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March 17, 2005

Google AdSense Bay Area Forum – March 16, 2005

The Google AdSense team held their first ever AdSense publisher forum on March 16, 2005 at the Googleplex. A group of publishers local to the Bay Area were invited to attend the evening event, and I was one of three speakers sharing their experiences with AdSense.

It kicked off with arrival in the lobby of the brand new Google Building 43, which only opened a few weeks ago. The lobby had the requisite Google lava lamps, and everyone got their own Google nametag to wear with their name and company emblazoned on it. And as you mingled in the lobby, you could watch the real time Google search queries as they were projectioned onto the wall.

The evening got off to a great start with a half hour of socializing, which allowed all the Googlers in their blue or green shirts to show off some of the new offerings on demo computers set up in the room, as well as answering questions and swapping business cards. They were quite a social bunch, listening to publisher concerns and answering plenty of questions about not only AdSense but the other products such as Blogger and Froogle as well. There were fabulously trendy munchies, even including sushi and artistically created appetizers, along with veggies and dip for the slightly less adventurous (like me!)

Kim Malone, Director of AdSense, kicked off the speaking portion of the event, going through the AdSense timeline and some of the major events along the way. She also enthusiastically discussed the new changes released the day before, particularly the new Ad Links, and showing how they worked. She also shared that many AdSense team members are also publishers as well, so they experience both sides of the program... and that she was turned down for excessive profanity the first time she applied. This obviously brought a lot of laughs from the crowd that even a top AdSense Team member can apply through the normal route and get turned down.

Next, she introduced Dr. Cheng Wu of Efunda.com, a website with mechanical engineers as the target market. “Utilizing Color and Placement to Enhance the Google AdSense Revenue Stream” was the subject of his presentation, and he illustrated the point well, sharing testing results he found while in search of the best placement for monetiziation. He discussed the many problems he had with monetizing the site before AdSense, particularly with such a tiny audience (under half a million, I believe he said). He integrated AdSense within the site, using the borderless blended technique. He is a strong believer in blending the ads into content, so when readers finish an article, the natural inclination is to click one of the links suggested by AdSense.

Next up was the wonderfully entertaining Chris Pirillo of Lockergnome (and the upcoming Gnomedex 5.0) fame. The memorable quote that stuck in my mind the most was that he plans to name his firstborn AdSense, because the program has changed his life that much. Like Dr. Cheng Wu, he also talked about how hard it can be to monetize a website and how poorly affiliate programs convert on content sites. “AdSense as Content: Structuring your Site Around Google Ads” was his presentation, and he gave plenty of examples of how he designed the layout specifically to maximize revenue with the AdSense placement. And yes, he really does look the like picture on his site, and it was even on all of his powerpoint slides.

I was last up, and instead of talking about my own sites, I chose to instead focus it on what the attending publishers could do in order to make more money with AdSense. “Increasing Your AdSense Income Through Content Creation and Testing” was my presentation, and I went through different ways to make content specifically for AdSense, primarily by expanding the sites you currently run AdSense on, with plenty of examples and practical tips on doing it. Then I jumped into testing, detailing how useful the AdSense custom channels can be to increasing your monetization, and advice on how to use the AdSense filter properly so you don’t inadvertently cost yourself a significant portion of your earnings. I saw people scribbling notes as I was speaking, and several people asked for the PowerPoint I used, saying they couldn’t write fast enough for all the ideas and tips I was suggesting.

At the end, publishers got to ask questions to the AdSense team. Of course, the revenue share question was one of the first questions to be asked. And not surprisingly, the answer was that they likely will not be sharing that information. But as each question was asked, the AdSense team member with the expertise in that area would respond, so it really gave publishers the opportunity to not only ask their AdSense questions, but also get the answer from the right person.

Many publishers were raving about the ability to be able to do electronic fund transfers (EFT) for their earnings. Kim revealed an interesting tidbit that publishers in France were ready to boycott AdSense if alternative payment options were not introduced. With non-US publishers facing huge banking fees for depositing US dollar checks, direct deposit – as well as checks in home country currencies – has made a huge difference for many publishers.

