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  1. #1
    Full Member OICUAM2's Avatar
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    PPC Slap For Rebill Offers
    I've been hearing rumblings that Google, Yahoo, and MSN are starting to shut down PPC accounts that are promoting rebill products such as diet products, government grants, etc...

    This is a big story in the PPC market. Many pro PPC's have done well with these offers combined with fake blogs (flogs). Now they will no longer monopolize the top spots in the ad units.

    Personally, I wonder what took the PPC engines so long to ban these marketers. Internet users were bound to get upset by clicking on ads that led to landing pages pushing deceptive free trials that led to huge rebills on blogs that used fake testimonials. Why would I continue to click on ads if I was taken advantage of like that?

    As for the PPC marketers who were using this tactic, getting slapped must hurt. I know some of them are trying to find ways around the slap by opening new accounts or using third tier PPC engines, but for many of them, the game is over.

    This is one reason why I don't play the PPC game. There is the possibility of making a lot of money in the short-term, but there is very little long-term value being created. Their ad campaigns leading to fake blogs and rebill offers are now useless. They have no customer base, no brand recognition, and most of these marketers are now back at square one. Sure they have a ton of experience with creating PPC campaigns, but now their accounts and strategies are banned.
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  2. #2
    Full Member snappy's Avatar
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    Hmm not all rebills are deceptive, like blockbuster and netflix for example are rebills but clear. I think when you say rebill you think of acai berry crap that you can not cancel, but if you say rebill I think of services like that of blockbuster or netflix or proactive or things that we use.
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  3. #3
    Full Member OICUAM2's Avatar
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    Good point snappy! Not all rebill offers are getting slapped.

    Just the shaddy ones.
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  4. #4
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    Astroturfing, Rebilling, and other abuses
    I assume this is a follow-on to this week's legal woes arising from "Astroturfing"(Google News and Wikipedia). The issue was merchants' fabrication of fraudulent "reviews" and "endorsements" designed to appear independent. (The New York case involved cosmetic surgery, but I find these much more frequently in the "nutritional supplements" or "nutriceuticals" space, where merchants create dozens or hundreds of apparently-independent web sites that make health claims which the merchant is legally barred from making.)

    Google could be held liable for allowing these companies to operate "astroturf" sites, especially if it's apparent to Google that these companies are operating the sites (for example, if the same AdWords account is being used to promote the merchant site and the "Astroturfing" sites).

    Google might also reasonably want to step in and block abusive practices by some unethical marketers who don't properly disclose "rebilling" or recurring billing" or who don't honor cancellation requests. Apart from legal liability, Google surely recognizes that consumers who experiences these abusive practices will later choose not to buy online from legitimate merchants.

    The connection here is that the same sleazy "nutriceuticals" companies that use Astroturfing also engage in unethical "recurring billing" practices. (Note that there are many legitimate and ethical nutritional-supplement companies, including some participants on ABW.)

  5. #5
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    > "This is one reason why I don't play the PPC game." <

    Why would anyone choose not to use PPC search marketing, just because some unethical marketers illegally "rebill" customers whom they acquire via PPC search marketing? If I own a tire store, and my competitor runs "bait-and-switch" price ads in the newspaper, does that mean I shouldn't run my legitimate ads in the newspaper?

    Certainly, folks who do "direct to merchant PPC" (or who use PPC to drive traffic to web sites which are monetized by advertising from a single merchant) should choose those merchants very carefully, and do some "due diligence" examination of the merchant's practices.

  6. #6
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    An added thought: I wonder if there might be some relationship between the "rebilling" problems and Google's own Checkout service.

    First, many merchants offer Google Checkout as an option just to get the little icon next to their AdWords ads (which slightly boosts CTR and conversion rates). Consumers view the icon (badge) as a sort of endorsement by Google (which is exactly what Google intends, in order to boost adoption of Google Checkout). But Google doesn't want to be blamed for unethical practices by merchants, and absolutely doesn't want consumers to start viewing the "Google Checkout" badge as a negative.

    Second, if Google treats "rebilling" merchants who use Google Checkout differently from merchants who don't, some skeptics might view this as a strategy by Google to unfairly gain market share.

  7. #7
    Full Member OICUAM2's Avatar
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    If I owned a store or offered a service, I would definately use PPC marketing.

    However, as an affiliate, there has always been an option to focus on playing the PPC game instead of building a good site with a good domain name. Lots of people try to make money by building PPC camapaigns with the hope they will get affiliate offers to convert at a profitable rate.

