Google NonSense | February 20, 2004

Like many bloggers, I was interested when Google launched their AdSense program. For those of you unaware of this program, a content provider such as myself, will agree to serve ads on their site, and Google will pay the site owners on a per click basis. Lots of bloggers signed up to this program as a means of covering their hosting costs, and from the people I’ve spoken to, this seems to be working out quite well.

One of the nice things about the AdSense ads, is the fact they they are text based rather than images based. This makes them much less intrusive than regular ads and fits more with the content based approach of blogging. Another nice touch is the relevancy of the ads. Google spiders your site to get an idea of it’s content and attempts to serve ads your visitors will find useful. This makes sense an a number of levels. Obviously both Google and the site owner want more click through, so relevancy helps this. Relevancy is also very important to bloggers who don’t want to be seen as selling out and would definitely not endorse the irrelevant advertising you get on most sites.

Considering my monthly bandwidth charges are pretty big, when the program launched, I decided to sign up. Unfortunately at the time I was told that my blog went against their inclusion policy as it sat in a sub folder and not at the root of my domain. I had a quick look at said policy, but couldn’t find any mention of this. Still, Google are seen as pretty trustworthy, so I took this on face value.

However over the last few months I’ve noticed a score of bloggers carrying AdSense ads on their blogs, but not on their main domain (which is often their business site). I tried to register with AdSense again, but because I’d tried and had been rejected once before, they wouldn’t let me try again. I decided to email them to see if they would reconsider and this was what I was told.

“Google’s targeting technology is not optimised to serve ads on pages with dynamic content such as flash movies. As www.andybudd.com contains predominantly dynamic content, we have found that it is not a good fit for the AdSense programme at this time.”

I’ve tried to explain a number of times that there is only one Flash page on my site and that all the other pages are static pages produced by Movabletype. I explained that I had no desire to serve ads on the flash page and it was my blog I was planning to server ads on. However each email elicited the same response about dynamic content, not complying with their policies and reserving the right not to decline sites from the program.

I have to say that after this cycle of emails, I’m feeling distinctly less impressed with Google and their AdSense program. I had thought my blog would have been exactly the kind of site they’d have wanted to include, but they seem to have dug there heals in. I’ve though about moving everything up a level, so my blog resides on the root of my domain. That way the site may seem less “flash based”. However, that would be a monumental pain in the arse, mostly to do with setting up htaccess to rewrite all the changed links. I still may do this, but to be honest, Google’s less than helpful attitude in this whole matter has put me right off the idea.

Posted at February 20, 2004 8:44 AM

Comments

Tim said on February 20, 2004 10:01 AM

Andy,

It’s getting to the point where the power that Google has is getting dangerous and going to their heads. They have little competition, and while they started out as the ‘little guy’ they now seem to have the arrogance of a certain Redmond-based corporation…scratch that: any large, unrivalled company.

Richard Allsebrook said on February 20, 2004 11:18 AM

Version 1 of my site used to have the google adds plugged in and seem to work well for relevancy.

Sadly after moving over to version 2 (XHTML) - the adds no longer validate (same with my amazon links) so they had to go.

Amazing that these companies can’t produce valid markup :-(

Mike P. said on February 20, 2004 12:33 PM

Andy,

We had a similar problem with a clients site and Adsense (different reason for rejection though). Luckily, it was cleared up after a few e-mails.

I’m not sure if you are aware of this, but once you are accepted to Adsense you can paste their code on different sites.

I know of several people who applied with one site, but put the ads on another. The main reason for doing this is that they wanted ads on their blog, but Google isn’t much for putting Adsense on News sites, or sites with frequenlty changing content.

I tried putting ads on a site that has predominantly news, and after about a week or so the ads had ‘degraded’ to PSA’s (public service ann.). I have a feeling that the blogs that are successful with the Adsense program are likely to be ‘themed’ blogs, something where although the content changes, the topic doesn’t stray too far.

@Tim above: Remember that on the other side of those Adsense ads are people who are paying to have those ads served (Adwords clients) - Google has a responsibility to uphold the service those people have purchased.

(sorry about the long note!)

Rick Hurst said on February 20, 2004 12:33 PM

I applied when it first came out and was rejected because my site was classified as a personal website. I’m a bit confused as to where the distinction between valuable independent content and personal waffle ends (mine contains both)

Mike P. said on February 20, 2004 1:04 PM

You’re not alone Rick - but what it comes down to is the money comes from Adwords, and if they’re not happy…

Brian said on February 20, 2004 2:59 PM

My blog was originally denied and then a couple months later I got an email saying they accepted me.

I think it may be luck of the draw on who reviews your site.

Mike Steinbaugh said on February 20, 2004 3:39 PM

Andy,

I think what Google has issues with is there isn’t a direct link to the weblog from the front page. Therefore the Google reviewer doesn’t even see your blog and therefore thinks it is only a flash site.

Definitely try again after adding a link. Google ads are great and will definitely pay for your hosting. I highly recommend them as an advertising service.

Kevin Francis said on February 20, 2004 4:43 PM

You know Andy, I didn’t even know you had a blog when I visited the root of the domain. There isn’t a … visible method to link to it. That might be part of it?

I can’t remember how I got here anyway—probably someone else’s blog.

Trisignia said on February 20, 2004 4:51 PM

Andy, I think you might be interested in a blog-based advertising service I’m putting together since reading a recent article on Wired.

Like some of the services mentioned in the article, my site, http://www.trisignia.com, will connect advertisers directly with bloggers, and the bloggers will get the lion’s share of the ad profits.

My site will be different from competitors, however, because it will feature a heavy charity bent. For example, if you want to donate a quarter of your earnings to Amnesty International, I will match your donation with a quarter of my commission.

Please stop by my site in the coming weeks if you’re interested!

(I’ve always been interested in technology and charity—I’m the IT Director for a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, and I think this venture will be an interesting programming project.)

Jafe Mourner said on February 20, 2004 4:53 PM

Agreed with above comments, the only way I found your blog (which is great, by the way), was by coming from someone else’s site. From your main site, all I could find was photographs :-)

rob said on February 20, 2004 5:33 PM

andy why not remove the flash for a week following your application, then put it back on again?

rob

Mike P. said on February 20, 2004 6:12 PM

Ha, I didn’t even know the ‘main site’ existed. Very nice!

Andy Budd said on February 20, 2004 6:34 PM

Thanks for the comments everybody. I made it as clear as I could to Google, that I was submitting www.andybudd.com/blog/. Unfortunately they seem to either be suffering from selective hearing (reading) or are just being stubborn.

I do take peoples points about finding my blog. To be honest, my photo site came first and the blog was an afterthought. I’d thought that the photo site would be the popular one and the blog would get a trickle of visitors. How wrong could I be

Taking that into account, I may move my blog to the root of the domain and do the whole htaccess thing when I get the time.

Stefan said on February 20, 2004 7:02 PM

That’ll do:

  1. Rewrite
    RewriteEngine on
    RewriteBase /

RewriteCond ^/blog/(.*)$

RewriteRule blog/(.*)$ /$1?{QUERY_STRING} [NS]

Scrivs said on February 22, 2004 6:26 PM

Andy just apply with the Message site instead. I applied with the 9rules site and that worked. The message site should work just as well. Then you can post them here.

Scrivs said on February 22, 2004 6:32 PM

Andy just apply with the Message site instead. I applied with the 9rules site and that worked. The message site should work just as well. Then you can post them here.

Scrivs said on February 22, 2004 6:40 PM

Andy just apply with the Message site instead. I applied with the 9rules site and that worked. The message site should work just as well. Then you can post them here.