July 31, 2005
Next Google AdSense Optimization Webinar Scheduled
Google AdSense will be hosting another Optimization webinar on Tuesday August 2, 2005 at 5pm PST.
An hour-long seminar on AdSense implementation techniques that can boost revenue. The program will cover ways publishers can use ad formats, colors, and positioning – as well as new AdSense features – to improve the performance of AdSense. After the presentation, there will be an opportunity to ask questions during an open Q&A session.The first optimization seminar contained some interesting tidbits such as the top three ad units, talk about expansion of AdSense into additional languages and insight into the Premium Publisher Program.
Don't forget that the online portion of the webinar is visual only. You need to phone into the number supplied in your registration details in order to hear the audio portion of the webinar... and the audio is where all the good stuff is :) The call is toll free for US/Canada.
It will be interesting to see if they will have featured advertisers participating as they did in the first optimization webinar.
Registration is required to receive all the event details, you can register here by clicking on the enroll button and entering your details.
I will see you there, as I will be on the lookout for new tidbits to report on!
July 26, 2005
Contextual ad panel at San Jose SES includes Yahoo! & AdSense
Earning From Search & Contextual Ads This session looks at the way publishers can generate revenue by carrying search results and contextual ads offered by major networks. Learn about some programs out there and tips on getting more from the ads you carry.The speaker list is what is going to get people most excited, though.
Will Johnson, Yahoo! Search MarketingYes, Yahoo! has confirmed a speaker for the contextual advertising panel for publishers at SES San Jose, in addition to Gokul from AdSense and myself. I know everyone is anxiously awaiting any news about the new Yahoo! Publisher Network and their contextual advertising product to rival AdSense. This session is not-to-be-missed if you are a publisher watching for every bit of news about YPN.
Gokul Rajaram, Group Product Manager, Google AdSense, Google Inc.
Jennifer Slegg, Owner, JenSense.com
The session takes place on Monday, August 8th from 11:00am - 12:30pm. The presentations will be followed by a Q&A of audience questions, so if you are attending, be sure to bring your best questions.
I will also be on the Copyright & Trademarks panel on Wednesday.
Registration is here, and your SES pass also includes admission to the the much-talked-about Google Dance on Tuesday night, held right at the Googleplex, not to mention the other parties (such as Yahoo!) and events held during the conference.
I suspect the publisher could have gotten away with it for longer if he/she hadn't used the rectangle, and perhaps went with the small one-ad cube instead.
July 21, 2005
Maintenance downtime for AdSense accounts on July 22, 2005
Hi folks – I just wanted to let you know that tomorrow, July 22, 2005, between approximately 9 PM – 11 PM Pacific Time we will be conducting scheduled AdSense maintenance. During this time, you may not be able to access the ‘My Accounts’ tab of your account.So don't worry, this is scheduled maintenance, and AdWords will also be affected.
Your earnings will continue to accrue during this timeframe, and will appear in your reports after the maintenance is complete.
AdSense reports webinar review - July 21, 2005
I attended today's AdSense webinar on the new reporting interface, and as I hoped, I picked up a few new tidbits about AdSense.
First, for the reporting specifics, the new channels search box feature allows publishers to search for specific channels, allowing search by both URL string and ad channel name.
Also, you can now view impression data on your channels both by page view impressions and ad unit impressions. This will make it easier to check your data on a page level as well as ad unit performance level.
During the Q&A, some interesting questions were raised, along with some publisher feedback.
Tracking multiple ad units on a single page was brought up, and whether there would be the possibility of an added reporting feature that would specify which ad unit on a page performed the best. Currently you can only track individual ad unit performance on a page by using individual custom channels on each ad unit on the page.
Another question was asked about enabling the login time to be extended beyond the current 30 minutes. Rob, an AdSense product manager mentioned this would require a backend change to do this, so it wasn't an easy thing to change.
