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Big Problems With Big Data And General Advice For Specific Sites

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#1 iamlost


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Posted 20 July 2014 - 06:47 PM

Had another conversation with AdSense folks the other day.
Note: it is amusing that they don't know, at least at this level, that I operate multiple sites in the niche.

Which wouldn't have been note worthy except that earlpearl made a thread comment that resonated:

Google has mega data.  We have little data.  Google aggregates all its data about clicks of this sort;  people searching for dentists and doctors, and restaurants and hair salons etc.  They search in their own cities.  They search in other cities.  


Now, the above quote was in regard to how G might decide whether a query is local. I'm quite happily taking it out of that context and reapplying it in the resonating context: why sometimes AdSense advice seems wonky even contra-indicated.

Because they are looking at the big picture and not my piece of the picture. Just because a forest is primarily conifers does not mean that pockets of deciduous don't flourish. However, in the big picture they, if not disappear, diminish to insignificance.

And that is one of the critical problems of big data: one size does not fit all.
Some others:
* surprisingly easily gamed
* increased risk of spurious correlations
* often merges data collected variously for differing purposes skewing results
* can reinforce error
Of course proper methodologies minimise all the above. However, the one most likely to not lose the trees in the forest, running multiple tests against multiple subsets, is not common. At all.

So, when AdSense 'advisors' make suggestions they are mostly/always based on the big data for the entire niche. And so they make, in amongst the beneficial suggestions, unhelpful even disastrous recommendations. The old saw about not extrapolating the specific to the general works the other way as well.

Take their advice should they proffer it and apply it against your own analysis of your own metrics. Only if it appears to fit should you decide how best to test it.

Regardless, always be pleasant and say thank you. For they may be offering a zillion dollar opportunity.
Or not.


#2 earlpearl


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Posted 20 July 2014 - 07:18 PM

Iamlost:   At times I find interactions with phone salespeople and/or consultants, especially those from Google weird in a number of contexts.   


For instance, I had innumerable calls from a certain sales group representing a business.  They have occurred over a 1.5 years.  The sales people keep getting assigned to new accounts.  Whatever.  I suppose it keeps them fresh.   I know there are supposed to be and there are "notes" on sales.   But the essence of the calls is that the sales people don't read notes from the past or the old people don't keep good notes for future use.  II believe b/c they rotate salespeople its a disincentive to carry information forward.  C'est la vie.


As to google:  I take the calls from the adwords consultants as opposed to the adsense people.  Couldn't find nicer people on the phone...except possibly for the adsense advisers.  ;)      They don't carry notes forward either.  They never know I handle different accounts.  They don't pay attention to my comments from the past.  I guess they are trained not to care.  One thing is we keep getting different people.  I suppose from google's perspective it keeps their consultants fresher, and frankly we aren't a big fish that merits a private consultant.  Of course even if we had one I wouldn't share everything with them.  Google's interests and ours are different.  


I definitely don't like all their advice.  I take some of it.  I'm respectful back to them.  They have advised on things I definitely don't want to do for clear proprietary business reasons.  Like w/ your adsense callers they are doling out advice from the grand picture...but its not always appropriate for every case.  


Some time ago I met and did a little work on behalf of a large auto dealership with multiple locations.  They are big.  Per industry reports their aggregate sales are more than $500 million/year. That puts them in the top 20 or 50 auto dealerships in the US.  I forget where. They spend a healthy amt on google adwords.  


They don't merit their own google acct rep.  The manufacturers do; the GM's, and Fords, and Toyota's, and VW's etc.  


Man, you have to be very big to get google's individual attention.   I have a further suspicion on that level.  When you are a huge entity you might get google's direct attention.  Corporate wise it might be heavily guarded.   Some time ago I saw a google local problem discussed in Local by a rep from one of the larger hotel chains.   I'm pretty sure they are one of the major google advertisers.   I have a contact into the person that discussed the corporate issues.  I've met him.    Subsequent to his writing publicly on some issues the big hotel chain was experiencing...he completely clammed up.  I think they were getting help in a way that others don't get assistance.  I suspect you have to be at the biggest of the big to do so, though.


They have a lot of mega data.  They covet it.  They don't use it in all its possible applications.  I don't think they want to spread it around too much. 

#3 iamlost


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Posted 20 July 2014 - 08:55 PM

PAY for advertising?
What a shocking concept! :D

I have no experience with AdWords beyond having an account to access info to aid my AdSense inclusion. That said I have rather a lot with AS. There there is definitely at least a two tier differential. And the benefits of moving on up are substantial albeit more speculated about than printed - what happens at fight club...

One of the drawbacks of having several sites separately incorporated with separate AS accounts in a niche is that there is no power of summation :( so most are quite ordinary in G's eyes. Every so often I dream about amalgamating and (1) impressing the whatever out of all and sundry and (2) increasing the AS revenue side of the ledger; but then I hunker back down and hope to remain 'lost'.

