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15 Things I’d Love to See Ad Networks and Affiliate Programs Do to Help Us Earn More Money Blogging

I write quite a lot about what works in the ad networks that I use to make money from my blogs – but sometimes there are some little niggling problems with ad networks and affiliate programs that can be quite annoying.

Today I thought I’d compile a short ‘ProBlogger Wishlist’ of things that I’d love to see specific ad networks and affiliate programs rolling out. I’m not doing this because I don’t like any of the programs mentioned here (in fact most feature in my top earners list) – just because I’d like to see them improve.

Feel free to add your own on these networks (and others) in comments. Hopefully some of them will lead to some positive changes:

1. Direct Deposits for Amazon Associates

AmazonI’d love to see publishers outside of the USA able to be paid via direct deposit. I not only have to wait an extra week or so to get my cheque each month, but because my monthly payments are over $2000 my bank then charges me over $60 to cash them – and they have to send the cheque back to the USA for authentication before they’ll clear the money. This authentication process takes an extra 6 weeks. So if I earn money on the first day of a month it can be around 3 months before I see any money from it. If direct deposits are out of the question payments via PayPal would be another alternative.

2. Direct Deposit Payments at Clickbank

Cb LogoWhile we’re on the subject of payment via cheque – the other group I’d like to see with a direct deposit system (or a PayPal payment) is Clickbank. Come on people – get with the 21st century!

3. Increase Minimum Payouts – Linkshare

Logo-4I don’t even know where I still earn money with Linkshare (I must have promoted something once of theirs and it still earns me a dollar or two a month). The problem is that they send me a cheque for that dollar or two every month or two. Do you know how embaressing it is to go into a bank and try to cash a $2.27 check (considering it’s in US dollars and I have to get it converted I don’t bother any more). It’s time for a minimum amount earned before sending cheques Linkshare.

4. More Customization with ID Tracking at Amazon Associates

AmazonI love the fact that Amazon added the ability to use ‘tracking IDs’ to allow their publishers to track which links are converting best (see how useful this can be in this post analyzing what people buy at Amazon from one post). The problem is that once you add a tracking ID there’s no way to remove it. I have a growing list of them and it’s getting pretty messy. It’s also be great to get more customized reports with tracking IDs that’d allow for more drilling down.

5. Better Reporting at AdSense

Logo Main-1Speaking of drilling down in reports – while I think AdSense has one of the best reporting systems, I think it’s time that they took things to the next level and gave us some more useful tools for analyzing our results. While channels can be handy – unless you use a different channel for each post it’s impossible to tell which pages are converting best unless you use a third party application to track clicks on a page by page basis. Another simple wish for AdSense reports is a cost per click figure (something other networks give). I know this is complicated by impression based ads – but it’d be handy to have more information on this. I’d also love to see more ability to combine data from Google Analytics and Google AdSense.

6. Split Testing at AdSense

Logo Main-1A built in mechanism for split testing might be nice too. It’s now possible to rotate different ads in the one ad unit, but there’s no way to track which combination converts best. Split testing tools might be useful (in fact they’d be good at all the ad networks – not just AdSense).

7. Better Referral Reports at WidgetBucks

Logo3-1Time to look at the newest ad network on the block, WidgetBucks. I’m getting good results with this network but I think there’s plenty of room for improvement. For starters I’d love to see more data on referrals. At this point there’s just a total referrals number and the promise of the total amount earned to be given at some point in the first week of next month. Most other networks give significantly more information on this including a daily breakdown (even if it is audited later). Not having these figures takes some of the incentive for promoting the program away from publishers and will slow the growth of the network.

8. Better Referral Reports at AuctionAds

Auctionads-1The other ad network that I’d like to see improve it’s referral reporting is AuctionAds. At the moment I have no idea what of my income comes from the ad units that I run and what comes from referrals. Again – it doesn’t really inspire me to actively promote it if I can’t see what the results of that promotion are.

9. Channel Names at WidgetBucks

Logo3-1Another pet peeve of WidgetBucks for me is that the name you give different widgets appears in both the reports page and on the widget. While I don’t mind being able to customize the widget in this way – it’s frustrating in the reports page as there’s no actual descriptive way of labeling widgets. For example I’d like to be able to have ‘popular digital cameras’ appear on my widget – but in the back end reports would like to be able to call my widget ‘Digital Photography School Footer’. It’s getting more and more confusing the more widgets I add. In fact the whole reports page probably needs to be reworked. Imagine having 100 different widgets across different sites – the page would be a mess.

10. Less US-centric Testing at AdSense

Logo Main-1Regular readers will know about this one already – but there’s nothing more frustrating for a publisher situated outside of the USA than seeing great new ad units released and not being able to test them. AdSense did this recently with their YouTube Video unit.

