It’s still early, but I’ve been checking out my AdSense performance reports for data regarding the new AdSense Matched Content offering that Google is rolling out. Here is my Google Matched Content review, so far.
First off, if you are wondering what Matched Content Ads from AdSense are, you need to read that article first.
Implementing Matched Ads
You put Matched Ads on your website the same way as you put any AdSense ads onto your site. You create an ad on the Google AdSense website, and then you copy the code it gives you and paste it into your webpage code. Unlike other ads, Google sort of tells you where to put your Matched Content ads. They go at the bottom of the page, underneath your content.
Once there, the matched content algorithm kicks in an posts one of those sets of images with links to other content on your website, kind of like the Outbrain advertisements, except all the non-ad links stay on your website.
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Google AdSense Matched Content Ad Performance
Of course, what you really want to know is do Matched Content ads make more money, or does Matched Content perform better than regular ads.
That question is a little bit tricky to answer.
First, as Google frequently points out, the point of Matched Content is to “increase user engagement.” They go so far as to include a message at the top your AdSense reports to remind you.
In other words, the Matched Content module is working just as well when it keeps people clicking around on your website, as it does when it gets someone to click on an ad. Theoretically, this will increase your overall AdSense performance since more traffic, equals more revenue. After all, if someone stays on your site long enough to click an ad on their fifth page, as opposed to leaving after reading their first page, you win. However, that might lower some of your metrics. In the above example, that user would normally register as one impression, no clicks. But, with the Matched Content, they would register as five impressions, one click.
To get a black and white answer about whether Matched Content is better, you would like to see more impressions and more page views, as well as higher overall earnings, even if you see lower click through rates, and lower RPM.
I’ve only been using Matched Content ad units for seven days, so of course, the data isn’t really that good yet. However, it does look like I have a bit higher impressions, and a bit higher earnings. Yea!
Of course, that could be based on a lot of other factors, as well. What I can say for sure is that it hasn’t hurt my earnings, so I won’t be pulling the plug on Matched Content just yet.
Matched Content Ad Units Performance
Considering the Matched Content ad units go at the bottom of your page, they are replacing the ad unit that offers the lowest performance on most websites. If you were running an A/B test, you would do it against whatever ad you have at the bottom now. (If you have no bottom ad now, then adding Matched Content certainly won’t hurt assuming you haven’t already used your max ads per page.)
So, how does the money making potential stack up?
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As always, my best performing ad is the one at the top. That is true across the board: total earnings, click thru rate, impressions, and RPM.
My second best performing ad is a responsive ad unit that I sometimes (but not always) put in the middle of certain content. Because I have the Managed Content unit set up on more pages, it has more impressions, but, the Managed Content at the bottom and the Responsive ad in the middle, have similar click-thru rates. The cost-per-click, or CPC, is higher on the middle-place responsive ad, but with just 7 days worth of data, that may be more of just how the week went, than an actual look at performance.
The ad that was previously in the place where the Matched Content is now, was a 300×250 size at the bottom of the content. For the week before I implemented Matched Content it has a lower CTR, but higher CPC. Again, this isn’t really enough data to draw a useful conclusion.
Matched Content Ad Recommendation
At this point, I think that the Matched Content units are performing well enough to keep them in place. There is no obvious increase in earnings, or clicks out of line from the typical variation I see from week to week. However, I do like the way the numbers look and hope that they continue to improve.
That being said, if you aren’t using Matched Content, I certainly wouldn’t push you to do otherwise. For now, most things seem close enough. I’ll keep following the data though, and keep updating here.