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Smart Pricing Sabotage

Can a competitor get you smartpriced?

6:11 pm on Oct 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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So early today I notice wild stats for main Adsense pages on one site. I mean numbers you never see... CTR and Page eCPM off the charts... over 100%... more clicks than impressions!

Clearly this sort of thing doesn't go unnoticed by Google.

Several hours later, BAM! average daily Page eCPM slashed almost 50%. Earnings crashed, too, of course.

Now this all happened very quickly. Webpages stayed the same, not touched in a week. SERPs still the same.

All the signs of smart pricing which is expected when the numbers get too high. This on a site that's had consistent numbers for over a year.

On the Google News board, a poster recently pointed out that there's a scheme to trick Google into thinking a site sells links and it sabotages SERPS for that site.

Can the same type of thing happen with Adsense? Google could either ban a site with extreme CTR/eCPM, or smart price it. Can Google tell when there is attempted sabotage to cause automatic smartpricing?

Will the smartpricing stay in effect at this level from now on? Do I ask Google to manually reset the automatic smartpricing triggered by one/two hours of drunk surfers/saboteurs/bots/whomever/whatever?

Or is everything actually still normal and the problem is Google's stats are messed up?


6:35 pm on Oct 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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the same thing happened to me today, i had more clicks than pageviews and my ctr was 10% lol, i usually make 1.5%

also i notice that impressions dont show when new day started but after a hour all stats appeared but i had 2 times more impressions then usually and ctr dropped to 0.6%

[edited by: HowYesNo at 6:36 pm (utc) on Oct. 20, 2007]

7:16 pm on Oct 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I had 30% CTR and stupidly high eCPM. I think it was an error across the board.

I bet my life though, bots could easily fool Google.

Lets face it, it wouldn't be too difficult to write a bot, set it on a competitors site, get them banned from Google and kill their main source of revenue. This worries me a lot as I know some of my competitors aren't exactly white hat in their practices.

7:28 pm on Oct 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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>>>but i had 2 times more impressions

It's helpful to discuss what you see in your log files. Check your log files for keyword phrases being used to access your site, the intention of those visitors, as well as referrers.

Check your stats. For all you know it could be visitors from Stumbleupon, but if you don't check your stats you won't know. Just some common sense advice, ok? ;)

8:54 am on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

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There's been talk in the past that smartpricing is no longer account-wide as it had been in the beginning. Recent data, however, doesn't support that idea.

The latest hit happened at the same time against more than one website under the same account. The second site hit is for a different industry than the first one, although it's the site under which the Adsense account was created. (The site hasn't been changed in over a year and it has the same SERPS, isolating key variables. Same ads, same placement, same colors, etc.)

So the smartpricing algo may review all sites under the same account when one or two hours of extreme data (or calculations) trigger an automated smartpricing penalty, and impose the same penalty on all your sites.

In the final hour before the day the smartpricing began, the CTR on one main page was at x%. Typically this number stays about the same one hour later (because it's an accumulation of data for 23/24 hours of the entire day, and traffic is at its lowest in the last hour of the day). The CTR percentage drop in the last hour is often less than 1% (x-1%).

But when the final stats for that day were reviewed the next morning, there was a 9% drop (x-9%). This suggests Google's data collection was delayed/inaccurate and in fact could have inadvertently caused the smartpricing.

There have been times in the past when Adsense users have noticed delays in stats, but is it possible some of the stats are delayed while others are on time?

(I've suspected on more than one occasion that Earnings have been accurate while all URL Channels were not completely updated.)

The next morning, as said already, there was a big jump with much higher CTR% (much more than 9%).

It's possible that, due to a glitch, Google mismatched data it collected for total impressions and total clicks over a two-hour period, so these two streams of data were out of sync, leading to an inaccurate conclusion.

For example, total impressions for one hour could have been matched against total clicks for two hours, instantly doubling the Click Through Rate. That could obviously trigger smart pricing.

In any case, it looks as if the smartpricing algo is much too sensitive. The previous week had CTR and eCPM the same every day +/- 1% (as had the previous months). An entire week or month should determine smartpricing, not one or two hours. Obviously two hours doesn't provide enough accurate and reliable data to draw a reasonable conclusion about site performance.