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Loophole in AdSense PPA Allowing Advertisers to Not Pay Publishers?

Definition of "Completed Sale" Up for Discussion

     
3:30 am on Apr 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I wanted to get some referral ads for products on a few pages to see what happens.

I first picked a certain industrial product that seemed like a good fit for some of my pages. The product is offered by a tool company.

The problem is, the URL takes the user to the company's main page and the company offers thousands of tools and related products. If the visitor finds something and purchases it, and the something isn't what was advertised in the ad, the publisher just generated a sale for the advertiser without earning any compensation.

There's one ad I'll have to remember not to display.

Also, there doesn't seem to be any type of URL filter provided for the Referral ads. So if a publisher uses the suggested keywords and lets Google decide which ads to display, how does the publisher protect against showing ads that are likely not to convert for the publisher, such as the one I mentioned above?

FarmBoy

[edited by: farmboy at 3:45 am (utc) on April 8, 2007]

7:47 pm on Apr 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

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A completed sale is either tracked in google check out or with code placed on a "thank you for a purchchase" page. Google monitors the code to make sure its in place.

On the adwords side, we have ads out there but there are not many publishers for our niche. We are getting limited exposure and impressions right now because a lot of publishers are either hesitant or they are not part of the beta.

7:48 pm on Apr 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

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...keep in mind that most ecommerce sites have less than a 10% conversion rate. Most people like to shop around.

You have to keep in mind that some times people take a week or two to actually make a purchase. With Pay Per Click if a person came back within 30 days and makes a purchase, you still get paid.

First, and FWIW, let me make clear that the current title of this thread is not the title I assigned when I started the thread. I used the title, "Beware of PPA ads" or something similar. A moderator must have thought the "loophole" title was more appropriate and I guess it is considering the direction this thread is moving and the attention it is getting.

With that said, I understand about conversion rates for ecommerce sites and people shopping around. I operate ecommerce sites myself and I usually shop around before purchasing something online.

But again, my concern with this ad is it promoted a specific green widget and the landing page isn't designed to sell green widgets. Assuming this is a honest hard-working merchant, he could help himself by matching the landing page to the specific product in the ad.

If I see an Amazon ad for a particular book and click on it, it takes me to a page where that book is for sale, not to Amazon's home page. I might leave that page to look around Amazon for other products and I might leave Amazon and return later to purchase that book, but at least by having me land on that specific product page, it's easy for me to complete the purchase right then.

If ecommerce sites convert around 10%, a specific ad leading to a general page will probably lower that rate even more, and I have better use for the space on my site. If the merchant were to match the landing page to the product being advertised, I probably would put it back up and let it run a few thousand impressions.

7:59 pm on Apr 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

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So what I've come to realize is this new ppa service they are offering is not a replacement for standard affilaite marketing links.... Those are a differnet beast.

It's possible the advertisers do not yet understand how to best utilize PPA. I'm willing to keep watching for good opportunities.

Or then there are always the returned sales that you just have to take the merchants word for and have no way of really verifying.

I asked on the AdWords board how advertisers are allowed to deal with PPA refunds per Google and the reply I received seemed to indicate the policy hasn't been established yet. Maybe someone else has more information.

On the adwords side, we have ads out there but there are not many publishers for our niche. We are getting limited exposure and impressions right now because a lot of publishers are either hesitant or they are not part of the beta.

There's an opportunity here for someone to develop a site where publishers and advertisers can exchange specific information on ads.

8:18 pm on Apr 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I imagine that as this rolls out, there will be some kind of scoring.
8:36 pm on Apr 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Hey, it's just a beta. I personally lost interest in beta testing after Windows 95, but to each his own. :-)
8:44 pm on Apr 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Sure it's beta, and teasing out shortcomings, bugs, and overlooked details is what beta is about. Thank goodness for the guinea pigs. :)

There's some great commentary in this thread and kudos to farmboy for spotting what could be a loophole. jimbeetle makes excellent points, especially noteworthy because he's an experienced marketer.

8:59 pm on Apr 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

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experienced marketer

I've got the gray hair to prove that point ;-)

12:09 am on Apr 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

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we're going to have to be very, very leery of the quality that Google is letting through the door.

