AdSense Optimization Tips

By February 6th, 2009

Darren Rowse, of ProBlogger fame, guest-blogged at the Inside AdSense blog today with Six ways to experiment with AdSense and grow your earnings, and, speaking from years of intense experience, had a lot of useful advice for budding AdSense-monetizing publishers to make the most of their AdSense placements.

His key advice: test (experiment), track, repeat. As his post makes clear, there is no magic formula that works most of the time. Each site, page and placement can vary a bit, which makes certain rules of thumb moot. This is exactly why YieldBuild works as well as it does to optimize publishers’ AdSense: it tests, tracks and repeats. (Thousands of times!)

Let’s run down Darren’s list of 6 ways to experiment:

  1. Ad Position:
    Darren says... Check out the Google heatmap. Ads near/alongside, or at the end of content, can do well, but experiment.
    YieldBuild adds…
    If you’re using YieldBuild, places YieldBuild zones wherever you think an ad could do well. YieldBuild will determine which zones actually perform best (we do the experimentation for you), and will collapse any zone that isn’t filled with ads.
    If not using YieldBuild, I’d add that you should take a look at placing ads embedded in content, near navigational elements or near pictures where the eye is drawn towards (but not so close as to mislead a site visitor into thinking the ad must be clicked on for navigating the site). More pointers here.
  2. Number of ads
    Darren says… add ads, but be careful of putting in too many. Longer pages can carry more ads without bothering yoru visitors.
    YieldBuild adds… true about the number of ads; more isn’t necessarily better. YieldBuild automatically determines that sweet spot (it often serves up fewer than the maximum ads, just because fewer performs better). If you aren’t using YieldBuild, I suggest starting conservatively, with a few ad spots on the page, and then slowly ramping up the number of ads, carefully monitoring CTR, revenue, and traffic feedback. Like Darren said, each page has its own “tipping point,” but you won’t know what that is until you test it.
  3. Ad Design
    Darren says… try blended or subtle backgrounds, and use the AdSense ad rotator to fight “ad blindness”.
    YieldBuild adds… If you have to go with a rule-of-thumb, go with blended (the same background color for your ad as the page you’re embedding it in) and/or slight variations of the background color. This is what our own testing has demonstrated. However, as that test shows, sometimes a completely different variant can significantly outperform the blended or subtle variant.
  4. Ad Sizes
    Darren says… experiment, but bigger isn’t necessarily better. The most popular standard ad sizes will generally outperform more esoteric ones.
    YieldBuild adds… Darren is spot on about both the most popular ad sizes (FYI- they are 728×90, 160×600, and 300×250) and bigger isn’t necessarily better. YieldBuild, naturally, experiments automatically for each site and serves those ad sizes that perform best. Without the benefit of YieldBuild, I’d recommend sticking with the 3 most popular sizes, placing the leaderboard (728×90) at the top or bottom, the skyscraper (160×600) in your navigation column, and embedding the medium rectangle (300×250) within your content. That last one is likely to do best.
  5. Ad Formats
    Darren says… his experience suggests text and image work better than text alone, but you must test.
    YieldBuild adds… you really, really can’t know without testing. YieldBuild tests for the best format automatically, but otherwise, try from among text, link units, image and video formats and see which performs best. Sorry – no rule-of-thumb here. We’ve seen too many examples of sites that run against Darren’s advice, where text ads really do perform best, to agree with him with respect to this.
  6. Which Content Converts?
    Darren says… the marriage of AdSense and Google Analytics gives you great insight into which pages are monetizing. Use that to determine your content and promotion strategies, and to help decide from among formats.
    YieldBuild adds… we couldn’t agree more, although YieldBuild will take care of the format guesswork automatically. AdSense actually has a tab for Analytics, and by setting up goals, you can drill down by different campaigns or traffic sources and determine what sort of traffic is earning you the money.
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This entry was posted on Friday, February 6th, 2009 at 4:28 pm and is filed under Online Advertising. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “AdSense Optimization Tips”

  1. Nancy Says:

    Great information on a very confusing subject—adsense. Thanks so much!

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