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AdSense Announce Video Units for Australian and Japanese Publishers

If you live in Australia or Japan you’ll want to check out the AdSense blog today because they’ve just announced that Video Units are now available to you as a publisher. They also mention that you ‘may’ be able to now become a YouTube partner and make money off your own videos (what ‘may’ means I’m about to find out as I’ve just applied).

What are video units?

“video units are embedded, customizable video players which both enrich sites with relevant video content and enable publishers to earn extra revenue. Relevant and non-intrusive companion and text ads accompany the video content.” Read more about AdSense video units.

Feedburner AdSense Ads in the Wild

Over the weekend news broke of the coming Feedburner and AdSense Integration.

Since then I’ve chatted to one of the team at Google about the integration and asked if I could see them in the wild somewhere. They shot me a link to this RSS feed where you can view them in Google Reader on each post.

Interestingly in this feed I’m seeing a real variety of ads (both in terms of advertisers and types of as) including:

Picture 10-2

Picture 11-3

Picture 12-2

Picture 13-2

Picture 14

So we’re seeing text ads, image ads and at least two sizes.

A little concerning is that the relevancy of the ads are not that contextual as far as I can see. The feed is from a music blog. Some ads are matching – others don’t at all.

He also told me that they’re rolling these out to both existing Feedburner Ad Network publishers and AdSense publishers – a small group initially but it won’t take long for it to be opened up further.

Feedburner and AdSense Integration Coming Soon

Over the weekend Feedburner have announced on their blog that the long awaited integration of AdSense ads into the Feedburner service is about to become a reality.

Google bought Feedburner last year and so this has been talked about for a while now – but in the coming weeks they’ll begin to run AdSense in the feeds of those publishers who are a part of the Feedburner Ad Network. Initially it’ll be with a small group of publishers with a full launch for all Feedburner publishers ‘soon’.

They write:

“Publishers already in the FeedBurner Ad Network will continue to see premium CPM ads directly sold onto their content, but with the added bonus of contextually targeted ads that will fill up the remainder of their inventory.”

“For publishers who are not yet placing ads in their feeds, any publisher who meets the requirements to join the AdSense program will also be able to use AdSense for feeds. You will be able to manage your feed ad units directly from AdSense Setup tab, and track performance right on the AdSense Report tab.”

To be a part of AdSense for Feeds you’ll need to be signed up for AdSense and set up your channels for ‘placement targeting’.

If you’re not an AdSense publishers sign up here:


This is great news because to this point AdSense did have an option for advertising in feeds that was a closed beta test (something that has been closed and not really developed for years) and the Feedburner Ad Network was also not available for all publishers.

How to Split Test (A/B Test) Your AdSense Ads

A couple of days ago I talked readers through some different approaches to AdSense Ad Design and how it can make a significant impact upon the earnings of your AdSense ads. At the end of the post I mentioned that one great way to work out which ad design is best for your blog is to run a split testing campaign.

Today I want to talk readers through how to do this – it’s not as complicated as you might think!

What is Split Testing?

Also sometimes called A/B testing, split testing means that you run two different versions of an AdSense ad unit on your blog so that you can see which one performs best. You serve one version of the ad to one visitor, and then another version to the next visitor.

If you do this over a large number of visitors you’ll get a bit enough sample to be able to draw some conclusions about which ad design works best in that particular ad position.

How to Run a Split Test on Your AdSense Ads

Split testing sounds complicated but it is relatively simple to set up. In short, all it really involves is setting up a couple of channels within your AdSense account so that you can track the results and then inserting a little extra code around the AdSense code in your blog’s templates. Here’s how:

1. set up two different custom channels in your AdSense account. They might be called something like ‘test A’ and ‘test B’.

2. generate two different ad units in the back end of your AdSense account. Make them identical sized formats but give them two different color palettes. Copy the codes AdSense gives you and put them into a text document – you’ll need them in a minute.

3. take the following code insert the two ad units codes that you just generated into it were it indicates:

<script type=”text/javascript”>
    var random_number = Math.random();
    if (random_number < .5){
        //your first ad unit code goes here
    } else {
        //your second ad unit code goes here
    }
</script>
<script type=”text/javascript”     src=”http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js”></script>

ie – you need to replace the bolded lines with your two different AdSense codes.