Another publisher questioned about the change made to the 7 days report. Formerly, the 7 days report included today plus the previous six days. After the interface change, this was switched to only showing the previous 7 days, and not showing the current day's earnings at all. Rob stated they have also heard feedback about this change, and I would guess it was from people who used this as their perferred report, but wanted to see today's earnings in it. So this could be a change rollback that publishers could see in the next update.
Another issue was raised with increasing the size of the channel selector box. Despite the redesign, it still only shows 4 at a time, and it can be a lot of scrolling to select a handful of channels out of 75. I would love to see this box increased to ten or fifteen rows, if not more. It would do wonders for usability. They confirmed they are looking into making the channel selector more user friendly for publishers.
AdSense also announced they will be working on more optimization techniques for publishers this summer, and it sounds as though they will be focusing on specific publisher areas as well. We know they are currently working on specific optimization for forums, so it will be interesting to see what other areas they focus on. I am betting blogs will be another area.
Rob also confirmed that when it comes to image ads versus text ads, they will always serve the ad that will make the publisher the most amount of money. It was requested that publishers be able to track them individually as well, so publishers could compare earnings of images versus text ads, and then make usage decisions based upon that.
Another publisher asked about the use of third party trackers. Rob admitted he was not familiar with them, but there are no plans for Google to release any reporting based upon outbound links (what ads visitors are clicking on).
The most interesting part was the use of RSS and it's integration into AdSense. Someone asked about the possibility of having an RSS update feed to keep publishers alerted to new changes in the AdSense program, to which Rob replied "stay tuned, i think you will be pleasantly surprised." Perhaps an Inside AdSense blog is in the works, similar to the Inside AdWords blog. However, the URL of http://adsense.blogspot.com/ still pops up a username and password request for viewing, as it has since the AdWords blog launched.
And yes, the inevitable came up... someone asked about what is being done about spam sites running AdSense. Rob replied that the quality team does work on this, and he also suggested reporting sites via the "Ads by Google" link.
All in all, it was worth the half hour to attend :) It is too bad it wasn't set up so the entire webinar took place online, I expected to listen through my computer, and didn't realize you would have to phone in order to listen to the demo and Q&A until I popped into the chat room. Since it is long distance outside of the US (although the toll free from Canada did work) it could be quite expensive for a non-US publisher to attend.
There were 50 or so people in the chat room, although there easily could have been more simply listening. And the entire Q&A was filled with questions, and it sounded like there were more that did not get answered.
Publishers sounded enthusiastic about the idea of future webinars on different topics. Who knows, you might even see yours truly as a future panelist ;) I resisted the temptation to ask a question this time, because it was more a feature request. I would like to see AdSense bump up the number of available channels from 100 to 200... hint hint :)
The "Ads by Google" spam reporting page has a new look
Clicking on the "Ads by Google" was recently announced by Matt Cutts as a way to report publishers for terms violation, and was announced shortly after by me as a way to report click fraud. Now, the page you land on when clicking "Ads by Google" has a new look.
Missing are the advertiser links which you can check the box for. And the actual report layout has now changed.
You can choose:
General feedback for Google
Appropriateness of ads
Web page showing these ads
Report a violation
Report a violation could by used for any number of reasons.
One downfall to the new layout is that publishers cannot easily click the "Ads by Google" to easily grab the URL of an advertiser they wish to filter, since they are no longer shown on the end page. And the preview tool does not allow cutting and pasting of URLs in its current interface. So to get a URL to filter, a publisher must either right click the ad to extract the URL from the properties (and with it comes an increased risk of accidental clicks) or use the preview tool, then click on the advertiser URL. This will open the advertiser's page and the publisher can then cut and paste the URL from the address bar.
Since they went to the trouble of changing the layout (the first major redesign done since AdSense launched) their "report a publisher" program must be working well beyond expectations.
A warning to all AdSense publishers. It makes good business sense to dump all your cookies and take a spin around your website and see if any AdSense ad units pop up where you did not place any.
WebmasterWorld member morpheus83 happened to notice some strange behavior on his website - a mysterious 336x280 AdSense ad unit showed up on his site. An ad unit he didn't place, and one that reveals a different publisher ID than his own. But on subsequent page views, that AdSense ad unit was nowhere to be seen. But lo and behold, it eventually showed up again.
