A few weeks ago, I was invited on a date by email.
Nope, this is not what you think; I’m not registered on some dating site while I have a wife and kids at home (lol!). It was an email from my arch enemy: The Google Adsense Team! Right… they are not my enemies… Google Search Engine Optmization is… not the Adsense team. The meeting was part of their Adsense in Your City Tour. Believe it or not, Montreal is big enough to draw Google’s attention!
Since it was only a hour away from home, I decided to give it a shot and go on a date with the enemy…
I’ll tell you upfront, if you have been an active Adsense earner, you may not learn much from Adsense in Your City. Basically, the first hour of the presentation was about what I’ve outlined in my Adsense Optimization article for PF bloggers:
– The 336×280, 728×90, 300×250 and 160×600 blocks are the most lucrative
– Color blending is super important
– Put as many ad units as you can (max 3 ad units + 3 text link ads)
– Text & Image ad units work better than text only (I’ll get back to this in a second)
In other words, if you have already done some basic research on Adsense optimization, you won’t be impressed by the coffee they served nor the content they give. Having said that, there are a few things I’ve learned from my encounter with the Google Adsense team.
An interesting thing they said was to consider the competition factor when choosing your ad units. For example, we, bloggers, all like the 468×60 ad unit because we can plug it pretty much everywhere. BUT there is not much competition for this type of units among advertisers. Therefore, you have fewer choices of ads to show your readers and the accuracy may not be at its highest. The worst part is that the cost per click (CPC) will also be lower since there is no competition for this ad unit. On the other hand, many advertisers like leather boards (728×90), sky scrapers (160×600) and big blocks (336×280). Adding text & images brings more competition to get shown on your site too. Therefore, your CPC should be boosted with this method. I’ve experienced a higher CTR (click through rate) with text only units but I will run more tests to see if a text & image with a lower CTR could compensate in earnings with a higher CPC.
Based on the competition factor, you should not use the filters to remove advertisers. An interesting part that I didn’t know is that Google is not only using your site content to select the right ads, it’s also using the reader’s browser history. Therefore, a reader could see a vacation ad on a financial blogs because he has been searching for plane tickets recently with the same computer. So removing vacation advertisers in your filter thinking you don’t want to advertise on a financial site is a mistake as it will be chosen as a relevant ad for this specific reader.
Adsense allow you to publish up to 3 units per page. Instead of trying to fit all of them above the fold, the Adsense team suggested to look at your site from top to bottom. Therefore, having an ad above the fold (in the side bar or within content) and keeping the other two for the middle of your page and the bottom of your page is more effective. Their point is that your “above the fold” block might have a CTR of 2%, it shows a CTR of 0% for readers that are now in the middle of or finishing your article and are going to comment. This is why offering “multiple options to click on ads” is a strategy that could work well.
Another interesting part presented by the Google Adsense Team was the “new wave” coming soon on the internet. I like knowing what’s coming according to Google since they “own” the internet. Therefore, it gives you a pretty good idea on what they currently focused on.
Google is paying more and more attention to social media. Google +1, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Mentions on these sites are a healthy sign of great content on your blog. It’s far from being perfect in my opinion but Google tends to lend more weight to social media. I guess my opinion doesn’t count much when I compare it to the big G, right?
Those who have been to the FinCon12 were advised to consider mobile users on their blog platform. The usage of internet from smartphones and tablets is just skyrocketing. If your blog can’t be read on a mobile platform, you will be losing readers… and money! If you are curious to see what your site looks like on smartphone, try How To Go Mo.
They were also providing different sizes for ad units for mobile (the best ones are 320×50 and 300×250) along with three different layouts:
Double Click for Publisher. Have you ever heard of that? If you are big enough (i.e. many sites, many advertiser networks and many headaches running them), you will be interested by DFP. It’s basically an ad manager used to control your ad units across your websites. DFP will manage your ads for you based on performance. It is also easier for you to change an ad or plan for a timely campaign. I’ll definitely take a closer look at this free Google product. If anyone has used it, I would greatly appreciate your comment!
The obvious reason why everybody goes there is to get the 15-20 minutes 1-on-1 meeting. Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed by this part. I was expecting to get more advice or suggestions for my own sites. I know I’ve done a lot of tweaking already but I was expecting more than “you should add text + image units” on your site.
At least, I was able to confirm that a CTR of 1% was average and one of my sites that has a CTR of 4% is awesome. The funny part is that this is the same site which had been hit by Google… tsss….The only interesting suggestion I get out of it is to get more ad units bellow the fold in order to get more people to click on ads… nothing to write home about!
Fortunately, I wasn’t alone at the meeting! Haha! While we were about 15-20 people, I was able to talk with a few of them. I even exchanged emails with a guy who runs a disability insurance site . I was happy to connect with other web entrepreneurs and what was interesting is that they all come from different niches (insurance, diet, grocery coupons, house boats!).
These kinds of meetings are always interesting, but once again, when I calculate my time, gas and a parking ticket ($24!!!!), I don’t think I got a deal by going to meet Google Adsense Team on that day. I would have been better off staying in my basement and working on what adds value to my sites!
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