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Google giving away our traffic

     
2:33 pm on May 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

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About a year ago, I setup openX to monitor Google adsense. Back then my CTR was 3-4% on my main ad. Though I was receiving many more clicks. Of course Google was deeming many of them not proper clicks, for whatever reason.

Right now, that same ad is at 0.9%. I don't believe for a minute, not even a second that CTR has dropped, at least not by this much.

Google are fully aware that many publishers NEED them. Whereas advertisers not so much. So in a bid to give their advertisers a better deal, they introduce smart pricing, which in reality just lowers the cost per click, for just about any reason under the sun.

Now our CTR are dropping, in some cases quite dramatically. My opinion is that it's just another way to give advertisers a better deal. Though this IMO is even more underhand. My CTR didn't decrease to 0.9%. They're giving away my traffic to make their network appear better value to their advertisers. I am guessing this is an addition to smart pricing, rather than paying lesser amounts for certain clicks, they now pay zero if the click meets certain requirements or doesn't as the case may be.

I know Google have to keep the advertisers otherwise we'll earn nothing. But is it right to give away our traffic?

2:43 pm on May 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Google changed the clickable area of their ads to be about 80% less than what it was previously. They did this last summer I believe.

That may be why your CTR dropped so much. I know mine was sliced in half after they made this change.

2:48 pm on May 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Hi Maxi, my CTR drop has come in the past 6 months I'd say but the final drop was about 2 weeks ago now. I did notice a drop way back when the clickable area was cut, but a lot of this was after that.
4:00 pm on May 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Google are fully aware that many publishers NEED them. Whereas advertisers not so much. So in a bid to give their advertisers a better deal, they introduce smart pricing...

Google earns less from a discounted click than it does from a full-price click, so it's unlikely that Google would have introduced smart pricing without careful analysis and "what if" scenarios.

Also--as you've already surmised--what's good for Google may not always be good for a specific AdSense publisher. If enough AdSense publishers think they're being screwed, and if enough of those publishers are valuable to advertisers, somebody will come along and figure out a way to tap into that group of disgruntled AdSense publishers. (The online ad industry already has about 200 vertical ad networks, which goes to show that--contrary to what many AdSense publishers seem to think--Google doesn't have a monopoly on online advertising.)

4:57 pm on May 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Perhaps Adsense Advisor (or substitute) can comment.

But somehow I doubt it.

11:59 pm on May 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

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There maybe many alternatives but none of them have nearly as many advertisers and most of them are banner only Ads or target only US traffic. IMO there is not a single rival to adsense and until there is, if ever, were gonna get shafted.
12:57 am on May 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

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IMO there is not a single rival to adsense and until there is, if ever, were gonna get shafted.

Depends what you mean by "rival." If you're talking about text-ad networks, you're probably correct, but some vertical display-ad networks are delivering excellent CPMs. Affiliate programs can also be successful if you've got the right topic and have done enough testing to know which affiliates work on your site and which ones don't.

2:02 am on May 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I think Google have tweaked their algo to discount "quick clicks".
In the past, you would get a minimal amount - or zero - if someone clicked on an advert, then came back to your site quickly. Now, I think they delete the click altogether. Sounds logical (to me, anyway).
2:15 am on May 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I think Google have tweaked their algo to discount "quick clicks".

Sounds reasonable to me, too. Who knows--maybe they have a publisher "quality score" that factors in things like time spent by clickers on an advertiser's site compared to the publisher average for a given ad, advertiser, or whatever. (That's just speculation, of course, but it fits in well with the philosophy behind "smart pricing.")

8:47 am on May 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Perhaps Adsense Advisor (or substitute) can comment.

Don't hold your breath. Transparency and perestroika are not prominent goals of modern corporations.

But somehow I doubt it.

Any respectable bookmaker would give you 1,000/1 about that happening.

A lousy cheap bookmaker would give you "unders" at 100/1 and take your money without a smile on his face.

10:14 am on May 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

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realmaverick:

Back then my CTR was 3-4% [...] Right now, that same ad is at 0.9%. I don't believe for a minute, not even a second that CTR has dropped.

I have been tracking the accuracy of Adsense reports with a 3rd party tool as well. Looking at the results over a long time, I can say that there have been periods in the past where the figures reported by Adsense were off (and sometimes even VERY off) compared to the figures reported by that 3rd party tool. How this was caused is a different matter, let's just say there were times where we were questioning the accuracy of Google reports.

BUT -despite being a harsh Google critic in many ways!- I have to say that the CTR decline reported by Google is matched by a similar decline in the reports by the 3rd party tool. In other words: the click-through-rate HAS dropped at the source, i.e. visitors DO click less than they used to.

As to the reasons for this, I don't know, really. It could be Google delivering ads that are less targeted to our sites, or it could be people not clicking because of their economic situation. Or something else, but to me it seems to be NOT related to Google artificially reducing the number of clicks.

10:34 am on May 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Thanks Zett, that's interesting to know.
 

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