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Google AdSense Optimization Webinar

Jul 2005

A few weeks ago, the Optimization Team for AdSense ran an adsense webinar conference call for a few participants on the topic of optimization of adsense for maximum revenue. The tips they shared were from studies they did that allowed them to make some general observations. They’ve released the transcript and I’ll excerpt and organise the main points they spoke about. But you still ought to read the transcript because the team had lots of anecdotes of how slight changes in ad optimization brought about vastly improved ad revenue. There is also a really insightful Q and A at the end - especially the answer to the concern that someone had that the ads may be so attractive that people would click out of the site and perhaps never return.

  1. Ad position - follow the focus of your visitors and put the ads at the centre of attention

    “The middle, above-the-fold locations perform the best. The idea is to think about what your user is looking at. Since most of the content is in the middle of most pages, the ads that are in the middle, near the content and towards the top of the page is the location that gets most of the attention. However, make sure that you take a look at what users are doing on your site. You want to make sure that you’re addressing how the users are actually looking at your pages. For example, if you have an article page with a long body of text, the bottom of that article is actually pretty successful because they’re reading the text and when they want more resources, they can take a look and see, oh, look. There are some ads. I can find out some more information about this particular topic. So definitely make sure that you keep in mind how your users are looking at your site.”

  2. Ad formats - wider ones tend to perform better (as long as they fit your site)

    “Our best performing ad format is the large rectangle, 336×280. So the wider ad formats are doing better than the other ones and the reason is that they actually take up fewer lines. And so with every additional line, you have a chance of losing that interested user. So the wider formats do best so specifically, the top three formats are the 336×280; the 300×250 medium rectangle; and then the 160×600 wide skyscraper. Because there’s a lot of variety with different sites, you want to make sure that you’re using the best format for your site. Don’t try to squeeze in a format that doesn’t fit your site.”

  3. Ad colours - blend them with your site colour palette to decrease ad-blindness

    “Here you’ll see a snapshot of Topix.net with the ads by Google. You can see with the colors that they’ve chosen that it blends well with their site. It matches the background and it looks like it provides additional content and compliments the site rather than contrasts against the site. The reason the color palette is so important is because it adds to the content and not separate from the content and what happens is, something that we call ad blindness; so the more you blend in with the site, the less chance that ad blindness will occur. Another thing to decrease ad blindness is rotating your color palette. We have a feature in the AdSense account where you are able to multi-select different color palettes that blend with your site to add some variety and freshness to the ads. And that also will help decrease ad blindness.”

  4. Ad pages - every page should have ads

    “Another important tip is what pages you might want to place your ads on. And what’s important is placing your ads throughout your site. As you can see here, Spine…com placed their ads on forum pages, reference pages and articles pages. And if you look closely, they actually chose different formats for different pages. So don’t be afraid to try out placing the ads on different pages and seeing how it will do for you. As long as they fit into our program policy, you can place the ads on any page of your site, any domain that you have.”

  5. Ad tracking - use channels to determine what works best for you

    “How do you find out what exactly will work for you? The best way is to use channels. Here is your account view, and by selecting the channels link, you will be able to get to the channels page where you can manage your channels. And what channels will allow you to do is to track all the experiments that you’re doing. For example, if you want to track how one location is doing versus another position, you can use channels to track that or track different colors or different formats. Basically, this is the best way to figure out which test and which experiment is the most successful for your sites. So I highly recommend, for any optimization and any experiment that you do, to use channels so that you are informed about any decision and any change that you make with your ads on your site.”

  6. Image ads - allow image ads to increase the variety of advertisers for higher CPM revenue

    “Image ads are an alternative to the text-based ads and you want to make sure that in your account, you’re opted in to image ads. And the reason for that is that you basically have the image ads competing with the text-based ads. So if you have more advertisers competing on your site, it basically means more opportunities for you to maximize your revenue. Especially since, in the last few weeks, we’ve launched CPM-based ads for images; we want to make sure that your ads will be able to support those images. So if advertisers want to select to show ads on your site, you will be able to take advantage of that additional CPM-based revenue.”

  7. Link ads - optimum space usage for publishers

    “They’re great because it actually compliments some of our existing ads. What the link units do is it allows the user to refine what they’re interested in. So if they may not be interested in specific ads on your page, they might be interested in a particular topic, and by clicking on a link unit and a link in the link unit, they’ll be able to specify that they’re interested in that specific topic and get a lot more options and variety on the ads that might appear. Another great thing about link units that publishers love is the little space that it takes. So a lot of publishers place it in their menu bars, their navigation bars and it blends in well with the site. And the great thing is that you can place these link units in addition to the three ad units you can have on a page.”

