January 20, 2022

Judging Quality of Ad Traffic

Yahoo announced today on their search marketing blog that click charges may be based on “quality of traffic.”

The announcement sounds good for advertisers, but is it good for publishers? That depends on how they judge quality of traffic.

The Yahoo blog defines quality as:

“Quality” is calculated based on conversion rates and other measurements of the ability of our partner’s sites to deliver more interested, valuable customers to you

Again this sounds really great for advertisers, but not for content producers. Here’s why:

Up until now, everything that determined how much you got paid was up to the content producer. As somebody who runs sites that show ads I could choose what to write about (thus choosing the keywords for the ads to be based on). I could also choose where to put the ads, how many, the color scheme, etc. The more clicks I got the more money I made.

That’s not to say I cheated the system. Yahoo has many policies intact to prevent people from enticing users to click ads, and I follow them all. Ads aren’t just a way to make money; they’re a service to your users as well. If your users find themselves tricked into clicking irrelevant ads they’re not very likely to return to your site.

What I don’t like about this program is that the “quality” takes control away from me. Not only that, it’s ambiguous.

There are many things that can determine conversions. Suppose for a minute that I’m showing ads for a loan application site. Upon clicking the ad the user finds that the site is asking for their social security number but isn’t using SSL. Most likely they’re not going to fill out the application – and I’m not going to be paid for that click. My user wanted a loan, but the landing page didn’t do a good job of letting them convert. That’s not my fault and I should be paid accordingly.

Here’s another example: Earlier today I clicked on an ad for “hassle free ring tones” The landing page however didn’t show me any ring tones. It only offered some more ads for ring tone companies. Since I didn’t immediately see ring tones on the landing page, I left and went somewhere else. This type of page isn’t going to convert well. It’s common knowledge that ad landing pages should have the product that the ad is advertising.

With the old program, I got paid the same amount whether or not the user did anything. After all, I delivered a targeted customer; it’s your job to get them to buy.

The new system doesn’t work this way. Somehow I (the publisher) am supposed to get my users to buy (despite how crappy your landing pages are) without somehow enticing them to do so.

It’ll be interesting to see if any publishers jump ship for competitors like Adsense or Azoogle. What are your opinions?

About Ryan Jones

Ryan Jones is an SEO from Detroit. By day he works as a manager of SEO & Analytics at SapientNitro where his team performs SEO for Fortune500 clients. By night he's either playing hockey or attempting to take over the world with his own websites - which he would have already succeeded in doing had it not been for those meddling kids and their dog. The views expressed here have not been paid for and belong only to Ryan, not any of his employers or clients. Follow Ryan on Twitter at: @RyanJones, add him on Google+ or visit his personal website: www.RyanMJones.com