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Spam ads, is Adsense doing enough to stop them

Spam ads bad for publishers, bad for advertisers

     
4:34 pm on Dec 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Lately I have been spending about an hour each day going through the ad review-center to block spammy ads. Out of the total number of ad impression these ads account for only a small percentage (less than 1%), but I feel they have a huge negative impact when they do appear. Basically, they project a very negative image on my website and brand, they also take up space where a legitimate ad could appear and earn me clicks.

Every time I do my review I get peeved, because I am basically blocking the same ads over and over again. There are two main spam ad templates that I am currently battling.
1- Unflattering image of some celebrity, with click bait text such as "Celeb X fired you wont believe why?" or sketchy image of a person with a luxury car with the text "Homeless buy car find out how?"

2- Typically text ads, but not always, with text such as "Pending Alert, tap now to read" or "3 People Unfriended You, tap to learn more", or the worst in terms brand damage "1 Error 97.7% critical".

For each ad I block the ad, block the adwords account, block the to level domain of the url and file a policy violation report with ad-words. But still these ads come back, same images same ad text, text some times vary in language (eg: German, French, Swedish, Russian), different urls, different adwords account, different domains.

This has been ongoing since years, and I feel powerless to stop it.

Does anybody else share my concern?

Clearly the steps I have been taken are in effective, they may minimize the problem but its not enough. What else can be done?

I have considered setting up a DFP account, to set a floor for showing adsense ads, when a price is under some certain value I would advertise my own content or my other site (in a not related niche). But that essentially means that I will be paying Google to stop showing spam, pushing up the cost of legitimate advertisers, and there is no way of knowing what impact this would have on the bottom line. This could essentially cost me more than what I am earning.

What can be done?

Advertiser are also paying the price for these spam ads.
Legitimate advertisers are forced to out bid the spammers, thus increasing their cost.

Is Adsense doing enough to stop this?

Publishers are paying the price, advertisers are paying the price, only Adsense and spammers are reaping the rewards.
1:23 am on Dec 8, 2016 (gmt 0)

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The loss of revenue is insignificant for us. AdSense if I recall correctly does have a report that shows something like "Enable this category to get x.x% increase" - often bogus. I'd rather show CPA type ads like commission junction / amazon / iherb etc for those units.

Revenue = Cash? Or did you mean any additional out of pocket expense? None for me as I'm within DFP thresholds for their free service.

Another "cost" might be a slight latency increase in ads - we use jquery dfp to fill slots on the page render which adds about 100ms latency I think. Don't remember - but test and trash a few times.

Also, a lot depends on your site - do you have enough traffic where you get placements? Agencies are more likely to bid higher (opinion from *big* agencies I work with) for properties where they feel they're in good company - no big brand whats their ads showing up next to spammy weight loss ads (think walmart / target / etc).

Might be worth reading the docs on adsense / DFP to make sure your accounts are connected for what they call "Dynamic Allocation". I think as of now, all DFP accounts should be enabled for dynamic allocation, if not, worth dropping publisher support an email if you do not have a contact to work with.

Looking at the imgur screenshot from a few posts earlier - that can be blocked easily with an artificial floor in DFP + blocking one or two sensitive categories.
1:29 am on Dec 8, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Sorry - missed the question "Have you done this". Yes - been doing it for several years. Pointless picking on individual banners / adwords accounts / networks. Create a price floor that you're happy with and watch your yield reports in DFP to see if your fill rates and effective CPM / daily earnings are affected.

You also made a statement:

Legitimate advertisers are forced to out bid the spammers, thus increasing their cost.


Legit advertisers will usually have high enough bids - and you as a publisher should make sure that your price floors extract AS MUCH as possible from those advertisers for the privilege of showing their ads.

Trust me - no point in being too sensitive about advertisers budgets. Extract the most you can from your visitors (1 more page view per visit) and the most you can from your advertisers (5-10% more CPM?). The sophisticated advertisers are already RTBing (real time bidding) per pageview and paying you the LEAST you allow them to.
1:59 am on Dec 8, 2016 (gmt 0)

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@shri thanks for your response, this is the type of input I was hoping to get from this thread.

Revenue = Cash?

I meant out of pocket expenses. For example, if I choose to run my own ads with the DFP, say for another one of my sites. Would I have to pay a cut to Google for showing the ad. Or is DFP a mechanism that allows me to deal completely free of Google, unless Google has inventory ready to pay a price higher than the price floor.

Legitimate advertisers are forced to out bid the spammers, thus increasing their cost.

Don't worry I am not overly concerned for the well being of the advertisers. What I meant was, as a publisher these spam ads are having a noticeable impact on my business, so I have an incentive to do something about it. Since these spam ads push-up the bid prices, the advertisers are also being impacted and I would image that they would have incentive as well to try and take some action. Mind you, there is far less that they can do.

The worst parts about this is, that the spam pushes up the cost for the advertisers and so there are fewer legitimate ad impressions. In turn publishers get fewer clicks and are unable to benefit from the price increase. It is a loose, loose scenario. I am not even sure if it is an optimal situation for Google.
5:43 am on Dec 8, 2016 (gmt 0)

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The DFP FAQ is here:

[google.com...]
10:56 am on Dec 10, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Now, the thing is, do these spammy ads hurt the "quality" score of our adsense accounts, or have a negative impact ?

I mean, from what I understood, Google is scoring the "quality" of the clicks on adsense ads, based on different factors, such as the time spent on site of the advertiser, actions, bounce back, etc… Also, I think I understood that Google is not displaying the ads with the higher bid , but the one with the best ratio click / bid / action at the advertiser's site.

So , let's take the example of these ads with the big green download button. I have a site which talks about music, and with the lack of attention people have nowadays, and the way they scan pages more than really reading them, I guess that some might believe the big download button is to download a song. So I guess it can easily lead to a higher CTR on these type of ads.

So my question is, won't Google favor these ads , because of their higher CTR, even if they have low bid value? And, when people realize it's to download a toolbar, which is barely doing nothing useful, and click the back button, won't it hurt the "quality" score of my site (from an advertiser point of view,… too much bounce back from the advertiser, and no action made). Or , in the other hand, if there is a higher bounce back from this kind of ads, will Google consider they are not adapted to my site, and will show them less?

Additional, I was wondering if it's good or not to leave all the Facebook "create an account" ads? There are TONS too. However, there are so many people with a Facebook account, that I doubt that people visiting my site, will be interest to click on these ads, even if they don't have one account already. So I was considering blocking these ads manually (not the Facebook's adwords account, because I might advertise services or other things too). Good or bad idea?
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