In this incidence, the offending script is:
<a href=http://www.tellafriends.com/p?ID=12345>Tell a friend</a>
<!---------- END Tellafriends.com CODE ------------>
With the new updated AdSense terms, this would put the site owner of example.com in violation of the terms, since you can only have two publisher IDs on the same page by permission from Google AdSense.
Incidentally, clicking the "Ads by Google" shows the example.com website as the site the ads appear on, rather than as being served from tellafriends.com.
An interesting - and clever - way to spam AdSense. Perhaps the new owner of tellafriends (the rumor is that it had been sold) thought there must be plenty of dead websites that webmasters were no longer maintaining, and this trick would go unnoticed for some time.
And just incase you think this would be a clever way to spam AdSense, it is clearly AGAINST the AdSense terms to do what tellafriends is doing.
July 20, 2005
Yahoo Publisher Network updates
Yahoo's chief executive officer Terry Semel commented on the future of Yahoo's contextual advertising program during Tuesday's Yahoo! q2 2005 earnings conference call. You can find the conference call archive here and the transcript here.
Search advertising is of course an equally exciting opportunity for us. We became a leading player in just 18 months ago and we see even more opportunity in this area around some of our larger initiatives.It is good to see that YPN is still a priority for Yahoo. While you wait to get your own YPN account, you can ogle the ads on a few Yahoo employee blogs, namely Russ Beattie, William Reardon, Ken Rudman and Jeremy Zawodny. And if you are looking for DVDs for rent, you can spy some YPN action too :)
We have a strong road map in place for improving technologies in order to optimize relevance and matching capabilities in our core services globally. During the balance of this year, we will introduce important upgrades in areas such as advertiser and publishing self-service platforms, which we expect will substantially improve our offerings in both content match and sponsored search.
We also plan to offer new contextual targeting capabilities which would enhance our services both on Yahoo! and for small publishers throughout the Web. These initiatives are among the highest priorities within the Company and important investment in Yahoo!'s long-term growth.
And coincidentally, something hit my radar when I was looking into the www.dvd-for-rent.com site. It appears that it was suspended from the Google AdSense program. Normally when a site or publisher is suspended from AdSense, you will see a "You are not authorized to view this page" in the iframe where AdSense would normally appear. And in the archive.org version of the site, that is what appears in the Google AdSense iframe that was running on the site last year. Interesting!
Join the AdSense Reports Webinar Thursday July 21, 2005
Google AdSense is hosting a thirty minute webinar on the new reporting features launched last week. This is a followup webinar to the new publisher optimization webinar held last month.
Would you like to learn more about these changes, or ask an AdSense product manager questions about them? Please join us at 2:30 p.m. (Pacific Time) on Thursday, July 21, for the Google AdSense Reports Webinar.
You can sign up for the event here - registration is limited to 750 publishers, so register soon! This event is available in English only. Please use adsense1 if you are prompted for a password.
The "enroll" button is hidden on the right side of the page. You will receive an email confirmation. Because there are only 750 spots available in the webinar, don't delay in registering. It will be a presentation and Q&A, and once you enroll, you will receive the phone numbers for submitting any Q&A. I believe the Q&A will be limited to questions on the reporting features only.
I plan to attend the 30 minute webinar, so I will see you there!
July 14, 2005
New case study released by Google AdSense
If you like seeing what you can learn from the AdSense case studies, AdSense has released a new one today, for Medical-Coding.net. In an unusual move, AdSense has selected a much smaller-scale publisher for their latest case study.
Entrepreneur Darren Carter, M.D. created a company in 2001 to sell software and other products for medical coding and billing processes, an increasingly important task for medical practices of all kinds. His company, Medical Coding.Net, is today a wholly owned subsidiary of Provistas, Inc., which provides Medicare compliance solutions to hospital and physician-practice clients. Medical Coding.Net receives a qualified professional audience of about 500 unique visitors each day.
