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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Meeting Google Needs to Solve Their Click Fraud PR Crisis

I wonder how much of Google's click fraud PR crisis is due to garbage traffic from parked domains. Let's suppose it is. As click fraud is discussed more and more and more these days, advertisers are starting to pay more attention to the sources of their PPC traffic. Looking at the alarming growth of some of these parked domains, advertisers are going to notice that Google is charging them for garbage traffic. At the very least, Google is charging for clicks that are not search engine advertising. In the mind of an advertiser, that's click fraud. So, who at Google can solve this problem? I think the following people need to have a meeting to devise a solution:
  1. Shuman Ghosemajumder, Business Product Manager for Trust & Safety
  2. Eytan Elbaz, Head of Domain Channel
  3. Omid Kordestani, Senior Vice President, Global Sales & Business Development
  4. Matt Cutts, Head of Webspam Team
Here's the problem: Shuman's busy trying to fight click fraud, but Eytan's busy partnering with domainers (see him talking about DomainFest on Youtube). Someone at Google had the audacity to include parked domains on the Google AdWords Search network. Um, hello?! The Search network (as opposed to the Content network) is supposed to be for search engine advertising, right? So, while Shuman's trying to explain to confused AdWords advertisers how diligent Google is at tackling click fraud, Eytan's parked domain partners (are they spammers?) are increasing the click fraud problem (or at the very least the perception of click fraud) for Google. So, Shuman has to keep explaining Google's click fraud solutions again and again. He's chasing his tail. Omid, who launched AdWords and must therefore "own" it to some degree needs to step in help Shuman. How? By separating parked domain traffic from the Search network, of course. Now, why do I say Matt needs to be at the meeting? He's not involved on the ad side of things. But, he's a spam fighter and that's what's needed here - an outside perspective and someone who recognizes and deals with spam. Google doesn't need anymore search engine spam.

Google's pay per click advertisers (who are the ones paying the bills, after all) need more control over their ad spend. The current choices for ad distribution are: Google, Search network, Content network. Parked domains are sometimes classified for the Content network but can also be classified as Search network partners. No, that's not sufficient. These need to be the ad distribution choices: Google, Search network, Content network, Domain network. If these parked domains really do convert as well as Google asserts, advertisers will opt to display ads on the Domain network. Creating this new distribution choice will have the added benefit of reducing the perception of click fraud. It'd be a great PR move on Google's part to show that they've made a concrete move to battle click fraud. Advertisers who want to purchase search engine advertising would be able to choose Google and the Search network and all of their ads would display on actual search engines. What a concept! So, who's going to call the meeting? Google, do the right thing, for the companies that pay your bills. Don't be evil, anymore.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Brian Rogers said...

I have a website for local shopping and advertising in Lansing, Illinois, lansinginfo.com. My Google Adword campaign is a perfect example of what can happen when Google spams parked websites.

After alerting Google that when searching lansinginfo there were 11,900 hits and about 11,000 were for parked domains, I received the following canned response.

Hello Brian,

Thank you for your email. I understand you have questions about your ad
appearing on certain sites in our partner network. Below, I explain this
in detail.

Google AdSense for domains is part of Google's family of monetization
services that enables effective and legitimate distribution of your ads.
It has been proven to deliver high quality and high value traffic to
advertisers. Like all our ad solutions, advertisers are only paying for
the actual click generated once their ad shows, not for the impression.

For more information about AdSense for domains, please visit:
http://www.google.com/domainpark/

Our AdSense for domains program places targeted AdWords ads on qualified
parked domain sites. Parked domain sites are included in the Google
Network because of the value they add to both users and advertisers.

Users are brought to parked domain sites when they enter a search query or
unregistered URL in a browser's address bar rather than in a search engine
such as Google. Previously, parked domain sites were blank pages, which
means that users brought to one of these sites had to renew their search
query.

With AdSense for domains, parked domain sites now provide users with ads
that are relevant to their search. In addition, some parked domain sites
include a search box, which allows users to further refine their search
queries.

Many of the sites that you listed are members of Google AdSense for
domains (http://www.google.com/domainpark/). We've found that AdWords ads
showing on parked domain name pages often receive clicks from
well-qualified leads within the advertisers' markets. As a result, the
return on investment for these pages can be comparable to that of search
pages. To determine the value of traffic you've received from parked
domain name pages, we recommend you monitor your conversion rate. If you
aren't satisfied with the value of the traffic, consider applying the
AdWords site exclusion feature.

To learn more about measuring conversions on your site, please visit
https://adwords.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=6099&hl=en.

To learn more about site exclusion, visit
https://adwords.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=13249&hl=en.

For any additional questions, please visit our Help Center at
https://adwords.google.com/support to find answers to many frequently
asked questions. Or, try our Learning Center at
http://www.google.com/adwords/learningcenter/ for self-paced lessons that
cover the scope of AdWords.

We look forward to providing you with the most effective advertising
available.

Sincerely,

Neily
The Google AdWords Team

My response to Google:

Neily,

Even Google cannot defend putting "relevant" ads for a local shopping and advertising website in Lansing, Illinois on sites such as:

IllinoisCemeteries.com
IllinoisJunkYards.com
IllinoisEarthquakes.com
IllinoisSnakes.com
Numerousl sites in the UK
IllinoisAutoSalvage.com
Illinois Indian
IllinoisOysters.com
IllinoisFuneralHome.com
ChicagoBuildingCodes.com
cookctyrecorder.com
Welcome to autopsy-song.org
www.disneylandreport.com
www.confidentialwitness.org
eastblacerpark.org for Montana Lodging
www.venezuelanweb.com
cattlebroker.com

So, what you are saying is that one day you are surfing the internet while sitting in your Montana Lodge and you start thinking about snakes. Not any snakes, but Illinois snakes. So you go to the parked website and notice an ad for Local shopping in Lansing, Illinois. Your mind wanders a bit and you begin to reconsider your fascination with Illinois Snakes, and think about hopping on a plane and going to shop in Lansing, Illinois. Then you notice the listing for cattle brokers and you think, wow I'm in Montana anyway, let me check out that website. Your are blown away because you see the same ad for LansingInfo and think that now its karma that you hop on a plane and get there.
However the reason you are in a lodge in Montana is because you are part of the confidentialwitness.org and the FBI will not let you leave for the Chicago area. They explain the danger of leaving and tell you if you are really interested in Lansing, Illinois, you may as well go the autopsy-song.org website, and make a reservation at IllinoisCemeteries.com.
You give up hope for Lansing and start to think about going to disneylandreport.com or perhaps the FBI will let you go to venezuelaweb.com., since it is out of the country.

When I google lansinginfo, I get 11,900 hits. When I google five of the surrounding suburbs I get a total of 40 hits. You are pushing my legitimate listings back 100's of pages back. It has been referenced many times that there are problems with you putting ads on parked domains (there are 1,240,000 hits for google adword problems), this practice should be stopped. You are not giving me what I am paying for.

I am looking for a refund of monies paid on these irrelevant ads, and want them removed.

Sincerely,
Brian Rogers

Fri Jan 19, 12:19:00 PM EST  
Blogger Richard said...

Brian - Are you upset that these parked domains rank higher than your site in the search results or are you being charged for clicks from these sites?

BTW, I think Google justifies the distribution of search engine ads to these sites by saying:

"With AdSense for domains, parked domain sites now provide users with ads that are relevant to their search. In addition, some parked domain sites include a search box, which allows users to further refine their search queries."

No, that's weak. A parked domain with a search box is still NOT a search engine.

Fri Jan 19, 05:50:00 PM EST  

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