Google’s New ConSextual Advertising Program

So, according to the FishSEO blog, it looks like Google has decided to continue to allow companies to monetize their parked adult themed domain names. I, for one, am thrilled (as I am sure most other advertisers of non-adult themed businesses are). Now, in addition to getting traffic to my finance related sites from domains like www.getmorewidgets.com and www.thepsychicofsedona.com, I can look forward to what I am sure will be well converting traffic from people who happen to land on high quality sites such as, get ready, www.jerkfest.org.

Think I’m kidding? Think again. Check out all the lucky advertisers currently getting the oh so coveted chance to display their services on this fine site:

[site:jerkfest.org]

And in case the results change by the time you read this, here is what it looks like as I write this:

[site:jerkfest.org] (cached version)

According to Google, the whole purpose of the AdSense for Domains programs goes something like this:

AdSense for domains delivers targeted, conceptually related advertisements to parked domain pages by using Google’s semantic technology to analyze and understand the meaning of the domain names.

Uh huh. Hm.

Last year, as an advertiser, I ran into a problem with a large amount of untargeted clicks coming from AdWords. I contacted them, and explained how I tracked down that these clicks appeared to be coming from the AdSense for Domains program. Nick, the AdWords specialist who tried to help me with this (very friendly, by the way, unlike some I have dealt with in that program) informed me that there was absolutely no way for him to know how many clicks came from the regular content network versus the AdSense for Domains program. His advice?

“Thank you for your reply, and I apologize for your frustration. After consulting with our AdSense team, I recommend that you use the Site Exclusion Tool to prevent your ads from showing on parked domain sites that are not relevant to your ads. I’ve included instructions for doing so below.” – Nick

I did try to explain to him the logistical problem with adding over 100,000 domains to the Site Exclusion Tool, when a) Google, regardless of how creative I get with the search box, will only show me a maximum of 1,000 search results (making locating them somewhat difficult), and b) I have no clue whatsoever what domains will be parked come tomorrow. Despite me being very clear on how this would be pretty much impossible, Nick did come up with what was, in his mind anyways, a solution:

“To save yourself time, you can paste URLs that you would like to exclude into an Excel spreadsheet. Enter one URL per row, and be sure to enter them all in the same column. When you have compiled a satisfactory list of URLs to exclude, you can simply select the entire column in Excel, and paste it into the Site Exclusion Tool. This will save you some time, as compared to directly pasting URLs one by one into the Site Exclusion Tool.” – Nick

Thanks Nick. I’ll get right on that. Hell, it’s only a dynamic list of 156,000 domains that change daily, right?

The Google AdSense for Domains program is integral with the Google Content network… you cannot opt out of it without opting out of the Content Network altogether. According to MediaPost Publications, during the 3rd quarter last year 39% of Google’s total revenue came from sites showing AdSense on their pages, as opposed to actually being shown on Google Search:

The vast majority of Google site earnings come from its pay-per-click search ad business, according to company CEO Eric Schmidt. Revenue from Google affiliate sites using the AdSense program came to $1.04 billion, or 39 percent of total revenue

Of course I can see why a company would hesitate to drop a program that was part of something that made them 1.04 billion dollars. I mean, the fact that it’s a scam doesn’t matter that much, right?

The main issue, of course, is that the ads delivered to these parked domains have nothing whatsoever to do with the domain names themselves… and Google knows it. Visit the homepage of any of these sites (while they are actually parked, I mean) and you will see a list of links labeled something along the lines of “Popular Searches”. These so called “searches” are keyword rich urls that do nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, aside from showing pages that AdSense will display the highest paying ads on. In essence, they are pages whose whole purpose is to screw advertisers out of their money without delivering any kind of contextual targeting whatsoever.

So, Google, my question is, are you out of your collective f’ing minds? How does this already heavily abused program benefit from adding further irrelevancy into the mix? How is it that this can be your in your Editorial Guidelines for AdWords:

Inappropriate Language: Ads, including the display URL, cannot contain language that may be considered inappropriate or offensive to some users. This also applies to misspellings, self-censored, or other variations of inappropriate language.

Yet you will allow advertisers to unknowingly advertise on sites where the URL itself is oral-sex.net…?

In your regular Google AdSense Program Policies, you state:

Sites displaying Google ads may not include: … Pornography, adult, or mature content…

So, in the case where the only content is in the URL, where exactly does hairy-sex-videos-porn-dvds.com fit in again?

Wtf? Since when did “screw the people making you money” become aligned in any way, shape, or form with the philosophy of “do no evil”?

If anyone from Google has any kind of answer whatsoever to this, I would love to hear it.

UPDATE: Here I am bitching about the clicks being untargeted, and I didn’t even think about family oriented businesses who might actually be offended by having their ads showing on sites like these, being labeled as sponsors (Google displays AdSense with the heading of “Sponsored Links”, for those who don’t know). I’m guessing Disney, PBS, and the various Church websites would be love to hear about this.

UPDATE #2: It’s nice to see that with all of this extra money Google is raking in from unsuspecting advertisers, that now Google is trying to own the Internet. Now in addition to putting ads on unrelated sites, they will be stuffing them in unrelated feeds? Perfect, Google, just perfect.

UPDATE #3: It appears as if some change has been made to teh way the pages are generated. I’m not sure if it was a change by Google or the owners of the pakred domains themselves, but now just adding the keywords to the URL alone is not enough to trigger the ads. An additional parameter must also be added. Do some of the original links in the article may not illustrate what it is I was pointing out, but you can still see it by following the links in the bottom half of these pages, like so:
[financial planning]
It appears that it’s a random string of characters, since the mere existence of the additional variable seems to trigger the ads:
[http://www.literatique.com/?q=Mortgages&kot=1]

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