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Positioning your Adsense Ads III

In a previous post in this series I asked the questions:

‘can you have too many adsense ads on a post?’ and ‘when does more actually = less with adsense?’

There are probably two main ways of answering these questions. The first one is from the point of view of aesthetics and the second is about cold hard cash and whether it will earn you more money to have more ads or less.

1. Aesthetics – probably the most common complaint I hear against Adsense (and other types of ads) is that advertising is an eyesore and ruins the design of a page. I’ve read post after post of people complaining that they do not want to be exposed with ads and especially offensive to their sensitivities are pages that have ads all over them.

I have some sympathy for this view and its something that always weighs heavily on my mind as a blogger – how many ads are too many ads? The beauty (probably the wrong work in a paragraph about aesthetics) of Adsense is that it is customizable and ads can be made to blend into or contrast the design of a page. Even so, the more ads you put on your page the higher the chance you have of offending the those who are advertorially (I know its not a word – I’m being post-modern) sensitive.

Related to this is the theme of your blog. I have some blogs that I only serve one ad per page (or even no ads) simply because I don’t feel its appropriate to commercialize the blog at all.

2. Financial Considerations – believe it or not – but having more Adsense ads on your site can actually mean you earn less income from them! I know this sounds stupid and some of you think I’ve finally lost it – but its true, I found out for myself last week. Let me tell you the story.

Last week I decided to ‘tweak the ads on one of my blogs’. The blog in question had two ads per page, one in a banner ad at the top of the page and the other in a position within the content section of my blog. The ad within the content was my primary ad – the one that performed best (as previously discussed). Adsense allows three ads per page so the logic in my mind said ‘three ads will perform better than two’. So I cleverly decided to ad a small ad to my side bar (similarly to the one I have on this blog at present over on the left). I added it (with a label saying it was an ad) and smuggly went to bed imagining that I’d just earned myself a few extra dollars a day.

The next day I noticed that the Click Through Rate of my Adsense ads was lower than normal overall – so were earnings. I was not too concerned because it does tend to go up and down from day to day. The following day I noticed the same thing – lower CTR and lower earnings. Day three and I was starting to worry a little that something had gone wrong as the trend continued and I had little idea why. At first it didn’t even cross my mind that the new ad might be having any impact.

I checked the channels feature of Adsese at this point and realised that only one of the many channels that I track was lower than normal. It had halved its normal rate! Of course the channel that had decreased was the primary in content ad from my blog (my cash cow of the blog).

It only took me a few moments to work out why this had happened. You see the ad that I had added to my side bar was stealing ads from my primary ad in the content and leaving it with few, if any ads to serve. Let me explain.

The way Adsense works if you have more than one ad running on a page is that it will serve ads to the ad that it finds first on your blog. It fills up the first one first, the second one in the code second and the third one in the code third. If at any point it runs out of relevant ads it stops serving them and you either end up with a public service ad, an empty space or an alternate ad (depending upon how you configure your set up).

On that particular blog the code was in this order.

- 1 Banner ad

- 2 Side bar ad

- 3 In content ad

You can see what was happening – the banner ad got first priority and was always served ads. The side bar ad almost always got ads and the in content ad got them some (50%) of the time. Of course this left my primary position empty half of the time (not a wise move).

You can probably guess what I did faster than a speeding bullet – side bar ad was gone very quickly and the banner ad didn’t last long either. Now the in content ad is always full and I have moved a secondary ad further down the page. CTR and revenue are back up to normal (in fact they are up a bit).

So – take home message time. When designing the ads on your page rank your ad positions in terms of priority. Which spot do you want to get the first ads and always be full? Which are secondary spots that don’t matter so much if they are empty from time to time? Then check to see which order they appear in the code on your site. This is easily done. Simply select the ‘view source’ option in your browser. This should open a window that shows you the back end of the page you’re viewing – find the google adsense code and work out which is which (you should be able to tell by the size of the ad). If your primary ad isn’t the first one you might need to make some changes either to where you place your ads or to how your blog is configured and serves the code.

