Adsense Injection – WordPress Plugin

Dax from Biggnuts (hehe) has developed a WordPress plugin called AdSense injection that randomly injects AdSense ads into different positions on your blog on each different page view in an attempt to combat ad blindness.

You can see it in action on Dax’s blog. Simply refresh the above page numerous times and you’ll see the AdSense add moving about.

It takes a random paragraph in a post to insert the ad into (one per post). You get to choose what ad formats can be included and get to specify the colors you use.

I like the concept behind this but don’t think it will suit all blogs in it’s current version as the randomness of ad position makes it difficult when you’re using pictures on your blog. But for blogs that don’t use pictures and that have plenty of space in their posts for different ad sizes to show up it could be a useful plugin.

I’m also interested to see where Dax takes the plugin next. I think with some development it could really be useful. Let me know if you find it useful.

found via Jensense

When Good Blogs Go Bad

I was just reading through my RSS feed and I came across a blog that I used to read on a daily basis for it’s interesting and helpful content. The blogger had a good grasp of the topic and provided a wonderful blend of the latest news in their field as well as helpful ‘how to’ type articles blended in with some opinion pieces and the occasional rant.

Today as I saw their latest post and clicked through to read it on their blog I realized that two things had changed about the blog.

  1. the posting frequency had dropped significantly from 2-3 posts per day to 1-2 posts per week.
  2. the nature of the posts had changed from a blend of mainly ‘news’, ‘opinion’ and ‘tips’ posts to almost 100% posts about affiliate products.

As I reflected upon these changes I realized that as a reader of this blog I was now feeling two emotions quite deeply (one emotion for each of the above changes). In fact the feelings I had surprised me as to their depth.

The first emotion, regarding the change in posting frequency, was disappointment. I used to genuinely enjoy reading the blog and looked forward to hearing the latest thoughts of the blogger. Losing that daily contact with someone else interested in what I was into was sad. I hadn’t realized just how much I’d come to appreciate what they had to say until it was gone.

The second emotion, connected to the change in the nature of posts, was anger. I’d not really noticed the change to posts that were almost 100% linking to affiliate programs but as I looked back over the last couple of months of sporadic posts I realized that the change had definitely taken place. Previously they had written the occasional post with affiliate links in it but they were sporadic and always relevant to the topic. I’d even bought products that they’d recommended in the past because I respected their opinion.

I was surprised by my anger towards this blog. I felt that I’d almost been manipulated or that something underhanded had happened without me actually realizing it. Here was a blogger who had once been known as a thought leader and as someone who had built a reputation by providing useful content who had seemingly sold out and cashed in on his influence.

Perhaps my emotions were overreactions but it reinforced a couple of points to me:

  • Blog Readers (like me) buy into the blogs that they read to a point where they almost feel some ownership of the blog. As a result when you make changes (announced or unannounced) people can react very strongly.
  • Blogs need to offer something of value to their readers. A blog that simply produces posts that are an obvious grab for cash will end up disillusioning their readers – no matter how much trust or respect the blogger has previously established.

I realize that the blogger concerned probably has legitimate reasons for changing their blogging frequency. Perhaps they got sick, perhaps they changed jobs or perhaps they just got bored with the topic – but as I looked back over the last couple of months I saw no explanation of the change. Perhaps if they’d communicated some reasons I’d have reacted differently – but in the end my assumption was that the blogger just didn’t care about the topic and/or got greedy.

My reaction was to unsubscribe.

Will AdSense Video Ads Monetize Vidcasts?

Tonight I’ve been pondering the new AdSense video ads that have been offered in the past week to advertisers.

As I think about them my mind goes back to a conversation I had a few weeks ago with a vidcaster about the challenge that he had with monetizing his videos. He made the comment that while blogs were pretty easy to add income streams to because of text ads (the same format as blogs) that to this point there were no easy ways to add ads in the same medium as his vidcasts (video).

I wonder how long it will take for AdSense to find a way to add their video ads to vidcasts?

True there are some challenges to overcome and as they currently work they wouldn’t work – but is this the direction this is headed?

One just has to look at the success of YouTube and other video start ups to see that video is the latest and greatest thing – it can’t be long until people start developing systems to offer video makers to make money from their work.

Update: It seems that AOL are already exploring the possibilities of inserting ads into videos with the purchase of Lightningcast to enable them to ‘run targeted ads within video and even change ads from time to time without replacing the entire video file.’

I wonder how long until we start seeing this type of technology offered to vidcasters.

Also – now I think about it I’m pretty certain that someone sent me a link recently to a company who was developing video ads that could be inserted into vidcasts. I can’t find it for the life of me but would be interested to hear from anyone who sent that to me.

Group Writing Project Update

Just a quick update to let everyone know that the ‘Habits’ Group Writing Project is definitely over.

We had 80 submissions (see them all here) and I won’t be accepting any more – you can still write on the topic but I won’t be adding them to the list.

Thanks to all who participated. Please visit the submissions and link up to your favorites.

Stay tuned for a new group writing project next week. If you’ve got any ideas for a topic (I’d like to keep it ‘ProBlogger’ related) feel free to make suggestions in comments below or via email.

How not to Get Banned from AdSense

Eric has a helpful post on ensuring you don’t get banned from AdSense and advises publishers to take the initiative with AdSense if anything abnormal is happening on their blog that might impact their account:

‘It’s your job as an AdSense publisher to keep your nose clean. Keeping your nose clean means:

* If you notice suspicious clicks, report it.
* If you accidentally click your own ads (it happens), report it.
* If your site is suddenly featured on Slashdot, Digg, or some other high-traffic site, report it.
* If you know something (press release, review, etc.) is going to send a lot of traffic your way, report it.
* If you’re in doubt about anything, report it.’