4. Insert everything into your blog’s template in the appropriate spot for the ad to make it position where you want it to show.

With the above code you should now see the two different color palettes rotating on your blog. It will show one 50% of the time and the other the other 50% of impressions.

You can then log into your AdSense reports area after the script has been rotating for a while to see which one is performing best. Give it a day or two to run before you make too many changes as it can take a little while to get the ad having shown enough times to draw any solid conclusions.

Variations on the Test

You can do the same split test to work out what Ad Unit Size is converting best. The process is identical but instead of having your two ad units with different colors make the only variation their sizes (ie keep the colors the same).

You could also test any other element that you have control over. For example the different corner options, image ads vs text ads etc.

Lastly – you don’t have to make the split test a 50/50 one. You could specify for one ad unit to show up 95% of the time and the other only 5%. This means only a small number of your readers see the new ad unit (good if you’re testing something bold). To do this simply vary the “.5″ to another number. For example .9 would show one ad 90% of the time.

Final Tips

  • Backup your templates before experimenting. If you mess it up somehow you can then quickly revert to your original setup.
  • Make one of the ads you rotate one that you’ve been testing for a while so as to give a good baseline result to compare to.
  • Don’t experiment with multiple changes at once. For example if you test ad size and colors at once you won’t be able to identify the specific element that cases the changes in ad performance.
  • Once you’ve worked out which of your two ad units performs best keep testing with other options. Take your best performing one and test that against other designs to see if you can find one to better it. Once you do use that one as your baseline!

Ad Design – Tactics to Increase Your AdSense Earnings Overnight

increase-adsense-earnings.jpgOver the last week I’ve been covering a few tactics that can lead to a significant overnight increase in your earnings with AdSense (and other ad networks). So far we’ve looked at AdSense Ad Positioning and the number of AdSense ads on your page.

Today I want to talk about AdSense Ad Design – another key factor in the performance of AdSense ads.

In my previous posts I’ve talked about how changing the positioning and numbers of ads has seen significant changes in my own AdSense earnings at different times – ad design can have a similar impact.

AdSense give quite a bit of control over how text ads can display on your site. You can change the color of a number of elements in ad units by changing the ‘color palettes’ that you choose.

Adsense-Color-Palette

As you can see above in the ‘default’ color palette there is the option to change the color of ad borders, the title, background, text and URL. There are rumors floating around at the moment that we might have more control over the font of ads too in the future (I’ve been seeing a variety of fonts in my own ads lately which is a signal that Google is experimenting).

Unfortunately there’s not a single color palette that works best on every blog. As with everything – testing different color schemes is the only way to work out what works best for you.

There are a number of different AdSense ad design strategies that bloggers have used over the years. Lets look at three of them:

1. Contrasting AdSense Ads

When I first started experimenting with AdSense the trend among publishers was to do everything possible to make the ads be seen. The theory is that if people see the ads they’ll be more likely to click them.

The result was some of the most horrendous color combinations that you’ll ever see put together in an AdSense unit.

Warning – what you see below might induce headaches….

Adsense-Ad-Design-Clash

I’m not sure why anyone would select this kind of combination but it was commonplace a few years ago. I saw a number of publishers back in that day saying that a Red/Yellow combination worked best.

The Pros of this design where that they were eye catching – the Cons were that they didn’t do a lot for creating a great first impression of your site.

2. Blended AdSense Ads

As a result the trend moved from ‘clashing’ ads to what was known as a ‘blended’ approach.

The keys to this approach were to set the background and borders of ad units to match the background of the site that they were going. In doing so you removed any border/boundary between the ad an your content.

The Title was then made to be the same color as links on the site. Text was made to match the color of text on the site and the URL field either was made to match the title OR to be as light a color as possible (a light grey) so as to blend into the background as much as possible.

The attempt was to make the ads blend into the site as much as possible and look like an integrated part into the site. So ads here at ProBlogger with a blended design might look like this:

Adsense-Ad-Design-Blended

The pros of this approach was that ads didn’t clash with the site and as a result didn’t scream ‘CHEAP AND NASTY MONEY GRABBING WEBSITE’. The ads also performed better in most cases than a ‘clashing’ ad. The Cons were that sometimes the ads could blend too much into the site, particularly those sites which had a loyal readership which became blind to the ads.

