AdSense Optimization Boot Camp Tip #2
If you are a publisher who has multiple ad units on a page, whether it is because of personal preference or simply because it is a long content-heavy page, you need to make sure your placement isn’t leaving revenue on the table. Time and time again I have helped clients optimize their AdSense ads, only to discover they had the highest paying ads are showing in the lower CTR ad units… meaning that the ad unit that has the most clicks by visitors is showing lower paying ads. This means they are making less than they could be!
It is important to know that Google distributes ads on a first come, first serve basis. So the ad units that the mediapartners bot sees FIRST in the HTML code is the one that will show the first (and best) ads. The bot does not look at the overall page output in a browser, so just because the ad is at the top of the page when you look at it in your browser does not make a difference if it is not also the first ad listed in the HTML. The key is which ad unit appears first in the HTML code.
First, you need to figure out which ad unit is the one with the highest CTR. Pick out a few pages with the most clicks overall, and set up individual channels for each ad unit. Name them something obvious so you don’t get confused looking at the stats, that makes it easy to see which ad unit has the higher placement in the HTML code (not the one that is highest on the webpage when you look at it) such as “first in html” “second in html”, or something that you can remember which ad units appear first, second and third when it comes time to analyze the results. Let them run for a week or so, then analyze the results.
Now, check your stats, bringing up those channels. Which ad unit has the highest CTR? If you see the “first in html” channel, all is good. Now, if “second in html” or “third in html”, you have some work to do. You need to take the one with the highest CTR and make sure it is the one that appears first in your HTML, such as through the magic of CSS. If “first in html” only had one click worth seven cents in the week, you might just want to remove that ad unit to make it quick and easy for you.
Don’t fall into the mistake of ignoring click through rate and simply looking at revenue. Why? Because enough clicks on a low CTR ad unit that is showing the highest paying ads could result in more revenue than fewer clicks on the higher paying ads. So it is the CTR you want to be comparing. This will also help weed out any potential geotargeting issues that could be skewing it – where users from countries outside of your target market area could be seeing ads worth much more/less than the ones insideyour target area. If you use an ad serving program that supports geotargeting, you can serve these special “… in html” channels only to your target market country, while serving up alternative channels to those outside of the market area.
Even if you think you know which ad unit must make the most money, without individually tracking them, it is always worthwhile in the long run to test it an ensure what you think is true really is true!