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Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...


I'm both a consumer and a publisher of Google Adsense advertising on the Web and even though Web advertising makes me some money by publishing ads on this blog and in a few other places around this site, both publishing and providing ads feels like a bit of black magic over which I have only a tiny bit of control.

Buying Advertising

But let's start with the part that really gets my goat, which is the buying of advertising.  As a small software vendor with a number of products I've some time ago turned to Web advertising with Google because the magazine market at which I had frequently advertised in the past has simply disappeared. When I first started advertising on Google I noticed by tracking requests and tracking sales that it was bringing a fair bit of traffic my way, but the longer it has gone on the less value I see from this advertising to the point today that I seriously question the value of it at all. In fact the count of incoming links are getting less and the quality of them is drastically degrading while the cost seems to be rising.

A couple of months ago I started in earnest tracking the advertising hits that Google generates for me. And what I found is not a happy picture. About 30-40% of the traffic generated - ie. the traffic that I pay for - comes from link farms, that is Web pages that have nothing more than a bunch of links that redirect to Google Adsense links. Another 10% or so doesn't have referring links at all so I can't track the source which is also pretty suspicious. This means that almost half of the traffic that Google generates is either worthless or not tractable.

As to link farms: It's places like this ( I didn't link them here explictly to not encourage any more traffic their way <g>)

http://www.sedoparking.com/netputergameresource.net

http://www.htmlcrazy.com/

http://www.1net1dream.org/

http://seg.com/

http://www.windgouru.com/home.php?pid=&rr=&ref=&ff=ffyy

http://www.maviportal.com/sinema.asp

http://www.sladecentral.com/

These come straight out of my link capture log and you can probably see a common theme in a few of these links. In fact, it looks like a few of these are probably hosted by the same companies. There hundreds of links like this in my log and the domain names and links often vary slightly covering all sorts of weird words and domain mistypes. Windgouru.com for example is a mistype of windguru.com which is a Windsurf wind forecast site (that I happen to visit frequently <g>). But as you might suspect - other than the Wind  part in my company name and my hobby - windsurfing has little to do with goes on on this site. Even the photoalbum which does contain some windsurf related pictures and jabber is only a tiny little part of my site.

So -  that windgouru.com link is really going to help my bottom line, right? Granted Web advertising is a bit like aiming  buckshot at 100feet out, but the fact that there's a link farm and it's not even hitting a primary target that I'm paying for - well it pisses me off. Somebody (mostly Google) is making 80 cents to a dollar a click of that shit that I'm paying for.

It's the same with most of the link parking sites. They have zero value to advertisers even if they do send you traffic because it's very likely that the traffic they do send is either completely mistargeted or - in my opinion just as like - illegally clicked.

Let's look at this from the Link Park operator - their only profit motive is to get as many people as possible to come to their site and click on links. There's no content creation, there's not even an attempt at capturing customers, it's just thousands of pages of links generated by computer on thousands of different IP addresses that essentially prey on web browsers who mistype a link. The only reason these sites exist is to make Adsense revenue. Nothing else. How far removed is the idea to use those same thousands of IP addresses and computers to randomly (in relatively low volume) have these links clicked? It'd be pretty damn tough for Google or any other advertisers to track low frequency links that are spread out amongst a few hundred thousand Web page. Add to that IP spoofing and you have a potentially profitable business on your hands.

I sent an email to Google Adsense support and asked about Link Parking sites and what their policy is in regards to counting these hits towards paying clicks. The response was essentially a shrug of the shoulder: Yeah, we know about it and they are legal,  and sure you have to pay for these links. In fact the support tech was trying to convince me that these Link Parking site links do better conversions than 'regular' links. Better for whom? For Google? Sure, people will click on links to get out of the fucked up link park, but it's doubtful they do so because they actually want to go to my site or become a potential customer.

So Google's answer to get around this problem: Block the sites in the AdSense manager. IOW, let me figure it out. Since there are literally hundreds of sites and that the sites keep changing that's hardly practical.

Most advertisers probably have no idea where their ad dollars are actually going and Google isn't providing much of anything in terms of information how the advertising dollar was actually applied. I know looking at my link logs, I can tell that Google is clearly metering my clicks exactly to pay out the maximum amount of my highest bid I specify for an ad campaign in the Adsense Manager. Day after day I see EXACTLY 14 clicks of this product and 22 of another which means, that even though bidding is supposed to be competitive, it almost always ends up at the highest bidding rate. Looking at the click through hit chart from Google hits on my site is like looking at the consistency  of clockwork that matches the very top end of my ad bids.

This also means Google - for all its supposed 'security' and watch dog operations - is rarely if ever deducting clicks from my account. After I pushed the tech I was talking to I got a spreadsheet with adjusted clicks from the rep. A whopping 100 adjustments out of 120,000 clicks. Yet on the other end - when serving ads here  - there seem to be regular adjustments and it ain't me clicking my own Adsense links.

The fact that I see the above domains repeatedly and consistently,  and that the pages have very little content and certainly no content that has anything related to the products I'm supposedly advertising there, is a pretty good indication that this is bogus and clearly Google is not keeping up its end of the bargain to ensure click fraud checking. Yet the domains persist and Google doesn't care - and why should they, really? Google has no financial interest in shutting down link farms like this. They  make Google a shitload of money even while it practically invites link fraud.

The other End of it: Publishing Ads

I also use Google to make a little money from ads I run on this site. While I also use a couple of .NET specific advertisers - mainly Steven Smith's Lake Quincy .NET Network and The Lounge - I also use Google here on the WebLog and in various other places on this site where .NET only content is not appropriate. Mainly I use all of these to provide a little variety. The .NET content is not various enough and the Google ads provide a little additional content that makes the ad content maybe a little more varied.

All of the combined advertising pays the hosting bill and a little more actually. I have to admit I fretted putting advertising on this site at all, because - well, I hate advertising. But given that I put out a large amount effort into publishing content I thought I'd see how advertising would work out and given that it brings in enough to pay the operational bills plus a bit extra it's hard to throw that away. It's by no means a major part of my income but it's also enough to be too tempting to ignore.

So at least some of this advertising income comes from  Google. Google tracks ad display and clicks and at times I take a look and see how things are going and try to make adjustments. Over the last few days you might have seen a few adjustments here with ads running a little more prominently due to some experimentation with ad formats (which surprisingly has resulted in some fairly big increases in rotations and clicks).

So I went to the site yesterday during the day to find that there was a good number of clicks and a fairly high dollar amount of commissions for the day. Then the next day I happened back to the site and checked the totals which were significantly less. And I have to wonder how the fuck that can be since it sure isn't me clicking on my own ads?

Google supposedly monitors traffic and clicks and makes 'adjustments' to clicks and rotations that it deems fraudulent. Now I know I'm not clicking on my own ads, so I it's not me, but who IS doing the fraudulent clicking then? I can't think of anybody else who could possibly benefit from clicking on the ads or causing ads to be displayed in a way that might be construed as fraudulent. A while back I thought maybe it's robots that somehow manage to get to pages and click links but due to the way Google and most other ad services serve ads, but that's highly unlikely because ads are served through JavaScript script links that robots ignore.

