertisers, publishers, and advertising consumers. They undoubtedly want to improve the quality of the network. They also know that they are going to have to substantially upgrade the network if they are going to attract more upscale advertisers.

One reason for the upgrading is probably due to the fact that their revenues from the content network are expanding at a much slower rate that in the past. In their most recent 10-Q their advertising revenues on the content network increased only 4%(quarter over quarter). On the search side, revenues increased 14%. The content network is gradually becoming much less important to Google - this is especially so considering that most of the revenue (75-80%) that they take in on the content side goes back out to publishers. On the search side they have no "traffic acquisition costs", whatsover.

At any rate, it is going to be interesting to see how the future of AdSense unfolds. I am sure that many more changes are in the cards.

11:11 pm on Nov 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

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The content network is gradually becoming much less important to Google - this is especially so considering that most of the revenue (75-80%) that they take in on the content side goes back out to publishers. On the search side they have no "traffic acquisition costs", whatsover.

The content network may be less important as a percentage of Google's total revenues than it was a while back, but at the same time, revenues for the content network in actual dollars are continuing to grow substantially.

Also, Google does have "traffic acquisition costs" on the search side, because not all search revenues are from Google Search. The Google "search network" includes everything from AOL Search to parked domains.

As for whether advertiser landing-page quality scores are good or bad for publishers, that's hard to say. In the long run, it should make the content network more attractive to mainstream advertisers, but in the short term, it may hurt publishers whose revenues come primarily from lowball click arbitrageurs.

3:22 am on Nov 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

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No, I only use Adwords sparingly, if at all.

Wrong forum ;-)

Adsense users (publishers) typically welcome better ads and that's what we've been getting lately, so we can only ask for more of the same.

Sorry if Google didn't like your landing pages (but I guess we wouldn't either all that much).

7:08 am on Nov 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I thought, I was in the minority as I am seeing fall in EPC..

no Green_Grass, you are not alone. I figure many are in the same boat. They're just not saying so. I for one am experiencing a 30% drop in EPC. In fact, I started seeing changes Nov 9th :

- EPC decline
- Increase in affiliate site ads on my homepage

I think the latest update was quite major in the way it will impact publishers. So I taking a wait and see approach.

7:21 am on Nov 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

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seeing changes Nov 9th :

- EPC decline

I can confirm the same.

7:57 am on Nov 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Quite a few members are very happy with the new QS claiming big increase in EPC.

So far, I am included with this band. Hopefully it will last.

8:52 am on Nov 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

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"Adsense users (publishers) typically welcome better ads and that's what we've been getting lately, so we can only ask for more of the same."

I agree. Better ads, happier visitors, more pageviews, more return visitors to my website ...
Yesterday was my best day ever for Adsense income AND also for one of the products I sell on the website, and this without an increase of unique visitors, only an increase of pageviews.
Better ads and less being "cheated" into clicking on ads for MFA pages gives a better overall trust in the website.

11:22 am on Nov 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

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The content network is gradually becoming much less important to Google - this is especially so considering that most of the revenue (75-80%) that they take in on the content side goes back out to publishers. On the search side they have no "traffic acquisition costs", whatsover.

Even though Google gives publishers about 75% of the revenue, earnings from the Content network represent about 40% of their total earnings. It isn't very likely that Google wouldn't mind their earnings go down by 40% (which would happen if they terminated AdSense).

Your sentence "The content network is gradually becoming much less important to Google" is an obvious nonsense also because of the recently introduced QS system for the Content network.

[edited by: John_Carpenter at 11:23 am (utc) on Nov. 15, 2006]

3:34 pm on Nov 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I really do not make that much from Adsense. If I am lucky, I cover my hosting costs. This was my intention in the first place as I make my money on my sites in a way that is not ad based.

I keep an eye on my earnings via a little program I guess we cannot mention here and have noticed this month a large increase in eCPM. My hits have stayed about the same, so I started looking at my pages and I did notice better ad relevancy. There are still a few MFA's out there but I don't have to time to fork them out.

My earnings have doubled and many times, tripled. Now that I have actually posted it here, surely they will drop to below a dollar a day. :)

Now maybe it is just better targeting, but my gut feeling is, I wrote the content originally with no advertising in mind at all. It isn't made for Adsense or anything else. I am thinking that whatever formula they are using to find useless content accepts mine as legit. My secret is: the content IS legit. When you write content without considering the revenue it may produce, or keywords that might stand out, it pays off.

Just my two cents..

2:37 pm on Nov 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Our largest property saw a substantial decrease in ctr and a mild increase in epc, total rev down 13% for that property due to ctr reductions, this was expected by us as this property deals with tens of millions of pvs per month and is heavilly targetted by MFA/arbi/aff folks who tend to write great copy.

Our smaller/niche type sites are doing just fine on both ends but also have a higher barrier to entry for MFA/arbi/aff folks due to the high epc price so very little has changed on them.

We have a pretty good idea why we are seeing this happen on both search and content and it has very little to do with ad quality, that is just a side benefit.

Google never does anything without multiple benefits. The hot and heavy phone calls we have been getting over the past few days from affiliate companies begging for ad space confirms my biggest belief, Google is clearing a path for something of there own ;)

4:33 pm on Nov 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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And what defines low quality?

