Focus: Value First – And Then Money. Whaaaa?

I seem to have stumbled across a kindred spirit on my prowls through the blogosphere: Enough With The Adsense!

I really really don’t see the allure of Adsense. Aside from a few of the most popular blogs, I doubt many of you are making very much from it, probably not even enough to pay for your webhosting, assuming you even *need* to pay for webhosting. Who actually clicks on the ads? Several web browsers come with a plugin where you can turn off third-party scripts, and that includes Adsense, of course. Most of the bloggers who post their monthly Adsense revenues earn less than $20/month. Some people seem to think that more ads = more money, and one can scarcely find their content for all the ads, reminiscent of an about.com page.

I LOL’d at the about.com page reference. Really Loud. Cause it’s so damn true :lol:.

I’m not a superfan of Adsense. Anyone who’s followed SuperAff for any length of time knows that. But I don’t begrudge anyone trying to earn a buck or two or million for themselves online. If someone feels Adsense is their Holy Answer, rock on.

However if Adsense isn’t used respectfully and a webmaster or blogger insists on shoving the ads in my face for their better return rather than my better experience–I just don’t come back. I view adsense as an updated version of the popup ad when it’s done In-Your-Face style. And I think if blog readers and visitors feel the same way I do, they really need to back out and not revisit. That’s the only way the silliness stops. Hurt the wallets.

But this post isn’t going to be about all that–I’m interested in a juicy reference she pointed to: On greed and speed from the “I Will Teach You To Be Rich” blog. At first I thought it was going to be some lame internet marketing super guru type blog. And how refreshing and suprising that it isn’t like that at all! It’s an AWESOME blog! Added to my feed reader ;).

Here’s a pattern I see a lot:

1. Somebody launches something
2. He tries to make money
3. Then he tries to make it valuable and useful

What a funny way of doing things.

I don’t think he’s talking about the typical bait & switch technique (fill a site with value–then drown with monetization once it takes off). But Ramit is saying something we forget about sometimes:

Focus On Providing Value–NOT Making Money

Everybody seems to be in a big fat hurry to make money. I call this greedy, but not in the traditional sense of the word. It’s greedy because I don’t think it should be the first thing on anybody’s mind. This kind of thinking is short-sighted, often self-defeating, and ultimately results in less money.

Hmmm. That’s a bit contrary to what a lot of the pros and gurus advice is saying (and selling) isn’t it. He discusses Adsense and blogging:

Second, I knew that once I put ads up, I’d focus on optimizing the ads rather than creating content. In other words, I’d focus more on trying to make money than actually improving the site.

Nails it IMO.

(Incidentally, the dirty secret of bloggers and AdSense (or other ad solutions) is that most bloggers are making very, very little.)

And then:

Make the right long-term decisions, not the ones that give you $10 and some gummi bears
Next time you have some opportunity, STOP THINKING ABOUT HOW TO MAKE MONEY OFF IT IMMEDIATELY. PLEASE!!!!!!!!!

Actually I could c&p his entire post. How about you check it out yourself: On greed and speed – I Will Teach You To Be Rich

Think Long Term: Adding Value to the Web. Am I doing that and how can I do it?

Interesting concept isn’t it ;).

Get Paid To Search – The New Breed

Hmmmmmm.

http://www.getpaid2search.com/

Sorry ’bout the non-clickable.

GetPaid2Search.com allows users to make money by promoting their own Custom-Search-Engine (CSE) on Google.

Now it’s called Get Paid To Search, but it’s not an incentivized environment :roll:. See, although everyone earns more if everyone clicks on ads, you’re really not supposed to:

You will NOT be paid for clicking ads. Therefore, you should only click on ads that truly interest you.

If I understand this all correctly, it works on a referral setup. People build their own custom search engines through Google, then have people join with their referral link. That way every second search on your referral’s custom search engine is replaced with your custom search engine. And then the referrals your referrals pick up show every 4th result as yours.

Google’s now being pimped out MLM style!

ETA: Cleaned post up a bit–wasn’t clear that I was sarcastic about ‘not an incentivized environment’.

