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Increase Your Direct Ad Sales Revenue with a Clear Advertising Page

Improve-BlogIn This post Jeremy Schoemaker from Shoemoney answers – ‘What did You Do On Your Blog in 2007 that Improved it the most’

I did several improvements to my blog but by far the one that improved it the most was implemented a VERY clear advertising page which decreased our email back and fourth to hardly any and increased direct ad sales revenue by about 400%

PS: Also if you want there is a video online of my presentation @ blogworld where I talk about how I determine the price for ads on my blog

WidgetBucks Announce New Widget Creatives

WidgetBucks have announced new widget designs. Each of the different ad unit sizes now have two options (now when setting them up you’ll be able to choose a ‘B Series’ ad unit). One ad size (medium rectangles) even has three options (see below).

Also now you can change the rotation time for the product rotations in the widgets (it’s set at 3 seconds default – but can be anything from 1-10 seconds).

Here’s the normal widget:

A

Here’s the B Series Ad Unit

B

And lastly – the C Series Ad Unit

C

This was announced on their blog and via email. However in both places they recommended publishers check them out on the blog where they are in action. Only problem is that those of us not in the US can’t see the ads on the blog – because we get served CPM ads instead as part of the exclusion of non North American traffic.

On that note – I will say that the Alt CPM ads that non US and Canadian traffic sees have no relevance at all to any site I’ve seen them on. While this won’t necessarily hurt earnings as they are not click based – it doesn’t help your readers to see you as a relevant site when on your camera blog they see IQ tests and ‘outdrink the fratboy’ ringtone ads.

My WidgetBucks Recommendation:

My thoughts on WidgetBucks haven’t really changed in the last month. If your site has mainly US traffic (or you have the ability to do your own geo-targeting) then it’s great – particularly on product related blogs. I know some publishers who are making hundreds a day using it.

However if you have largely non US traffic and care about the relevancy of the ads being served to readers – I’d go with another option. The most similar ads to it at present are Chitika’s eMiniMalls and some of the widgets available in the Amazon Affiliate Program.

WidgetBucks to Serve CPM Ads to Non North American Traffic

WidgetBucks have announced that they will begin to serve CPM based ads to traffic that isn’t from the US or Canada (starting early in December).

This comes in the wake of them previously stopping international traffic from seeing their ads – something that caused many publishers to stop using them. The announcement on their blog doesn’t mention what the CPM rate will be or what type of ads will be served.

They do say that the ads will not be adult or have ‘other suggestive themes’ and that they are country specific ads. My concern is that the quality and relevancy of an ad can have an impact upon the blog that it appears on. For example if you’re running a fashion blog and the alternate ad is one of those annoying smiley face ads then it’s going to be a turn off for readers.

It’s a step in the right direction – but I’d prefer a little more control over what ads appear on my blogs and would want to know the CPM range before I’d reinstall WidgetBucks on those blogs that I removed it from due to large proportions of non North American traffic.

My personal preference would be for them to set up a system like AdSense that would allow publishers to run their own ads as alternate ads.

WidgetBucks to Stop Monetizing Non North American Traffic – Interview with Matt Hulett from WidgetBucks

Logo-1-1Over the last couple of months there’s been a lot written about new ad network – WidgetBucks. As with any new player in this market there has a lot of varied opinions shared about them with some publishers reporting quite amazing conversion and others finding the system frustrating as the team at WidgetBucks hones their system into one that works both for publishers and advertisers.

In this interview with Matt Hulett (CEO of WidgetBucks – note: I previously had this as being an interview with Dean Jutilla – but didn’t realize that it was Matt who had actually written the answers – aaah email intervews) I ask him about the journey so far, get him to give us some tips on how to make more money with WidgetBucks and we get a glimpse at the future for this emerging ad network.

Also in this interview Matt announces a significant change to WidgetBucks which is going to significantly alter the performance of the network for some publishers – particularly those with non US traffic. I’ve included my opinions on this change at the bottom of this interview.

There are a real array of ad network options available to bloggers these days – why should bloggers consider WidgetBucks?

In a very short time, we seem to have struck a chord with bloggers who have been looking for both money-making widgets and a better, more lucrative option compared to traditional ad networks. WidgetBucks offers both to publishers, bloggers and affiliates who want to make money online.

I’m not sure if people recognize this but ours is the only ad network that uses eBay as a barometer of popularity within our widget. We also show best prices on products from at branded merchants. So your site visitors not only see what’s hot and popular based trends of over 100 million online shoppers, they also are offered the lowest prices on those products.

