PPC Self-Policing does not replace Source Exclusion

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Source exclusion is a feature that Mirago started providing in 2003 and BlowSearch is now offering. It helps advertisers to identify, track and then allow or disallow the traffic from specific sources in a PPC network. For example Source Exclusion would enable you to exclude your ads from being shown on overture.com. Almost no real user uses Overture.com, so these clicks would most likely be fellow marketers intentionally using up your ad budget or just curious about your site. Either way you don't want this traffic (I believe Shak has reported that clicks from the overture.com domain are not billed?). This is a great feature for advertisers so why don't the big three PPC companies offer it?

The PPC companies created many tools for advertisers to track conversions - why haven't they given advertisers the ability to use that information to make the most of our money? Instead the PPC companies have decided to take the position that self-policing is better than giving advertisers control.

One reason may be that it is harder for Google, Yahoo and Espotting to do this since they have much larger networks with large numbers of publishers to manage. It's just easier to let self-policing handle it. But that is not the real reason I feel they have yet to launch this feature. Could it be that the ugly truth is that Source Exclusion helps advertisers and hurts PPC networks?

By giving the advertiser more control it jeopardizes large segments of PPC networks. Publicly the big 3 PPC networks hate click fraud and poor quality traffic and they police their publishers to supposedly ensure the "best quality of traffic". But it can financially benefit them since they collect money for unreported click fraud and poor quality traffic. This makes me doubt the validity of self-policing.

Also if advertisers had the power to more closely monitor the quality of traffic, it could create a public relations nightmare. Imagine if Google was exposed to be allowing very poor quality Adsense sites to stay in their network. Currently they state that they monitor and control the quality of adsense sites. But there is no public proof that their self-policing is working. There is no auditing. We just have to take Google's word and let them manage the quality of our traffic. And remember it is financially benefiting for them to allow poor quality adsense to remain since they could collect more money that way.

I doubt we will ever see a large PPC company offer source exclusion since it requires work to get implemented and maintained, transfers some control from the PPC network to advertisers and also creates a potential public relations nightmare. If anyone provides this I would expect it to be MSN or Yahoo. These two are trying to outdo Google and these companies have much smaller networks of publishers to manage then Google's Adsense. Oh well, I'm not going to wait for the big ppc networks to provide source exclusion. I just want changes made to the self-policing policy of these networks. Ideally some independent organization would oversee these networks and certify them.



Not having done anything other than dabble with Adwords i never really understood what the term source exclusion even meant, thanks for a great post goodroi, i get it now :-)

I guess it's a decision between making the product better, and keeping profits high by staying with the way it's always worked. In the long term, particularly with all the good competition in this sector i'd have to put my money on improving the product even if it hit profits short term...

Good Post.

I believe this is something that has been asked for on numerous occasions, especially from some of the big buyers, and to a certain extent they can get it in small doses. However, this should be an across the board function of all PPC.

I hope you are right Nick: "In the long term, particularly with all the good competition in this sector i'd have to put my money on improving the product even if it hit profits short term..."

Maybe worth a post in WMW to see if AdWordsAdvisor picks it up!

I'll add a little here if I can

Goodroi you said:

Could it be that the ugly truth is that Source Exclusion helps advertisers and hurts PPC networks?

Yes, you are absolutely correct. It no little decision for a PPC network to allow source exclusion. It does hurt revenues, ALOT. For a big PPC like Yahoo! or Google to offer this would eliminate, in my estimation, up to 20% to 45% of their traffic sources based on quality issues, once advertisers found out.... that is.... if they ever take the time to care about it.

Bottom line for me is this. We care about it, so it has been implemented. Having come from Kanoodle, being there for 2 years, and seeing the inner workings of the PPC business I know it's ripe for change. The team at BlowSearch is committed to making sure that the advertiser gets exactly what they have wanted for a long time.

BlowSearch has more functionality coming to market soon. Mark my words now, what you will hear soon will be HUGE news. I'll be posting to my blog about it shortly in a VERY detailed post on click fraud issues in the industry.

I've been listening to the market for a long time now and as an advertiser myself these are things I want in my PPC engine. I've gone to the WMW shows, and I remember that source exclusion is something that Shaq (and many others) explicitly asked me for in Orlando last year. I was at Kanoodle then. BlowSearch wanted to do it, so it's done across our whole network.

The team there is committed to the vision of making advertisers happy. It's the only reason I decided to join their team. Now that I can help to market a product that I feel is more suited to the advertiser than ever before, I am happy I made that decision.

BTW, Danny was correct in his post. You can also block any IP completely from within the advertiser interface. If you're proactive on click fraud then this is an excellent tool to help beat it.


>>I'll be posting to my blog about it shortly in a VERY detailed post on click fraud issues in the industry.

Can't wait!

I wish advertisers had the balls

to pull their ad money away in an attempt to force Overture and Google to provide source exclusion. 99% of Overture's "network" is pure crap. Once you get passed MSN and Yahoo conversion rates vanish. And the tiny partners are also the source of the majority of all fradulent clicks.

