I learned a new word the other day: “arbitrage”. I was having an online chat with a representative from Google AdWords to learn more about PPC quality. What I learned gave me a new addition to my click fraud vocabulary, and a new warning to give to clients who may be thinking about launching a pay-per-click advertising campaign: Beware of traffic that comes from arbitrage or “made for adsense” websites and directories.
I was looking at a particular client’s website traffic statistics because I was managing his Google AdWords campaign, when I noticed traffic coming from strange new directories. The client said that he had signed up with a different PPC company (not Google AdWords) and that this might be the source. I investigated these traffic sources and here’s what I found:
A directory with NO CONTENT – 100% ADS!
This is an example of arbitrage or what is known in the online advertising world as “made for adsense” or MFA websites. These websites have no content, their sole purpose is to drive clicks. You can read more about arbitrage in this article MFA Sites: Pay-Per-Click’s dirty little secret from the Click Fraud Network and in this article from Marketing Pilgrim.
“Meanwhile, back at the ranch, traffic in the publisher [content] networks (including Google AdSense) is abysmal. Over 70% of the sites that make up these networks are made-for-ad sites or parked domains. Well over 60% of the traffic from these types of sites is traffic advertisers should not be paying for. Instead, advertisers should be actively excluding poor performing sites and avoiding low quality ad networks. “
Since these sites have no valuable content, the bounce rate is incredibly high, because and are considered a very, very poor traffic source. My client’s traffic from this source had a 100% bounce rate – literally every single visitor left immediately – the hallmark of poor quality traffic. (Note, these were not his Google AdWords ads, but PPC ads he had arranged with another PPC company prior to starting his Google AdWords campaign.)
How to Protect Yourself From Paying for Traffic From Made For AdSense Junk Sites
1. Track Your Website Traffic. You won’t know what you’re getting for your pay-per-click dollars otherwise. If have a PPC campaign running and you aren’t tracking your traffic, you could be paying for worthless clicks.
2. Investigate Your Traffic Referral Sources: If you see traffic coming from a source you don’t know, look up that URL and see what it looks like. Made For Adsense sites are easy to spot. Remember, they have no content, just ads.
3. Stop The Flow Of Traffic From These Sources, ASAP! If you are using Google AdWords, you’re in luck, because there are several tools available to help you do this. Here’s what the Google AdWords online help fellow advised (note that the traffic in the above example was NOT from a Google AdWords campaign – he was giving this general advice on how to prevent arbitrage after I sent him the screenshot.):
“I spoke with our Specialist Team and they confirmed that the arbitrage sites and directories that resemble the ones you sent me are not part of our Search Network and will only appear on the Content Network. In order to see on what specific sites your ads are running within the content network, you can run a Placement Performance Report. You’ll also be able to see performance statistics for your ads on each of these sites. Click here to learn how to create a Placement Performance report. You can also use Site Exclusion on the Content Network to exclude your ads from appearing on particular sites as follows:
1. Sign in to your AdWords account at https://adwords.google.com.
2. Click ‘Tools’ at the top of your Campaign Summary page.
3. Click ‘Site Exclusion’ under the ‘Optimize your ads’ header.
4. Select your campaign from the drop down box and click ‘Go.’
5. In the field under ‘Add sites to be excluded,’ add the list of websites you want to exclude from showing your ads.
– Add only one website per line. Do not separate websites with commas or other punctuation.
– Enter websites at the domain (www.example.com, example.com), subdomain (topic.example.com), or path (www.example.com/stuff) level only.
– Do not enter individual pages (www.example.com/main.html).
6. When you’re done, click ‘Exclude Sites.’ You’ll see a confirmation page informing you how many sites you’ve chosen to exclude.”
But What If I’m Not Using Google AdWords And Am Using Another PPC Company?
If you are not using Google AdWords for your pay-per-click advertising, then the above controls are not available to you. You will need to contact your pay-per-click advertising representative and tell them you do not want traffic from these “made for adsense” or arbitrage websites and try with all your might to get a refund for the clicks that came from them.
If they won’t or can’t stop the flow of pay-per-click from these “made for adsense (MFA) sites, you might want to consider canceling your account – that is, if they’ll let you.
This is why I only recommend Google AdWords for pay-per-click traffic, because you get complete control over your pay-per-click campaign and can suspend or cancel any ad or your entire account at any time.
So remember, track your traffic, investigate your traffic sources, and if you see MFA (made for adsense) or arbitrage traffic, try to stop it ASAP.Jill
Aldebaran Web Design, Seattle
Jill Olkoski has a BS in Engineering, a BS in Computer Science and an MA in Clinical Psychology. She delights in using her advanced technical and psychological skills to help small business owners develop cost-effective and successful websites.