11. Open Up for International Publishers at YPN

Logo PnSpeaking of US exclusive deals – I’d love to see Yahoo’s Publisher Network (YPN) open up to international publishers with international traffic. The YPN beta launched in August 2005 and did so exclusively for US publishers with predominantly US traffic. It struck me this morning that it’s been over 2 years now (26 months to be exact) and there’s been no movement on that. In fact if anything they tightened things up about a year ago by booting out some publishers who had too much non US traffic.

12. Open up RSS Ads at AdSense

Logo Main-1While a 26 month beta test with no expansion seems pretty bad – AdSense have one of their own which has been going longer. In April 2005 they introduced their RSS Advertising system (AdSense for Feeds). The program is still in a beta test according to their help center page and the beta test is full and they don’t anticipate adding any more publishers too it. Still – publishers are encouraged to keep checking back to that page for updates – I wonder how many have been for the last 30 months.

13. Improved Reports at Chitika

Chitika LogoChitika have made some real improvements over the last year or so – but one area I’d like to see them take to the next level is their reports. One aspect of them that I find frustrating is the channels are and a simple improvement would be to make the channel names in reports live links that take publishers to a report for the last month of that channel alone. Also useful would be the ability to group channels together (like AdSense offer). For example to be able to put the multiple channels that you might have on a single blog into one report so you can get a combined report for the full blog. At present if I want to know a blog’s performance with Chitika (I might have as many as 10 channels on a blog) I need to get the calculator out and look at each channel individually to get their totals.

14. Open up to Smaller Publishers – Chitika

Chitika LogoAnother common complaint that I hear from many publishers about Chitika is that smaller publishers are not eligible to join. While I understand that this ads significantly to the workload of an ad network – most (if not all) other ad networks that I’ve mentioned in this post don’t have a minimum traffic limit for publishers. This frustrates many bloggers and could actually hurt Chitika in the long term because publishers that grow might have been put off by their early rejection from Chitika.

15. Better Conversion at AdSense Referrals

Logo Main-1I’ve asked ProBlogger readers a number of times if they’ve had any success with AdSense Referrals – the response was an overwhelming ‘NO’. The exception is those who promote the ‘Google product’s – but outside that I’ve only found a few that have had any luck with it. I’ve actually chatted with a couple of people at AdSense about it and know that they have challenges that they are working on – but I’d really love to see the Referrals program taken up to the next level in the coming 12 months. PS: Jen shares her AdSense Referrals wishlist here with some more good suggestions.

As I mentioned above – I’m certain that there are many other improvements that all of these ad networks and affiliate programs could make. I’d invite you to add your own points to the wish list.

My hope with this post is that it doesn’t become a ‘bitching session’ but a more constructive conversation that might help the ad networks concerned to improve what they have on offer.

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. Hi Darren,

    This was a useful post for me; it puts the “shoe on the other foot” regarding how ad companies interact with those who run their ads.

    I’m going to be moving into this world soon on one of my blogs and have a lot to learn about monetizing, so it’s good to see a list of problem areas even though I don’t understand most of them yet.

    Thanks!

  2. Ritu says:

    In sightful post Darren! I havent integrated a lot of ads on my blog but am thinking about it. Hopefully these ad networks read this and follow your guides as well, those are some valid points you have written!

  3. Totally Agree with Clickbank, they owe me $300, will not send as i have not met the minimal amount!

  4. bob cobb says:

    yea i dont get why google hasn’t released google adsense for RSS yet. With the feedburner acquisition I thought it would be coming fairly soon, but nothing yet :(

  5. Rick says:

    ClickBank put me on Direct Deposit after I achieved around $7,000 in sales in one month.
    It was about 7 years ago though, and I was told it was only for higher volume users. I’m in the US and I was selling my own product, so that may be part of the reason. I later remember reading about a quantity of sales that triggers the Direct Deposit option.
    Try emailing them and asking…

  6. Hyder says:

    Also, I think that the minimum payment thresholds in turn end up hurting a network rather than promoting it. I have at least a hundred dollars lying around various ad networks, not because the min. payment was too high but because it simply stopped performing due to poor advertiser turn out.

  7. Rhys says:

    Very good Darren, but you’ve mispelled #8. It should read “Auctionads Actually Working” ;)

  8. With regards to minimum payouts, I think the option should be in the users hands. Some people will want that $2 check because otherwise they might be waiting a year to meet the minimum payout but other people such as yourself do not.

    Most people complain of minimum payouts being too high because when you’re just starting out you may be earning money here and there but just never see any of it. You probably don’t have that problem anymore Darren!