Click Fraudsters & Wiccan Retribution

Since the BusinessWeek article came out several days ago, it seems the ‘spies’ that are reporting incentivized parked domains are seeing a bit more success getting stuff shut down when they report them. The ringleaders aren’t too happy about it all though, and one is shouting out threats of Wiccan Retribution:

I HOPE YOU LAUGH SO ###### HARD YOU CHOKE TO DEATH. I’M CALLING ON A FEW OF MY WICCA FRIENDS. SEE IF WE CAN MAKE LIFE AS MISERABLE FOR YOU AS YOU HAVE FOR ME AND MY HONEST MEMBERS.”

Bizarre no? :lol:!

ETA: Check out the numbers this guy was doing:

AFTER LOSING 2 OF MY BEST PARKING ACCOUNTS THIS MORNING PLUS ALL THE EARNINGS, NOT TO MENTION OTHERS I’VE LOST WITHOUT SAYING A WORD, IT’S GOING TO TAKE A MIRACLE FOR ME TO GET UP THE MONEY TO PAY YOU ALL. FROM THIS DAY FORTH, UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE, THERE WILL BE NO MORE ADMIN ADVERTISEMENTS SENT! I HAVE TO RAISE $21,000.00 BY THE 15th TO PAY YOU ALL ON BOTH SITES.

No wonder he’s cranky! That’s a big chunk of change–and it’s just the clickers share ;).

So who are these people deep in the dark recesses of click fraud that are reporting the shenanigans? Dodging threats of Wiccan curses? How long have they been reporting this to Google, parked domain companies, etc.?

Would you believe they’ve been neck deep in this stuff for *years*? And only NOW are they seeing sites starting to get shut down?

I know people. I’m not involved with gptr, yet I have a good grasp of what’s going on in there. Google, Yahoo!, domain parkers–they really need to step up to the plate here and infiltrate these click fraud communities to have a better handle of what’s going on. If I can do it, why the hell aren’t they?

Another article came out interviewing someone who gladly clicks for pay: Clicks that sting Armies of citizens have been lured into fraud rings

Louise, a disabled housewife, plays a bit part in a ring of online fraudsters.

She spends her days at home in Ohio entering queries in obscure search engines and then clicking on the ads — over and over again.

Louise’s illicit clicks cost advertisers untold amounts of money. But she doesn’t care because some of their losses eventually trickle into her pockets to help pay for her prescription medicine.

FYI: Things aren’t close to being cleaned up yet. Keep your ads off the content network ;).

Does anyone know if the results in parked domains are from adwords search network or from the content network?

BusinessWeek: Click Fraud – The Dark Side Of Advertising

Wow, this is exciting! Businessweek has a great article out on click fraud: Click Fraud – The Dark Side Of Advertising

Quote from Business Week:

That confidence may be slipping. A BusinessWeek investigation has revealed a thriving click-fraud underground populated by swarms of small-time players, making detection difficult. “Paid to read” rings with hundreds or thousands of members each, all of them pressing PC mice over and over in living rooms and dens around the world.

Why exciting? Hey who says mainstream media isn’t paying attention to the blogosphere: Found: Click Fraud Paid Clickers – Chat With Them If You’d Like

Former Click Fraudsters Interview:

“It’s not that much different from someone coming up and taking money out of your wallet,” says David Struck. He and his wife, Renee, both 35, say they dabbled in click fraud last year, making more than $5,000 in four months. Employing a common scheme, the McGregor (Minn.) couple set up dummy Web sites filled with nothing but recycled Google and Yahoo advertisements. Then they paid others small amounts to visit the sites, where it was understood they would click away on the ads, says David Struck. It was “way too easy,” he adds. Gradually, he says, he and his wife began to realize they were cheating unwitting advertisers, so they stopped. “Whatever Google and Yahoo are doing [to stop fraud], it’s not having much of an effect,” he says.

BusinessWeek Click Fraud Cover Story A big thanks to Peter Da Vanzo who picked up my post: Disturbing Click Fraud Underground: “Let It happen”?. I have a feeling no one would have touched the story otherwise ;).