I think the launching of MSN's program will go a long way in getting Overture to makes some changes. When MSN drops the Overture feed, Overture will instantly lose their best converting partner. Once you take MSN users out of the loop, the poor performance of all the other partner clicks will become much more obvious. Hopefully, that will get advertisers to spend their money elsewhere.

Source Exclusion Comes With A Price To Advertisers

Paid search companies have several distribution channels where their paid listings are shown.

Are you kidding me?

"Source Exclusion Comes With A Price To Advertisers" ?!?

Look I may work for an engine but buddy you're wayyyyy off base with that post on your blog. I was going to add a comment on your site but it seems comments on the post are closed.

You're actually suggesting that bad traffic is good because it keeps ad prices down? I understand the logic but the fact that you are, in essence, promoting the practice of click fraud astonishes me. Good traffic is worth more money. Especially if it's in line with the ROI being acheived for the advertiser. There's nothing wrong with bidding higher as long as the traffic really works!

If bid prices rise because of the quality of traffic that means simply that the value of that keyword will go for a "fair market" value. The advertisers determine that based on their cost of goods being sold. The cost of the ad campaign also being figured into that mix. If ROI is positive and the advertiser is making out in the long run why is your blog post even an issue? As a site owner I would gladly pay more for a keyword if I know it is going to convert for me.

1 man's poision.......

This whole click fraud issue is a big deal and source exclusion is a dangerous thing to have in place as a blanket policy.

It makes it almost becomes a 100% opt-in scenario and would almost certainly signal the end of the content network. It would be an Overture advertiser would opt for Yahoo/MSN and maybe a few others. Google advertisers would opt for Google and maybe a few others, and all the niche publishers that deliver good ROI for some advertisers would be frozen out.

I'm all for providing individual advertisers the ability to redress individual situations which can be proved are inconsistent with the normal traffic delivery metrics for a given situation, but to make it a wholesale reason for removal of publishers from a network is very blinkered as an approach.

We had cause a while back to raise an issue of questionable traffic with a PPC provider and asked for an inidividual publisher that we identified to be added to our exclusion list. The response we got was "you either take the whole network or none of it" and we opted for none of it as it meant that what would have been a very healthy ROI was a negative one and as a result everyone lost out.

If the evidence is compelling then network providers need to act in an appropriate way and help advertisers make a positive ROI from search, that way they can guarantee future income.

Source exclusion is not a blanket policy

It is the exact opposite. It helps advertisers to customize and find the best matches within a network. It does not remove publishers from the general network. For example think about an industrial rubber seal company. If they participate in the full adwords network, their "seals" ad will appear on industrial websites and zoo websites. Obviously zoo website visitors are not their target market. Source exclusion would allow them to switch off only the zoo websites. Since the industrial company removed their ads it frees up space for more relevant ads to appear on that zoo website. This is better for advertisers and users alike.

It's Good For The Advertiser

I see Web Diversity's point but I have to say that if any particular publisher is not performing for the advertiser then the advertiser should have the last call on whether or not they want to give their ad dollars to that publisher. We do all the screening we can for quality traffic at BlowSearch but the advertiser is the ultimate decision maker.

If the publisher is losing ads because the quality of their traffic stinks then guess what? That publisher needs to correct their problem. It's on them to make the quality of their targeting better. Personally I could care less if a publisher loses revenue because they are getting blocked by advertisers. Maybe that will wake some of them up and help them learn what to do better.

As I said before, allowing source selection does hurt a network's overall revenue. BlowSearch is doing it anyway because we feel the time has come to give the advertiser complete control over their account. Our competitor's have done nothing to give an advertiser the lead in the ad buy process. There will be more marketer focused tools like this coming in the future as well.


If they participate in the full adwords network, their "seals" ad will appear on industrial websites and zoo websites.

Intelligent use of negative keywords wouldn't eliminate the problem of semantic overlap, but could certainly reduce it. Blocking words such as "zoo" "species" "lions" "tigers" "harp" would help to keep that "seals" campaign off the zoo pages.

it would depend on the sector, of course, but if you're running content ads, there might be words you should block even if you're bidding only on exact matches.

Spend some time playing with a good keyword suggestion tool, watching for terms to block as well as to bid on. Your own common sense can also suggest things to block that don't show up in a keyword tool.

Individual Keyword Blocking

So you're saying that the ability to block only specific keywords from a particular traffic source (instead of blocking the whole source) might be something advertisers would find useful as well?

Sounds good to me if you guys think it will be a useful tool to have? Let me get some feeback from the team at BlowSearch and we'll see.

Yes ....

Blocking specific terms regardless of traffic source would be a basic necessity for fine-tuning a campaign.

To continue with Goodroi's "seals" example, if a certain page mentioned both "seals" and "fur", odds are pretty good that it's talking about the wrong kind of seal. I'd want to keep my ad off such a page even if I otherwise had no reason to object to the source. I'd want the ability to specify, "Don't show my ad on any page that mentions fur."

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