I Was An Adsense Dummy - Are you?


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The ease with which webmasters can post the Adsense code made Adsense a very attractive way of monetizing a site. Google took care of coming up with the exact code - you just choose some color and other preferences - and you stuck the code on your pages to make money. Google improved the program substantially. They added new features, like AdLinks, which allowed webmasters to extract money from locations that were previously non-contributory; they added channels to allow monitoring of which locations were and were not pulling their weight. Like a lot of webmasters I made more from Adsense than I did from the day job and finally quit working to live the Adsense UPS club member life.

But, it's time for a radical rethink.

The problem with humans is that they like to take the easy way out. Google appreciates that and doesn't give you too much of responsibility for running the ads on your site. The general message is that you should trust them to serve the highest paying ads for the perfectly logical reason that as their earnings are a percentage of yours it's in their self-interest to maximize your ad revenue. And, that's the same expectation they have of advertisers: Bid high and trust us to adjust the bid downwards to stay just above your nearest competitor. Millions trust Google so let's assume they're trustworthy.

They then introduced smart pricing. Now this changes things in a lot of ways webmasters didn't appreciate earlier. The theory behind smartpricing is this: Google tracks which visitors are “converting" for the advertisers i. e. making purchases etc. Some publishers send visitors who convert, others send “low quality" visitors. Surely it's a fair system that rewards those publishers who send quality visitors? And to do that at the expense of those low quality sites with no original content who have visitors clicking on the Adsense links only to get out of the site? In theory, yes. But, let's step back a minute.

Previously Google's income was tied to yours; if you made more Google did too. Now, Google adjusts your earnings by a Smartpricing factor to take it down to . . . well, whatever their formula tells them. That's a bit too convenient. Are we putting the fox in charge of the hen house? No, we're not! Remember, Google is an honest company and their motto is to do no evil. They claim that if you are smartpriced down then they lose money as well as they refund the difference to the advertiser. So why worry about smartpricing?

There are several good reasons but the primary one is the secrecy. As a publisher you have no knowledge of conversions: Google doesn't share that information. Further, some advertisers are good at converting traffic into sales, others have yet to learn that a landing page that doesn't work in Internet Explorer and Firefox is. . . pretty useless. Yet, even for the latter type of advertiser, you get penalised. The advertiser who converts well is not rewarded at the expense of the advertiser who wastes all the leads you send him. But, that's not all. Many advertisers do not or cannot allow Google to track their conversions. How those cases affect smartpricing is unknown but it wouldn't be stretching credulity to assume that there's some formula in some algorithm telling Google how much to penalise you for. So, even if your site is the highest quality site and your visitors are more likely to convert than visitors from almost anywhere else you could be ending up with the lowest payout because the formula says that your traffic is rubbish! Moreover, as you have no knowledge of the conversion rates you can't even work to improve your earnings.

How do you know that your earnings would be three times what they are now if it wasn't for Smartpricing? You don't.

This is what every publisher needs to do on a regular basis: Try the competition. Till now that was not easily done as there was no credible competition to Adsense. Now there is. Chitika is just one of the many contextual programs that's competing with Google Adsense and early reports suggest it's paying a lot more but only if you know how to use it. You may have thousands of pages and you may have Adsense served via an SSI or a Frontpage “include" page. . . or you have manually inserted Adsense into many locations. Isn't it too much of work to change all of that to test run a new program? It is too much of work. . . so don't do it. Pick a particular page or section, setup an Adsense channel for that section, monitor the payout for a few days - then try something like Chitika. The best pages for Chitika are product pages and the best ads they serve are where you choose the keyword/product to be advertised on your page (yes, you can do that with Chitika). Have a look at some Chitika tips here first and then conduct your trial run.

This may be the most profitable thing you did since you signed up for Adsense.

The author's website presents an extensive review of the Chitika program , and offers revenue enhancing ideas particularly in relation to using Chitika together with Adsense and staying within the legal agreements for both .


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