A couple weeks ago I was invited to Google HQ to attend their first AdSense Publishers Forum. It was very worthwhile.
Dogster and Catster together serve roughly 6 million AdSense ad sets a month. We generate ~ $900/mo. (They just updated their terms to allow publishers to discuss their results and I think the more numbers people share the better everyone will do.) We have been serving AdSense ads for a year and so far they have beat every challenger (Tribal Fusion, Fast Click, Kanoodle, Right Media) for our skyscrapper spot except inventory we sell directly.
I made a list of the best practices based upon the Forum and my own experience. Overall, unless you are targeting very lucrative words, you’ll need to serve at least 500,000 pages a month to see up to $50/month. Anything less and I’d just put out a tip jar. The 3 factors I see that determine real revenue generation are: serving millions of ads a month; if your site is an information resource destination (this is key and Dogster and Catster are not that, nor are most newspapers and blogs); and finally the value of the words you serve.
- Besides high value keywords, the best performing sites are those where people are visiting to learn specific information. In their case an ad link may provide that info as fast as a content section and they are motivated to explore. See Lockergnome.com and Topix.net for excellent examples.
- Remove the ad border frame, display the links and text in colors coordinated to your site.
- Build your page around your ads. This is not easy and takes time, but the more your ads are surrounded by content the more they will be clicked. (Again see Lockergnome.com and Topix.net)
- Review your web logs for popular search terms that bring people to your site. Make sure you have specific content to meet that query as those pages will likely see more AdSense clicks.
- AdSense has a brand new service called AdLinks and it lists 4-5 categories of ads that are related to your page. (You can see them on Dogster in the lower left.) These are click-thrus to pages of ads on that topic. They do not offer custom layout yet so they can be garish still.
- Consider using their search box to let people search the web (and your site). Don’t worry if they are leaving, they are looking for something they can’t find there, so maybe you’ll get extra ad clicks out of it. We just added and it brings ~$1.50 a day. Lockergnome gets ~ $10.
- Use channels and URLs to track sections and see which perform best. Then make those sections as visible as possible.
- When testing different configurations give it a full two weeks and do not testing during holidays.
- And of course, the more good informative content you have, the more ads will be seen and be relevant, and thus the more likely to be clicked.
From what I hear much of this change to support publishers is due to Kim Malone, the current Director of AdSense. She’s no-nonsense and casual all at once. I had the pleasure of meeting Kim last December while giving an presentation at Google. (Thanks Biz Stone!) Kim sat right up front and immediately asked “how is AdSense working for you and what can we do to make it work better for you?” She took notes and has her whole department has been really ready to listen to our needs and respond as best they can. As Biz would say: “Nice.”
Ex Post Posto:
Jason Calacanis, the co-founder of WebLogs Inc, and Silicon Alley Reporter before that, and someone who, suprisingly, I have come to respect and admire, wrote an entry 3 days later about already breaking $100,000 in AdSense revenue.