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Old 05-31-2007   #1
thomas68
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The Great Google Relevancy Blunder Complete With Evidence

There has been tons of complaints about Google Adwords especially about ads on content networks, so it's no wonder we have people giving up on Google, but that is not a luxury I have yet.

I have also been complaining that Google's content network's lack of relevance and seems like now I have evidence that Google is spraying our ads everywhere without care, as long as they get the money, eh?

Evidence #1:

We make CAD softwares but instead got our ads shown on "Pamela Anderson Hot Pics". A look at the arbitrages (rubbish) content also does not comes up with any relevance at all with our campaign and keywords.

Evidence #2:

ALL ADS. NO CONTENT. TOTALLY NONE. Relevance?

Evidence #3:

Under construction site, without legible words. ecnaveleR ? (alphabet reversed).

Does Google have anything so say or explain? Or is our voices too small for them to hear? Comments appreciated.
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Old 06-01-2007   #2
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You can get around this. Instead of using keywords you can use a site targeted campaign which will give you total control over where your ad appears.
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Old 06-01-2007   #3
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Nope, that's not the answer, still Google is supposed to (or the algorithm rather) look at my campaign and keywords and then decide on relevance. Not spray them without care.

The site targetting is not PPC, it's PPI.
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Old 06-01-2007   #4
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True, but you could consider it as an alternative.

I have not even bothered to touching content because of it's inability to correctly target. You can see content targeting does not work by looking at your emails in Gmail [if you have it]. When you open your inbox you can see a content ad at the top of your emails. I often have subjects in my email concerning ppc and seo yet I get ads on strange topics such as ladies lingerie - are they trying to tell me something .
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Old 06-01-2007   #5
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Do No Evil?

First I do understand your concerns and frustrations. But we need to be careful about what is being charged in your account and what is not. Google does run ads on some pretty shady looking places. Unfortunately, nobody knows which clicks from which sites are being charged and which are not. We can only tell that Google does weed out a number of clicks from sites they deem are not relevant. Currently we have to trust them to do a good job. That makes me a bit uneasy.

Solution:
Site targeting is one option, and you should be able to ask your account rep to allow you to use CPC based bids in site targeting. Google is also providing some accounts with access to content partner information. So you will have the ability to run reports and quickly identify poor performing publishers

I would recommend asking for content reporting capability if you don’t have it, set up daily reports and make part of your daily routine identifying bad publishers and adding them to your site exclusion list, conversely, identifying good publishers and site targeting them. It's not perfect and it is time consuming, but at least with Google we have the ability to do it. You don’t even have this option at MSN or Yahoo... yet.

Is google listening? Well I believe they are listening to the data. If a high %of advertisers in one vertical are site excluding certain publishers then I bet that publisher gets an in depth review. Google analytics may also provide them with information about the performance of publishers with their advertisers. Again, it does make me a bit uneasy that Google has all the data necessary to milk advertisers for all we have... lets hope they stick to the do no evil policy.

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Old 06-01-2007   #6
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As far as I know Google does not weed out clicks from sites without relevance, only clicks that is deemed to be fraudulent and yes we don't know enough.

Yes, site targetting is an option, but my opinion is that a marriage of site targetting and content network would be great. That is if Google wanted to display my ads on "pamela anderson" sites, it would let me approve that before doing so. But now the Google algorithm approves it on my behalf, and it's not doing a good job to say the least.

I do have report auto generated and in house scripts that filter it and let me know where content clicks comes from. Every day I visit these sites and add it into my negative site exclusion list. But this is passive and after the fact.

Fact is, would it be fair to say that the Google ad serving algorithm is scamming us by putting aside relevance and spraying our ads everywhere for our bucks?
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Old 06-01-2007   #7
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Google's page reader - what's this page about?

Let's not call this a scam, let's just describe it for what it is - glitches in google's ad/content matching algorithms. Painful glitches for sure, but glitches non the less.

I opened an adsense account a while ago, just so I could run ads on various webpages and see the ad business from the publishers side of things. I recommend that for any serious adwords advertiser. It's a great way to watch the matching algorithms. And yes, I've seen some pretty funny stuff.

Anyway, while there are a zillion work-arounds, the real solution is to bring this stuff to the attention of google, with the goal of getting the ad/content matching algorithms improved. At the end of the day this is a code problem - perhaps even a bug somewhere deep in google's page scanning code.