    Most people on this forum seem to be the build long-term value with good sites types. On other forums and blogs, there are a lot of PPC marketers who don't build sites, but rather a series of PPC landing pages (now that the old direct to merchant model stopped being allowed by most PPC engines.) The problem is that a lot of these marketers keep getting slapped by the search engines. They find a way to get around the new rules and quality score requirements and make some short term money and then get slapped again.

    In addition to the problem of the search engines changing the rules, the competition and bidding changes hourly. It is a tough game to play especially in saturated markets. I have never been a fan of playing this game.

    Many of these pro PPC types recently started buying traffic and sending them to fake blogs where huge claims were made and then a free trial was offered. Most people thought the free trial started when they got the product, but it actually started when they ordered the product. Due to the confusing nature of the free trial, many people were being charged $60 or $80 or $120 with no recourse for challenging the charges.

    I think the most famous of these offers was the "one rule- obey" diet ads. I would often see variations of this same ad take the top three spots in some Google ad boxes. The ad led to a fake blog with fake testimonials and the shaddy free trial with the quick rebill charge.

    I always was dumbfounded why Google was allowing ads like this while telling me that my widget ads for a widget site were not relevant enough. I also thought it would come back to bite them when more and more people got mad at clicking a Google ad and then being charged a large amount halfway through their free trial.

    I know some of these marketers say it is the consumers fault for not reading through the terms and conditions, but a fake blog with fake testimonials is bad enough and shouldn't be a part of a legitimate advertising platform. I'm glad these marketers are being banned.
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  8. #8
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    Building a house of cards isn't going to hold up in a windstorm.

    It's been long said that if you spend as much time building real sites that have real value as these folks have been spending on building their sites of cards, you would probably be rich.

    PPC marketing is a strategy that takes a lot of work, money, analysis and a skill set that is highly specialized. It still amazes me that people use all that to send traffic direct to merchants instead of to landing pages on real sites (not just landing pages built for the day).

    Eventually people will "get it" because they won't be able to work the way they are now. Adapt and grow, or keep scrambling and lose.
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  9. #9
    Full Member snappy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by loxly
    PPC marketing is a strategy that takes a lot of work, money, analysis and a skill set that is highly specialized.
    I agree PPC marketing is a strategy but I have been using ppc for over a year, I direct link to 1 advertiser with permission and has been very profitable for me. So it is also like gambling because I believe that it has been pure luck for me minimal changes and I am only paying .07/click and convert well over 30%. Its all about targeting correct people in a market that is needed and not over saturated. And of course a very open relationship with the merchant.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by snappy
    > "I agree PPC marketing is a strategy but I have been using ppc for over a year . . . it is also like gambling because I believe that it has been pure luck for me" <
    If it still feels like gambling, you're not doing it right. You should be carefully monitoring the ROI of each keyword, and adjusting bid levels to the right level. If the ROI changes over time, you change the bid levels accordingly.

    I know that it often feels like gambling, especially when you first launch a new campaign promoting a new site (whether it's your own or a merchant's site), or if you're bidding on very-low-traffic terms, where it's very difficult to gather enough click data to make intelligent bids.

    But I really, really want to stress that the "gambling" element should drop off very quickly as you gain data (and experience). If you're still feeling like you're gambling, you might not really be analyzing the right data and making intelligent decisions. (Of course, sometimes we have hunches and intuition that lead us in the right direction, so "pinpoint analysis" isn't always essential.)

  11. #11
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Sounds like a pretty big blow to CPA Networks. Good. They shouldn't be pushing this deceptive garbage on people. Bravo to Google!
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  12. #12
    ABW Ambassador simcat's Avatar
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    PPC game
    Its a game, a game where the rules change quite a bit.

    I used to wonder why google allowed so many scammy ads. Then I realized that the scammy ones have the 'angle' or scam which lets them bid the most money for their top positions.

  13. #13
    Full Member OICUAM2's Avatar
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    You should be carefully monitoring the ROI of each keyword, and adjusting bid levels to the right level. If the ROI changes over time, you change the bid levels accordingly.
    Even if you are doing it right, that sounds like a daily/hourly game of poker to me - especially in competitive makets/keywords. At some point, the bid might get too rich and you are forced out of the game. Or the rules might change and your hand will be worthless.

    There are very legitimate reasons to play the PPC game. It works very well in many different markets. However, making it the main source of income as an affiliate strategy without building sites, services, products, or brand recognition is a very risky game.

    There are many people who build new PPC campaigns, offers, and ads trying to make a profit on a quick hit business model. Many of these people now have a feeling of panic as their accounts are being banned and they realize they have built no long-term value.
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