We’ve also showed we do listen to suggestions from our publishers — everything from real-time reporting to monthly account summaries to more widget categories and more.

Who is behind WidgetBucks? What did you do before this venture?

WidgetBucks was created by Mpire.com , the online meta-shopping service that brings together all the most popular online marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon, Shopping.com, Wal-Mart, Target, Gap, and thousands more — into one single site. We blend all that historical pricing information with our pricing analytics and other proprietary technologies to create what we like to call the “Kelly Blue Book” for online products. We are able to tell people what they can expect to pay for that product they are interested in — and then help them take the next step in buying it. Mpire has been around since 2005 — and after originally focusing on offering eBay selling tools, we turned buyer-focused just over a year ago. Today, Mpire.com is getting between 800,000 – 900,000 unique visitors a month. So WidgetBucks fits into our strategy of distributing our pricing analytics across the Web, almost like thousands of little mini-Mpire’s being hosted on publishers’ sites.

We’ve seen a lot of people calling WidgetBucks a scam and really questioning our legitimacy. Naturally, new services draw suspicion, so it’s not terribly surprising.

What I’m hoping comes across here is that we are a real company, backed by real investors, and around me is a talented and dedicated team. I suppose mob mentality and grabbing pitch forks makes for a better, more clickable headline than learning the facts sometimes. But people should know that Mpire and WidgetBucks are both legit, and publishers who have followed our terms of service (which I guess means they’ve actually read them) will get paid — in fact, likely to be paid sooner than our 45-day term.

Publishers are talking about a drop in RPC. What’s the latest on that?

Right now, the team’s sole focus is improving network quality and maintaining our competitive RPC, which we have seen drop over the last 4-5 days. We are taking steps to get the RPC recover, and should see an impact on that over the next seven days.

What I mean by improving network quality is raising the lead “value” for merchants, who will be willing to pay a strong RPC. The key factor is non-converting clicks from outside of U.S. and Canada, because the reality is that this traffic is dragging down RPC across the board. International users who click-through to a U.S. merchant’s site and highly unlikely to purchase from that merchant for various reasons, such as language barrier or shipping cost.

You mentioned taking steps to help raise the RPC. What are you planning?

Publishers will be seeing two things, primarily. First, merchants are no longer being charged for clicks from outside the U.S. and Canada on WidgetBucks widgets, and as a result, publishers will no longer receive credit for those clicks. While this may seem extreme, it will ultimately have a positive impact on RPC levels. This change does not affect earnings from October (just posted) or the first half of November, by the way.

So the next natural question is, where do these users get sent? International site visitors will be redirected to mpire.com, which was mentioned earlier in the interview and was on TIME magazine’s list of the 50 Best Sites for 2007.

Second, early next week, WidgetBucks will become a “gated” ad network that will require approval to join. For current publishers, this does not change much for you. You are “grandfathered” into the network; however, we will continue to review sites for Terms violations. By raising the bar of entry, we anticipate this will help eliminate a number of issues we’re facing.

Just to clarify – when people are redirected to mpire.com – will they earn anything for that traffic at all?

No. Merchants are not being charged for that traffic, and therefore publishers will not be credited for it. And to be really clear, Mpire/WidgetBucks does not get the credit either. We will likely evaluate re-adding specific countries over time and evaluate their conversions, but we want to take a position over the next few weeks to be very tight on click traffic to restore our RPC numbers.

What are you suggesting that publishers with a lot of non US traffic do?
We suggest implementing a geo-based ad placement service to determine when to display a WidgetBucks ad widget versus an Internationally applicable ad. Some examples include MaxMind, IP2Location, etc, and there are solutions available for OpenAds that do this as well.

What do you wish you did differently in the launch of WidgetBucks?

We may have underestimated how fraudulent accounts and non-converting traffic would impact our RPC levels in certain categories. As a result, starting later this week, we are moving to a “gated” ad network that will require publishers to get approval before they can join WidgetBucks. Should we have done this in the beginning? Perhaps. But we felt the low barrier to entry was important to offer from the beginning.

What types of blogs does WidgetBucks seem to be working on best?

As you’ve mentioned a number of times on Problogger, product-focused blogs are ideal for WidgetBucks. We completely agree. By nature, our categories are geared toward products, so a mom blogging about baby gear or a camera buff reviewing the latest point-and-shoot can use our widgets to enhance their editorial with relevant offers. This is also true when using MerchSense, our contextual algorithm. Some affiliates have complained that MerchSense isn’t returning the right products — and this isn’t surprising for that type of blog. It’s currently set up to snap to product buckets (i.e. product blog), but we’re making improvements to the system to expand the buckets.

