Off Targeted Ads as an Opportunity

If you create a site about information retrieval and see medical ads on it that might be a good sign there is a bunch of money in that market.

  • Google's internal AdSense optimization is based on earnings potential. If they give an ad excessive exposure, even on off topic sites, it probably means that the ads stand a good chance of being expensive.

  • If advertisers are buying expensive clicks from off topic sites then they got plenty of budget to blow through.

I am not saying that off topic ads are a great thing long-term, but they might make for an easy way to follow the money trail. If you have any interest in the ad topic then create a few pages about it and test the earnings potential. You might also consider joining a related affiliate program and buying cheap traffic through other ad networks, such as AdBrite.

In case you think this off targeted advertising is a short term condition, consider the following data points...

Recent market size:

The most startling fact about 2002 is that the combined profits for the ten drug companies in the Fortune 500 ($35.9 billion) were more than the profits for all the other 490 businesses put together ($33.7 billion). - Marcia Angell

Future growth prospects:

If medical spending rises to 25% of gross domestic product by 2030, as many economists expect, health care's share of jobs could grow to 15% or 16% of the labor market from today's 12%, based on historical patterns.

Such a shift in employment would require health care to be the single biggest creator of jobs in the economy for the foreseeable future. And while the U.S. could in theory afford to spend 25% of GDP on health care, it's hard to imagine a world in which our children have to choose between working for the local hospital or the local health insurer. - Business Week

Drug companies are off manufacturing diseases to make up for our poor rushed choices and hollow lifestyles:

75 million Americans may have something called metabolic syndrome. How Big Pharma turned obesity into a disease – then invented the drugs to cure it. - Wired

Drug companies sponsor research

The Center for Science in the Public Interest found that 96 percent of the industry-funded efficacy studies of drugs like Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil in children were positive. That compares to just 63 percent of independently funded studies published in medical journals.
If one looks at just published clinical trials that contained a placebo-controlled arm, industry-funded clinicians reported the drugs were effective in 9 out of 10 cases. But among researchers not funded by industry, only 5 out of 9 reported positive results, which is surprisingly low given that other studies have shown that medical journals are biased toward publishing positive reports. By comparison, just 3 of 15 FDA reviews of pediatric antidepressant trials, many of which have not been published, were positive. - Center for Science in the Public Interest

Drug companies market directly to consumers via shady prescribe yourself websites.

And if all the above wasn't scary enough, consider the fraud baked right into the system:

The Justice Department has charged a former chief of the Food and Drug Administration with lying about his ownership of stock in companies regulated by the agency, according to media reports on Monday. The government accused Lester Crawford with falsely reporting that he had sold stock in companies while he continued holding shares in firms governed by FDA rules, the Associated Press reported. - MarketWatch

Published: October 17, 2006 by Aaron Wall in contextual advertising


October 17, 2006 - 4:42am

ClickZ was reporting Behavioral Ads Convert Better Out of Context

Might be something to consider.

October 17, 2006 - 4:44am

OK, but if you are seeing off topic ads on your own site and it is not something you are interested in (or have shown interest in) then it probably is not behavioral targeting.

October 17, 2006 - 4:53am

Using off topic ads as an indication of a money stream to follow is valid, but its important to bear in mind that the new area will probably be saturated (one of the reasons they are 'overflowing',. to follow a theme ;)) so it should not be considered 'low hanging fruit'.

October 17, 2006 - 5:00am

Great point Lea

I guess, the areas where that expensive topic overlap with your cheaper one that you already an authority on might be a bit of low hanging fruit, but your mention of general market saturation is spot on.

October 17, 2006 - 1:54pm

Just as an aside to potential health publishers: I've found the click-thru-rate on health information sites to be relatively low. These visitors are searching for specific information, like what are symptoms of X, they're not looking for ways to spend their money.

If you're good at converting information seekers into buyers though, maybe your CTR will be better than mine.

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