Also, it occurs to me that these algorithms may share code with the famous "Quality" algorithms (which also scans pages), in which case any fixes would kill two birds with one stone and bring *great benefits* to ads on the Search Network also!
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Old 06-01-2007   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abbottsys
Let's not call this a scam, let's just describe it for what it is - glitches in google's ad/content matching algorithms. Painful glitches for sure, but glitches non the less.
I'm not so sure its a scam... but I don't know that I'd call it a glitch either. Have you ever noticed that there haven't been many "glitches" that cost Google money, only "glitches" that make them money?
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Old 06-02-2007   #9
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Quote:
Have you ever noticed that there haven't been many "glitches" that cost Google money, only "glitches" that make them money?
Right On PPC.

I had originally thought of the title for this thread as a sexy name to solicit discussion and attention to the matter of Google's ad serving algorithm getting irrelevant, but rather than have the boring "Google Content Network Getting Less Relevant", I thought "The Great Google Scam" would be able to attract more discussions which would benefit everyone.

However, based on comments from you good people, I found the below:
  1. On Adwords Campaign Settings, on the right hand side, Google said "Show my ads on: Content network : When users visit sites that match my ad on Google's content network." Google promises to match my ads here!
  2. Now on Answers.com, the meaning of scam is "A fraudulent business scheme; a swindle."
  3. Now on the same site, the meaning of fraud is:
    • A deception deliberately practiced in order to secure unfair or unlawful gain.
    • A piece of trickery; a trick.

Since Google has promised to match my ads, and then after the fact, simply sprayed them anywhere and together with rouge Adsense publishers deliberately practiced in order to secure an unfair gain from me, can I now call it a SCAM?

It's definitely a piece of high tech trickery, so to lawyers our there, do I smell a lawsuit when I see that my ads appear on sites it's not supposed to, with or without a click?

I'm sorry that I have more questions than answers, and all I want is Google to buck up RIGHT NOW, and contact me directly to keep me posted on what is being done. Please do not give me the "market forces will correct everything" BS as I do not believe economics will be able to drive this problem away as quick as my ad money is being drained.
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Old 06-02-2007   #10
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Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater

The power of content are the millions of websites publishing your ad.
The drawback of content are the millions of websites publishing your ad.
The pure volume of content partners coming into the adsense program, leaving, and changing their websites is mesmerizing.

At the end of the day our profits from content are fat - unlike that of Yahoo and non- existent MSN. So although I understand your pain in seeing ads being displayed on odd ball sites, I believe you have some options in minimizing this and turning a solid profit. If you cant turn a profit, turn it off.

Google should continue to work on ways to reduce the number of poor quality content partners, and with the introduction of content partner reporting, unlimited site exclusion, site targeting using CPM and CPC I believe they are.

Thomas, I was screaming your same tune only 6 months ago until these new features were released. Now that they are here I have to utilize them to their fullest capability before I start screaming for more improvements.

Have you tried these tools? Are they not working for you?

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Old 06-02-2007   #11
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What's in a name? Would not CAD by any other name..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Discovery
.... If you cant turn a profit, turn it off...
Discovery
Discovery makes excellent points and I totally concur. I use the Content channel extensively and it delivers my required volume at my required ROI (cost/conversion). That's the bottom line. Are my ads occasionally appearing on odd ball sites? Probably. But I hit my ROI targets, and that's what I need. Can Google improve their ad/content matching algorithms? Yes. But let's work through this forum to try and get that done. Google does listen.

On a somewhat lighter note, you mentioned the your CAD software ad was showing up on a "Pamela Anderson Pics" website. I think we all agree that's an extreme example of the google algorithms gone wrong. No doubt about that. But, just to show you how subtle all this can be, check out this CAD vendor, and notice their company name

Anderson CAD http://www.acadcam.com

AWR -- does the google ad/content matching algorithm take into account company names?
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Old 06-02-2007   #12
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Quote:
Have you tried these tools? Are they not working for you?
Discovery, well much as I dislike, ok, I do use some of the tools and together with some built in house, especially with unlimited site exclusion it has improved somewhat.

Quote:
I think we all agree that's an extreme example of the google algorithms gone wrong. No doubt about that
I have extreme examples everyday. No doubt about that. If it happens often and everyday, perhaps they are not THAT extreme, may be even intentional. Therein lies the problem.

My sincere apologies if I have came across as screaming or jumping up and down, despite Adwords has worked for me also, more in search far, far less in content, and yes it's far too important to turn off.

Still:
  1. When most of our search ads and some contents ads are working, does that mean we must tolerate non relevance with Google's ad serving algorithm?
  2. Can we still call it scam meanwhile?
  3. Can Google refund me the clicks that comes from these "extreme" examples?