Have you got any tips for bloggers wanting to maximize their WidgetBucks earnings? What do the best earners do that the rest could improve upon?

We’re finding there are a few universal practices that can help publishers maximize their earnings. These include:

  • placing your widgets above the fold, as well as varying your sizes depending on the content around it.
  • also, make sure the ads are relevant to the content, either through MerchSense or by hand-picking the category
  • we’ve also heard from publishers that unusual shaped ads, not the standard sized ads, actually convert better because they appear more as content.
  • others are integrating a 300 x 250 widget into their relevant content.
  • finally, with today’s news of the international traffic credit change, we’d suggest publishers adjust their geographic-coding for U.S. and Canada where WidgetBucks widgets appear.

Do you have any new features planned that you can tell us about?

Be on the look out for new widget creative — it’s currently being tested right now. We’ll also be creating more affinity-oriented creative, meaning a fantasy sports blogger or fashion blogger will have relevant skins to place on their widgets. Be looking for more interactive widgets as well. I know that seems vague but these new versions will let users engage more with the widget itself.

We’ve also already rolled out a few other features that have been lost in the shuffle of October earnings being posted and other buzz:

  • Real-time referral tracking. We’ve had a lot of publishers ask for rolled up referral totals so we’re looking to add that. Also, within the referral table, referred accounts are only listed by ID, not by email, unless the referred publisher proactively selects the “Share Referrer Information.” Otherwise, it will default to the ID only.
  • Show Deleted Widgets. This let’s publishers look at earnings from inactive widgets.
  • Hexcode colors. Publishers now have more control over the color of the WidgetBucks widgets on their site by using a 6-digit hexcode 0-F or go from the color palette.
  • Publishers can now determine the interval speed of how products are displayed on their widgets. It’s currently defaulted to three seconds, but can be adjusted between 1-10 seconds.

A Note from Darren

There’s lots of information in this post. My own personal opinion with the changes that were announced in it regarding non US and Canadian traffic – I’m not surprised (other publishers have done this), but it sucks. As a publisher who is running WidgetBucks on a blog which gets 70-80% Australian traffic (a country that I know buys extensively online from around the world) I’m very disappointed that yet again an ad network is changing the rules mid stream.

On a head level I understand the need for balancing the needs of publishers and advertisers and don’t envy the position that they are in – but as a publisher this will hit the hip pocket.

This happened with Chitika also (although they only limited some Asian countries and moved quickly to make partnerships with European advertisers to monetize that traffic better) and was one of the main reasons that publishers revolted against them. YPN have also excluded sites with non US traffic (although at least they did this from the start).

Even publishers with good traffic from the US will be impacted by this. For example I run the ads at DPS, a blog with it’s largest readership in the USA. However US and Canadian traffic only make up just over 65% of my traffic on that blog. So while on my Aussie blogs I’m looking at 80-90% less earnings – on my blog with good US traffic I’m still looking at a 35% cut in earnings.

One thing that confuses me about this is that when someone is redirected to the mpire.com site for not being situated in the US they are being redirected to store where that person can make a purchase – at least with some merchants. For example I just went to Mpire and did a search for the latest Harry Potter book – ended up at Amazon (which will ship that book to me here in Australia). I’m a bit unsure about whether Mpire earns either a commission or a CPC payment for that. I know that I do when I send an Aussie to Amazon and they buy something.

Matt advises above that bloggers geotarget and serve ads only to US traffic. The problem is that most bloggers don’t have the ability or resources to do this type of thing. It’ll be easier just to stop using WB altogether.

Perhaps one solution would be that WidgetBucks allows publishers to suggest an ‘alternate ad’ that they want to appear instead of the WB one when someone is viewing a page from a place outside of North America (in a similar way that AdSense allows ‘alternative ads’ to be shown when they can’t serve an ad.

Until they come up with an alternative I guess those of us with significant non North American traffic will be going back to other options to make money from our blogs. I’ll monitor WidgetBucks performance on my blogs for 24 hours but if the conversion drops by what I’m expected I’ll be switching all my units back to Chitika and AdSense pretty quickly (although with the AdSense changes revealed yesterday it’s not been a good week for publishers). For the slightly higher CPM earnings I was getting with WidgetBucks I’m not sure it’s worth my time to have to invest in geotargeting all my ads.