Is it possible they are using pagerank? Our reported pageranks, for whatever they are worth, took a dip around the end of October, and our earnings dropped with them. Pagerank came back up a point at the start of this week and earnings picked up. Traffic was the same.

6:32 pm on Nov 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Yesterday was our lowest revenue day in 25-months. To make it seem even worse we have many more sites now vs Oct 2004 and our network traffic is up nicely.

The problem is starting about Oct 1 to now Adsense is typically reporting ad impressions as being roughly 1/2 of what they consistently reported in the past for a very long time, and that's also almost 1/2 vs my AWstats and Webalizer server based stats. In fact, my own stats reveal traffic is actually up vs past time periods and up nicely compared to more than 2 yrs ago. As a result of the big drop in ad impressions my clicks are also down by a similar amount (almost 50%) resulting in the sizable revenue declines of more than 40% for my network of sites.

The problem seems to be Adsense is simply not reporting ad impressions (and clicks too?) correctly. Possibly they are (quality penalty?) penalizing us for some odd reason and not counting link traffic or whatever. Maybe all the ads or units are not displaying all the time because of a penalty of something (but when I look at the sites the ads appear normal from what I can tell)? Writing to Adsense support about this is proving futile and only getting unsatisfactory reasons which I am sure are not the real reasons.

The past 2 months is the first time my network declined since we started with Adsense in mid-2003. Every month for 3-1/2 yrs our income and stats have been up or roughly the same month after month (and very consistent too) with no declines worth worrying about (until now). Anyone else with a large network of sites (more than 1,000) running Adsense seeing this happen over the past few months?

12:26 am on Nov 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I see no changes at all in terms of either CTR or EPC.
1:09 am on Nov 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I am also noticing the same thing, there is a big decline for my larger websites. For smaller websites, there is not much change in CPM
1:50 am on Nov 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Up. Lots. I like quality scores!
7:06 am on Nov 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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The problem seems to be Adsense is simply not reporting ad impressions (and clicks too?) correctly.

trader, I think you are right about the impressions. I see around 20% underreporting of ad impressions by Adsense, albeit this percentage has been present for as long as I am an AS publisher. Apparently the clicks are counted correctly, though.

This makes sense to me. Ad views are not that important to publishers. What value do we get out of knowing how many ad views we had? What is Google getting out of this?

Clicks, on the other hand, are very very important. So they track them using a different method (click-redirect). I think that they are quite accurate with the clicks, and the reported clicks appear to be in line with my stats.

8:21 am on Nov 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Anyone else with a large network of sites (more than 1,000) running Adsense seeing this happen over the past few months?

This is just a guess, but is it possible that having 1,000+ sites sends a negative "signal of quality" to Google?

If Google is using the kind of data mining and profiling that ronburk and several other members have discussed here, and if Google's "black box" has found that most accounts with massive numbers of sites convert poorly for advertisers, having 1,000+ sites could hurt you simply because your account fits the "whole lotta get-rich-quick sites" profile (regardless of what may or my not be on your pages).

11:02 am on Nov 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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This is just a guess, but is it possible that having 1,000+ sites sends a negative "signal of quality" to Google?

EFV, that thought crossed my mind as well. I can not envision how 1,000+ sites actually add value to the surfing experience. Google has made clear in the past that user satisfaction seems to be of high priority (I'm not saying "highest priority"), and their latest moves seem to support that statement, especially the introduction of QS for content advertisers.

So, yes, I agree that a big number of sites might be frowned upon by Google.

11:52 am on Nov 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Also remember that a view of your (html) page might be
- done in a browser not supporting javascript and hence not creating the iframe that would load content from Google to create an ad impression
- done by a browser that blocks ads and hence might not go to google to load the ad
- not always last long enough for the browser to load the javascript, dynamically create the iframe and get the content for that iframe from Google.

So some mismatch might be natural on the impression side of things.

2:05 pm on Nov 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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We have what I would consider to be a large network of authority sites, 35 to be exact, not 1000 lol. These sites have been built by experts in each of the given fields since 1998 and have taken hundreds of thousands of man hours. Your 1000 sites are without a doubt auto gen spam or serious dupe content.

To say you have a network of 1000 sites would send up red flags to me if I was Google. I would imagine your account has been manually reviewed which can and does happen on a constant basis despite what others here may think.

That you are just now getting caught is just luck of the draw, honestly what did you think would happen when you autospam junk out?

In regard to revenue declines, we have seen ups and downs like this every year since the launch of adsense and it is usually some change around the prime holiday spending time that this happens. If you own a large network the trend is undeniable to see graphed out by many of my MIT educated friends here.

The core folks at Google are very smart regardless of what many may think, they know exactly what buttons they are pushing. The larger you are the easier it is to see in action and I would imagine the vast majority of adsense publishers cannot see this due to traffic ranges they fall within.

The very fact that this program has lasted 3.3 years at the rev range we still see even taking in billions of publishers and seeing "how to get rich with google adsense" infomercials at 2 am on tv still impresses me daily.

If you have quality websites I think the future is very bright with adsense for you, but auto spewed junk will become filtered out now as the program evolves to a more granular level.