So if it's not me, and not robots what could possibly account for these adjustments of more than 30% at times. Checking back a few days now I see adjustments frequently  days although the adjustments are not quite as drastic. On my ads that I pay on I had a 100 ads adjusted against well over well over 100,000 ads served, yet on my ad publishing the ratio is measure by well over 10%? What gives?

The real frustrating part though is that you really can't get any decent information out of Google unless you contact them and discuss with a tech. If I screw around with Google Analytics I can see how ads are served when and where etc. but it doesn't really tell me if clicks are removed or why or even how the rates are applied. A lot of times the relation of traffic to hits or clicks is so completely out of whack (one day I have 10 clicks and $15 another day I have a 100 clicks and it's only $5). Getting information on why adjustments have been made have never been made clear as where links where served from and if there are adjustments what they are made for. If you just check your stats after the fact you may never actually know that adjustments were actually made.

In the end it feels like black magic. Google (and other advertisers as well to be fair) control the process so completely that if there's any foul play either on Google's part or for cheating publishers that contest clicks on the other end there's almost no real way to tell that it's happening and unless you have the time to keep very close tabs on it there's no way to follow the money all the way through - on both ends. And who has that kind of time?

Advertising: The Evil Cousin Nobody Wants but Everybody Uses

Web Advertising is a necessary evil for the availability of free content. To be honest I don't really understand how we got to the point that Google is as big of a company as it is because of advertising. Seriously, how many of you actually pay attention to ads - any savvy Web browser these days has some mechanism to block out ads both physically at the computer, not to mention the mental blocking we all apply  to ads to ignore the irrelevant content on page? All this effort to provide ads that most people ignore.

I really wonder how many clicks on ads are really of a potential customer vs. fraudulent, frivolous or accidential click. I suspect the number is really, really low. And at 80 cents to a dollar that's an expensive wasted click! Ultimately I really question how much value Google advertising provides these days to advertisers? I'd be curious to hear from others how well ADVERTISING with Google or other similar service (Yahoo, Micorosoft) is working for them using what amounts to small budget advertising.

Yet we still continue to publish ads because there's obviously a small profit motive for ad publishers. More for some than others. I imagine in some third world countries even a small profit from AdSense amounts to a  huge amount of income. And it's not surprising to see that many of the link farms originate in low income areas of Southeast Asia and other low income areas of the world.

A whole industry exists around advertising on the web and exploiting Google (but actually exploiting advertisers - Google actually benefits) any way they possibly can. It seems just too easy to spoof the system with the current technology.

Web Advertising is at the root of a lot of the things that are wrong with the Web today. It's a scammers game especially when you look at AdSense. On the one hand it's enabled everyone to advertise in ways that wasn't previously possible. But on the other you have this wild west mentality where the distributed publishing puts advertising in unexpected places where the value might be quite debatable. It's a long way from targeted advertising if you compare it to more traditional means like magazine advertising. The fact that it's so easy to be a publisher and that the electronic medium is so easy to spoof makes it a big fat target for scammers trying to make a buck off - well nothing in many cases. Case in point are link farms.

As an advertiser I have a hard time seeing the value anymore, at least recently. Some time ago the targeting worked pretty well and I ended up with a good number of leads. These days the 'hit' ratio of bad links that are actually hitting what I would consider the right target audience is getting much worse, while the prices for advertising have shot up through bidding wars. It's a pretty sucky proposition and I've cut way back on my Web advertising recently because of it. But truth be told I don't really know of many alternatives other than using a different advertising service. I suppose Google is the biggest target for scamming the system since it has the biggest network and most variety. So maybe a smaller network might provide better results.

It's too damn easy to cheat

It seems to me that the way Web advertising works is so fickle that it simply invites publishers and the big advertising companies to cheat. It's way too easy to cheat and the sad part is that it can be pretty profitable. All the advertising for the most trivial content is everywhere. If a little rinky dink site like mine can do $300+ a month in advertising revenue (combined for all providers) for very little targeted effort, imagine what an organized effort could do. I could probably do better if I'd do a little research but frankly it's not financially worth the extra effort.

Certainly having lots of content helps, but having lots of bogus content in link farms is all too easy to create and scam off of. I see nothing wrong with sites that have actual useful content and display advertising off of that - that's plenty fair even if it's a bit out of control on many sites. But unless my tracking data is just unusual there's getting to be less and less quality content to go around with more and more crap springing up just to invite ad content linking.

And even the quality of good content is going down - in order to drive advertising.For example, you've been to one of these sites I'm sure: There are two paragraphs of an article on a page one and 10 more 'pages' to wade through all of which are loaded to the max with advertising on all sides so that you actually have to search for the actual content. Most of the time the content on these sites is barely valuable - like somebody copied the content from a book and reworded it just so there could be some content out there to drive the ads.

All this crap is targeted at advertising is making it harder and harder to find the good content when searching. And just this last week Google announced that they are actually going to punish publishers who publish large pages (ie. likely REAL content that is useful and not cut up to maximize ad revenue) by weighting down pages that are long (in terms of content size) and reduce them in search priority. So much for 'only do good'. Corporate crap like anybody else.

How did we get here?  The advertising means have become an end in itself that now outweighs the original premise for many operations.

I'd be interested to hear other's experiences are with Google or other ad providers.

Posted in Personal  

The Voices of Reason


 

Gustavo Duarte
April 04, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Rick,

This is a great post. I think if you cleaned it up a bit and posted some numbers you'd get a lot of traction with this data, especially given your experience on both ends of AdSense.

I couldn't parse this though:

"I know looking at my link logs I can tell that Google is clearly metering my clicks exactly to pay out the maximum amount of my highest bid. Day after day I see EXACTLY 14 clicks of this product and 22 of another which means that even though bidding is supposed to be competitive and pegged at a highest bidder ceiling, it always ends up at the top dollar rate."

Uh? I don't get it (no experience with AdSense though).

Rick Strahl
April 05, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

@Gustavo - this kind of post just comes out as some sort of venting, and as such is just flow of conciousness. This is a topic I've been thinking a lot about recently though because I really do feel that a lot of what our society in general has become these days is driven by a flawed profit motive and Web advertising perfectly demonstrates that <g>...

As to the click counts: Adsense for advertises allows you to configure daily limits on your ads. So you can say run $10 a day for this campaign and it will cut off after that amount's been used up. The bidding for ads is driven up the more advertisers there but in my experience the number of clicks vs. the number of hits served ends up being consistently the highest possible value always even with ads that run in low competition 'areas'. In theory if there really was open bidding for slots the number of ads would vary somewhat for different days/weekends etc. but it doesn't it ends up being almost the same every day.

+++ Rick ---

Gustavo Duarte
April 05, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Makes sense now. Thanks.

Tom Groeger
April 05, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Rick,

Good post on this matter.

Besides programming I am running an Arcade Video game shop, and since a couple of years I am using adWords for my web advertising. It took me about a year to figure out the correct keywords, click rate and advertising options, and know I am quite happy with the result. There is a lot of noise comming in from Link farms, but also at least a handful of new customers every month that actually order something, and most of them come back with new orders later, so the 150 EUR I spend on ads every month are well worth the money.

