Head of Adsense sheds light on Googles strategy to combat MFA websites

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On an Arbitrage Issues panel in San Jose, Kim Malone was asked specifically what steps Google is taking to stop the MFA (Made For Adsense) websites. This question was posed right after Kim was shown an example of how a person clicked on a Google Adwords ad and the person was taken to 5 different MFA Adsense pages before ever actually reaching the content. Basically the person had to click on 6 total Google Adsense ads before they could actually get to the real content because each ad just led to another page with no content but more Google Adsense ads.

Kim explained that in many cases they are using Adwords conversion data to tell what MFA sites were actaully converting for advertisers. She said using this data helps them easily identify arbitragers.

I think everyone in the room was a little shocked when Kim revealed that Google Adsense was using advertisers Adwords conversion data to actually keep track of what Adsense accounts were converting to sales and which ones were not.

So what are your thoughts on Google using your conversion tracking data in Adwords to identify Adsense publishers taking advantage of MFA pages?

32 thoughts on “Head of Adsense sheds light on Googles strategy to combat MFA websites

  1. Anthony Cea

    MFA pages have been a problem for Google since day one Shoe, most of it is of their own making and now it is up to Google to self regulate this situation.

    A great website should provide a service or great content to the user, not a stop in an Adsense trap.

  2. graywolf

    be interesting to know what percentage of advertisers actually use conversion tracking, and what subset use it they way GOOGLE intended … wooops did I just say that …

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  4. Fryman

    Anyway we can stop them from doing this? Like taking down any analytics code? I can’t imagine how they would gather that information if you don;t allow them to track your stats

  5. Tom

    I have never seen the answer to this, but what constitutes a conversion? A sale, going to the contacts page, ordering a beer at the local pub after visiting the site.

    I know I have much different criteria on some of the sites I run.

  6. chris

    Well, I do not like it. I assumed that Adsense and Adwords were operated at arms length – and I thought the were spun off from G. But I just looked at their respective agreements and it is made between “me” and “Google Inc.” I guess they can do what thry want.

  7. Rob

    This comes as no surprise to me . I have always assumed that google would be using this kind of data to allow them to display their inventory on the sites that are most likely to convert it.

  8. Kevin Sinclair

    Can understand why Google would do this. From the searcher perspective, I want to find what I am looking for without having to go through ad after ad. Therefore, web site publishers need to make their sites relevant. However, I suspect that Google has a lot of sensitive data that they can use in all sorts of ways – which is bit of a worry. Signing up to adsense or adwords is like letting them into your life.

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  10. Tom

    I’ve been hearing about this. What happens if you run a website with AdWords and you don’t necessarily sell anything, just provide information and use AdSense as a mean of revenue to pay for server costs, etc? Will they be considered MFA sites or am I looking at this the wrong way.

  11. Quadszilla

    If you run adsense or google analytics then Google will know more about your site than you do. They will not only have detailed user statistics, but they can more effectively cross those statistics against other sites in your vertical than you can.

  12. Stefan Juhl

    “the person was taken to 5 different MFA Adsense pages before ever actually reaching the content”.

    That wouldn’t had happened if the first site had been smart enough to block ads from other known MFA’s. Which, in the cases where I’ve blocked such, improved the eCPM. And conversions will probably also occur more often.

  13. SEOidiot

    The pressure from media attention on the subject will make them appear to do something but until we (whoops i mean they) cease to provide serious profits then the situation will not change much IMO

  14. dillsmack

    What happens when Google notices I am converting $0.10 clicks into $100+ revenues via conversion tracking? At what point do they say, “This guy is making too much off these clicks, lets raise them 50x.”

  15. Tracy

    I thought they did that on the latest GoogleSlap where they jacked up almost everybody’s adword prices in mid-july and claimed they were doing it to ‘improve quality’ which in googlespeak means improve the bottom-line I bet..

  16. Thor

    Quality non-MFA publishers are upset about MFA sites mainly because the assumption is they provide a lesser ROI for advertisers. In an ideal world, measuring the ROI of all sites and adjusting cost per click to advertiser and revenue per click to publisher based on conversion data would solve all the MFA bickering. Problem is Google is not privvy to MOST of the advertisers’ conversion data. (rightfully so)

  17. SEOidiot

    I know for a fact they are planning some cpa deals in the uk…. i have heard it direct from them… and its gonna be messy verrrrry messy

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  19. CentralScrutiniser

    This came out when the results of the Google click fraud investigation went public (Sorry, don’t have the link to the PDF to-hand).

    IIRC, it’s conducted with the advertiser’s co-operation (it states) which was (for the investigator), problematic in that it was only a small representative sample due to privacy concerns.

  20. Ack

    Since advertisers can set up their own “conversion” criteria, what’s to keep them from artificially manipulating their conversion rates to get better smartpricing deals from Adsense publishers?

  21. Miguel

    Hello. I’m just starting a site (have only a front page for now) and I’ve noticed that about 40% of all ads that have shown there lead to MFAs or similar “directory” sites full of ads, or sites with no real content, even some really clever sites that seem quite normal in the front page, but full of ads in all the other pages… some of them have slogans like “we searched for you”, “what you need, when you need it, etc.” (I did not click on the ads to find this out… I used the adsense preview tool). How about creating a database of such “adsense-spam” domains? I can share the ones I’ve found so far:

    degreecentral.com
    expert-expert.com
    gr8-gardens.com
    iarchitects.info
    ihousedesigns.com
    postandbeamhome.info
    the-house-plans.net
    house-floor-plans.com
    gr8info.net
    gr8-homes.com
    homeanswers.com
    eluxuryhomeplans.com
    best4sites.net
    GuideToHousePlans.com
    zHousePlans.info

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  26. Trillian

    I believe you are really on to something here. Based on Google’s move, this could get you banned. It is possible. The Adwords/Adsense combo seems to be dangerous these days.

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