P/S: I don't get abbotsys's example, perhaps you would care to elaborate.
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Old 06-03-2007   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thomas68

I'm sorry that I have more questions than answers, and all I want is Google to buck up RIGHT NOW, and contact me directly to keep me posted on what is being done.
Don't hold your breath waiting for Google Adwords to contact you - it seems that they don't even contact some of the relatively big spenders who have seen major return on investment go down the toilet.

Last edited by copytext : 06-03-2007 at 06:01 AM.
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Old 06-03-2007   #14
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IMHO the thread title is libelous.
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Old 06-03-2007   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcia
IMHO the thread title is libelous.
I agree, as my contributions to this thread show, where I have tried hard to steer it into a positive direction and said strongly that the word "scam" should not be used. If Thomas (the thread originator) gets contacted by google "right now" as he demands, let's hope the contact does not come from google's legal team
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Old 06-03-2007   #16
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Marcia, Abbotsys,

Thank you for your warnings and I shall refrain from using the "s" word for now. Please also understand that I am neither looking for an argument nor a flame war. Just to bring out the problem of Google's ad serving algorithm going haywire.

Getting back to the topic, it seems that Google's content network ad serving algorithm does go haywire quite often, and we do not know whether this is intentional or just overlooked by Google. At the current moment, I have no way of knowing where my ads will be served, only after the fact that it has been clicked, and money charged for my ads. This arrangement undeniably favours Google, at least in monetary terms, and other than tolerating it, or taking my ads off content network altogether, nothing else can be done. My question is, what else can we do?
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Old 06-03-2007   #17
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I've changed the thread title to reflect the deficiency in relevant ad matching, which is a continuing problem for both advertisers and publishers.

I've also done another thread to address the issue from the Publishers' perspective:

Adsense needs keyword filtering to avoid relevancy blunders
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Old 06-04-2007   #18
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I had to smile when I saw the edit on the title, still it's well intentioned, so no complaints.

Message to Google: Do as you promised, MATCH MY ADS! I shall attempt to contact Google for refunds to these irrelevant clicks.
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Old 06-04-2007   #19
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A Suggestion For Google

I have been thinking hard, and found that, to expect Google to improve the ad serving relevancy quick and fast is not realistic. We are dealing with great complexity here, of not only the English language but also of cultures and geography.

Consider for a moment if I am selling "golf clubs" and I mean actual golf sticks that is used to hit golf balls, and not your local club where you play your golf. How Google's algorithm understands what I mean is beyond me, and I suspect this is part of the reason it is not reliable in understanding what we humans mean.

In some places, people called their underground mass transit, "subway" or "the tube" or MRT. In other places "the tube" may mean the TV. In order to know what I mean, Google's algorithm not only has to guess what I mean but also has to understand where I come from and my culture.

Although my understanding of these algorithms is inadequate to say the least, I am guessing that it's real tough. Employing people to do these things is not the answer either. What I suggest is that Google use the current algorithm and before an ad can be displayed on the content network, Google ask for our approval.

Say for example, an arbitraged or dynamically generated page asked to display an ad from Google, and Google decided that my ads are relevant to this page. Rather than directly serving them, Google displays some community messages and and put the link to this page on my Adwords account for approval. Having seen the page, I concur with Google and click "yes", so that when the same page request for ads again Google knows that I have approve my ads to be displayed there and serve up the ads.

Now of course, when I see total irrelevance, I will disapprove the ads and therefore, Google will not display my ads there. Of course also, there should be options for advertisers where they can select to let Google's algorithm automatically serve their ads, or as I prefer, to approve ads first before displaying them.

In effect, low quality sites which bring low quality clicks will probably be pushed out as they are not prefered by advertisers. But not totally, as there will be advertisers who wanted to go autopilot with Google's algorithm. Having advertisers to be able to directly control where their ads are served will definitely make many happy and quiet down the many complaints about ad serving, arbitraged sites, non relevance and domain ads. At them same time, Google get plenty of free reviewers out of their advertisers. The way I look at it, it's win-win.

Your comments about the suggestion is strongly welcomed.
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Old 06-04-2007   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thomas68
.... What I suggest is that Google use the current algorithm and before an ad can be displayed on the content network, Google ask for our approval....
It's a solution in principle, but not in practice. Imagine finding 1,000 websites waiting for your "approval" every time you logged into your adwords account. Remember, the Content network is huge.

Personally, assuming click-fraud is not an issue, I don't care if my ad is sprayed everywhere (provided google does not miss any of the relevent sites.) I'm paying PPC, so if my ad gets 10 million extra impressions with zero clicks due to a google ad match blunder then it's google who loses out on possible ad revenue and I, the advertiser, don't lose anything. Of course, if click-fraud enters the picture this situation changes. So isn't this thread really just another click-fraud thread?
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