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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

Importing Hotmail contacts to GMail

Jul 2005

Tipmonkies has a good tip on how to copy your Hotmail contacts to Gmail. The earlier methods I’ve seen required pasting the addressbook first into an Excel database file or CSV file before importing the file to Gmail.

The Tipmonkies technique is more elegant and requires only the use of Microsoft Outlook. Built into Outlook is the ability to access Hotmail and to synchronise the online addressbook with the desktop addressbook. Then save-as the addressbook into a CSV file. Gmail allows the importing of addressbooks saved as comma-delimited CSV.

TipMonkies » Blog Archive » Importing Hotmail contacts to GMail

WashingtonPost.com gives its readers customised news by zipcode

Jul 2005

The Washington Post is giving its American online readers the choice of viewing its content based on their zipcode. It will present readers with more news from their area or else it will show a version of their paper that’s more international. I think its great that newspapers are taking advantage of the internet’s customisation quality to make their websites more relevant to different market segments. It’s a great step forward that they’re realising that the market is highly segmented and that the internet can help them achieve targeting with cost-efficiency. Although ecommerce sites like Ebay and Craigslist have been doing it for years, it’s better late than never.

Post Site Splits Into Local, Global Pages

RSS scrape of the McKinsey Quarterly

Jul 2005

It’s ironic that the website of The McKinsey Quarterly, which has for years had the most well-formed and readable XHTML I’ve seen for a major website, doesn’t have an RSS feed. It’s a great business magazine that’s up there with Harvard Working Knowledge. So I made an RSS scrape of the site that didn’t turn out too shabby.

RSS scrape of The McKinsey Quarterly

Notifyr.com - get emails on new Flickr photos

Jul 2005

This site lets you subscribe to a Flickr.com photo page, getting email notifications whenever new images are added. The main reason I really like this site is because the makers had spent some time dwelling on who will use it, why they will use it and how they will use it. It is clear from this quote:

Notifyr is built so that users don’t need to register in order to use it. You can subscribe anyone to your photo page by sending them a Notifyr link containing your Flickr page address and their email, like: http://notifyr.com/add?url=http://flickr.com/photos/baby_maggie

More often than not, I see ideas for websites that focus more on the features of the site than on the users and they lose a key opportunity for relevancy by that negligence.

Notifyr.com - get emails on new Flickr photos

CIO.com has new RSS feed

Jul 2005

As far as I’m concerned there’s no better magazine for internet businesses and IT department management than CIO.com. Until recently, CIO.com had the policy of driving traffic via RSS by offering multiple feeds for each category of articles that they had. All in, they had about two dozen such feeds. But there wasn’t a feed for the latest articles across all the categories. So CIO.com fans like myself had to subscribe to as many as 10 different CIO.com feeds to get articles on topics that interested me. It was a hard decision to say No, that’s not good enough. And I unsubscribed to all of them.

Just recently, on a re-visit to CIO.com, I found that the policy has changed dramatically. Now, all the two dozen feeds are gone. What was left is a single Latest Articles feed which is available at http://www.cio.com/rss/.

So do look into CIO.com. They have meaty articles like Wikis, Weblogs and RSS: What Does the New Internet Mean for Business? and What leaders look like — a study of the traits of top CIOs.

Goodbye to Agonus.com

Jul 2005

Agonus.com was a hosting idea that was before its time but has quickly become out-moded. I started it about four years ago when hosting in Malaysia was under the stranglehold of hosting companies that were out of touch with their customers. They were selling 20mb of space for USD7 per month when hosting companies in the US were selling four times the space for half the price. They were also selling domains for USD18 whereas I thought it ought to be half that price. And the industry had sustained that price for several years without waver.

My core competency is consumer analysis and brand creation. So it was obvious to me that hosting in Malaysia needed to catch up with the rest of world and the market was demanding it. I was buying space on American servers for my blog and it seemed that I wasn’t the only one. So I decided to get my own server and bring prices inline with the Americans.

However my competency is not in server management nor is it in business management. So I wasn’t able to adapt to the market as fast as Professors John Hagel III and John Seely Brown advise in their new book The Only Sustainable Edge. The other local server companies saw what I was doing and were soon matching me. Although it made it harder for me to gain new customers, I was exceptionally glad — I was making headway in forcing the industry to change. Last year Exabytes.com.my started offering 2gb of space for under USD5 per month. With a strong burst in advertising, they were able to change the direction of the market and now their 2gb offer is the industry standard.

So now it’s time to pack up Agonus.com. Mission accomplished.

Got flushed

Jul 2005

My hosting account got flushed again. Happened around the same time last year. This time for completely different reasons. But it just feels the same — it’s been a crappy few days. Lost all my archives and I’m completely exhausted from fighting fires. But the good thing is, I have no excuse not to switch from Pmachine Pro to Wordpress. It will take some time to rebuild this blog again, so please excuse the mess. I’ll probably be posting a few more Wordpress related posts than I did before while I learn this new system.



Copywriter Malaysia