But there are some caveats in this: Advertising in Googles content network can get very expensive, lots of clicks but no meat. I had to sort out a lot of countries and languages to get it right. Ads in Google search where easier to adjust once you find the right keywords, but I suppose this is mainly because I am in a niche market with no or litle bidding wars. Don't want to try and activate a keyword like 'blow job' or something like that, I guess that will take your credit card to the limit quite soon <g>

I have no Ads on my pages, I simply don't like them. Although I understand the need for ads to offer free content, I feel that many websites just overdo. I hate it to visit a page, startet to read an article and then get a square 500 by 800px fixed position Ad-Window presented over my text, with a tiny little 'close me' somewhere hidden in a corner, often not working but taking you somewhere you don't want to go. On the other hand there are usefull ads, and I do click them sometimes when they are good placed both in position and content. I have seen the new Ad-position on your blog in the last days, and I must admit that
I didn't liked it, it was irritating and clearly disturbed the nice general layout flow of your pages. The banner on top is fine though, I often followed the links to check out their products.

If its true that Googles fraudulent click adjustment takes you 10% while only giving you back less than 1% ( and I can confirm the later ) this is pure ripoff, and worse is that you really can't do anything about it but cancel the ads. That and the disability or ignorance towards link farms, ebay-link spammers and the shitload of false hits that you have to wade through to come to a real hit will do Google no good in the future. If Microsoft is clever and listens to the complains and problems they could take a lot of business from Google in the future. I am not a fan of Microsoft, but unlike Apple or Google they are what they are, and never proposed something else. I have never trusted Googles 'Only do good' story - wasn't that Anakin Skywalkers saying? <g>

Max C
April 05, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Just untick the 'content network' box in your campaign settings, I thought that's what everyone did. Google are sending out emails to advertisers at the moment pleading with them to re-enable it but as you've discovered, it's a waste of money.

Rip R
April 05, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

I work for an online retailer and we do not use the content network, but search advertising seems to work just well enough to make sense for us.

Steve from Pleasant Hill
April 05, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

"He who owns the gold makes the rules" and Google is right up there, so you get what you get, sort of like dealing with the IRS. Perhaps MS will rise up and do it better.

I do not mind ads that make sense to the site and its context, and I realize that most people do not have the time to check out the products that are actually being displayed, but if I see something of interest I will click.

I think that in the end it is always about quality content. So much of what I try to find on the web (with Google, oh when will I force myself to use ask.com?) is just crap. The same questions on 10 sites. If you publish quality content you will be found. Perhaps quit buying ad words for a month and see what happens.

I mean, I've been a reader of yours since 2004 (I think I came across a post regarding how to figure out various paths in .NET), and while I don't need or use much of what you do post, I like to read what you write.

Fabrice
April 05, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

I tried AdWords recently and was very disappointed, to the point that I don't think I'll use it again. It seems to me that Google makes a lot of profit from their position, asking for a lot of money for a low ROI.
My experience is that for keywords with no or very low competition, they are asking for way too much money. For all of the keywords I used in my campaign, they asked for 4 or 8 euros per click! Not even dollars... euros! If there was some competition, I would understand. But no, with no auctions at all they ask for a lot of money. I can't imagine how much it would cost if there was competition on the keywords I used... The end result is that I won't pay so much for clicks, so instead of making some money, they won't make any at all.

I use AdSense too, and I know how much they pay for clicks. Nowhere did I get anything close to 4 or 8 *euros*. The maximum I get is 1 *dollar* per click, from time to time, in the same domain of keywords.
Don't you see some abuse here?
(this is without saying that the revenues I get from AdSense have decreased a lot over the years...)

John S.
April 05, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

"Just untick the 'content network' box in your campaign settings" < This is great advice, however, it doesn't guarantee that you won't show up on the AdSense for Domains pages (can't find the source of how I know this though). In addition, narrowing the countries to target seems to help too.

Dave
April 05, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

I'll second disabling the "content network". It's mostly garbage. Instead, use a separate site targeted campaign to reach the legitimately good .NET related AdSense publishers out there.

I've had the same experience when displaying AdSense on some of my domains. Additionally, I had a lot of trouble with adult and gambling ads being displayed, even though that was completely inappropriate (and no where near contextually targeted) on the sites I ran AdSense on.

In the end, I gave up and started using other ad networks. It was a little more work to find enough inventory, but well worth it due to higher revenue, better quality, and more control over what's displayed.

Personally, I think the CPC model that Google pioneered is probably destined for about the same fate as the over-popularized CPM banners of the 90s. As advertisers realize they aren't getting a very good ROI and leave, a steady influx of fresh meat is keeping the whole ecosystem alive. However, that can only continue so long.

Maybe CPA ads are going to be the next big thing. After paying for CPM impressions and then CPC visits, I suppose paying for conversions is the next logical step.

Brett Baggott
April 05, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

I _hate_ Made for Adsense (MFA) in all it's various forms (such as the link parking crapola).

Google's "content network" is virtually worthless (at least for us) except if you want to spend A LOT of money for branding.

Regardless, if you ever want to gauge the value of "content network", just create 2 identical campaigns, one with search checked and content network unchecked and one with search unchecked and content network checked.

Try to keep everything as similar as possible.

Most people will be amazed at the absolute "fail" of content network.

Yahoo advertising was notoriously bad because you couldn't turn off content network and then later when they added a way too, they were still including some stuff that should have been content network in their "search partners". Actually I'm not sure that has been fixed yet.

Adwords advertising is a pill to make efficient and as soon as you do, Google changes all the rules :)

I got my first "Google Advertising Professional" qualification about a year and a half ago and I'm currently re-testing. Sooooo much has changed.

Do no evil my ass.

Brett Baggott
April 05, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

John S. - The reason turning off content network doesn't guarantee you will be removed from the AdSense for Domains and other MFA crapola is because there are varying abilities in the people who create this crap. Some just use the top X advertisers without cross referencing if they are on the content network.

Justin Etheredge
April 06, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

I have had pretty good results as a publisher with lake quincy. I am definitely getting better returns on my ads with them than google adsense. I often found with google adsense that it picked up on random keywords in my posts and displayed ads which were not even closely related to my site's content. And while I say this as a publisher, I can see how those advertisers dollars were being completely wasted on my site. Any clicks I was getting were almost certainly accidental or just a curious click that didn't end in any kind of sale. More often than not though, the ads were so off target that I was barely getting any clicks at all.

Peter
April 06, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

I just have to say that I love your no-bs style of writing :)

Dennis Gorelik
April 06, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

1) It's easy to cheat with AdSense, but it's also easy to get caught.
And it's not as easy to create new AdSense account and setup all payment information.
There is also at least one month between your AdSense click on your site and getting payment for it.

2) You are claiming that ads that are coming from misspelled web sites are worse. But how do you know that? Did you compare your bottom line [purchases] on clicks that came from such misspelled web sites with other web sites?
Think about it: if I was looking for aspcomponents, but typed aspcomonents in URL and then clicked "asp components" ad -- I still would be interested in asp components, right?

Rick Strahl
April 07, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

@Dennis - Mispellings may or may not result in valid clicks, but usally mistypes are from site names not search keywords so a mistype with that can be completely off the wall and usually is.

