Jenstar

Why isn’t Google Ad Manager affiliate and AdSense publisher friendly?

When Google Ad Manager was announced, one of the places it was showcased was on the Google AdSense official blog, touted as a great ad management solution for publishers.  It is supposed to be a great way to mix AdSense with non-AdSense and to be used as a testing tool for publishers… the key is supposed to be.

I have just had a chance to play around with Ad Manager, and it was unfortunately a disappointing experience, especially after having previously used OpenAds (formerly known as phpAdsNew, and which I see has sometime recently changed their name to OpenX). 

But first things first, one huge issue that publishers had is the fact that you are giving your information to Google, including specifics about the dollar values of direct advertiser campaigns… which some people were concerned about since it competes with Google AdSense.  Now, since I use AdSense extensively, along with Google Analytics, I figure there isn’t much that Google doesn’t know about me anyway :)  But I can certainly appreciate and understand the concerns that people have with giving even more data to Google, especially direct financial information.

One huge appeal to publishers, however, is the fact it is a hosted solution… which means you don’t have to install a database and upload & install a program like OpenX.  Not as big of a deal for me or other tech-savvy webmasters, but definitely an implementation stumbling block for others who wouldn’t be able to figure out how to do it, even with extensive hand-holding and instructions.  Ad Manager being a hosted solution, which means it opens the door to those who run the other way anytime the word “install” is used in conjunction with “server”.  That said, OpenX does now offer a hosted version of their program, although it is in private beta at the moment and has barely a mention on their site.

It has a lot of bells and whistles that AdSense publishers find attractive.  You could identify the browser the user is surfing with and serve up Firefox referral ads to just those surfing with IE or Mac software related ads to those on a Mac.  You could also do your own geotargeting to rotate YPN ads with AdSense only for US publishers while leave it strictly with AdSense for all international ad serving.  And it goes on and on.  And while other ad management solutions have these options as well, they don’t have the option of being able to announce it easily to all AdSense publishers.

So I had a quick look at my shiny new Google Ad Manager account before I jetted off to SES New York last week, but it wasn’t until this weekend I got the change to sit down and set up an ad management campaign to cover by right sidebar on JenSense.  Now, there was a definitely learning curve to get set up but I actually followed some tutorials and got everything set up without too much pain until I hit the part about uploading creatives.  The first thing I happened to be uploading was for a Google AdSense referral ad… very fitting for JenSense :)  Now, its an image ad, but no joy there, both image ad options for creative type only give you the option to provide and image and a destination URL separately in two different form fields… nothing for providing AdSense javascript.

In fact, the only option available in Ad Manager to provide an AdSense javascript is the “Rich Media Redirect” which also has a whole lot of various Macro options to add… and I am willing to bet that most publishers don’t have any clue what that means, either.  And what does this mean for affiliate marketers who might have to use a javascript, tracking pixel in conjunction with the image ad itself or other type of implementation that is limited by the image & URL only?  Again, this “rich media redirect” is the only option as a workaround for doing this.

Which begs the question… why isn’t there a choice for “AdSense javascript” in the drop down menu, even if it is nothing more than an insert code snippet box but without all the Macro button options?  Or an “insert ad snippet html code”?  True, this is meant for direct sales advertising, but why would they limit it in such a way, especially when they do offer AdSense as remnant inventory.  Not only that, some people do buy direct buy advertising and route it through to an affiliate program, so they could be running a CJ or Doubleclick ad code within a direct buy situation too.

For AdSense publishers and affiliate marketers, Ad Manager could be great for:

  • Rotating multiple similar affiliate programs on an equal basis to determine which is the better converting or has the best overall ROI.
  • Rotate an affiliate program with a channel-tagged AdSense ad to determine which is more profitable for a particular placement.
  • Geotarget specific ad types (such as YPN vs. AdSense) based upon the visitor’s geolocation

It is pretty shortsighted not to anticipate and implement some of the other uses for a program that could – with the Google name behind it – be quite indispensable for publishers. 

It seems that the main motivation for Google launching this free hosted ad serving program is to give AdSense all the remnant advertising… this is turned on by default when creating a new ad order. 

That said, it is easy to set up AdSense as a remnant option, but only as a single ad unit style, so even if you are using it for multiple pages or sites, you can only have one AdSense style in your account for all remnant ad inventory space.  So it isn’t an option for setting up new AdSense code within Ad Manager to rotate between ad styles.  So again, one must use the “Rich Media Redirect”.

Overall, I think it is a decent solution for those who have a large inventory of direct advertisements because of the many options I detailed earlier.  But it was definitely a curious decision to not make it easier for AdSense publishers to use it as an optimizing tool to optimize AdSense campaigns to increase revenue and to also not make it easy for affiliates to use it with affiliate style ad codes and javascripts.

It is still in beta, so we might (hopefully) see some changes made to it so it is easier and much more obvious for those who want to use it running AdSense as the main ad inventory and not just as an ad remnant, and of course without having to use the “Rich Media Redirect” (how many people would think to look there?) – something I suspect most publishers won’t realize is a workaround for what they want to do.

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4 comments to Why isn’t Google Ad Manager affiliate and AdSense publisher friendly?

  • I took a look a this when the beta was first released. I’m a bit inexperienced with all the number/acronym meanings, so it was a bit overwhelming for me.

    After reading your article though, I think I might take another look at this, because I didn’t know you could filter out Firefox referrals for IE users that you gave in your example. I run a few of these referrals on my website, and I find that alone to be worth taking another look at it again.

    My first impression of it was that it was for people that actually had an inventory, and sold real products. I’m more of an affiliate marketer, so I am not sure if I am really the target audience for this.

    So this can be really beneficial for Adsense publishers too?

  • Addictist

    Much mahalos and aloha to you Jen. Your post are always so helpful and appreciated.

  • Jen,

    You are the woman! Met you at Aff Summit and i was definitely my pleasure. Pepperjam is going to be a great network and good info on pepperjam ads.

    Kris Jones is a great guy and he has a good heart. He does wonderful business and his aff network will do great!

    Great post Jen!

    –J.P.–

  • Mark

    Maybe I’m misinterpreting what you’re saying, but there should be no reason to upload AdSense code. You have the Ad Manager account because you already have AdSense. Ad Manager already knows about your AdSense account and will automatically put the ads in if you check the box to allow AdSense for remnant pages. If you want all AdSense, just don’t schedule any other ads there. And AdSense will use your Ad Manager Placements as Channels in its statistics. You can also specify the design of AdSense from within Ad Manager, including a default.

    That being said, the whole Order centric setup is really lame compared to OpenAds Publisher and Advertiser metaphor.

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