3. Complementary AdSense Ads

Over the last couple of years another term has crept into AdSense publisher circles to describe ads – ads that ‘complement’ a site.

These ads are similar to blended ads but they don’t completely blend in. They complement the colors of the site but aim to also stand out a little by adding a different background and border color. The color you use might be unique to the ads but still ‘match’ the overall colors on the site.

This type of ad is what Google recommend if you’re putting an ad in your sidebar or some slightly out of the way part of your blog as it draws the eye to it. However if you’re putting an ad in or close to content they suggest a blended ad.

4. Designer AdSense Ads

Most publishers still use a blended or complementary approach (I do) but over the last few years a number of AdSense publishers have played with incorporating different design elements around their ads to integrate them even more fully into the site.

There was a period where publishers got away with aligning images directly beside, above or below ads – AdSense cracked down on this and now don’t allow it at all – however there are ways to incorporate the ads into the design of your site.

I first wrote about this in a post called Designer AdSense Ads where I highlighted these two ads from Karen Cheng’s blog:

Adsense-Ad-Design-Designer-1 Adsense-Ad-Design-Designer-2

You can see the ads themselves are placed inside frames that integrate the ads into the design of the site.

Interestingly Karen no longer uses these ads on her blog. I’ve seen a number of publishers attempt to do this with mixed success. It’s something to experiment with.

So Which AdSense Ad Design is Best?

The choice of which AdSense ad design to choose for your blog is a decision that you need to weigh up on a number of fronts including:

  • Performance – test different designs to see which converts best in terms of click through rate
  • Aesthetics – each of us have a different preference on what does and doesn’t look good and on how willing we are to allow ads that ‘stick out’ a little.
  • Other Competing Design Elements – if your blog’s design is ‘busy’ and has a lot of competing points of visual interest for readers you might need to increase the ‘loudness’ of the ads in order to compete.

When it comes down to purely financial considerations – the fact is that sometimes blending works best and on other occasions it can be better to go with a more contrasting approach.

Check out the official advice from AdSense:

The color strategy you should use on your site varies depending on the ad placement and the color of the background where the ads are placed. Review the table below for a quick reference about which strategies we suggest will work well on your site.”

Adsense-Ad-Design-Choices

You can see the overall design of your site comes into question quite a bit in the eyes of AdSense.

Other Design Choices

There are a few other choices that publishers have when it comes to the way that their ads look.

Curved Corners

One somewhat recent chose that AdSense have given us is the ability to round the corners of our ads. As publishers we now have the ability to have three formats – Square ads, Slightly Rounded ads and Very Rounded ads:

Rounded Corners

Your choice with the corners of your ads only comes into play if you go for a complementary or contrasting approach (ie blended ads effectively don’t have borders that can be seen). The choice will will depend upon the design of your blog. If you have curves on other design elements this will help to integrate the ads better.

Rotate ads

If your blog has a lot of repeat readers who come back day after day you will want to consider changing the design of your ads from time to time so as to overcome ad blindness.

You can manually do this on a regular basis or use the built in mechanism that AdSense offers for you to choose up to 4 different color palettes for your ads to automatically rotate through.

Test Test Test

The key to finding the right AdSense Ad Design for your blog is to test different options and see what works best for you.

One way to do this is to try Split Testing (sometimes called A/B testing). I’ll write up how to do this tomorrow – stay tuned!

Putting More Ads On Your Page: Tactics to Increase Your AdSense Earnings Overnight

increase-adsense-earnings.jpgLast week I began a mini series of posts on tactics to increase your AdSense Earnings Overnight. In the first post I looked at the tactic of optimizing the position of your AdSense ads and shared my own journey of discovery in this area and the realization that I could significantly increase my AdSense ad earnings by moving my ad from one position to another.

Today I want to look at another simple way to increase what AdSense (and other ad networks) can earn you. It’s the most simple and obvious thing to do – but it’s amazing how few bloggers actually do it.

Put more Ads on your Page!

It’s not rocket science – but one of the quickest ways to increase your blog’s earnings is to add more advertising to your blog. Of course it’s not just a matter of slapping as many ads as possible on your blog – but more on that later in this post.