WidgetBucks Release Earnings Reports

Logo-2New advertising network WidgetBucks has just updated publishers accounts with their earnings figures from the previous month of earnings.

This includes three amounts. A $25 signup bonus, the earnings that their Widgets earned for October plus earnings from their referrals (10% of the earnings of those that they referred).

While it’s only been about 6 weeks since WidgetBucks launched I’d be interested to hear the thoughts of those who’ve been trying them now that they’ve got their first month’s totals.

My own feelings have not really changed since I first came across them.

  • I think that the system has a lot of potential
  • It’s early days and there’s lots of room for improvement from WB to make the service really great
  • My own earnings have been very encouraging (WB is outperforming both AdSense and Chitika on a couple of blogs for me – although is doing less on others – I find that product related blogs is where it really shines). I don’t think that I’m allowed to reveal earnings – but lets just say that they are four figures per month – and that I’ve only been using them sparingly so far).
  • Interestingly – the amount that I earned from referrals fees over the month of October was considerably less than I’d expected. In fact if that figure is 10% of the amount that those I’ve referred are earning I’m earning more than all of them put together (and I’ve referred hundreds of bloggers). Obviously not everyone who signed up is using WB and not everyone is getting the great results I have so far.
  • I have noticed a decrease in click values in the last week or two. I’m presuming that WB are tweaking the back end to get the balance right between publishers and advertisers right. I hope it doesn’t decrease too much further though as it’ll bring it back to a par with other networks for me in terms of profitability
  • I’ve noticed some improvements in the loading speed of Widgets. Its still not super fast but a lot better than it was for me

They are my initial reports – I’d be interested to hear what others are finding.

Feedburner and AdSense Integration Officially Launched

As we mentioned in our scoop yesterday – Feedburner today announced that AdSense can now be integrated with FeedBurner Site Ads.

Get the full details at Feedburner’s blog today.

Feedburner Ad Network Syncs with AdSense for On Page Ads

Breaking news just to hand:

Feedburner seem to have quietly added a feature to publishers in their Feedburner Ad Network that allows them to sync their Feedburner account and AdSense account – at least for their on website content (ie not in your RSS feeds).

Logging into the Monetize area on your Feedburner account (if you’re approved to access it) and you’ll see:

Picture 1-24

Note – Feedburner Ad Network allows you to run ads both in your feeds and on your page – this option is only for running ads on your page/blog and not in your feeds.

Having said this – hopefully in time the option will come to combine Feedburner RSS ads and AdSense RSS ads (a program that has been in beta for a very long time).

Thanks to Collis for the email heads up on this one.

PubMatic – Automate Ad Optimization – First Impressions Review

pubmaticOver the last couple of weeks I’ve been testing a new service called PubMatic on one of my blogs and I think it’s something that will interest some ProBlogger readers – particularly those with medium to large blogs wanting to optimize their advertising.

The premise behind PubMatic is that when you’re a publisher you are confronted with an array of advertising networks to choose from to monetize your blog. Many bloggers start with AdSense, but soon find that there are numerous other options to test.

But who has time to test which option will work best for your blog?

The problem we face is that if we don’t test different options we could be leaving money on the table (just imagine that there was another option out there that monetized your blog a lot better than what you’re currently doing) but testing different networks (and testing different options within a network) takes time – a lot of time.

Anyone who has started testing different ad design with just AdSense knows that it takes a lot of tweaking and testing to get the best performing ad – but then if you have to do that with different networks as well you could have yourself a full time job just doing ad optimization!

This is where PubMatic comes in.

Pubmatic is one of numerous new services that has been launched in the last year or so that takes some of the grunt work out of optimizing your ads.

The system is a little difficult to explain (there’s a great video below that will give you a nice rundown) – but in short it has two main features that will interest bloggers:

Pubmatic-Ad-Networks1. Run an Ad Network Auction – Pubmatic allows you to run a mini Ad Network Auction on your blog for each of your ad units – every time a visitor comes to your page. What this means is that you are able to sign up for multiple ad networks and run them all on an ad unit – serving up the ad that will perform best for you. Ad networks that are supported at this time include AdSense, YPN, ValueClick, Komli, Blue Lithium, Burst Media, Advertising.com, Tribal Fusioin and Casale Media. I’m told that PubMatic are also negotiating with a few other ad networks that will be more familiar to bloggers.

