As we’ve discussed earlier in this series, there are many different advertising programs out there for bloggers – but most fall into three camps in terms of revenue. Firstly there is Cost Per Click (CPC) advertising, secondly Cost Per Impression (CPM – the M stands for the Roman numeral for one thousand and these ads are calculated on what you’re paid per one thousand impressions rather than per click) and thirdly there are programs that allow you to choose your own rates per time period (like BlogAds, Adbrite and private sponsorships).
CPM Ads – When it comes to CPM advertising programs it is pretty difficult to have much impact upon the ad value being paid. A program like Fastclick (aff) does let you specify which ads run on your site (or rather it lets you block some of the campaigns that it offers) and thereby you do have some impact on the level of income on your blog – but the process is reasonably messy and in my experience not really worth messing with (the tailoring of campaigns that is).
On the other hand the other two types of ads give you much more control over your ad values.
Time Related Ads - Obviously the ads you set the price on yourself is a matter of finding a price in the demand and supply spectrum that advertisers are willing to pay. This is not always easy and from my experience it can take a little time to hone in on the right figure to charge. For BlogAds and Adbrite ads for instance I usually just come up with a price that is similar to what others seem to be charging in my niche (BlogAds lets you look at what others charge) and then adjust it up or down over time depending upon how many people buy ads. If no one is buying I reduce the price, if people are buying lots I increase it.
When it comes to private ads it gets more tricky. I always struggle to know what an ad is worth and generally try to enter into a conversation with the advertiser to sound out their budget before coming up with a price. Again it’s about negotiating and seeing what others are paying. Over time you’ll get more of an idea on how to set your prices.
CPC Ads – These ads are usually more of an art form in systems like AdSense, YPN and Chitika. Different ads pay different amounts – largely dependent upon the keywords that triggers that advertisement. For instance in an ad program like AdSense if you have a blog about financial related products, the ads that appear on it are likely to pay more than a blog that is on the topic of pencils. The reasons are pretty obvious really – advertisers are going to be less likely to pay big dollars for ‘pencil ads’ than they are for ones advertising financial products.
What follows are some tips on how to maximize the amount that AdSense and Chitika ads will pay per click (I suspect that YPN will be similar to AdSense).
Finding High Paying Ads in AdSense
I’m often asked (weekly) by readers what keywords they should target on AdSense to maximize their income. My answer is always the same – target keywords that you’re writing about – relevant ads will always pay much better than irrelevant high paying ads (simply because people won’t click irrelevant ads).
Having said this – it can be worth doing some investigating around keyword value in AdSense because there can be significant differences in payouts on very similar words.
Finding high paying AdSense words isn’t always an easy thing though. Do a search for Google on High Paying Adsense Ads and you won’t find too many sites listing the best keywords for Adsense. The top Adsense users in Adsense discussion forums tend to be pretty secretive about not only what keywords they focus on, but also what sites they run. I don’t blame them either – its good business sense really.
Having said this there are a number of strategies and tools that you might like to employ to help find high paying keywords.
- Buy them – Finding high paying keywords for your blog is possible by yourself for free – but as with everything a few entrepreneurial types are willing to do the leg work for you to save you some time and give you a comprehensive result. One service that you might like to try to find good keywords is Top Paying Keywords (aff). I know of a number of ProBlogger readers who use it although have never felt the need to use it myself. I’m much more into the next method.
- Trial and Error – I know this will frustrate some of you who want a nice and easy quick fix but overall it is one of the best pieces of advice I can give. Try writing on a topic – track the results – if it pays off do it again….lots. Adsense allows you to track specific pages or sections of your blog using its ‘channels’ feature – if you’re smart you’ll watch which sections of your blog are generating the highest ads by dividing your overall earnings by the number of clicks and comparing it to other channels. Keep trying new topics until you strike gold and then dig in like crazy!
- 7 Search has a list of the 100 of the top paying keywords (in their advertising program – not Adsense) at the moment. Its a bit depressing actually to see a list like this because you’d have to sell your soul somewhat in order to go with many of them. Its an interesting site to check out though.
- Also from 7 Search (and more useful) is their Keyword Suggestion Tool which gives you an idea of what people are paying per click on different tools (again this is not specifically for Adsense but it will give you an idea of what the going rates are).
- Overture offers a service where you can enter your keywords and they will not only tell you how much advertisers are paying for the words but also how many people are searching for the term. This is a very useful tool that I use a lot to check keyword values. You do need to remember that the results you get with them are not for AdSense but another ad system and that they are what advertisers are willing to pay for words – and not what publishers get (ie the middle man always takes a cut). I do find it useful to compare keywords though.
- Sign up for Adwords - One way of getting a feel for how much people are willing to pay per click is to sign up with Google as an advertiser yourself. It doesn’t cost much to start a mini campaign and do some research this way. You’ll get a feel for what people are bidding on different words very quickly this way.
- Word Tracker is a good tool to help find keywords that people are searching for in the major search engines. The excellent thing about Word Tracker is that they also tell you how many other sites out there are targeting the same words. This is very handy as it will stop you targeting ‘Britney Spears’ as a Keyword phrase even though its one of the most searched for keywords on the web because literally hundreds of thousands of other sites have beaten you to the punch. Word Tracker has a free version to trial it.
Finding High Paying Ads for Chitika eMiniMalls
Probably the best advice that I can give with choosing the right keywords for your Chitika eMiniMall ads is to use trial and error and to track your experiments.
Ideally you’ll want to target keywords that are relevant to your content as much as possible (relevancy is crucial with these ads) but having said that if you want to go after higher paying ads I’d suggest setting up a channel for your test and to choose a keyword to test over a day or two and to run it exclusively on that channel (ie don’t rotate words). You’ll see very quickly (in that days statistics) by monitoring that channel what the keyword is paying. The next day try another word and see how it goes.
In this way you can not only track how much words are paying but also what kind of Click Through Rate the ads are getting.
I’ve also heard a number of bloggers say that if you search the ‘best selling buys’ in the different categories of these online stores that you will find higher paying ads. I’m not sure if this is the case – but there is some sense in this. In any case with the coming of channels we’ll soon know what type of keywords trigger what level of click values.
For example, on my digital cameras site, I visit the digital cameras section of shopping.com, and know that the results of that search generally pay pretty well as keywords in comparison to other cameras.
Ad Value isn’t everything
I want to finish by re-emphasising that with CPC ads that high paying ads are not everything. In fact you can have VERY high paying ads and not earn a cent if your ads are irrelevant and are poorly positioned and designed.
To maximise your ad performance you need to bring together all of the elements covered in this series – Traffic, Ad Position, Ad Design, Ad Relevancy and High Paying Ads. Become obsessed by any one of them and your overall earnings will suffer.