The CTR listed is a "healthy 3.6%" although it would have been interesting to know the variations between the forum CTR and the rest of the site, since highly viewed forums can definitely skew the CTR. Carter comments that he is "very pleasantly surprised at how well targeted" the forum ads are, something that some webmasters complain of.
New user interface for AdSense publishers
Google AdSense has retired their old user interface for a brand new - and very slick - new UI. Released today as part of their major rolling update today (along with the new terms & policies I discussed earlier) the new UI has been praised by many publishers.
When you login, you are greated with a reports overview page which includes your today's earnings in a nice big green font near the top. Directly underneath that is a link to payment history, which will be convenient for those eagle-eyed watchers who want to know the instant their payments are approved.
And below that is a nice quick overview of aggregate stats for both AdSense for Content as well as AdSense for Search, so they can now both be viewed easily from a single page. You can also custom change the date for this overview, which includes today, yesterday, last 7 days, this month and last month.
There are also quick links to a variety of frequently-used reports for both search and content, with html version links as well as download csv version links. The following are available as quick reports for AdSense for Content as well as Search:
This month, by day
This month, by channel & day
Last month, by day
Last month, by channel & day
You can also select tabs for more detailed options of Advanced Reports - Ad Performance and Advanced Reports - Search Performance, both which resemble the old style reports page. But now you only see the channel selections if you specifically select the "channel data" radio button, otherwise you will not see the channel boxes at all.
There are color scheme changes throughout the user interface, and the infamous "AdSense blue" has been replaced by a lighter version of the color.
A few unfortunate glitches did occur. The AdSense stat checkers (automated third-party programs that alert you to updated earnings) broke with the change of the new UI. Second, the new fancy Getting Started with AdSense demo that was just released will need to be changed to reflect the new UI changes.
Overall, the new user interface is a welcome surprise to many publishers... and most of those who do not like it will probably like it more once their AdSense revenue checkers have been updated to reflect the changes ;)
AdSense updates their terms & policies
AdSense updated their terms as well as their policies today, July 14, 2005. And here is your complete update and rundown of all the changes, and what they mean to you.
First, let's deal with the terms.
The first change is in the bolded capitalized text immediately following "Google AdSenseTM Online Standard Terms and Conditions". The last line in the section has a new clause added to it, which is bolded below.
. IF YOU DO NOT ACCEPT THESE TERMS AND CONDITIONS, PLEASE DO NOT REGISTER FOR [b]OR PARTICIPATE IN[/b] THE GOOGLE ADSENSE ONLINE PROGRAM.
1. Program Participation
Some changes have been made to this section, partially in response to the new AdSense for Feeds that is currently in beta.
The following clause has been removed:
(each a "Site") using Google's advertising serving and search technology
And in its place, the following regarding AdSense for Feeds has been added:
and the Atom, RSS, or other feeds distributed through such Web site(s) (each such Web site or feed, a "Site"). For the avoidance of doubt, any reference in this Agreement or the Program Policies to an individual “Web page”, “Web site”, “Web site page” or the like that is part of the Site will also mean feeds distributed through such Web site
2. Implementation and Operation of Ads and Search Results.
This section has a few small changes, the first which is bolded in the following sentence:
All content and Site-based Ads (and Ads served in response to end user clicks on and queries entered into Links, if any) shall be grouped by Google and displayed with Links (where applicable) to end users of the Site(s) as ad units (such groups of Ads and/or Links collectively referred to as "Ad Units") in standard formats as offered generally by Google from time to time, as may be described in the FAQ.
The second removes the bolded section of the following paragraph:
In addition, You agree that while You may display more than one (1) Ad Unit on each Site Web page, You shall not display any Ad Unit on a page that contains Ads associated with another Google AdSense customer (e.g., Your Web hosting company), unless authorized to do so by Google or such other AdSense customer, if authorized.