The forum that started it all is gettin a little excited: FINALLY GPTR Has Finally Hit on BusinessWeek on Media, Good News a Free publicity for gptr world

ETA: I forgot to mention this will be the cover story for BusinessWeek issues that hit the newstands this weekend. I know I’m picking up a copy! 😆

Found: Click Fraud Paid Clickers – Chat With Them If You’d Like

Interested in reaching deep down into the bowels of the underground click fraud gangs? Wanna meet and hang out with who’s being paid to click on all those parked domain page ads and paid search engine results?

Take a look at what I’ve been tipped off on:

Getpaidforum threaded discussion

This thread is such a sad, pathetic, twisted story. I’ll explain it as briefly as I can and as best as I can understand it.

  • Two get paid clicking programs are run by one owner. These programs are team1players.com and agroupeffort.net. The OP of the thread is asking general questions about them, basically what the referral rates/percentages are as a member.
  • These two programs operated on an owner/member profit split. Whatever the earnings accumulated are, the owner takes a cut and then the rest divvied up among the members.
  • A member of these two programs was actually ‘spying’ and reporting all paid search ads and incentivized advertisements that went to domain parking pages and other ppc engines. He ended up inadvertently reporting the program owner to himself. It’s very amusing and confusing :P.
  • The thread started as a general query that imploded into paid clicker infighting as to whether or not it was legal or moral to accept payment for clicking and performing searches on ppc ads.

Some quotes (the thread is a freaking 36 pages already):

Quoting the Program Owner

Many members have requested to know what qualifies as a valid search So I have written this short page to tell you.

For a search to qualify as valid these 2 steps must be followed:

1) Click a search term, word or phrase on the portal or parking page and let the results page fully load.

On portals with search boxes you may also enter a search term, word or phrase of your own.

2) click a result and let the page fully load.
You may click up to 3 results from one search without going over search limits. After following these 2 steps you have completed a valid search.

Searching is fully voluntary. Nobody can beg, ask, or make you search. Searching is fully voluntary.

I have only provided this page for people who do not understand what a valid search is.

Thank You.

*Remember, members know they only make money if there’s money in the pot to split. The more valid searches that are made, the more money members split. These how-to-search instructions are mighty helpful, aren’t they.

quote

Yeah, as the membership Rises at a profit sharing site, the share lowers, that’s how they go.

In this light, the ‘forced search’ site, is a superior variation of the basic model.

ptr is Extremely well suited to ripping off ppc/cpc. Megabucks in it too…

Quote

You do realize that someone up the click fraud line had money stolen from them by the click fraud system set up in these two programs in order to pay you don’t you? Just because you got paid from the proceeds of theft doesn’t make it right because someone DID get ripped off in order to pay you. $190 worth of valid searches for the sake of searching had to come out of someone’s pocket in order to pay you right? Do you even care who’s pockets that money was taken from? Or is it ok as long as it went into yours?

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Grumpy, he’s Sending You Parked Domain Ads, with Google adsense on them, or with Yahoo Search Marketing Ads on them, lol.
The Very ACT of Sending Them, is Fraud!

The only reason it lasts as long as it Does, is because Goog and Yahoo have to Verify the Fraud, via the Parking Companies where their ads are displayed on. So it takes some time for it all to get Kanned.

He’s Lost Parked.com and Trafficz.com so we’re getting there, lol.

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It is fraud because he is sending you Parked Domain ads fed by google or yahoo at a ptr site.

Quote

I do not see what all this crap is about. Wah I have to make a search *sniffles* grow the hell up ######. That’s what we get paid to do. If you don’t search, you get fractions of pennies. Who wants that?

Quote

Poor Yahoo and Google. Google stock is only selling for $400 a share. Isn’t that just a crying shame

lol

Talks about 0iframes and auto searching in the background:

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0 iframes now contain over 100 auto searches where they used to contain only two or three. Ever wonder why this is happening? It’s crumbling fast, they’re getting caught faster, the bids are drying up faster.

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did a google search on click fraud and found this:

Google CEO on click fraud: ‘let it happen’

Link: http://blogs.zdnet.com/micro-markets/?p=219

*Hey google says it’s ok, we’re good to go!

