Sunday, March 26, 2006

What Are MFA Sites

What are MFA sites?

Do you have AdSense ads on your blog? Have you heard about MFA sites? MFA stands for "Made for AdSense". These sites are generally created with only one purpose in mind; to make money from Google AdSense. At first that seems like a fair way to make some money but there's more to it than that. The problem with MFAs is that the sites are usually useless to vistors. They may have some illegaly scraped content from other sites but the main intent is to trick people into visiting the site so they can click on more AdSense ads.

By doing this they drive up ad costs for legitimate advertisers and hurt the image of AdSense ads which makes people less likely to click them. You would think Google would be more sensitive to this. After all, the guiding principal behind the updates to their Search Engine placement algorithims is that the more accurate and useful the search results are to visitors, the more likely people will stick with Google for their searching.

The reason MFA ads do well is that AdSense uses a system that factors high clickthrough rates (CTR) along with the cost of an ad. So, if an MFA has a more attarctive ad and it gets clicked more often, it will appear before higher cost ads for legitimate sites. Some MFAs will game the system by initially bidding high for their keywords when first running their ads to try to get good placement and then when their CTR is high they lower their bids and, because AdSense factors in CTR, their ads keep their high positions.

There is currently a lot of talk about AdSense publishers blocking MFAs from their sites. Anecdotal evidence suggests that banning MFAs can increase income. This may be due to the fact that MFA ads tend to be low paying but I also get the feeling that if a visitor to your site clicks on an AdSense ad and is sent to a useless site they may decide not to click on anymore of your ads the next time they visit your site.

Google obviously needs to figure out that AdSense and searches do not benefit from the same rules. CTR may be useful in detrmining value in the search arena but it can falsely promote shill sites in the PPC arena. Maybe once Yahoo and MSN get their PPC systems rolled out Google will pay more attention to the problems with AdSense and MFAs and clean up the system.

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