This helps clarify the section of the terms that has been confusing, and gives AdSense the ultimate control over where ads by more than one publisher appear on the same page during a single page view. Previously, as long as you had permission of the other publisher whose ad unit(s) also appeared on the same page at the same time, you were permitted to do it. This change now means that you must seek Google's approval before two publisher's ad units can be placed on the same page together during the same page view. Many freebie web hosts run AdSense on the hosted sites, but also grant permission to their clients to place their own AdSense on the same page. Now, those clients would need to seek permission from Google to do so.
Lastly in this section, the following in bold has been added:
If You have elected to receive content or Site-based Ads, You further agree not to display on any Serviced Page any non-Google content-targeted advertisement(s).
6. Termination; Cancellation.
An additional requirement has been added to the sentence regarding the number of valid clicks a publisher must receive in order to remain an active publisher. The addition is in bold:
In addition, Google reserves the right to terminate without notice any account that has not generated a sufficient number of valid clicks on or valid impressions of Ads (as measured by Google) for a period of two (2) months or more.
This has been added due to the new CPM ads. Theoretically, a publisher could be earning money while not receiving a single click due to the CPM ads, so it makes sense to change the terms to reflect this new ad format.
Another change has been made to reflect the new CPM ads.
You shall receive a payment related to the number of valid clicks on and/or valid impressions of Ads displayed in connection with Your Site(s) as determined by Google for its participants in the Program.
15. Information Rights
Another small change has been made to this section, again to reflect the new CPM ads, and the fact that Google needs to share publisher URLs with advertisers to select from in order to choose sites for their ads to appear via the site targeting CPM ads. The change to the following is in bold:
Google disclaims all responsibility, and will not be liable to You, however, for any disclosure of that information by any such third party. Google may share non-personally-identifiable information about You, including Site URLs, Site-specific statistics, and similar information collected by Google, with advertisers, business partners, sponsors, and other third parties.
And now on to the Policy changes.
A small change has been made to the wording.
If you have elected to receive contextually-targeted ads, you can make sure that your advertising space is always being used effectively, either by targeted Google ads, or by your own choice of content by specifying an image or ad server of your choice.
Previously, the term content-based was in the place of contextually targeted.
A change has been made to this section, with the addition made in bold.
. AdSense participants are not allowed to alter any portion of the ad code or change the layout, behaviour, targeting, or delivery of ads for any reason.
And that's all folks :)
July 10, 2005
Premium Publisher Perks from AdSense
When you have 20 million page views per month, or 5 million searches (and some of these requirements are lowered for other languages and countries) you qualify for the Premium Publisher program from Google AdSense. However, there has not been much said about the less-obvious premium perks, leaving a lot of mystery surrounding just what premium publishers get that regular publishers are missing out on.
Some of the "perks" premium publishers get include many alternative styles and sizes of ad units from the ones the regular publishers have access to. And many of the new features publishers have received were first tested by the premium publishers.
The official list published on the AdSense site includes these features for premium publishers:
- Google sales representative and account manager
- Flexible ad formats
- Advanced filtering
- Optimization assistance
- Additional monetization options
- Enhanced technical support
Phoebe Ho, a member of the Google AdSense Optimization Team answered a question about the premium program versus the regular publisher program.
And then for your second question regarding the premium program, they do have a few requirements that you kind of had mentioned. And they do have a few different features that are available to them.The publisher then asked for clarification:
Basically, there's a process of kind of agreeing from both parties in a contract and making an agreement both from your side and saying how much percentage of the site might have ads and also on our side.
So I'm assuming that it's just a custom rev share contract? It changes the revenue. It would make a different amount of money than with regular AdSense because with regular AdSense we don't control the percentage of the rev share. So premium AdSense, from what I'm understanding from your answer, premium AdSense allows rev share negotiation?Phoebe then replied that yes, it is correct.
It is a nice little insight for those working towards premium publisher level, or those who just want to know more about these often talked about perks, especially the super-secretive revenue share and earnings terms for premium publishers.
Plans for AdSense to continue expanding into additional languages
Google AdSense currently supports 18 languages and they plan to continue releasing new languages for AdSense. Currently, AdSense is available for websites in Chinese (simplified), Japanese, Danish, Korean, Dutch, Norwegian, English, Polish, Finnish, Portuguese, French, Russian, German, Spanish, Hungarian, Swedish, Italian and Turkish. Additionally, AdSense for Search can be added to sites in the above languages, as well as Czech, Slovak, and Traditional Chinese.
