Google Getting Tougher on AdWords Advertisers

Google announced today that they are making things tougher for Made-For-AdSense (MFA) sites who use AdWords for advertising.

Google had this to day:

As you may recall, we began incorporating advertiser landing page quality into the Quality Score back in December 2005. Following that change, advertisers who are not providing useful landing pages to our users will have lower Quality Scores that in turn result in higher minimum bid requirements for their keywords. We realize that some minimum bids may be too high to be cost-effective — indeed, these high minimum bids are our way of motivating advertisers to either improve their landing pages or to simply stop using AdWords for those pages, while still giving some control over which keywords to advertise on. Although it is counter-intuitive to some who hear it, we’d rather show one less ad than to show an ad which leads to a poor user experience — since long-term user trust in AdWords is of overarching importance.

From time-to-time, we improve our algorithms for evaluating landing page quality (often based on feedback from our end-users), and next week we’re launching another such improvement. Thus, over the coming days a small number of advertisers who are providing a low quality user experience on their landing pages will see increases in their minimum bids.

I see this as a direct attack against MFA sites. MFA sites are sites which display AdSense ads and provide no useful content. Usually the content is simply copied from search results. These MFA sites target high paying keywords while using very low bids on the AdWords system to get traffic. Since there is little useful content on the pages, users end up often clicking on the ads. Many AdSense publisher despise these sites because they drive down the cost of an average click and do not provide users with any useful information.

The Google AdWords Landing Page and Site Quality Guidelines clearly state that MFA type sites are not considered quality sites:

  • In general, build pages that provide substantial and useful information to the end-user. If your ad does link to a page consisting of mostly ads or general search results (such as a directory or catalog page), provide additional information beyond what the user may have seen in your ad or on the page prior to clicking on your ad.
  • You should have unique content (should not be similar or nearly identical in appearance to another site).

If this works out the way Google intends, it will be good for everyone in the AdSense ecosystem: publishers, advertisers and users. The only ones who will be hurt will be the MFA producers.


  1. andy Said,

    July 8, 2006 @ 7:48 pm

    couldn’t this also be interpreted to mean that google is moving towards their cost-per-action model, or their no sale-no cost model, meaning that the higher the conversion rate of pages the more google would make. So this might look like they are targeting made-for-adsense sites, it probably that they are taking the long term view and are thinking towards their new advertising system since the the CPC program is dying.

  2. Toivo Lainevool Said,

    July 8, 2006 @ 8:10 pm

    Funny you should mention that. I was just starting to compose an entry on the whole “CPC is dying” idea. I’ll probably post it tomorrow.

    I don’t see this as a direct move because of their CPA program. I think this is just strengthening their existing CPC model. MFA sites have been a huge complaint by publishers for a long time, and Google seems to finally be responding to it. I think this would have happened regardless of the threat that CPC is currently under from other advertising models.

  3. Find in Forums Said,

    July 9, 2006 @ 7:44 am

    I don’t think they’re getting tougher, as long google makes money from it, it’ll stay where it is.. they just need people to think they’re working on their search quality :p

  4. Toivo Lainevool Said,

    July 9, 2006 @ 4:36 pm

    I don’t know if I agree with this. Google has done things in the past that have reduced short term revenue to make things better in the long term. Look at smart pricing. They get less per click, but in the long run it makes advertisers happier.

  5. Counter Fraud Investigator Said,

    February 8, 2010 @ 9:42 am

    Google has mastered advertising revenue and now rules the industry! If only they could do more to combat click-fraud. At the moment you have to get good tracking software and submit eveidence and claim a credit back, their automated system is easily duped.

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