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AdSense ‘Reporting Enhancements’ Due Soon

The official AdSense blog have just published two interesting snippets of information.

1. Those publishers who use AdSense for Search have a report available to them that shows data on what people use the search field to search for. They will stop tracking data on these reports that are older than 1 year. If you use these reports they encourage you to save your reports before 10 December.

2. Not explicit in their post – but there none the less – is a reference to upcoming ‘reporting enhancements’. No mention is made of what they are (we can pressume they’ll roll out sometime after the 10 December) – but it begs the question:

what report changes would you like AdSense to make?



Bonus Question -
it is around this time each year that AdSense sends out Christmas gifts to many of their publishers.

No one knows exactly how much you need to earn to get the gift – but it seems to be something that quite a few medium to large sized publishers receive in the first couple of weeks of December.

What do you think the AdSense Christmas gift will be this year?

AdSense Ad Click Zones – Gmail and Other Large Sites Get a Better Deal

Gmail-AdSenseAre AdSense truly interested in cutting down mistaken clicks on ads? If so – why do some of the biggest sites on the web (including one of their own) still have most of their ad units clickable while the average publisher does not?

I just had an email from WebbyThoughts who alerted me to a an inconsistency with AdSense’s recent policy to make less of their ad units ‘clickable’.

You might remember on 14th of this month when AdSense reconfigured their ads so that only titles and URLs were clickable on their ad units. This was to cut down on mistaken clicks and to improve the performance of ads for advertisers. It led to many AdSense publishers reporting lower CTR.

WebbyThoughts today published that they’d notice the AdSense ads on their Gmail account were still clickable over the full unit (with the exception of small spaces between individual ads). I’ve highlighted the clickable areas on the ads in my Gmail account (left).

AdSense did only introduce these changes into some ad units (smaller ones still have the background as clickable) but this ad unit is actually quite large (the screen shot above is only part of it – the full unit displays 8 ads) and I would have thought that for consistencies’ sake that they’d move to a similar displaying of ads on their own property as they’ve enforced upon other publishers.

But Wait – there’s more…

When I saw the above examples I began to consider different reasons for why Google would allow this on their own ads but not other publishers.

One of the reasons that I considered is that perhaps they consider themselves to be a premium publisher. AdSense has a category of publishers that they label ‘premium’ that get different privileges and features to the rest of us. Perhaps they consider their own division – Gmail – to be ‘premium’?

I tested this by going to a blog that I know has premium publisher status – Engadget.

What did I see there on their Google ad units? Let me show you (clickable zones highlighted):

Engadget-Adsense

Yes – you guessed it – Engadget also have their ads almost completely clickable.

Lets try another one. This time About.com:
About-Adsense

How about the AdSense ads on Myspace?
Myspace-Adsense

And one more for good measure – another known premium publisher for AdSense is CNN. Here’s how their AdSense ads look:

Cnn-Adsense-1

I can’t be certain that it’s just a premium publisher thing – but it does illustrate that Google isn’t completely consistent with the the clickable zones on their ad units. While I can understand the need to provide value to their advertisers and to give extra features to premium publishers it does leave me with two questions:

1. are Google not worried about readers of these sites mistakenly clicking ads?

2. how do the advertisers whose ads appear on these sites feel about the increased chance of a mistaken click?

Surely if Google want to give their advertisers optimal performance and the most bang for their buck they’d make these changes not only on sites with small numbers of impressions but also on the sites that show the most ads (I can only imaging the millions of impressions a site like CNN has)?

AdSense CTR – Has it Changed for You?

AdsenseYesterday it was revealed that AdSense were making the clickable portions of their Ad Units Smaller. Today we’re seeing these changes rolling out on different publishers sites. It seems that this means different things for different ad unit sizes. For example 468×60 and 234×60 ad units still seem clickable on the text of ads – perhaps because they don’t have a URL on these ads. All other ad units that I’ve seen just have the title and URL clickable.

So my question to you is – have you noticed any decreases in CTR yet?

We probably won’t see the full impact of the changes in today’s earning results as they’ve been rolling out during the day – but my own CTR is lower today than any other day for this month. Having said this – I’ve had lower days (2 were lower in October) – so I won’t really know what impact it’s had for a few days as things do tend to rise and fall.

How about you – is your CTR up or down today?

AdSense Make Ad Units Less Clickable

Important news arrived in my inbox yesterday from AdSense (as I mentioned in yesterdays post). I didn’t initially publish it because it wasn’t public – but other bloggers have done so making my keeping to my agreement with Google not to write about it fairly pointless (one of the problems with NDAs I guess). So here goes.

The short of it is that AdSense making changes to text ads so that instead of getting clicks when people click anywhere on an ad unit (including the background of ads) clicks will only work (and we’ll only get paid) when there is a click on an actual title or URL in the ad.

Adsense-Clickzone

No longer valid are clicks on the background and clicks on the text that isn’t the title or URL in the ad.

The reasoning for this given by AdSense:

“We’re rolling out a change to our text ad formats to help reduce accidental clicks and increase value for advertisers…..This new format will match the changes we’ve implemented on Google.com to help decrease the number of accidental clicks and increase the number of ad conversions. A reduction in accidental clicks will keep users on your pages, interacting with your content until they choose to click on an ad. This change will enhance the user’s overall experience with your websites and improve advertiser campaign value, but it’s likely that your click-through rate will decrease.”