Let me continue the story I started yesterday on my own journey to higher AdSense earnings.

Remember, yesterday I told the story of how I moved my ads from one position to another like this:

Ad-Positioning recap.jpg

That move led to an increase in earnings of around 50%. Not bad for 10 minutes work.

A few days after making this change I had calmed down after the initial rush of excitement and decided to take things to the next level. I decided that if one ad unit on a page could earn as much as it did that more ad unit might increase the overall earnings.

Why I’d not considered it earlier I’m not sure (from memory there was a time where you were quite limited in how many AdSense units you could use per page – these days the limit is 3) – but I decided to see what impact it would have.

I moved from the above layout to this one with two additional ad units:

Ad-Positioning 3.jpg

What I discovered is that on a blog the positions above comments (at the end of an article) and below them are good positions because they are places that readers ‘pause’.

A reader reads your post and then pauses while they decide what to do next. Web users are wired to ‘click’ in pauses so it’s a logical spot to put an advertisement that pays on a per click basis.

Adding two extra ad units didn’t triple my earnings (the ads were further down the page and got less attention than the top one) but they did significantly increase my earnings virtually immediately.

Try Link Units

Another way to add an AdSense unit on a page is to use the ‘link unit’. These ad units come in two varieties (although numerous sizes). You can see the full variety of units here but here’s how they look.

Here’s one in a horizontal configuration:

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Here’s one in a vertical configuration:

160x90.gif

Link Units tend to perform best when they are placed in and around navigational areas as they can quite look like ‘menus’. Here’s a couple of logical spots to put them (highlighted in green). You can currently put up to 3 link units on a page.

Ad-Positioning Link units.jpg

Link Units convert well on some blogs but not others. Some publishers swear by them others don’t like them at all – it’s worth testing to see if yours is one that they work on.

Mix and Match Ad Networks

The other way to add more ad units on a page is to look at other ad networks than AdSense. AdSense allows you to place other ad networks ads on the same page as theirs as long as the other ads don’t ‘mimic’ the AdSense units. This means you can’t use YPN on the same page but you can use Chitika (I use them very successfully with AdSense), ShoppingAds, WidgetBucks, Shopzilla and others.

A Word of Warning

Keep in mind that more ads might mean more earnings – BUT there comes a point where more ads makes your site look cheap and nasty and can begin to put off readers. It also can get to a point where the ads get in the way of your content. Some bloggers stuff so many ads on their blogs that the content ends up being below the fold on a page – something that might increase earnings per visitor but that doesn’t really encourage those visitors to keep coming back for more.

Different blogs will have a different threshold for how many ads are too many. It’s something to listen to your readers on and to keep a careful eye on.

The other problem with too many ads on a page is that the more ads you have per page the less likely your readers are of clicking any single one of them. More outbound links means the click through rate on any one of them will be lower. While you might increase the overall number of clicks on ads (which in a CPC program like Adsense can be good) if you also run private ad sales on your blog (ie you sell ads directly to advertisers) you’ll be providing those advertisers with less value.

The same thing goes with affiliate programs. If you’re running them on your blog the more ads you have the less CTR you’ll have on the affiliate links.

So do experiment with more ads on your blog as it will generally increase earnings – but keep in mind that sometimes less is more and it can be worth resisting the temptation to have too many!

Ad Positioning: Tactics to Increase Your AdSense Earnings Overnight

increase-adsense-earnings.jpgIn this series I’m examining tactics that can be used to increase AdSense earnings immediately. Read the introduction to this series here.

Today I want to talk about positioning your AdSense ads – something that has a very significant impact upon the amount of money that they are able to earn.

I learned this lesson after I’d been using AdSense for some time – I often wish I’d discovered it earlier – because not thinking it through earlier cost me a significant amount of money!

My Story of Learning about AdSense Positioning

I remember clearly the time that my AdSense earnings almost doubled over night through me simply moving them from one part of my blog to another.

Up until the point where I made this discovery my AdSense ads had been largely in a banner position on my blog. I don’t remember my exact reasoning for putting it there but it was probably because that’s where I saw all the big sites doing. My blog’s post pages looked like the diagram to the right.

Ad-Positioning 1.jpg

Performance with this positioning was OK – but then again, I didn’t know any different so while I was earning enough on my blog at this point to make a day or two a week of earnings I was blissfully unaware of the potential that my blog had to take me a step closer to going full time as a blogger.

