Digital Point's Free Co-op Ad Network Under Scrutiny

Dec 21, 2004 • 9:01 am | comments (0) by | Filed Under Search Engine Optimization Tools

For those of you that have been reading this site for a while now, you will know the name Digital Point. In fact, back in July I interviewed Shawn Hogan of Digital Point, because, whether he admits it or not, he has been instrumental in helping the SEO community grow with his onslaught of free SEO tools. Keep in mind, that Shawn doesn't build tools that are already out there, like most of us. He is an inventive individual, coming up with new ideas that solve problems.

In early July of 2004, I announced the Digital Point Ad Network with a quote from Shawn. The goal was simple, to do something with the "ton of unused advertising space out there on the Internet." Webmasters can serve up none JavaScript required ads to a wide spread of Internet surfers. At first the network was small, under 100 sites, under 500 sites, and even under 1,000 sites. But then the network starting taking off, and there were those who tried to take advantage of it to rank well for keywords in the "PPC" category (Porn, Pills and Casinos). Of course, Shawn does his best to make sure the links within the network are all from sites that are not associated with "bad neighborhoods" but the job is getting bigger.

A thread (I am not sure what to call it, a blog) at ThreadWatch has been the location of much chatter on this network. You have those who are worried about the network being mapped by Google and then anyone involved would be banned from Google. But if you look at the network carefully, you will notice some things. (1) The network uses the Google API to determine if the pages with the ads on them are spam free. If Google has them in the index, they will be allowed in. Thus and pages that are spam, as defined by Google, will not be allowed in the network. (2) Shawn personally reviews all the ads requested. Of course this job gets harder every day, as the network grows. He will be signing on volunteers to help review ads. (3) People do the bait and switch tactic, and Shawn has caught a few and banned them from the network. Again, as the network grows, this will be more of a resource challenge. Part of the volunteers jobs will be to review existing ads on a continual basis. I would think Shawn will add a "report spam" page. (4) Contextual based ads. Relevancy of the ads are important to those advertising and the publishers. At the beginning, it was a small group of individuals participating in the ad network, so relevancy was kind of there just do to the small network of people involved. As the network grows, Shawn will be adding contextual based algorithms to serve up ads that are related to the site. It was the natural next step for the ad network and it is going that way, soon.

GoogleGuy commented early during that thread saying:

But I'm saying that participation in a program that leads one to link to a site with pages (or the hidden text links I mentioned earlier) can directly impact the reputation of one's own site. If people realize that and want to take that risk, that's their choice of course.

I thought it was very smart of Shawn to use the Google index (API) to determine what ads and sites are allowed in the index. That is not enough, and I agree with GoogleGuy. If bad neighborhoods and hidden text links get into the network, then the network will die. But I am eager and excited to see what Shawn comes up with next in order to reduce the risk of being associated with such a network. He is a bright man, so this does intrigue me.

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