  9. Mido says:

    Hi darren,

    I agree with you. Specially in point number 11. YPN should do something to attract non-US. and number 12 for RSS ads.

    Thanks,
    Mido

  10. Raoul says:

    Darren, don’t forget that FeedBurner has been doing RSS ads, and Google acquired them. Bobb Cobb points this out as well, but you have to realize there’s no incentive for Google to release two competing RSS ad programs. Since FeedBurner’s doing fine with their program, I think Google will just let them chug right along, and perhaps roll their Beta RSS program into FeedBurner’s.

  11. bob cobb says:

    Did anyone notice that the monetize part of feedburner has changed? it used to have a big paragraph and an email where you could try to get invited. Now it says:
    Configure Ads

    Activate FeedBurner Ad Network and Google AdSense for Content, and configure how you want these ads to appear in your feed and on your web site.

    This service is not currently available.
    maybe they’re planning on including it into adsense soon?

  12. Juha Ylitalo says:

    Amazon.co.uk does direct deposits to your bank account, if you happen to live in Europe and yours earning are above 50GBP. So what you need is Australian Amazon, which brings us to another issue.
    While Amazon.co.uk’s direct deposit is nice, it would be nice, if Amazon affiliation would cover all their sites, so if visitor from UK comes to your pages, he would be offered amazon.co.uk ads, while US visitors would get ads from amazom.com, etc.

  13. Mohsin says:

    AdSense referrals suck real bad. The other day I decided to give AdSense referrals another go and have so far gotten 21 clicks and 1 conversion for 60000 page impressions. So it’s no surprise that I’m going to remove it never to try it again.

  14. I don’t have enough traffic to warrant ads, yet–although I do the Amazon Affiliate thing.

    It’s good to read some of the pitfalls (and benefits) of different organizations for when I do get to the point of adding ads.

    Thanks for the post!

  15. The Reviewer says:

    I think adsense 100 dollars is too high. I don’t make a lot though, so I guess waiting forever for a check makes me kinda stuck waiting, I have like 50 bucks, but I have to make another 50. *sigh*

  16. Zach says:

    I totally agree with you on the widget bucks stuff. Most of the money from my blog right now is from widget bucks, and it’d be great if they made those changes. Also, I’d like to test out chitika, but can’t due to their traffic rules.

    Something I’d like to add: BlogRush should get their dang dashboard set-up already! I signed up with them the day they came out, had they on my blog the whole time, and they’ve helped increase traffic, but I still can’t see my reports!

    I’d also like to see all advertising/ affiliate networks via paypal. I mean, come on. We all practically live and make our money online, so pay us online! Otherwise we have to deposit and wait for the check to clear, then transfer it to paypal and wait for it to clear there.

  17. I agree with most of those, especially #11 (Yahoo). It seems they haven’t been moving on their Publisher Network at all since it began its beta. I think GMail went public sooner than YPN will.

  18. Kim says:

    Hiya all,
    Amazon, … my greatest wish is that they make a whole redo on their reporting system. It’s just a big mess of numbers thrown tobether.
    Plus (and you already mentioned them) the ID management is just not existent.
    When i started i created a second ID which I don’t use anymore. But in fact sometimes I get mixed up and use it by mistake. The problem is, that your percentages only add up for one ID not taking into account the others (which I think really su***). And when I asked amazone to merge these two IDs they just said “impossible” … I am still waiting for a response for the question to delete one of them.
    It’s frustrating.
    Plus the help system is just a messi bunch of not-quite-real-answers. When I tried to figure where to chose my payout system I found a note that kinda said :”yes you can” -.-;
    Amazon if you read that, please get your partners some comfort, then we’ll love to sell even more of your stuff!
    greetz
    Kim ;)

  19. Chris says:

    I agree with #15. I haven’t utilized AdSense Referrals yet because none of the products really fit my niche, and most of the ad units look half-baked. This isn’t really the fault of AdSense Referrals but with the companies that use it as a vehicle.

  20. Useful suggestions. I have high hopes for google referrals, I hope they can improve it.

  21. It’s nice to lean from some one’s experience already gained. Thanks for the insight and information.

  22. Tino Buntic says:

    You should build your own ad network, Darren. You have enough experience and a big enough audience to launch it. You know what works and what doesn’t. You should leverage your position on the internet and do it.

  23. Omar Yesid Mariño says:

    AuctionAds have a big problem: when I load a page with low traffic, the ads are not relevant for the page and actually they are not related to the keywords… It is necessary to reload the page so relevant ads start to appear.