Pubmatic-Ad-Optimization2. Optimize Your Ad Layout – the second part of PubMatic is that they help you to work out what ad layout will work best for you. So at present I’m using PubMatic on one of my blogs on one AdSense ad unit to help me to work out what ad design will work best. Instead of me having to do split testing on the ad unit and to keep trying different color schemes – PubMatic is rotating a variety of different ad unit colors through the ad unit for me and is tracking what works and what doesn’t. Once it completes a ‘training phase’ (more on this below) it will run the best performing ad design in that ad unit for me.

The other cool part of PubMatic is that it provides you with a central place to view all the ad units that you run through them. So instead of having an AdSense account, a YPN account and other accounts to check your reports – IF you choose to run all your ad units through PubMatic you can view them all centrally.

OK – that’s my explanation of it – but let me show you the official PubMatic Tour Video. I’ll also write a few first impressions of it below:

First Impressions of PubMatic

I’m writing this first impression review as someone who is only testing it in a limited way. This is for two reasons:

1. Because I am not enrolled as a publisher in most of the Ad Networks that are available with PubMatic. This is because some are not available outside of the USA (YPN for example) and because some are pretty major networks that have pretty high standards to get into them.

2. Because I’m only testing it on one ad unit so far and am still in the ‘training period’ with that ad unit.

So my first impressions:

I love the concept - this is the future of ad management for publishers. There are other systems doing this – but this is one of the few that I’ve seen that is accessible for smaller publishers and that is currently free (it’s free during it’s current Beta – not sure where it’ll go after that).

More Ad Networks Please – I say this is accessible to publishers of all sizes – but should say that most bloggers will not be able to fully use it (as I am not) because the current ad networks that you can use it with are out of the reach of many. I’m looking forward to the day that other ad networks are added (for example Chitika and WidgetBucks would be great).

Trial Period is Too Long – I’m told that the trial period (the period that it takes for PubMatic to work out which ad design will work best) is currently between 50,000 – 70,000 impressions. This means that if you’re testing an ad unit to see what colors work best for your blog – you’ll see it rotate through different color schemes for quite a long time if you’re an average blogger (considering that 35% of ProBlogger readers have under 100 readers a day on their blogs this could be frustrating).

Trial Period Ads – While PubMatic learns what ad design will work best on your blog you will see some very very very ugly ad units on your blog. Here are a few random ads that I just saw in my test unit:

Pubmatic-Ad-1

Pubmatic-Ad-2

Pubmatic-Ad-3

OK – they are BUTT UGLY ads (considering the blog is largely a Red/Maroon color scheme). But don’t write off PubMatic yet because you don’t need to subject your readers to this. I’ve been testing PubMatic with a ‘I don’t care’ option selected when it comes to what colors are selected. I didn’t realize this – but there’s also another option to ‘blend ads’. I’ve just selected this now and will see how those ads look shortly. (update: the ads are better in ‘blend’ mode – although still not perfectly blended to the site – however I guess this is the point of using this service as it helps to work out what converts best). Perhaps an improvement could be to give publishers an option to nominate some colors that Pubmatic could choose from (ie to select 10-20 ads that would be acceptable to test the different variations).

‘Ads Optimized by PubMatic’ Tag – You can see in the ads above that each one also has a little link back to PubMatic. While I understand why they’ve got this and on one level don’t mind (they are giving the service for free at this time) I’d prefer not to see them. There’s already an ‘Ads by Google’ link on the ads and to see another one just gives readers more options to click something that is not an ad and it does clutter things a little more than is perhaps needed.

Easy to Install and Good Reports – Getting set up with PubMatic was easy. I had my first ad unit working within minutes. The reports are good too. The only downside of the setup is that you don’t start getting reports immediately – they say that they take 2 days (mine took about 24 hours) before you start seeing the results.

Conclusions

My initial conclusions (is it possible to have a conclusion that is initial?) are that this is a service that many medium to larger bloggers will want to experiment with. It’s a beta launch so I’m sure there is a lot more in terms of features to be added – but it’s a service that hopefully will mature in time into a very useful tool for bloggers. I doubt it’ll be something that smaller bloggers will find that useful at this time (although it’s open to them to test) due to the long trial periods and the restrictions on networks included – but in time I suspect that even a smaller publishers will find uses for this type of tool.

PubMatic Challenge

The reason I’m publishing this first impression review today is that today they are launching a new competition called the PubMatic Challenge where they will be picking winners each month to be rewarded with free advertising. All you need to do to be in the running to win is to sign up – run PubMatic and given them feedback on how much it’s helped you to increase your revenues. The winners each month will get some free advertising on a variety of Web 2.0 websites.

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.