My general feeling is that just getting people to your site isn't enough. It's possible to get people to do something - the real issue is getting people that are your target audience. If you just have a page full of paid for links to click on chances that you end up with a customer are pretty low.

I do track my sales to ad campaigns and original Urls. For me link farm traffic is a complete waste. Less than 1% of all the of Adsense driven sales (which is a fairly small number anyway) comes from these links. There are about 30 sites plus Search that generate about 90% of sales fairly consistently with odds ends all over the spectrum for the remaining 10%.

Then there's the whole issue of ethicalness of the whole thing. Here Google gives most publishers rules that you can only use so many banners on a page (which is OK, but still it's 'rules') and yet here you have pages that have literally 100 links on them that's Ok. It's a double standard and one that's clearly in Google's interest to uphold because they're making good money of it...

snodgrass
April 07, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

I was wondering if anyone else has come across this Google anomaly?

I run the UK part of a website company based in North America, and we rely on Adsense revenue.
In North America the equivalent CPM rate is $1.00 from the clicks made by users on our site to Adsense advertisers sites, but in the UK the CPM is $5.83 !

The UK sites get far less traffic though. (for now anyway, I'm working on that)

matt
April 07, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

@dennis - excellent point (1). I have a former coworker who thought he was so cool setting up a fraudulent link farm and for the first few weeks his totals were racking up. Then he received an email from Google saying he had violated the TOS and was being suspended. Question I have is did the money get returned to the advertisers who'd had their links clicked? From Rick's experience with advertising adjustments (Google giving money back), one really has to wonder...

Dario
April 07, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

They (Google AdWords) have a Category Exclusion tool now. You can exclude all traffic by Page Type (Error pages, Parked domains, Forums, etc) or by topic.

Mornif
April 07, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

I recently had to completely stop one of my Adwords campaigns because of a huge increase in minimum bids. I also unselect the 'Content Network' because my ROI was negative. Now, with the recent increase, I can no longer make a positive return even with Search only advertising.

I use Microsoft, Yahoo, and Ask to display ads, but the volume is no where near the amount I used to get with Google. It's just sad that Google has a majority of the marketplace and aren't under competitive pressures on both Adsense and Adwords.

Mortiff
April 07, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Thank goodness for Adblock Plus.

Jeffrey Henderson
April 07, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Hi,

Read you post and I must say it sounds familiar to the calls we get all day.

Managing a successful high ROI campaign with AdWords can be very difficult. Unless you want to commit to spending an hour a day or more to playing with your campaign I recommend hiring a professional firm to help you out.

Please feel free to contact me about this. Our management fee for these kinds of campaigns is always made insignificant by the dramatic increase you'll see in the performance of your campaign and your ROI.

Thanks!

Jeffrey Henderson
DONE! SEO
310-424-4492

Milan Negovan
April 07, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

"[...] really do feel that a lot of what our society in general has become these days is driven by a flawed profit motive and Web advertising perfectly demonstrates that <g>..."

Very nicely put, Rick! Right on the money (pun intended in good humor).

Son Nguyen
April 07, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Great post and I guess Google doesn't want to open up such click analysis tools because it would affect their revenue significantly. Only those who care enough to ask, to use their own click tracking system, to actively evaluate ROI.

xFredMx
April 07, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

There is a whole industry based on making money from stupid domain names, and most of the money comes from Google ads. Check out this forum: www.domainstate.com, the users are people who own thousands of domain names and they direct them to Sedo or Domain Sponsor to generate revenue.

Kevin J Baird
April 07, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

It's really an issue of letting someone handle your advertising, or doing it yourself. Maybe you should see what sites return you the most quality clicks, and then try to purchase an advertising campaign on their sites directly. It may be cheaper and of larger benefit than to rely on generic clicks through Google's system.

Really, that's what Google's system needs, is instead of an opt-out for links that are a problem, is an opt-in, where you can choose which sites get your best links. And you can put less costly links in more open sites in order to fish for that audience that you are hoping to connect with.

David
April 07, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Sounds like your best bet would be to turn off showing ads on content networks, one of the first things that anyone using adwords is likely to tell you. There's another rant about adwords i came across recently that you might want to have a look at:

http://www.babblestorm.co.uk/Technology/Adwords_Is_As_Targeted_As_A_Big_Asshole_With_Chronic_Diarrhea_Over_A_Small_Toilet-1/

Marc Grabanski
April 07, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Content ads are messed up right now and this system needs to be fixed for the better of the web. An open source ad system is needed that cuts out the middle man and allows publishers to make more money and advertisers to get what they pay for. I feel your pain, that is why I've planned to make this ad system for about a year now - and already have some very talented developers who are join the project. If you want to help out, just let me know.

Igor The Troll
April 07, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

I threw away Google Adwords 2 years ago and never looked back! Most of the visitors went to ope page and left after a few seconds! There was no convergence to speak of! A used it for a real business that sells real products and that have real paying customers. Organic search works much better and generates sales, or it use to! But now day even organic search is going down the garbage bin! I use to have 70 % of traffic via organic and it generated about 30 % CPA, remember organic does not mean free! Now a days, I get about 40 % of traffic from organic and 10 to 20 % CPA. Most of my real customers come from industry forum refferels and word of mouth! People like the service my company provides.

I do not think Adwords and Adsense are worth anything today! Even MFA sites do not justify the ROI. The gazed baffled zombies that use to click the Adsense links are waking up and learning that it is a waste of time to even see what is behind door number "G".

Danny
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Quit whining. You need to worry about making a better looking website. This one looks crap like a 1999 website. Get some web 2.0 treatment applied for crying out loud.

Brian B.
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

As some of the people above mentioned unchecking the Content Network box is one way to cut down on trash clicks. I do that with all my clients since in the end the cost is greater than the return in the vast majority of cases I experienced. That is also why I stopped using Yahoo for a long time because they had our ads showing even with content network disabled by this sob site that removed all the Ads By Yahoo and made it look like a legit link in their nav. Such bs. I have had some good success recently with the MSN network but strictly search portion.

Scott
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

I think you've got a firm grasp of the obvious.

Good job. It takes very little to track conversion rate and to block sites and regions that don't make sense for you ad. Google is complicit in some of these problems, but shame on you if you don't pay attention to where you are spending your money!

Congress
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Maybe Congress should look into this. You should use the following link to share your data with the committee. http://energycommerce.house.gov/membios/contact_form.shtml
This committee provides oversight of the internet and telecom issues.

hOMeR SiMPsoN
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Ads? On the interwebs? Adblock & Noscript FTW. Advertisers are web parasites.

Tom
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Well considering that companies spend millions on google ads, its obvious that they are generating millions in revenue and profit...Otherwise they wouldnt spend the money, its not as if they are giving money to google for nothing, they spend it because they make profit from that traffic.

But you make some good points, googles advertising is definately pretty opaque, but they have to balance the fact that they are the big boy of the net, that every fraudster has in their sights, so they cant say too much.

I think its hardest for small advertisers, because its not in googles interest to tell you much and they dont really treat you well because they dont have to and it would be impractical to do so.