During the recent AdSense webinar, a question was posed by Vlad Spanyo from Moldova.org about the possibility of AdSense being released in additional languages, specifically Romanian. Kim Malone, Director of AdSense, answered this question.
Well, our goal is to have AdSense in every language on earth. So we are – we try to launch a couple of languages every quarter. So I think it will be, unfortunately, a few quarters before we manage to launch it.It is nice to see that AdSense is continuing to launch AdSense in additional languages. And will be interesting to see the speculation of what languages will be released in the coming quarters.
You can view the transcript here, about half way down the document.
Top three ad unit sizes according to AdSense
One of the juicy tidbits to come out of the Google AdSense webinar for new publishers is the comment by Phoebe Ho of the AdSense Optimization Team.
The next optimization tip that I'd like to focus on is ad format. â€¦ You see our best performing ad format. It's the large rectangle, 336x280. So the wider ad formats are doing better than the other ones and the reason is that they actually take up fewer lines. And so with every additional line, you have a chance of losing that interested user.No real surprises, but an official confirmation of what the three top performing ad unit sizes are, something that AdSense has not said publicly before.
So the wider formats do best so specifically, the top three formats are the 336x280 that you see on the page; the 300x250 medium rectangle; and then the 160x600 wide skyscraper.
So to recap, the top three are:
- 336x280 large rectangle (four ads)
- 300x250 medium rectangle (four ads)
- 160x600 wide skyscraper (five ads)
You can view the transcript here, scroll down to the 13th paragraph.
There has been lots of speculation about the best performing AdSense ad unit sizes, and the 336x280 has always been the best ad unit size in my own personal experience. But even the best performing ad unit size will not perform well on a site if it does not suit the page layout.
This sounds like something that should be added to the AdSense Optimization Tips page.
Webinar for new Google AdSense publishers
Google AdSense sponsored a special event for a group of new AdSense publishers on June 30, 2005, bringing in several of the AdSense Team members, as well as three experienced publishers. The three publishers talked about their personal experiences with AdSense and answered questions and provided personal feedback on questions submitted by new publishers.
Along with the discussion, Google also provided various slides and screenshots to accompany the webinar. AdSense has placed the webinar transcript online for those who want to read it, and while the majority of the information is on the level of the new-to-AdSense publisher, there were a few juicy tidbits I will be blogging about in individual entries, so I can discuss them in greater detail.
And for a different perspective, GeekZone also blogged about the experience as one of the featured publishers.
July 08, 2005
New AdSense demos added to the support site, among other things
While grabbing some information from the support site, I noticed that some new items have been added to help newer publishers start their journey with Google AdSense.
The first demo is Getting Started With AdSense Demo and covers the basic basics, such as agreeing to the terms, how to use the AdSense control panel, how to use different ad styles and more. While older publishers likely will not find anything of interest, it is a pretty fancy multimedia demo for those who have just signed up for AdSense.
The second is the Payment Demo, which covers the basics of getting paid. It is also in the same multimedia style as the Getting Started demo.
Something new has been added to the left navigation bar as well. Report a Policy Violation has been added, although it gives an alternative way to report from the one Matt Cutts announced at the WebmasterWorld conference.
To bring a site to our attention, follow these steps:There are still no updated case studies, and the news stories are still lost back in March 2005. It would be good for publishers to have some new case study examples to examine and start testing the ideas from. As an example, the blended ad technique wasn't widely used by many until the PetPlace.com case study was released.
Draft a new email. If possible, please use the email address currently associated with your AdSense account
Write 'AdSense Policy Violation' as the subject of your message
Please include all of the following in the body of your message:
The URL of the violating website
A description of the violation
The specific location of the violation, if applicable
Send this email to email@example.com
It is nice to see the support cater to the new publishers, and I am sure it probably saves them a lot of support time from people asking "When do I get my check?"
