Tag Archives: Ads

AdSense CPC Variations

Assuming you already have quality content and some decent traffic, one of the easiest ways to make money writing online is to add AdSense advertising to your websites.

There are a lot of websites and resources out there that explain the basics of how AdSense works. First, you sign up with Google. Then, you add some code to your website. Finally, you profit. Or something like that.

AdSense Quirks

What is harder to find is information about the many quirks of AdSense. For example, if you load your own website, you won’t see the same ads that new visitors to your website see. Google uses cookies to track users (including you on your own website) and tailors the ads to both content and your browsing history. That is why sometimes a Overstock.com ad will seem to follow you all over the internet displaying items you recently viewed. In order to get a truer idea of what visitors to your site might be seeing, make sure to use Privacy Mode or Google Incognito Mode to cover your cookie tracks.

One of the most maddening quirks of AdSense is the variability in how much money you earn. Some things end up making sense over time. For example, your website may earn more money on weekdays and less on weekends, or vice versa. But some things just don’t ever seem to make much sense.

Your Google AdSense reports offer a lot of information about your ads. Click the Performance Reports tab to get detailed information. A graph at the top charts your earnings. A click or two and you can also chart your PageViews and clicks over time as well. Beneath that, a chart lays out even more data.

Where you’ll find one of the most puzzling AdSense quirks is in the CPC column. CPC stands for cost per click and it represents the average amount each click paid on a given day when a visitor clicked on an ad. It’s no surprise that not all ads pay the same amount. However, over a large enough pool of traffic, you’ll find that your CPC tends to stay around a certain amount, with some moderate variation.

quirks in adsense graphicFor example, a website might have a CPC of $1.11 one day, and $1.18 the next, and so on. What gets really weird is that one day, your CPC will be $0.71. There will be nothing really obvious in your analytics or in the AdSense reports to say why. I’ve found that these anomalies occur on different days of the week, different days of the month, multiple time per month, or not at all. There really seems to be no rhyme or reason for it.

What other AdSense quirks do you see? How have you tried to figure out what is going on?

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Third-Party Ad Networks Data in AdSense

For most of 2010, I wondered whether or not to allow third-party ad networks in Google AdSense on my websites. I decided to carefully ad the different ad networks a couple at a time and then determine whether or not they seemed to have an adverse effect on my AdSense earnings. That was a tricky proposition since the traffic to my websites fluctuates based on numerous factors, including having fairly substantial drops on weekends and holidays.

Finally, in May of this year, I enabled all third-party ad networks for AdSense and since disaster never struck, I just went with it.

AdSense Performance Metrics

I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but Google recently added an “Ad networks” report to the Performance Reports section of the Google AdSense online tool for webmasters and publishers. The results show that it may all have been much to do about nothing.

According to my Performance Reports, Google AdWords network serves the overwhelming majority of ads across all of my websites including my freelance writing blog and personal finance blog.

The November report shows that 92.6 percent of all the Ad requests served on my websites were filled by Google AdWords. The second biggest ad network serving ads for my sites was Adnetik US, which accounted for just 2.8 percent of all ads. In third place is the Google: Invite Media ad network followed by Rocket Fuel, both with about 0.5 percent of ad requests. A partial report for the first 12 days of December shows approximately the same thing.

In other words, despite enabling all of the Google approved third-party ad networks out there, less than 8 percent of all my ads were served by ANY third-party ad network. Furthermore, no single non-Google ad-network accounts for even 1 percent of ads, so adding and removing those networks onesie-twosie really is not a good use of my time.

Unblock Third-Party AdSense Networks

As it turns out, I was blocking 163 AdSense ad networks because I did not enable new ad networks to be permitted automatically on my websites as they were approved. Based on the statistics outlined above, I have changed to allow all third-party ad networks and to automatically allow all of the new ones as they come online as well.

With the new Performance Reports “Ad networks” option, I should be able to see hard data about whether any 3rd-party ad network is showing up enough to have any effect, and if so, whether that effect is good or bad.

Ironically, Google was rather secretive and guarded with information regarding the third-party ad networks when it rolled out the program originally leaving many writers, such as myself, worried about how their inclusion in our AdSense enabled websites would affect our advertising income. Many, just like me, chose to be overly cautious despite Google’s numerous statements, both official and unofficial, that the new third-party AdSense networks would have a minimal, beneficial effect on our AdSense income. Now, with more, instead of less, disclosure, Google is getting what it wanted from web publishers like me with full implementation of the new ad networks.

They could have saved themselves, and me, a lot of hassle by being more open up front.

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AdSense Optimized WordPress Theme Requirement

A lot of WordPress themes claimed to be optimized for AdSense. When you look at them, what they really mean is that they included some spots for you to put AdSense ads by default. Some of them will actually fill in Google AdSense ads automatically if you put in your AdSense account ID number. That is not AdSense optimized so much as AdSense for dummies themes.

