The last few weeks I’ve been coming across this “Smart Pricing” term quite a lot – people tend to casually toss it into conversations without seeming to feel the need for any further explanation, other than that it’s a Very Bad Thing. I’m not sure if this is:
- to give the impression they know more than they actually do, or
- because it’s so obvious that everyone knows exactly what it’s all about!
Well, I don’t mind admitting that I don’t (or didn’t) have a clue what they were talking about, so I decided to find out.
Is Smart Pricing still relevent?
The first thing that struck me when I did a search for adsense smart pricing is that a lot of the top results seem to date back to 2005, which led me to wonder if this is even relevent anymore! After all, three to four years is a long time in cyberspace.
However, there are plenty of references to it in Google’s AdWords documentation, so one must assume it’s alive and well.
Smart Pricing explained
So what is it exactly? Here’s a nice concise explanation from the AdWords Learning Centre:
Google uses “smart pricing” technology for clicks made in the content network. Ads in the content network sometimes return lower conversion numbers than ads in the search network. To make up the difference, smart pricing automatically lowers the cost of these content clicks.
Elsewhere we read:
If Google determines that your ads are not likely to perform as well on the Google Network page as on Google web search, the AdWords system may reduce the maximum CPC bid for that site.
Now, although this reference specifically says “for that site”, it seems generally accepted that in actual fact smart pricing affects an entire AdSense account. So if, for example, you display AdSense on several sites, and one of those sites gets smart priced, it affects the value of clicks across all your sites! Here are a couple of examples of others discussing this issue.
How to prevent Smart Pricing
A simple solution to this might be to have multiple AdSense accounts, one per site, in order to isolate them from each other’s harmful effects. But unfortunately this is against Google’s terms and conditions.
Courtney and others advise removing AdSense from poorly performing sites, to see if this leads to a net gain from your better performing ones. Fortunately smart pricing is quite dynamic, and results are generally seen in a few days to a week.
Now, I don’t know if my account has been smart priced or not, but I think I’m going to give this a try for a few weeks, and see what happens. Of course I’ll be sure to let you know what I find out!
Have you experienced this issue? Please share your experiences in the comments section!
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