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AdSense having problems with the competitive ad filter

For the last month or so, publishers have been rumbling that perhaps the competitive ad filter isn’t working as well as it has previously.

This seems to be an issue particularly for publishers blocking “Made for AdSense” sites – spammy sites using AdWords to drive traffic to their sites, with those sites often running Google AdSense or Yahoo Publishe Network Ads. A publisher sees an ad running on their site via AdSense, yet when he or she goes and tries to add the URL to th AdSense competitive ad filter, a warning is displayed that it is a duplicate entry and the URL is already blocked… but obviously not if the ads are still showing up on the site.

One possibility is that the way the competitive ad filter works has changed, particularly with subdomains. So while MFAsite.com would block everything from that site, perhaps a publisher now needs to be inclusive of the subdomain – ie. adding www.MFAsite.com or subdomain.MFAsite.com. Then of course, some publishers ar speculating that the reason behind it is much more nefarious – specifically that Google is over-riding the competitive ad filter to bump up the number of ads shown for some advertisers.

The problem seems to be affecting advertisers whether they have opted out of CPM ads or not, so the problem isn’t an issue of perhaps CPM ads somehow over-riding the competitive ad filter if an advertiser is specifically targeting a publisher’s site.

And the problem also isn’t exclusive to how the publisher determines the destination URL to add to the competitive ad filter – some publishers are adding the display URL, some are using the AdSense preview tool, and others are copying the complete AdSense URL, and grabbing the URL that way.

AdSenseAdvisor posted on a WebmasterWorld thread on the topic a few days ago, and it seems to suggest that the competitive ad filter issue could be a bug, rather than something deliberate.

Sorry, guys. This one is entirely my bad. It’s not that AdSense dropped the ball, it’s that I dropped the ball.
We’ve been looking into it, but I haven’t provided updates because I’ve been out of the country. I apologize for not giving you all a heads up.

I’m going to message a few of you privately to get more specifics if you don’t mind providing them (for troubleshooting use only) so we can determine if there is an issue on our end.

One quick question for all of you: what method are you using to determine the destination URLs you’re adding to your filter?

Sorry again,

ASA

There hasn’t been an update since then, although publishers are still reporting the issue is ongoing.

What types of issues are publishers having – is it affecting URLs you have added recently, or ones that have been added for quite some time? And how are you determining the advertiser’s URL?

I’ll keep you posted!  Please follow me on Twitter for updates on the competitive ad filter issues, and sign up for the RSS feed for the latest.

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4 comments to AdSense having problems with the competitive ad filter

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