I’m not sure of why I decided to experiment with my ad positioning but after a while of positioning my AdSense ads this way I decided to have a ‘play’ with other positions. I began to think about where on my page my readers would give their full attention and decided at the top left hand side of the content area would probably be the most logical position for people to look at a web page (as that’s where they start reading). This was at a time before AdSense brought out their ‘heatmap’ which confirmed that this was a wise move.

So late one afternoon I decided to move my ad unit from the banner position to this spot at the top left hand side of my post area.

My ads now looked like the diagram to the left.

Ad-Positioning 2.jpg

I was actually a little nervous about making this move. What if my earnings went down and I started going backwards?

I decided to give the new position a couple of days testing. I could afford to lose earnings for two days but if they didn’t at least match the previous positioning I’d switch it back.

That night just before I went to bed I decided to log into AdSense to see what the results were like after a few hours.

Imagine my surprise when I saw my CTR 40%!

40% more readers were clicking my ads and this was obviously already impacting my overall earnings!

I didn’t sleep too well that night as I realized the power of what I’d discovered. I could potentially see a 40% increase in my earnings with a simple move of my ads.

The next morning I awoke earlier and logged into AdSense and found that the CTR was now up by just under 50%.

That day I’d increased my earnings enough to dedicate at least another day a week to blogging by simply changing the position of an ad unit!

Tips on Ad Positioning

general_sm_en.jpgAd positioning is vitally important to the performance of ad units like AdSense.

In general – the positions that are ‘hot’ can be seen on the heatmap to the right (this is the official AdSense heatmap which they put together from their own research and observations of where ads work best. You can see how anywhere at the top of content can work best (the brightest orange area) but that in general above the fold and to the left seems to be the ‘hotter areas’.

This does vary from blog to blog and there are some specific spots that work best on blogs (I’ll show them below). The key is to try different things and to find what works best on your blog.

Further Reading on Ad Positioning:

Next week I’ll continue this series of tips for increasing your AdSense earnings overnight with the continuation of my own story of learning to use AdSense and some more tactics that took my earnings to even higher levels!

Tactics to Increase Your AdSense Earnings Overnight

increase-adsense-earnings.jpgWhat would you say if I told you that there are things that many bloggers could do on their blogs that could bring about large increases in their AdSense earnings in 24 hours or less?

One of the misconceptions about making money from blogging that is out there is that the best way to increase your blog’s earnings is to increase the traffic to your blog.

“Double your traffic and you’ll double your income” I heard one speaker say at a conference earlier in the year.

Well that speaker is right…. increased traffic generally does lead to increased advertising income…. but doubling your traffic can be a massive task one that could take months or even years to achieve.

Growing readership is something every entrepreneurial blogger needs to be working on as it does help with income levels but…

What if there’s a faster way to grow your AdSense earnings?

Over the next week I want to look at a few methods of increasing the revenue from AdSense on your blog that can have immediate impact upon earnings.

Before We Begin:

I should say before I go any further that these won’t work on every blog – if you’ve already optimized your blog well they’ll have less impact – but if you have a blog like I did a few years ago you could see some significant improvements. These tips will be more basic for some readers than others – so if you consider yourself to be at an advanced level you might want to just scan over the posts (although a refresher can’t hurt).

I also should say that these principles don’t just apply to Adsense. The same can be said about Chitika, ShoppingAds, WidgetBucks, Shopzilla and other ad networks.

Lastly – I want to say that I’m not usually one to use claims like ‘increase your earnings overnight’ – as we all know, blogging for money is a long term thing. However these lessons did have immediate impact upon my own earnings. I had already been blogging for some time – but together what I share increased my own earnings by over 100% very quickly.

The Series So Far

1. Ad Positioning Tactics for AdSense
2. Putting More AdSense Ads on Your Page
3. Ad Design Tactics for AdSense

AdSense Problems? – Check out the Known Issues Page

If you’re an AdSense publisher and are noticing problems with your account (like today when most publishers reports are showing stats that are much lower than normal) then you might want to bookmark the AdSense Known Issues page which is being used by AdSense to update publishers on the issues and problems that they are aware of and what they are doing about them.