This is going to cause some debate among publishers. On the one hand this has the potential to hurt publishers in the short term at their bottom line as it’ll lead to less clicks. I know some publishers who are already emailing to say that they are very disappointed that AdSense have changed the rules.

On the flip side – there are some good things about this in terms of readers accidentally clicking ads. Good for readers, good for advertisers – which indirectly could be argued to be good for publishers.

Reminds me of when Chitika made the images in their ad units not clickable (because they were getting too high a CTR and costing advertisers too much). The uproar among publishers at that time was not pretty!

AdSense acknowledge that this change ‘may result in a RPM decrease for some publishers in the short term’ but say that they expect it to lead to increased spending by advertisers in the long run.

Again – I understand it – but I suspect that many publishers will look to other alternatives if they see a noticeable decrease in earnings.

update: AdSense have now announced the changes on their blog.

AdSense Move Site Targeting to Placement Targeting and Allow Advertisers to Target Sites with CPC Ads

AdSense have announced a couple of changes. One is that they’ve replaced ‘site targeting’ with ‘placement targeting’. Now advertisers can target their ads to specific ad units on your blog (depending upon how you’ve set your channels up).

The second change is that they’re now allowing advertisers to target sites with CPC ads (cost per click) rather than just CPM ads (cost per thousand impressions).

I’m not really sure how this will impact publishers. I did hear a couple of other things from AdSense that concerned me a little though – I’m not at liberty to reveal them yet – but hopefully can in the coming week or two.

PageRank/AdSense Clarification – I’m not Funny

A quick clarification. In my post announcing that I’d taken a PageRank hit last night I mentioned that perhaps it was because I’d taken AdSense off my blog. I included a little smiley face next to that because it was something that I said – not believing was true for a second. There’s no chance that this is the reason.

I thought it was obvious that I was joking and not serious – but unfortunately I assumed incorrectly that people would see this and today have seen 10 or so bloggers reporting that this is what I think.

I’ve since updated that post to remove the smiley face and include a ‘joking’ comment. Sorry for the confusion – I think I’ll leave the jokes for others in future.

AdSense Introduce ServerSide Ad Management

ManageadsLate last week I took a call from an AdSense rep asking if I’d like to test a new feature that would enable publishers to make changes to their AdSense ads without having to manually change the code on their sites. She called it ‘Serverside’ ad management.

I said yes and the it became available to me yesterday in my AdSense account. I wasn’t going to mention it (because testing new stuff is confidential) but AdSense just announced that it’s coming soon on their blog with a post Coming soon: Make ad changes without replacing code – so I guess I’m free to talk about it!

This is a very useful feature that many publishers have been asking for (for years).

The only real downside that I can see with it so far is that switching over to this style of ‘managing ads’ does take some effort in that to do it you need to replace your old AdSense ad code over to new code. This takes time – particularly if you have a lot of sites with a lot of different ad units.

Manageads LeaderboardHowever once you’ve done it the upsides are huge in that there’s no more digging around in the back end of your blog’s templates to make changes to ad design – you simply log into your AdSense account and make the changes there and the changes will be instantly reflected on your blog.

Those of you who use WidgetBucks will have seen this type of ad management there as they do the same thing by default.

Publishers who are not part of the beta test won’t be able to see this new feature yet – but it’ll be rolled out over the coming weeks. You’ll find it (when you’re upgraded) under your AdSense Setup tab on a new ‘Manage Ads’ option.

AdSense Introduce a Validation Period for Referrals Program – a Sign of Conversion Fraud?

AdSense have made a change to their referral program by putting a validation periods on publishers when they display non Google products. In this period publishers earn a lower conversion commission while AdSense works out if your conversions are ‘valid’. Once the validation period ends you then will earn the maximum commissions on the product.

It seems like this a system to combat some sort of problem that AdSense must be having with invalid conversions (some sort of ‘conversion fraud’ perhaps?).

AdSense says that the validation periods will vary from product to product and attempt to sell the change by saying that it is to ensure the ‘long-term effectiveness of the referrals program for both publishers and advertisers.’

I’d be interested to hear if anyone who has tried the referrals program has seen any real conversions from any products other than the Google products (AdWords, AdSense, Firefox etc)? To be honest I’ve only ever found one blogger who seems to be doing any good with non Google referral products.

More details on this change at the AdSense Blog

AdSense: “BTW – That Video Product We Launched – It’s only for US Publishers”

<rant>Once again AdSense have alienated publishers not based in the US with an update to their blog post announcing their new video units with a short update:

“Video units will be live in AdSense accounts later today (10/9). Currently this feature is open only to publishers located in the United States with English-language websites.”

These US-centric product releases are incredibly annoying for those AdSense publishers situated outside of the US. Despite having sites which attract largely english speaking US based readers and despite our blogs usually being hosted on servers within the US we are penalized by our own locations.

Yes I know there’s probably a perfectly legitimate reason for it – but give us a break! By the time we get to play with these new ads the US dollar that we all get paid with for AdSense will be worthless and video will be SO 2007!

Just once I’d love to see AdSense release something that is exclusively for those situated in Asia, Europe or Africa.</rant>