Some themes are a little more honest claiming only to be AdSense Ready as opposed to AdSense Optimized. Of course, if you think about it, all WordPress 3.0 themes and all earlier versions of WordPress themes are AdSense ready since you can ad the Google AdSense code to them. If you want to be really honest, every blogging platform from Blogger to TypePad to Live Spaces (or whatever they are calling it these days) are AdSense ready. All you actually need to be AdSense ready is to be able to edit the source code and publish it after adding a little bit of JavaScript which is how all AdSense ads are coded. So, again, these themes are not AdSense ready as much as they are AdSense ad locations installed by default.

What would it take to be a true AdSense Optimized WordPress theme?

That is an important question for those looking to make money writing online. The answer has nothing to do with pre-filled AdSense code or designs that leave spaces open for you to publish ads in. Rather, what a fully AdSense optomized theme requires is:

  1. Be fully SEO optimized. Face it, you get your ad clicking traffic from Google search results so the most important thing to make money with AdSense is to be as highly ranked in SERPs as possible.
  2. Minimize AdSense Static. This is where most of those so-called AdSense ready and AdSense optimized themes fall flat on their face. Nothing ruins your ability to earn money with Google AdSense like getting irrelevant ads displayed on your webpages. Nothing gives you irrelevant ads faster than having too many non-targeted keywords littering your webpage. All of those comments that you did not write are throwing off your ad targeting, that is, unless your WordPress theme incorporates Google AdSense section targeting tags. Open up that source code and look for <!– google_ad_section_start –>. If you don’t see it, your theme is NOT AdSense optimized.
  3. Eliminate AdSense Interference – Even better would be a theme that separates out the comments from the post, or one that requires a click by the user from the “real” keyword targeted post with your carefully chosen content in order to expand the comments section. That way, Google can index your good stuff, match ad keywords based upon your carefully worded articles, while still allowing your readers to interact with you and your website’s community.

Ironically, most WordPress themes for writers trying to make money writing (and frankly, pretty much every WordPress theme in existence) fails these conditions like a high-school dropout taking the GED without studying after a night out drinking. That means it is up to you. If you want your theme to really be fully optimized you’ll have to stick those Google section tags into the source code manually.

Happy writing, and may big passive income come to you and your writing always.

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Biggest AdSense Mistakes Costly Myths

adsense-myths-costly-mistakes These days it seems like everyone is an expert on Google AdSense. Unfortunately, that is not entirely true. Worse, much of the expert advice out there is based on old information or ideas that were never true in the first place. Either way, following bad AdSense advice can cost you a lot of money.

Here are the top AdSense myths mistakenly followed by publishers and writers.

The Highest Placed Ad Is The Highest Paying Ad

Not anymore. Once upon a time, this was true, but Google changed up the AdWords program a long time ago by adding an Ad Quality Score. Now, the amount of the advertiser bid multiplied by the ad’s quality score is used to determine where the ad is placed on websites and blogs. In other words, an advertiser with a “high quality” ad may get the top ad spot on your website even if their bid is significantly lower than the bid of another advertiser with a “low quality” ad.

The bad news is that you no longer no for sure which ad is the lowest paying on your webpage. The good news is that better ads convert more and with higher positioning are more likely to be clicked. That means that you won’t get smart-priced because a garbage ad keeps getting all the clicks on your website because they pay more.

Google Smart Prices AdSense If No One Clicks On Your Ads

This was never true. Someone misunderstood the concept and drew the wrong conclusions, and then everyone started repeating what they said until every assumed it must be true.

Smart pricing occurs when the clicks on ads from your webpages convert as a lower rate than clicks on those ads do from most other pages. In other words, if your website is sending garbage clicks to advertisers, your CPC will be lowered by smart pricing. However, if your website never sends any traffic because no one ever clicks on your ads, you will not be smart-priced.

All Image Ads Are CPM Ads That Pay Per Impression and Not Per Click Like Text Ads

I don’t know if this was ever true, but I know it is not true today. When an advertiser sets up their ad they choose whether they want it to be CPC or CPM. This choice comes after they choose whether or not to create a text ad or an image ad. In other words, an advertiser can create an image ad that pays per click just like they can create an image ad that pays per impression.

Unfortunately, there is no way to allow only image ads that pay per click. If you allow image ads, then some of those ads will be CPM ads and some of them will be CPC ads with no control from you over them.

Reliable AdSense Information Will Increase Your Earnings

Be sure that the information you are getting about AdSense is reliable. Attempt to verify any program information directly with Google before acting on it. Don’t forget to read through the AdWords information as well because not everything is in the AdSense section. (For example, there is no mention of Smart Pricing anywhere in the AdSense information on Google’s website. Smart Pricing is only mentioned in the AdWords sections.)

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