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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