  8. Adsense for search - works great when Google Sitemap has a complete index of your site

    “It provides a service for your users and gives you an extra, a little additional stream of revenue as well. And what it does is, imagine the regular Google search, but instead of having your users go to Google.com, they can access all the results and the technology directly from your sites. And not only search Google.com but specify it to search directly within your site. And then, you also make a little bit of money whenever they click on the ads that come up on the search results. So this is definitely something that you’d want to consider; AdSense for Search.”

  9. Don’t be afraid of your visitors being offended when you “ad-ify” your site - ads on forums perform well

    “Here are some of the pages of HybridCars.com. As you can see, Brad has placed the ads on his homepage, the articles and the forum. But it wasn’t always this way. Most publishers, or some publishers might be concerned that their users would reject the ads based on the content or that they would clutter the page. But Brad has found that it actually worked very well. He started just by placing the ads on a handful of pages, and with just a few ads, he didn’t really have very many impressions to earn a lot of revenue. However, when he put ads on over 90% of his bytes, his revenue shot up. It went from $80 and $90 days to $250 and $300 days. So imagine what that can do for your site. In fact, he’s noticed that the ads are really relevant to the content of the page they appear on and they’re actually useful to the users. As he said, ‘The targeting alleviates my concerns that the ads clutter the site.’”

  10. Improve the navigation of your site to increase stickiness and ad revenue

    “Keep users on your site. You need to make it easy to get around the site and make sure the visitors see the ads as a viable exit route without asking them to click on the ads. You need to make sure that links within the site are clearly visible and that if people want more information about the same topic, they can find it.”

  11. Competitor ads - it doesn’t matter if they appear on your site and visitors click on them because internet users will have found them one way or another, so focus on your own content to compel people to return

    “If you are in the business of selling the content, which is what we are doing here with the sites that we have in the panel; basically you are presenting the content and people are pretty much always in the search mode. They will try to find more information about that somewhere else. And if you just simply beat out your competitors in terms of having the most thorough, the most well-researched, the most compelling, the most Web-friendly content, then people will return to your site and the fact that there may be an ad on there for a competitor and they go off to your competitor, if your content is compelling, they’ll return back to your site eventually. People are going to leave your site and another site is just a click away regardless. So focus on content.”

  12. The page view counter is accurate - but there are a number of reasons why it differs from your own

    “How we define [an ad impression] is when the ad code actually gets fully executed. So what ends up happening sometimes is that if some of your users are using a browser that doesn’t support JavaScript, or if they have some sort of ad blocker, or if they stop loading the page before the ad code can fully execute, that will cause the discrepancy between your logs and our page impression logs. [Second,] you want to make sure that if you have any other logs, that you’re not counting any visits from robots and crawlers. The public service ads do count towards the page impressions. [And alternative ads also] will be counted by our impression counter.”

Google AdSense Optimization Webinar


  1. # Ozzyopolis on July 19th, 2005

    That’s actually not bad. I have been playing around with using ads to help pay for my webhosting…

  2. # Pete Freitag on July 23rd, 2005

    Nice writeup tim, I have a summary on my blog as well: http://www.petefreitag.com/item/413.cfm

  3. # Tim on July 23rd, 2005

    Good one, Pete. I missed out on the point about page impressions. I’ll update my excerpt to take note of it. Thanks!

  4. # Richard Anson on July 28th, 2005

    Many thanks for the top tips - we have implemented a couple of them, particularly format, competitor ads and colour. Will see how we get on!

  5. # Tim Yang’s Geek Blog » Truncated RSS feeds do not make sense for Adsense on July 31st, 2005

    [...] I was re-reading the transcript for the Google Adsense webinar again. One thing that struck me was that the conventional thinking from Adsense is that return visitors suffer from “Ad-blindness”. When they’re so used to the layout of a blog, they don’t click on the ads. The ones who do click on ads are first time visitors, driven from search engines or inbound links. [...]

  6. # AdSense Obserwator » Webinar dot. zmian w panelu on August 8th, 2005

    [...] Tim Yang’s Geek Blog: Google AdSense Optimization Webinar AdMoolah News and Views: AdSense Optimization Webinar: Questions and Answers - Part 1 AdMoolah News and Views: AdSense Optimization Webinar: Questions and Answers - Part 2 [...]

  7. # robbo on August 20th, 2005

    i appretiate the gravity of your article.it is great.

  8. # Domain » Blog Archive » Google AdSense Secrets - Making More Money with Google AdSense on January 26th, 2006

    [...] AdSense Optimization Tips (from google) pf ” AdSense Optimization Tips (from google) July 21, 2005. AdSense Optimization Tips (from google) Google recently held a webinar for AdSense publishers. They gave out some adsense optimization tips that they have gathered over the past few years. … writeup of the tips here: http://timyang.com/2005/07/google-adsense-optimization-webinar … [...]

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