Changing of the guard for AdSenseAdvisor at WebmasterWorld
AdSenseAdvisor (aka ASA) is the Google AdSense representative who contributes to the AdSense forum at WebmasterWorld. And today ASA has announced that he/she is stepping down and a new Googler will be taking the role of ASA.
While ASA has not been a very active poster, his/her presence has been felt and has helped many community members with their AdSense problems.
Thank you to AdSenseAdvisor for the many contributions since joining in 2003. And we are anxiously awaiting to see if the new ASA can give AdWordsAdvisor a run for his/her money in the Google rep post count race!
And those watching the race between AdWordsAdvisor and GoogleGuy, AWA is trailing by only 12 posts as of this entry ;)
Let the games begin!
July 07, 2005
AdSense offering forum optimization for select publishers
VBWebmaster forums administrator Joeychgo has been contacted by AdSense to participate in optimization testing on the forum to determine the best placement.
We are currently working to improve the performance of Google ads on forum sites and would like to invite you to participate in our forums optimization study. Participation in the study will include the option for you to customize your AdSense code to rotate through several positions in your forums in order to find the best performing position(s). If you are comfortable with modifying your forum code, you can also extend the rotation to another targeting option we are beta testing for forums.There are some optimization techniques I discovered while running AdSense on a forum, including placement after the first post in a thread had an increased CTR, and running image ads along with the regular AdSense text ads.
Because forums have a traditionally lower CTR than regular content pages, it will be interesting to follow this and see what optimization techniques work the best for these forum optimization beta testers.
The Good, Bad & Ugly of AdSense & ContentMatch
Mark Glaser of the Online Journalism Review (OJR) looks at The good, bad and ugly of contextual ads from Google, Yahoo.
Embarrassing juxtapositions have plagued contextual ads on media sites and blogs. But they can fit well with commercially focused content. Here's a deeper look at the pros and cons of AdSense and ContentMatch.
I was among the sources interviewed for the piece, as was John Battelle and Jason Calacanis, among others. He focuses on both the good and bad things about Google AdSense, ContentMatch and Yahoo's upcoming Yahoo Publisher Network. Definitely worth a read.
July 06, 2005
Does click fraud pay? Not if you are Auctions Expert International
MediaPost reports that the amount of money Google won from the Auctions Expert International lawsuit is $75,000. Interestingly, this is significantly higher than the estimated $50,000 Auctions Expert International actually defrauded Google out of by hiring people to click their ads.
GOOGLE QUIETLY WON A $75,000 judgment in May in a click fraud case against former AdSense participant Auctions Expert International and its two founders.Technically, Auctions Expert is out the $50,000 they earned through fraudulent clicks, the extra $25,000 added to the judgment, as well as site related costs, including what they paid to the actual ad clickers. It was an expensive lesson learned by Sergio Morfin and Alexei Leonov of Auctions Expert.
Google's lawsuit, filed late last year in Santa Clara County Superior Court in California, charged that the Houston-based Auctions Expert "artificially and/or fraudulently" generated clicks on the ads Google served to the company's Web site. Auctions Expert, like other AdSense publishers, received a share of pay-per-click revenue when Web visitors clicked on certain ads on the Auctions Expert page.
Google alleged in legal papers that Auctions Expert hired dozens of people to click on the site's ads, to the tune of at least $50,000.
Whether Google will see the money or not is another issue. They won the default judgment because Auctions Expert International did not respond to the lawsuit.
Is this the last lawsuit against click frauding publishers that we will see? Likely not. And click fraud artists have more to worry about than just having their account suspended and losing their 30-60 days of AdSense earnings. They should also be worried about a potential lawsuit.
July 04, 2005
Reporting publisher click fraud to Google just got easier
A JenSense exclusive! The AdSense team has asked me to announce a new reporting feature, similar to the "spamreport" that Matt Cutts announced at the WebmasterWorld conference last month, but this time, the purpose of the reporting feature is for reporting publishers engaging in click fraud.