BILZ
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

where did you get this from?
"Google announced that they are actually going to punish publishers who publish large pages"

Mark
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Ads? What are those?

lol

I just use Ad Muncher I never see any video ads, interstitials, floating ads or popups.

Although I must say click fraud would suck if I was using adsense myself.

Google should do something about it for those are have accounts.

Kevin Ohashi
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Rick et al,
Let me be upfront about my position. I invest in domain names, I am a regular at the aforementioned DomainState.com forum. That being said, I find it interesting to hear what you have to say and I think it is a big problem in our industry (domain names). There is a lot of new comers to the industry seeking quick and easy money (when it's long gone, but that's another story). They see parking (what you're referring to as link farms) as instant money for domain names. There is a finite amount of legitimate direct navigation traffic. There is a lot of garbage traffic on names you think nobody would type in. I think it's hard for legitimate people to separate themselves from it all. I won't even go into the whole trademark/typo issue. That is a separate problem altogether. My intuition and experience tells me quality varies by domain greatly. I know from experience that direct navigation can outperform even organic traffic (conversion rates) on an amazon store I run:
(direct) 1.28%
google / organic 0.94%

I think it's a low converting niche to begin with, but that trend holds true for the past year.

I would also like to say studies have been done testing this:
http://blog.domaintools.com/2007/06/google-adsense-for-domains-case-study-shows-domains-are-undervalued/

Furthermore, you can remove yourselves from domain parking (link farms you've called them):
http://domainnamewire.com/2008/03/13/google-lets-advertisers-opt-out-of-domain-parking-sites/

As far as google's role in this whole thing. I'll be blunt, we both hate it. You get shafted on fraud, we get shafted on fraud. You get a lot of low quality traffic, our quality traffic gets penalized by low quality traffic. There is a huge demand at least from our side to connect directly with advertisers saving us both money and middle man. But there is a lot of problems of scale and matching when it comes to traffic. Not every person who lands on a parking page knows exactly what they want. Let's say you land on widgets.com looking for blue widgets as a consumer. And I, as a producer of green widgets, have bought all the traffic from widgets.com to go to my site instead of a link farm which might have links to blue, green, red, purple and yellow widgets and then list multiple sources for each type of widget. You can see where the problem is and why parking might make sense for generalized traffic. Of course, it might make more sense for me to buy the traffic from greenwidgets.com but it gets less traffic than widgets.com. So what happens for domain owners is for highly targeted traffic it's often very easy to convert on a parking page because you can display proper ads right away or sign up for proper affiliates/leads/etc. However, for our generalized traffic it can become very difficult, so even legit traffic might not convert as well as we would all like.

One thing I would like to note is that all these parking companies (some are better at enforcing than others) don't allow owners of these sites to build traffic to them (it can be found and t&c in virtually every company doing this, im guessing this is coming from goog). It is supposed to be all type-in (and old link traffic) so the legitimate ones aren't inflating their traffic to screw you.


I'd like to suggest perhaps you try some more targeted traffic in terms of which domains refer you traffic and you could then test to see how well it converts. If you would be interested in testing something like this let me know and maybe we can setup some sort of formal testing (not sure I would have the right traffic but I might be able to help find someone who does meet your niche whatever that may be. Perhaps then you can see the value in real targeted traffic, which I firmly believe has value, but there is a lot of junk out there making it seem like it is all bad.

You can contact me through my email listed in the whois http://www.ohashi.info if you're interested.
Regards,
Kevin Ohashi

Andreas Pizsa
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Hi,
I manage a few AdWords accounts for customers, almost all of them are very Cost-per-Action-sensitive, and I get to hear questions like those that you raise in your article quite often.

There are two things you might want to do: one is to turn off the Content Network, as has been suggested by others in this thread - this would get you off of AdSense sites.

Another option would be to selecticely exclude the sites you don't want your ads to appear on (http://adwords.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=13248)

The other option you might want to switch off is the Search Network - these are sites such as Amazon, eBay and others, but also the Domain Parking sites that you mention. If you don't want to be listed there, switch them off.

So, the bitter truth is that this has nothing to do with Google's traffic quality and link farms, but rather with the options you've chosen for your campaigns (which are switched on by Google by default, though).

As a general hint, here's a short description of the different Networks: http://adwords.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=14809

Best, Andreas

asdf
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

I clicked some ads, just for you.

Mrtwstr
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

This won't be a popular stance, but... I run several popular parked pages. I drive VERY relevant traffic to them, and have a great CTR from visitors. I only use tier 1 sources, and I only drive english language countries. My traffic quality rates a 10 from Yahoo and that's not easy to do. That is a direct reflection on the quality of the traffic I bring. So if I make a little money from your ad but on the flip side bring you quality traffic why care?

Now, on the subject of blocking ads. There is an option in Adwords to block ALL parking sites. If you really think parked pages hurt you that much then kill them all. I'd argue the MFA sites hurt you more, but do what you need to do.

brandon
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

I think the thing that is going to have to change, is that current small website owners (like myself at http://wiki.chainofthoughts.com/dt/en/), are going to have to find tasteful ad solutions that add to their site.

I managed to rock out a small text-base advertising system for my site so people can sign up and 'rent' small text billboards for as low as something like a $1/week. This takes a little bit of proficiency with a web-programming language.

If you want contact me at brandon [at@] chainofthoughts.com and we can put up some ads on pages that you deem worthy to see if it works any better than your adsense advertising. Right now I use adsense on all of my non-main pages (there is one main page per language) and I earn a decent return. I would prefer the less obtrusive ads that I am displaying on the main pages, and would love to cut the google middleman out of some $.

Brett L.
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Rick -

What do you think would happen to Google if a lot of companies out there started to have the realization that you did - effectively, they're paying for advertisting that everyone ignores and the vast majority of ad "hits" they're getting are coming from ad farms? Check out Google's stock over the last year and tell me if they're just a teensy bit overvalued ;-)

Tom, your quote:
"Well considering that companies spend millions on google ads, its obvious that they are generating millions in revenue and profit...Otherwise they wouldnt spend the money, its not as if they are giving money to google for nothing, they spend it because they make profit from that traffic."

Is simply not true. Established companies make millions due to multi-channel advertising and smart business practices - *as well as* advertising. But there ARE a lot of them that are effectively giving Google money for nothing at all.

Here's my point: Web business, from a cultural perspective, is still relatively new. However, the shine is starting to wear off and reality is starting to sink in.

Warning: Prognostication ahead! Web advertising as it exists today (AdSense being the most obvious, and egregious, example) is a doomed business model.

Gunnar Andreassen
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Well... AdSense IS relevant, but yeah - you can question the quality of the traffic. However, when you do that you also might see why you have typos in your log...

Dan
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Great post. I am new to google adwords and I can see your frustrations.

I guess my question to you would be you mention that your paying 1.00 or more per click on Content. that seems really high to me. I would also look and evaluate if you should even been advertising in content. I would only advertise in search. I do both, but I am not having the problems you do.

My gripe with Google is their minimum bid for key words that no one else is advertising on. On one of my key words they wanted 10 dollars min bid and no one else was advertising on that keyword. there had only been about 50 searches for that keyword and no one had clicked the ad when they raised it from 1.50 to 10 dollars.