Quote

Let’s steal from the people with a lot of money, not ourselves.

*Can you believe it??? 😛

This discussion is in a thread regarding two paid programs, but there are hundreds of these kinds of programs paying thousands of people to click on search ads. Sure they’re eventually shut down, but not after raking in some big cha-ching. It’s my understanding that more and more are moving underground to avoid this kind of attention.

Dig around that forum if you’re bored. All kinds of activities being participated in and discussed. Alexa ranking jimmying, scripted Autosearching, Pyramids, hyips, ponzis, and the always juicy click fraud mania :P.

The perfect quote to end with, happens to be from a moderator of the forum:

Quote

Very true. That is what I learned about advertising as well. Normal company’s do get their “win” out of advertising by getting KNOWN by repeated exposure – so that a customer remembers them if they need a product…or want to purchase a product/service. And when I become a member at a PTR site, I opt in for Paid To Read = PTR. I read the email, click on the link and get credited. Done.

Let me put it this way. Normal company’s trying to SELL a product and getting ripped off by PTR searches, I bet they will change the way of advertising immediately. If they don’t do that…jeez…what do they do then in business? The people buying keywords for exposure and making their win other then selling a product or a service…to be honest I don’t feel that sorry for them. They are milking the system just as the others do in the chain. And some sites which do actually sell something, and stay in the system, I have the feeling these Viagra – Insurances – Medication…whatsoever make still enough money to make it worth. Probably less these days.

Did you know as an advertiser you could stop paying Google or Yahoo! $1, $2, $5, $25 a click for exposure and simply go directly to these incentivized advertising ‘businesses‘ and just pay a buck or two for thousands of exposures. So-Silly ;).

Adsense Earnings Dropping?

I’ve been noticing blog and forum posts talking about their adsense earnings dropping. Sometimes the clicks are still coming in at a good pace but the price earned per click has dropped considerably.

I’ve talked about this here before but I think the noise is rising about income per click dropping, so I’ll mention it again.

Do you think that adsense earnings per click will rise, level off or decrease over time? Is adsense really something to invest all your webmaster portfolio into?

A few things to consider:

  • As the inventory grows–more and more web pages created to hold the ads–the demand for space decreases and the ads/money are spread around more easily.
  • As more and more spam, auto generated content and scraped pages are created, the value to the advertiser decreases (they aren’t seeing a healthy return on their ad spends–or don’t perceive the spends to be worthwhile).
  • Tricked out ad placement–you know: everything above the fold is adsense with a bunch of graphics pointing to and surrounding the adsense blocks. How much value is an advertiser getting from that clicking visitor when that visitor just clicked to get the heck off the fugly mfa site?
  • As more click fraud occurs and as the awareness to the issue rises, more advertisers leave the content network.

I realize that it’s easier to earn money by scraping and auto generating content to earn adsense, and maybe more profitable in the current moment to be tricky about ad display and placement, and I really don’t judge people who do that, but what value does a site like that offer to advertisers?

I see plenty of products out there that show you how to get the most clicks on your ads, how to find the highest paying niches and how to earn the most off adsense. And all that jazz. It’s all good I’m sure.

But something almost everybody forgets or doesn’t pay attention to or talks about is: The adwords advertiser and what value these guys are getting by paying to have their ads displayed on your pages.

Ultimately it’s the adwords advertisers who are funding the game. If they aren’t made happy, the game stops. And too too many adsense publishers are burning the advertisers while pocketing some cash. That affects everybody in the end.

I see the adsense game becoming one big circle jerk. The money earned decreases, so you build more pages to maintain your income level. Money decreases, build more. Money decreases, build more until it’s all one continuous flow and you see webmasters at their keyboards 16 hrs a day trying to maintain that ‘easy money’.

I’m exhausted just thinking about it :lol:.

But as the saying goes: Good Luck With That.

Good Reading:

Adsense: The Trailer Parks of the Web

Seth Godin: Why does Fred have ads on his blog? * Message to Seth: Nice try, but that’s just a bunch of Google Kool-Aid IMO.