Disclaimer: the following is totally speculative and without solid statistical data foundation.
To guess where the separation between minor and major leagues might be I'll use some 2010 stats:
That was towards the end (switching to direct deposit) of the AdSense UPS (formerly FedEx) $10,000 cheque Club, a year when one webdev I know made ~$1-million a month. To err on the downside then the threshold for AS might be 1/10th 1% of top earners.
Note: it was estimated (WAG) that year that ~4,000 webdevs were consistently in the club.
Note: it has been speculated that the cheque threshold was not the AS service threshold which has been pegged as high as $25,000/month, $300,000/year.

The top AdWords spenders that year were over ~$5-million a month. Given the same ratio the AW threshold might have been $50,000 a month. Note that what is critical is not the value or revenue of the company itself but what it spends on AdWords.
Note: that would mean a site needed to spend $600,000 a year on AdWords to 'step up'.
Note: data released for June that year showed: 47 advertisers gte $1 million; 71 at $500,000 to $1-million, and 357 between $100,000 and $500,000.
Note: the above were classified as direct billed so that the threshold may actually be higher at $100,000/month, 1.2-million/year to qualify.

Only Google knows. And all that Google knows stays beyond the event horizon.

#4 earlpearl


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Posted 20 July 2014 - 09:45 PM

From my recollection the auto dealer was underspending on adwords relative to its overall size and penetration into the market.  8 or more different locations, 5 major regional markets plus within them many submarkets, quite a number of different manufacturers, new cars, used cars, specialty vehicles and a plethora of services.   ie....lots of keyword phrases.   ;)


From what I gathered NO dealers were getting direct assistance from Google to the best of their knowledge....but possibly large spenders were getting better assistance and this group didn't know about it.   If we were spending that much that vaulted us to a level with more assistance, knowledge, and better arrows in our quiver I wouldn't broadcast it.   The large dealers are large because they are in a lot of locations, and probably competing against similarly large dealers.  You don't want your competitors to know what you are doing.  


Anyway ...big data.  It has its uses...and it's findings in general might not be appropriate for certain groups.  


meanwhile with regard to the question elsewhere about why google is showing ads in the user's area besides showing ads for the intended area of the search...it could be a result of big data, it could be a result of placing your chips in all areas to cover all possibilities.     In that last example the young Irish golfer Rory McIlroy just won a major golf tournament.  I believe he is 25.  About a decade ago his father and some friends placed some incredible long shot bets on the then dramatically young McIlroy, predicting he would win major major golf tournaments at some targeted point in the future.  The odds against that were enormous...beyond enormous.    The bets were relatively small.   But the odds were enormous...and the father and his friends won some pots in the range of hundreds of thousands of dollars;  on a lark bet.


maybe its big data...maybe google is covering all its bases.   maybe its both.    

Edited by earlpearl, 20 July 2014 - 09:46 PM.

#5 test-ok


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Posted 21 July 2014 - 12:39 AM

What's your definition of big data?

#6 iamlost


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Posted 21 July 2014 - 09:43 AM

What's your definition of big data?


Big Data (def): data sets that are too large and complex to manipulate or interrogate with standard methods or tools.
Given that PostgreSQL (my off the shelf DB of choice) provides:
* maximum Database size: Unlimited
* maximum Table size: 32 TB
* maximum Row size: 1.6 TB
* maximum Field size: 1-GB
* maximum Rows per Table: Unlimited
* maximum Columns per Table: 250 - 1600 depending on column types
* maximum Indexes per Table: Unlimited
Few of us are likely to be encountering true big data. There is our big data and then there is the BIG data of Google, FaceBook, NASA, NOAA et al.

Note: two years ago FaceBook was handling 210 TBs of data/hour!
Note: the most I've crunched at once is ~2-TBs (doing visual representations/simulations).
Note: the current wisdom (we know how our everyday data consumption, manipulation, storage needs have been skyrocketing) is that most companies are in the 0.5TB to 50TB data manipulation range. And with new (currently proprietary) systems that can outperform RAM calculations by factors of 10, 100, 1000...

Big is relative.




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Posted 21 July 2014 - 10:40 AM

Google has lots of data about Adsense.  Lots.  N-dimensional data from millions of sites, billions of pages and gazillions of pageviews.


They also have some really smart people consulting with webmasters.  The problem is all of n-dimensional info at millions, billions and gazillions has to be boiled down to 2-dimensional spots on your website where an ad can fit... and they got 30 minutes to analyze, give you advice and answer questions.    It is really draw-and-shoot - from the hip.



For they may be offering a zillion dollar opportunity.


This is true.   I got one.   DFP.   One of their reps suggested it to me three times.  I said "no" all three times.  Then she calls me up and says... "EGOL... you need to do this!"   It wasn't quite a zillion but it was BIG.   Look into it if you are not using it.

Edited by EGOL, 21 July 2014 - 10:41 AM.

#8 iamlost


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Posted 21 July 2014 - 11:19 AM

DFP is an interesting offering for the typical webdev going beyond simple AdSense. It isn't a fit for my type of presell aff or direct ad sales. Plus I prefer to make G work to figure out some things about my site - always interesting to learn what they've noticed (or not) when the rep calls... :)

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