Best of Luck and keep up the good work.

Dan
Http://PeakRacer.com

tim
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

I hear direct navigation traffic from links on domain parking is better than search traffic.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/10/business/media/10drill.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

Hax Or
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

FYI: Most of the shenanigans you are referring to are hidden under the guise of "Search Engine Optimization" or "SEO".

Steve K
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

A few months ago I managed a couple of Google ad campaigns for the company where I work. The banner ad program was such a lemon we were able to identify it as such and abandon it in ten days. The AdWords program worked brilliantly - a couple of thousand dollars more than doubled our traffic related to the search terms that have historically produced the most revenue for us. But after two months, we were able to determine that the net impact on our sales from this program was too small to measure. Now we run a small, inexpensive AdWords campaign using only two search terms: Our main competitor's name, and the name of their flagship product. We are doing this because "they started it", and because it does bring in a trickle of qualified prospects.

I am sure that there must be industries where AdSense and AdWords pay. These include the SEO related scam industries, and possibly high volume online consumer retailers. Other than that, it just seems to lie there and do nothing. Google Analytics is an excellent tool, though, and it is available whether or not you have an advertising account.

jupi
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

you may want to do some keyword optimization, get out of content, and since you have such a small budget, turn off the Google Partner network for search too - those sites aren't showing ads from the content network - they're from the google partner sites. If you only show for google.com, you'll just show up on searches on Google.com and their web properties. You will also lose aol, comcast and other sites, but with your budget, it shouldn't matter all that much unless you only get good users from those other sites.

You probably also have all your keywords on broad match. Use exact and phrase match since Google has extended broad match which will map you to unrelated keywords.

You're also probably using very broad terms. Build them out. Instead of just widgets, or widget help - go do, web 2.0 widget tools, or something like that. You can usually pay less and get more targeted users.

Lower your bids. Why are you spending $0.80-$1.00 per click??? You only want 300 people visting your site a month?? If you do the rest of what I was saying, you should be able to double to triple your traffic with the same overall cost AND it'll be more targeted.

One other thing you can do is just not advertise on google. Try yahoo - it's an easier system (not nearly as user friendly, but with panama, it's a lot easier than before), you'll get cheaper clicks, and you can still use up your budget. Yahoo has the similar sources of traffic as google though..

Finally, I hope with your "earnest" tracking, you're measuring results - not just referrers. Spend time figuring out which keywords are bringing you the users you want - remove the keywords that aren't bring in the users you want.. rinse and repeat.

It's easy to learn the basics of PPC, but actually knowing how to effectively and efficiently optimize, manage and scale campaigns is why so many people have problems.

Each day it seems like Google is getting worse overall, but they still have the volume. Until they get to the point that advertisers just leave all together, they won't stop being as cocky. Even meetings with them makes them seem cocky (even when it's for the biggest of advertisers).. but that's a whole other story.

gregory
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

could you put the date on your posts, i have no idea if this is current news, or old news.... (i would pass it on if i knew)

Paul Gillingwater
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

I researched this topic myself last year -- and found a lot of fraud originating from China.

Check out the story at my blog: http://security-risk.blogspot.com/2007/12/massive-organized-google-click-fraud-in.html

Karen
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

@Danny: I don't know much about web design and am not familiar with Web 2.0 [heard of it, though] and wondered if you could explain or direct me to where I could learn more about the basics of it. A couple of details on how it would make a difference would help me understand.

But please be in a better mood than when you submitted your post today- no offense! ;-)

Thanks!

bizdig.com
April 08, 2008

# Google AdSense Advertising - eeech

I'm both a consumer and a publisher of Google Adsense advertising on the Web and even though Web advertising makes me some money by publishing ads on this blog and in a few other places around this site, both publishing and providing ads feels like a bit of black magic over which I have only a tiny bit of control.

Adam Sharp
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

You can always turn off the content network, or exclude parked domains (as Dario mentioned).

Google has vastly improved the content network over the past few years. You can see all the sites and how well they perform with conversion tracking, using the Placement Performance report. Exclude the ones that are crap.

I get a great ROI from advertising on the content network. It just takes time tinkering with it and some $ to experiment (like all forms of advertising).

drew
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

check out rubicon project

http://www.anontalk.com/
April 08, 2008

# http://www.anontalk.com/

Maybe you should <g> stop saying <g> <g>.

Tao
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Not much more to add beyond what has been said - turn off content targeting, focus on the appropriate countries (for our board game retailer - Canada only) and use specific phrases and keywords where necessary. Other areas that are either too expensive to target (due to low click-through rates) or just not worthwhile can be targeted using good SEO. In our cases for example, would be the use of specific product pages with appropriate titles, alt-tags, meta keywords, etc.

Both Yahoo and MSN aren't very good at all for searches, never mind advertising for our niche. That really only leaves us with Google for generating traffic via search engines and targeted site advertising.

For search advertising, we're constantly reviewing keywords and fine-tuning them, pausing quite a few either due to high minimums or too aggressive bid wars. The other thing to do is always to look at perhaps bidding only for a specific position (2-5), which can reduce your overall costs greatly.

Hope that helps.

Webwork
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Rick, would "I feel your pain" help? :) (Ducks and runs for cover.)

As someone who parks domain pending development I, too, have a wish list for system changes. For one, I'd like to see "domain targeting" - the ability of advertisers to target specific domains - just like advertisers can target specific websites. Domain targeting would likely do me a world of good since it a) may pull in more advertisers; b) should help raise the bids FOR the targeted traffic on my domains; c) should insulate me from the downward pricing pressure of bad traffic from crappy domains; and, d) make advertisers happy.

If your software product fit within the generic category of "statistical software" would you be as concerned about paying for traffic if that traffic cam from StatisticalSoftware.com? If you were selling analytic applications or analytic software would you reasona that traffic from AnalyticApplications.com or AnalyticSoftware.com might be a bit more likely to convert . . than traffic from WindGouru.com?

I'll be a happy camper when folks like yourself are able to specifically target domains just like you can - or should - be able to target specific websites on the content network. I think specific domain targeting would be good for all 3 parties to the traffic monetization deal. I agree that there's a ton of crummy traffic to be had on the WWW. I'd be happy, as a domainer / domain developer, to disassociate myself from that traffic. I'm fairly comfortable with the belief that the traffic my domains send is "the good stuff" and it would appear from the renewed ads and revenue that some advertisers also see it that way.

Choice and control is the key. Give advertisers tools to target better and everyone should be a bit happier, 'cept maybe the holders of the vast bags of garbage domains.

Jeff L.

P.S. Typos are not bad per se. Morgage.com is likely to send decent mortgage traffic.

Greg C.
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Most of your comments are from net-advertising-savy pros. I'm not, but I find this topic of interest. I got here from Digg if that helps. I'm aghast that I may be costing some small business a boatload of money when I get to the same site several different ways through searches that are slight variations of each other. I've been around a long time, but I don't make a living with the nets and never felt any compunction about clicking the same ad several times if it took me somewhere interesting or just looked cool. More to the point, is there some way I could be a more responsible consumer of web advertising? Anyone who's been around knows that the web is full of geek etiquette, but I don't believe I've ever seen this discussed. Thanks

Art Reisman
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

We use google quite a bit. About 3 years ago we were dabbling with content ads and within one week we saw a 500 percent rise in clicks with no corresponding increase in leads. It was before our product was well known and the content advertising was the main source of people hitting our web site. Simple math told us something was wrong, people were clicking our ads like rabid dogs with no interest in or product.