I think a lot of advertisers feel the same way about Google's publishers and they turn off Content network so Google is looking for another way to get them back in. As click fraud keep diminishing the ROI, CPA looks like the way to go or maybe the only way to go.

You might say now "I am leery" but 6-12 months from now that might be your only option (CPA) what will you do then? Not a lot of options out there beside Google

12:27 am on Apr 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Here is something you all might want to read through:

[google.com...]

12:47 am on Apr 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

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If anyone finds the answer to any of the following, please post:

1. Do CPA ads count towards the 3 maximum AdSense displays allowed on a page?

2. A travel site list the conversion action as, "Lead form for booking request?" Does that mean the merchant pays if a lead is generated - a simple request for information OR the merchant pays if a reservation is booked?

3. A seller of products lists the action as, "Lead submission for green widget sale" Again, is that payment for a lead or for a sale?

FarmBoy

2:04 am on Apr 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Farmboy,

The only two options we have are:

Sale and or sign up for newsletter.

You might want to email adsense support and see if you can get an answer. Please do share when you find out.

6:08 pm on Apr 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Well,

I can answer these: 2. A travel site list the conversion action as, "Lead form for booking request?" Does that mean the merchant pays if a lead is generated - a simple request for information OR the merchant pays if a reservation is booked?

3. A seller of products lists the action as, "Lead submission for green widget sale" Again, is that payment for a lead or for a sale?

"Lead form for booking request?" - means when someone fills out a lead form, you get paid

"Lead submission for green widget sale" - again someone submits a lead

When you create (as an advertiser) a PPA campaign you have the option to pay by sale/purchase, view of a specific page or you can create a different one. Essentially all you do in every scenario is put the piece of java code on the page you want people to get to. For a sale you put it on the receipt page (visitors can't get there unless they bought something). In the lead examples, I am sure the 2 companies simply place the code on the page that is displayed after the lead is submitted; when a visitor gets there (with their PPA cookie associated with your site) then you collect your commission.

3:26 am on Apr 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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"Lead form for booking request?" - means when someone fills out a lead form, you get paid

"Lead submission for green widget sale" - again someone submits a lead

I don't mean to nitpick, but I don't believe those definitions can be accurate.

For the former example, the payout amount seems to be way too high for just a lead considering the cost of the product/service.

For the latter example, I spent some time on the site and they don't have a lead form. Either you conduct a transaction with the site or you don't. There are no lead forms, newsletter sign-ups, etc.

FarmBoy

3:58 pm on Apr 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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"...keep in mind that most ecommerce sites have less than a 10% conversion rate. Most people like to shop around."

Make that A LOT LESS than 10%. The average TRACKED conversion rate I have seen across dozens (over 100) e-commerce sites hovers around 1%. Many advertisers struggle to get that one percent; others consistently stay between about 1-2%.

Most advertisers with 10% conversions will be dancing. Note that this refers to smaller businesses using Google Analytics and/or Google's conversion tracking.

When using IndexTools I was able to calculate that roughly 17% of conversions were not being tracked by that tool. Google Analytics will miss at least that many. (It tracks last visit.) Conversion tracking does a little better (because it tracks first visit).

There are many reasons for low conversion rates. Many sites are difficult to navigate. Many off-the-shelf shopping cart programs do not work consistently. Many of the lower cost e-commerce solutions don't show shipping costs and/or require people to "register" before they can checkout. Both of those mistakes will dramatically depress conversion rates.

I see the best conversion rates on e-commerce stores built on Yahoo Stores or Volusion's platforms. When there are enough PPA advertisers to be selective look for any using those two platforms or check for the issues I mentioned.

If you favor sites that are easy to navigate, do provide shipping costs prior to actually checking out, and don't require registration they are more likely to actually make the sale.

6:23 pm on Apr 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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There are lead forms and newsletter sign ups. An advertiser can specify that as long as google approves it.
1:07 am on Apr 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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There are lead forms and newsletter sign ups. An advertiser can specify that as long as google approves it.

Was this in response to my post? I was referring to a specific merchant per the context.

FarmBoy

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