Also read Positioning your Adsense Ads I and II.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. So that’s why you removed the top ad from problogger.net ?
    But then it’s not a matter of too many ads it’s a matter of too few advertisers.
    BTW Google could allow publishers to specify the priority order of each ad, the script already check the whole page to determine the topic so it wouldn’t be hard to detect other AdSense ads – the global displaying will happen later though.
    Also, I wonder what if there’s several ads but only

  2. (finishing my sentence sorry) … but only one exemplary of the script fetching the ads to display.
    Well I tried and it doesn’t work, one calling script per ad is required (below it).

  3. Tim says:

    Hmmm… I never really thought about the “ad stealing” problem. I guess it depends on the topic. But, even then, the content adsense would have the lowest paying ads anyway. I try to stick to one adsense per page.

  4. If you want to be sneaky about it you can use CSS to position things on your page contrary to where Adsense will find it when scanning your code.

    Some of my blogs use a three column layout: sidebar1 – content – sidebar2. I use CSS to actually position them on the page. But if you look at the raw code, the content section comes first, then sidebar1 and then sidebar2.

    I actually did this for search engine purposes as I wanted them to realise what was the most relevent content on my page and not focus on navigation links, but it ought to work for Adsense too.

  5. Jon Gales says:

    One thing to note is that Google counts adviews as page views, so if you have three ads per page your impression count goes up by a factor of three. Your CTR goes down (even if EVERYONE clicks one ad every time your CTR is 33.3%), but don’t worry–just look at the earnings per day figure.

    And like Darren did, test over multiple days taking your site’s natural traffic flow into account. The worst case situation is that you lose a few bucks–but if you work things right you can make a few more as well.

  6. Alex Ragan says:

    Hm, I tried all what you write in this interesting article, but after three days I see no different than before. I have to look what I´m dooing wrong.

  7. Ricky says:

    About taking away ads and not serving three adsense ads, I would like to add that the lower your CTR, the lower your pay per click is going to be. This has something to do with Adword Smartpricing. Remember that if you have three Adsense ads on your page and the third one doesn’t get any clicks, because your reader isn’t going to click three ads or doesn’t even see the ad, because it’s in a bad position, say at the bottom of the page, the third ad is still counted as a view for the guy whose ad is shown there. Don’t want to go too deep into it, but if your ad gets seved on a website and it doesn’t receive a click, you get penalized as an Adword advertizer. This makes these advertisers mad. So Smartpricing is actually created to force publishers to cut back on the amount of Adsense ads they show.

  8. pieman says:

    Appreciate your post, I’d be interested in knowing the positioning code used for in post ads. I have the GoogleAds button code but do not know what code to add to postion it. I’ve read all your posts on this topic, but this detail has thus far escaped me.

  9. kidkiller says:

    thanks for info..i think i shud cut off my ads number..=.=”

  10. susan says:

    Hi–This has been a good article series. I learned a lot. As I was reading I was thinking about how I feel about ads and, in general, I don’t mind them. I do have to say though that I do have a problem with “blinking” ads (like the ones on the right side up there). I find them very distracting when trying to read. For some reason my eyes want to keep moving over that way…maybe that’s the general idea, eh?:-) Anyway, that’s just my 2 cents worth!
    Suan

  11. Hi Darren,

    I actually noticed that ads on my site worked better when they were above all of my posts in the one spot. This brought my income way up.

    I tested ads within my posts and the channels revealed that putting one ad code just above my posts was the best for my site – meaning the most monitization.

    Thanks for the tips though,

    Richard Rinyai
    http://www.theprofessionalassistant.net

  12. Ruben says:

    Darren,

    Great tips. Thank you! I’ve added your blog to my blogroll.

    I just started a money blog for the purpose of making money. I’m providing money tips (budgeting, saving, investing, etc.).

    Still waiting for the domain name to propogate (householdmoneytree.com), but for now, you can access it via http://www.esensen.com/moneyblog. What do you think?

    The WordPress Template I’m using isn’t so well suited for ads, but I’ve finally got it to a point where I can display ads in some key areas.

    Now I need to drive traffic and see what happens.

  13. PerfectMoney says:

    I agree with the idea of Putting ART on ADsense,blending the colour match and mixing the contrast with the “main color should be the way the art speak,Put adsense in the mind set of Blending and artful I am sure what make people respect the adsense itself and put attentions more to it,great sample for it is what techcrunch put on the top of there page,there,The adsense sit down beautifully,that what I called the ART of the Adsense

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