We tried over and over to present this data to google support and explain that this had to be fraud, we got the standard line that they have extensive fraud prevention and fraud was impossible. I am so glad to see other people speaking out about the problems with content advertising, it is obviously in google's best interest to lead the way and come up with better targeted content ads in the long run, but until it hits their bottom line with lost revenue why should they do anything ?

In fairness I have not gone back and done any in depth investigations like the author. But I don't don't his findings.




We discontinued our content advertising ,and have stuck with search engine advertising which seems to work.

-art
www.netequalizer.com

Andras
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Good points. I think that a couple more may be in order:

1) When I have specific keywords in my campaign, why can I search google for those keywords and not see any ads in my search results? Is it that I'm not bidding enough? If nobody else has ads on those pages, then why isn't my bid high enough? Seriously, I'd love to have someone explain how that works.

2) When Google will turn off peoples adsense accounts for not having content that is appropriate, or that doesn't follow with their guidelines, why can't they kill off all the damn parking / linkfarm sites?

Rick Strahl
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

@WebWork - yes! The ability to pick where you want to advertise would be a big improvement so you can pick the sites you want to be seen on and target your content.

Unfortunately I think that would pretty much mean nobody advertises on anything but big, known sites and that would kill off the the content network completely.

@Andras
>> When Google will turn off peoples adsense accounts for not having content that is appropriate, or that doesn't follow with their guidelines, why can't they kill off all the damn parking / linkfarm sites? <<

Simple: It's all in the $$$ that Google makes of this scam. No incentive for them to kill off this lucrative avenue.

@Re: Link farms not being evil: I'm simply not convinced from people that try to sell the idea of link farms bringing customers. In some rare cases maybe but overall it reeks of gaming the system.

Fraud prevention that Google *claims* is in place without oversight by some third party is hardly worth a shit. Just because a big corporation CLAIMS something is (Do no Evil) doesn't mean they actually work that way. This is a shady area where Google is maybe not being fraudulent, but they can easily look the other way and claim they're not doing anything wrong. I think that's exactly what's happening here... Seems to me the comments from most people here are backing up that claim rather convincingly given the minmal ROI that the content network provides.

But again without anybody overseeing what Google does exactly, the policies and adjustments we're all just guessing in the dark. Google is Big Brother in this matter and if you use them you just have to trust them...

London chat room guy
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Google are the most arrogant organisation I've ever had to misfortune to deal with, I applied to use Adsense on one of my sites a few months ago, they refused my site but wouldn't tell me why giving a canned answer that described it as being one of about a dozen different reasons. I made adjustments and tried to follow it up, they simply never returned any of my emails.

I can't understand why it's taken Microsoft so long to fully launch a viable alternative to AdSense/AdWords, Google have had a monopoly on this for too long.

James
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Not sure why everyone hates domain parking pages - With my music site, the cheapest conversions actually come from parking pages, and not search or content network.

For my dating offers, conversions are also a lot cheaper on content network. Just learn how to manage it properly, and you can do well.

CFA Level 1
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

How did you track the referrals for the adwords clicks?

aaa
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

BRAVO!!!!

Wonderful post, its great to see someone speak out what many of us publishers really think.

We are usually so isolated as publishers or advertisers that its rare to see a comprehensive assault on the black box of Google.

I sure hope this is the beginning of change.

Jonathan
April 08, 2008

# The Content Network Sucks

Amen to the whole disabling the content ads. Site targeted is the way to go (aside from search that is). In fact, there are tools out there to even help you find sites that are highly relevant to your search terms and then to use their content ads.

StE
April 08, 2008

# Nobody's mentioned StumbleUpon!

Rick, at this point I must interject. Have you encountered StumbleUpon yet? They have a unique service. First of all, you must understand what stumbleupon is and how the community operates. It is, put most simply, a community that categorizes (tags) and comments on websites. They have a toolbar (unobtrusive, not remotely adware-ish) which allows users to instantly tag and comment on any given webpage.

Most importantly, they have a "stumble" button which acts as a targetted website recomendation service, based on the user interests specified. While one may at first suspect that it would be bombarded with spam and the like, I've found that the recomendation engine does, from time to time, turn up some very relevant content.

Most importantly for me, I use stumbleupon to keep track of websites of worth thus promoting my ever-scatterbrained lifestyle.

So where am I going with this? Well they have the ability to submit links into the recomendation system and promote them with any given ammount of money (paypal fundable). You can get down and specific such as your targetted age, tags, country, and even the time of day which you want to propogate your link.

Check out stumbleupon campaigns, let me know what you think: www.stumbleupon.com/ads/

Sincerely,
StE

patrick
April 08, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

i came across this on digg with the title "half of google adwords traffic is from worthless link farms." I know the story clarifies things, but the title is very deceiving. the content network on google is completely different from the search network. google adwords search advertising is a very effective marketing platform that works for a variety of businesses. content advertising is often looked at as a way to drive additional inexpensive traffic, with the understanding that it does not convert that well. an advertiser is clearly given the choice to opt out of the content network if they so choose. you are also able to restrict your ads from showing on certain websites and this is obviously something you should be doing for all of these supposed "linkfarms" you're talking about.

Dave
April 09, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

I am a user of the Google News updates where I have a keyword & any news with that keyword is sent to me by email as a link to a site.

That too generates probably 50% links to link-farms. This is hurting Google's reputation when it is the one sending me the rubbish links - if it can't even filter the link farms out of it's own news feed then it shows that it just doesn't care about the amount of garbage out there.

Maurice
April 09, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...


well i allways opt out of the content network

NateDog
April 09, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Wow. This is a prime example of the dangers of the internet. This guy who tries to come off as an expert doesn't know what the hell he's talking about. He certainly doesn't know how to use adwords. Adwords right now gives you a ton of control and a ton of tools to see EXACTLY what domains are sending you traffic, how much it's costing you, how the traffic is converting, plus it allows you to block any domain. It's good to see so many clueless advertisers like this guy because it means the rest of us that actually take the time to use the tools properly have a leg up. The title should be changed to "Stupidy still rampant amung so-called internet advertising experts".

Jeff Limpert
April 09, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Thanks for brining this up. It certainly touched a nerve and generated a lot of good feedback that will help a lot of us newbies.

My wife and I launched a tiny public service web site yesterday and set up an adwords account to see if it would generate traffic. I threw another $300 of “owner’s equity” into the project to pay for advertising and darned if Google didn’t start to burn it at the max rate :-) Opps... <g> Just like you (Rick) noticed too.

I throttled the bid back to $0.01 per click for ½ day and didn’t see any action even though, as a couple of others said, there is no competition for most of our key words. So, this morning I boosted it by 10x to $0.10 per click and am getting about 2 clicks per hour. It seems like if there is no competition we should be getting more impressions than I see.