I would definitely agree with the first two and the last one but am not so sure about sudden increases in traffic. From my experience with AdSense they are pretty good at working out where your traffic comes from and if it’s a valid or invalid source. I guess to be safe you could shoot them an email but I know that I never have when I’ve been Dugg or Slashdotted and haven’t been questioned by AdSense.

Ultimately the way not to get banned from AdSense is to following the following tips from Google (the bold is their words, the rest is my comments):

[Read more…]

New Poll – Gender

I’ve ended last week’s poll of the week and have put up a new one. This one is to test a theory that I’m working on. I’m not going to tell you what it is until later in the week once I see some of the results coming in.

The question simply is – ‘are you male or female?’

With regards to the last poll – I’ll give you the full results of it early next week. Thanks to the 1500 or so people who voted – the results were fascinating.

Habits of Highly Effective Bloggers – Final Submissions

200605231206The Habits of Highly Effective Bloggers Group Writing Project is over.

I’m almost overwhelmed by the last minute entries today as I look at my inbox where there are 32 new submissions (taking us to a total of 80). It looks like ProBlogger readers like to leave things to the last minute (like author like reader)!

Before I update you with the latest submissions I want to answer a question that I’ve been asked this week on numerous occasions about this project. The question:

“Can we vote on a winner?”

There have been other variations on this question and I’ve been surprised by how many people have asked it. My answer is that the reason I ran this project was that I was struggling to answer the question ‘what habits would an effective blogger have?’ and wanted to hear others perspective. I didn’t think I’d get as many responses as I have and wasn’t planning on it becoming a competition. My hope was that through it we’d all learn something both about ourselves as we wrote out pieces but also as a community as we read each other’s and connected with new bloggers.

So I’m going to refrain from making this a competition.

HOWEVER – what I would encourage you to do is to find your own ‘winner’ or ‘winners’.

Surf through the submissions received – pick your top 3 (or 1, or 5, or 10…) and then write about it on your blog (or if it’s not appropriate to do so in comments below). Point your readers to the quality pieces that others have written and in the process share a little link love (a prize if you want to call it that). I would love this project to be more than just a learning experience – it now has potential to be one that celebrates quality writing. I’ll leave it in your hands.

The other question I’ve been asked a lot is – ‘Can we do it again?’ – the Answer to that one is yes, I’ll do another group writing project in the next week or so.

And now – here are the final submissions which will also be added to the list of all submissions:

Once again – see the full list of submissions here and take some time to surf through them to find those that you found most helpful to include them in a post on your own blog. Thanks to all who have contributed.

AdSense Video ads FAQ

The AdSense team must have had a lot of questions sent to them about the new video ads that are appearing this week because their blog has a post titled Video ads: Your questions answered which – as the title suggestions tackles some of the many questions I’ve heard about them.

Here’s a summary of the answers –

  • Video ads don’t slow your site as Google hosts the ads
  • Video ads never start playing by themselves and need a click to get going
  • Publishers are paid for video ads in two ways depending upon the option the advertiser chooses. If they target your specific site you get paid per impression (every time the ad shows up) or if the ads are purely contextual you get paid per click (when your reader clicks through onto the landing page of the advertiser – ie NOT when they click to view the ad).
  • They don’t guarantee that video ads pay more than text/image ads. They compete with other ads in an auction style bidding and the ad with the highest projected earnings will be played.
  • Ads will be contextually relevant to your site only if the advertiser chooses ‘contextual’ mode. If they specifically target your site it may not be as relevant (although the advertiser would be stupid to target your site with an irrelevant ad)
  • Video ads can be up to two minutes in length.
  • You can watch ads on your own site by clicking the ‘play’ button. This is because clicking this button doesn’t pay you. However don’t click the ad itself or the advertisers URL as this is counted as a ‘click’.
  • Ads are screened by AdSense before they are approved to ensure they fit within AdSense guidelines for what is appropriate.
  • To have Video ads on your site you need to activate ‘image ads’ and use one of the rectangle or square formats

A few comments of mine:

  • I’m still disappointed that publishers have no way of opting out of video ads without also disabling image ads
  • I’m surprised that a ‘click’ (and therefore payment to publisher) is not counted when an advertisement is ‘played’. As a result we as publisher are providing space on our sites for advertisers to convey messages to our readers that we never get paid for. It would be like a TV station selling ads that they only get paid for when viewers actually go into a retail outlet. I can see the bind that AdSense are in but I can just imagine advertisers producing video ads that give all the information needed by readers without having to click and in effect getting free publicity.

What do you think about the Video ads from AdSense?

Thanks to iZachy for the tip off

Movable Type 3.3 (beta) Coming Soon

Six Apart have announced that the beta test for Movable Type 3.3 will begin next week and run for 3 weeks. There’s no mention of features in the new version but if you want to participate you can find out how at Coming soon: Movable Type 3.3 (beta).

As someone who still uses MT on some of my blogs I’m interested to see what the upgrade will bring although this past couple of weeks have had some pretty significant problems with my last upgrade to 3.2 where I’m having rebuilding problems and a variety of other issues, especially on my larger blogs.

update – new features for version 3.3 are now listed here.