  24. Great post Darren, I will try link share., but for auctionads, the performance is decrease, I see the earning of many publisher specially my friend is decrease a lot.

    In this 3 week I still try using widgetbucks and the refferal is growing, I got good in formations from your past posting for amazon also.

    Thanks
    syaifudin zuhri

  25. Mahesh says:

    I want Google to introduce the Wire Trasfer in India…. Its already late…

  26. Simon says:

    I can’t see google ever allowing testing by page. They want their ads to appear on as many pages as possible.

    Quite frankly if the adsense revenue is low for a page you would seek alternatives? and that doesn’t favor google. Google knows this and keeps the data “proprietary”.

    I don’t think adsense will ever be as transparent as we’d like. :)

  27. Split testing in Google adsense would be my most wanted thing on that list. It would help so much, because i fear my CTR will plummet if I don’t get a better understanding soon of the combinations that work!

  28. Pam Bertrand says:

    Hey Darren!

    I don’t want to be “penalized” for not following the instructions properly and posting my link here, I was a bad girl and sent my submission to your email, so sorry for clogging up your inbox! :)

    Here’s my image link:

    http://surrealwebmarketing.com/probloggercontest.htm

    Thanks!
    Pam :)

  29. B. says:

    Darren,

    Linkshare lets you set your own payment threshold, and after someone banked their first check they pay via direct deposit, too.

    It is in the user’s hands, just as Caroline suggested it should be.

    It’s not real easy to figure out where to set the threshold, in fact, I don’t remember where I did it, but their support was prompt and helpful with this.

  30. Daniel says:

    I have to agree big time with previous poster regarding Auction Ads!

    They really blog big time! I am only letting them piggy-back on one of my sites to reach withdraw limit but damned they are BAD!

    Comparison:

    Adsense: $15 a day
    Auction ads: $20 in THREE WEEKS!

    Never going back once i reach the withdraw limit!

  31. Daniel says:

    I also have to say to all Widgetbucks users:

    Concentrate on POSITION!

    I am getting close to 2% CTR on my best site and it is earning great! (Best is that you can combo it with adsense, and it seems less intrusive to users since its ‘informational’ and not fugly!

    I am still to see my earnings from the referrals but am passing 100 referrals this week so its gotto become something..

  32. Good sources to earn money online, But i find only adsense. Now faith on adsense become half.

    ————-
    http://paidforwritedown.blogspot.com

  33. Wayne Liew says:

    Most of them are on Google Adsense which I already got a ban from it.

    I am eager to try out Yahoo ads but seems like there is no movement from them on opening the chances to publishers outside US.

  34. Tony Smith says:

    Wow, just the list of affiliates alone makes this worth reading!

  35. Adsneeze says:

    Actually this is not true “Open up to Smaller Publishers – Chitika” . I applied to chikita and got accepted with my website. But I give up after a week with no earnings from they.

  36. geomark says:

    Darren, you are being very kind to some of these networks. A few have behaved awfully at times.

    My votes:
    ClickBank direct deposit or PayPal – sending checks is seriously archaic

    YPN – it’s getting to the point of becoming an embarrassment, get it together and open it up

  37. I get direct deposit with ClickBank and I live in Canada, they just charge a $35 wire transfer fee. You need to set the minimum payout to $1000 and then contact their paycheck division with a request for direct deposit.

  38. darren hit right on the nail what i have been thinking for some time in point no 14.chitika should open up like small publishers like myself.i am sure the power of us all can generate some significant sales for them.There is a possiblity that some of us may be bigger in the future

  39. Armaan says:

    How good Auction ads pay? It is profitable t show with adsense? Have any idea?

    ———
    http://affiliatestag.blogspot.com

  40. GettyCash says:

    I want to join chitika but I don’t know if they will accept my blog.

  41. Milos says:

    1) I hate those checks, although I do love them in the same time. ;)

    PayPal is a good option, but I would also include Moneybookers for example. PayPal still doesn’t include or have a limited functionality for users from some Eastern European countries. I would not have any benefits from that, for example. On the other hand, Moneybookers is 100% international.

    11) I just don’t understand why most affiliate services presume that if you are not coming USA, your content is not on English? Lots of companies and bloggers worldwide are targeting the US/English market, so what is the problem? Same thing with YPN

  42. MJ Klein says:

    i will give Chitika a great deal of credit for one thing though – although initially rejected by them, i was able to negotiate with them and they re-reviewed my blog and accepted me.

  43. Cher says:

    The Clickbank now says it allows wire transferafter deducting $30. I think it should allow the direct deposits even for small pay checks.

  44. gout says:

    good sourcing…I already using google ads and amazon to create money online….I want to try chitika….many sorcing money more better…thanks