If you know of a publisher engaging in click fraud, you can now report them anonymously by clicking the "Ads by Google" on that publisher's site, and then including the term "invalid clicks" in the comment field. And if you do not wish to stay anonymous, you can include your email address as well.
So what exactly is an invalid click? Google includes an "invalid click" definition on their AdSense support site.
Invalid clicks are clicks generated through prohibited methods. These prohibited methods include but are not limited to: repeated manual clicks, or the use of robots, automated clicking tools, or other deceptive software.It seems that AdSense is taking a significant step up in catching as much publisher click fraud as possible. Click fraud has once again hit the news, with the recent lawsuit Click Defense (who, ironically, continue to advertise via Adwords) filed against Google.
And it also serves as a reminder of something David Kramer, a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati who represents Google said in February following the lawsuit Google filed (and subsequently won a default judgment on) against former AdSense publisher Auction Experts International.
The suit won't be Google's last to combat click fraud, said Palo Alto attorney David Kramer, who represents the company.So what kinds of things should be reported with the new "invalid clicks" tag instead of the "spamreport" tag? Click bot activity (programs that automatically click AdSense ads), click rings (where a group of publishers band together for the sole purpose of clicking each others ads, usually on a rotation basis), explicitly inciting clicks (often by sending emails asking for clicks, requesting clicks before another action - such as a download - can be done, or requesting clicks in a private area of the site that the mediabot cannot access), and hiring people to click.
Things such as "Please click our ads" listed above an AdSense ad unit would still fall under "spamreport" for being an AdSense terms/policies violation.
It could also work for advertisers who notice a high number of suspected fraudulent clicks coming from one AdSense site. They could then go to the site and report suspected fraudulent clicks, including details from their own data of why they suspect the publisher may be committing click fraud.
It is also a public move to show Google is serious about combatting this type of click fraud, and as a result, possibly increase the number of advertisers who currently opt into the content network. And it will be interesting to see if there is an increased number of publishers complaining at the WebmasterWorld AdSense forum about being suspended over the next while.
July 01, 2005
Google hit with new click fraud lawsuit
Click Defense Inc has filed a lawsuit against Google, according to Reuters.
A seller of online marketing tools said on Wednesday it sued Google Inc., charging that the Web search giant has failed to protect users of its advertising program from "click fraud," costing them at least $5 million. Click Defense Inc. filed its lawsuit, which also seeks class action status, on June 24 in U.S. District Court in San Jose, California.Click Defense claims it has detected click fraud as high as 38%, which is nearly double the commonly cited 20% click fraud rate quoted by most independent firms that track this.
So far, a Google spokeperson is only responding with "We believe the suit is without merit and we will defend ourselves against it vigorously."
"No one has fully defined when a click is 'fraudulent' versus simply a click from a poor quality source," he said. "So it is difficult to know if the firm initiating the lawsuit ... truly believes the fraud problem to be as big a deal as stated, or if they are just using the legal action for public relations."A few things struck me as unusual immediately after this lawsuit was announced. First, the company suing is a click fraud detection company, and they have suddenly received a huge amount of media attention about the very thing their product is about - click fraud. And by citing they have discovered click fraud percentages of nearly double what is commonly quoted, they are effectively advertising the fact that their product can detect nearly double the amount of click fraud that most people believe exists. And a few news articles are reporting Click Defense as a click fraud opportunist, using it as a means to publicize their product in a way that other click fraud detection companies are not.
If a Adwords advertiser reads about the click fraud lawsuit and thinks 'Yikes, I better get something that can track my clicks better and make sure I am not being hit with nearly 40% fraudulent clicks too', which of the many services would you choose to go to? I bet Click Defense has had booming business success for their click fraud detection software since they filed.
Also, Click Defense continues to advertise with Google Adwords. It certainly raises the question of why does a company continue to advertise using a service that it believes delivers 38% fraudulent clicks?
Yes, fraudulent clicks do exist, but this case strikes me as likely being more for publicity than anything else, which I probably wouldn't have thought of if this company hadn't been promoting click fraud detection software in the first place.