You and a lot of the other people posting here have given us a good idea of what to watch for and what we can expect.

- Jeff

Doug
April 09, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

And this is news why? This has been know for several years now. Buyer beware.

Hubbers
April 09, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Good post it goes on a bit and doubles back on itself but I learnt a lot from the replies.

I tried and failed with Adsense before Xmas which is when you think a retail site would thrive. My basic issue was that I sell bangles and my conversion rate was too low to completely cover the cost of the advertising.

After reading all of the comments above I might give it another go.

TimR
April 09, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

I see so many talking about switching off content (which is enabled by default when setting up an Adwords campaign), Kevin J mentioned that there should be an opt-in feature. As Jonathan mentioned briefly, there is such an option.
Formerly called a site targeted campaign (as opposed to a keyword targeted campaign), this has recently been renamed placement-targeted.
Creation of a campaign of this type is simple, you plunk in some keywords relevant to where you'd like to advertise and Adwords generates a list of those sites. It also lists whether you can use text, image or video ads on each specific site and lists the formats (ad sizes) available for that site.

Just allowing content to be enabled with no attempt at controlling where your ads go is asking for trouble. The only thing worse than that for "bend over and let Google have at ya" factor, would be turning on Google's budget optimizer. Roflmao, here's my wallet Google, take what you need.

neliason
April 09, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

I have done some advertising with AdSense but did not find that I got many conversions. What I really found surprising was how shallow the visits were for people who did click on the ads. The ads I placed were what I would consider fairly well targeted. I was surprised at the number of people who would click on the ad and only visit one page.

I too have wondered who it is that clicks on ads. I certainly dont click on very many.

Anne Haynes
April 09, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

First you mean commenter’s, take some deep breaths and chill! It’s good to have posts like this, so the new folks can learn and the savvy ones can comment. For those who’ve read all the comments, Brandon and Marc stand out as people to contact for more detailed help.<br>

All the comments are right on, but remember the content network on Google has more features to control quality of traffic. I wouldn’t change all the keywords from broad to phrase and exact until you’ve tested all three conditions on the same word. <br>

Now, some things that haven’t been mentioned:<br><br>

Landing page optimization is essential to increase conversions. All the suggestions in the post and money in the world won’t increase your conversions without targeted and optimized landing pages. <br>

Test using dynamic insertion on your ads to make them more relevant. Make sure to deselect the option for Google to manage better performing ads. <br>

Structure of the Ad Campaigns and Ad Groups are important to increase performance; low volume ad campaigns and lots of Ad Groups.<br>

Deactivate keywords that underperform and try new words using broad, exact and phrase match for a week. Then run your search query report and optimize your AdGroups using the report. If AdWords has paused specific words, deactivate the words, Google likes to know your paying attention. Keep your Ad Group keyword volume relatively small.<br><br>

Um, I think that’s it…<br><br>

Couple Book Suggestions:
Landing Page Optimization By: Tim Ash
Web Analytics Demystified By: Eric Peterson<br><br>

I arrived here today from digg
<b>Anne Haynes</b>

JW
April 09, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

I see internet advertising as a waste as I am immune to all the ads. No matter how much advertising there is, I will purposely not click on any of it.

I used to work for a company that puts out advertising and has software for companies to build advertising campaigns. They were of the mindset to get bought out as quickly as possible by anyone. Their click-counting methods had no protections and, like Google, did not care. It was money they were collecting, not spending.

I found your blog from a mention in Scott Guthrie's blog. Essentially, word of mouth is the best link.

bongotezz
April 15, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

i found that the google ads i had were spotty at best and a total waste of time. i switched to project wonderful and never looked back. you get to decide what sites to put your ads on. sure it takes a little more work but i can target my audience and know where my ads are.

Jobette Escobanas
April 16, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Hi,

Thank you for the post like this. We are running 2 sites in adwords and worried about the existence of this link farm. I have learn a lot. Can you please tell me how to get the URL's (link farm URL) that display our advertisement?

To all readers and commentators,
Can you recommend a site where I could begin advertisement.

Glen Barnes
April 18, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

"Another 10% or so doesn't have referring links at all so I can't track the source which is also pretty suspicious."

This is pretty standard for most incoming links. Referring information can get stripped in a number of ways and it is not necessarily a scam if it is stripped.

Steve
April 26, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Rick,

The other day bought a Google ad word, 18 cents. It's the name of a large business network site that we have a product for (works with), but in no way compete with. No other companies but theirs showed up when Googling them (very odd), and now I think I know why.

Today the minimum bid is $10. It is as though they learned of our ad word purchase in 1 day, bid it through the roof, and we cannot compete with their deep pockets. Collusion with Google? Free market? Normal way Google does business?

Hendrawan
May 07, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

I think it's related to your keyword selection. I'm an adwords user too and I get quite a decent traffic along with sales growth.

Dunhill Dogs
June 15, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Hi Guys,
I heard Shopping.com is paying a decent PPC than Google. This MFA can be replaced only by changing the advertising method PPC to Pay Per Impression.

Sites like paypopup, textlinkads have this payper impression program.

Dmitry
June 15, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Hello. I have a friend whose website business needs more exposure on the internet, and I would like to help him out. Can you direct me towards any materials, online courses, books or websites that can teach me how to do this? dmirus@hotmail.com

Angi
September 05, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

I'm laughing at the complaints for Adword bids at $5.00. Industries make a difference and I can tell you in the one I'm in our bids range from $15 to $75 per click depending on geographical area! However, one click can bring in thousands of dollars and it's still a cheaper form of advertising than yellow pages. (You'd faint if you heard THEIR prices and cost per transaction!) We had a hemorrhage of advertising $$ and turned off the content network. I've had to turn to a PPC consultant because I realized it takes too many hours/day to truly analyze such a campaign and mistakes are too costly. While we're still developing our organic listings, PPC is essential.

michelle
November 01, 2008

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

Your story is quite interesting to me but probably not in the ways you are expecting... You are simply not utilizing the control Google HAS given you over the content network. As a professional PPC manager, fully 99% of the clients I work with have no idea there is a fundamental difference between these two networks.

First you have to create different keyword lists. Then you need different ads - legitimate traffic on the content network will not be attracted to the same ads that you can get away with on the search network, where people are already looking for you. Then you need to USE the tools that allow you to choose exactly where you want your ads to show. You can go broad and just whack out entire types of site using a simple tab selection system that Google provides, or you can pick and choose exactly where you want your ads to show using placement targeted ads and IMAGE ads to boot.

The content network is a goldmine of CHEAP traffic, but you have to dig around and find the control mechanisms or else Google wins that game.

john brughman
August 28, 2010

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

hi,

google adword is still the most efective ads network, compared with FB ads for example. adwords reach better targeted visitors or readers.

Punam
December 19, 2013

# re: Google AdSense Advertising - eeech...

All of You can join RYMIYL ADMEDIA (http://www.rymiyl.com) which is the best alternative of google adsense.
They accept all traffic from all over the world for all languages sites. They accept adult and non-adult both websites. Their payment options are also very nice. This company (Rymiyl Admedia) is Indian based company.
Just join and start earning of money as a publisher...................
 

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