Someone brought up Ads by Goooooooooooogle and wanted it back to straight Ads by Google again. They took a show of hands, and it seemed to be evenly split. In my opinion, the extra long Gooooooooogle seems to draw the eye to the ads. And I am convinced they must have done enough testing to know that it increased CTR enough to make it a widespread AdSense feature. So really, I think the best question to ask would be if publishers would be willing to lose some of their CTR % along with those extra oooooooooo’s. Is it the right theory? Some publishers swear their CTR went up the day oooooooooo became standard.

Ad Links were also discussed, as it had just been launched, and Google confirmed that adding a custom channel to the Ad Links javascript will properly track it in your stats. It was also suggested that a format be created which could be used as an alternate ad for the regular AdSense ad units.

It was also nice to see AdSense team members scribbling down notes during the Q&A, so they were taking the feedback seriously.

All attendees got a Google goodie bag – yes, even the bag was an official Google bag. Inside the bag was, you guessed it, really cool swag. There was a black zip Google case, which unzipped to reveal many USB/techy goodies, complete with the official logo. It seems to be more of an exclusive item, as it isn’t available for sale Included were headphones, 4-port USB hub, a USB laptop light and an Ethernet extension cable. Also in the bag was a bright blue Google notebook and pen, along with some handouts.

The handouts were very well done, including one titled “How to maximize your Google AdSense revenue”, complete with a heat map to show where they found the best placement areas on a webpage are for AdSense ad unit implementation. We also received the official AdSense timeline. For those who don’t know, AdSense just celebrated its second birthday a few weeks ago. There was also a handout with bios on all three panelists – it is very flattering to read that even the AdSense Team refers to me as an “authority on Google AdSense”.

There was also a draw for an iPod Mini if you filled out a feedback form on the event. I did wonder if it had the Google logo on it too ;)

The event was officially over between 8 and 8:30, but it was closer to 9:30 by the time I left (I had been up since 5am for my early flight) and there were still publishers chatting with Google reps when I did.

In all, it was an absolutely wonderful experience to fly down to get to visit the Googleplex, and it was an honor to be asked to present to a group of publishers. If AdSense decides to host more of these, I definitely recommend attending if you score an invite. You don’t get many opportunities like this, especially with the kind of ratio of AdSense publisher to AdSense Team member that there was at the Bay Area Forum. Kim, Mike and the rest of the AdSense Team pulled off a great event.

Posted by Jenstar at March 17, 2005 10:25 PM

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» Report on Google's Bay Area Adsense Forum from Threadwatch.org

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Any chance that the mentioned powerpoint will be avaible here?

Posted by: fishyking at March 18, 2005 01:42 AM

Any chance of you posting up the power point presentation for those who didnt attend?

Posted by: Craig at March 18, 2005 01:42 AM

Great post Jen, would loved to have been invited to such an event - although I doubt they'll be doing one on this side of the world any time soon!

Posted by: Darren Rowse at March 18, 2005 02:43 AM

Presentation for download please. :)

Posted by: mark at March 18, 2005 02:49 AM

Any more materials about it?

Posted by: johnway at March 18, 2005 04:06 AM

... I went through different ways to make content specifically for AdSense,...=>

This is allowed already? ;-))) It used to be no-no by TOS...

Posted by: phoetica at March 18, 2005 04:50 AM

>> “How to maximize your Google AdSense revenue”, complete with a heat map to show where they found the best placement areas on a webpage are for AdSense ad unit implementation.

So where is it? :)

Posted by: mcavill at March 18, 2005 07:29 AM

Perhaps the heatmap resembles the results of this study? (dated 3/1/05)


Posted by: jim at March 18, 2005 08:19 AM

Heatmap and Powerpoint downloads -- pretty please...?

Posted by: Joe at March 18, 2005 08:55 AM

I have to agree with everyone else - where is that powerpoint presentation? I'm sure we all could really use it as well ;)

Posted by: Dennis Pallett at March 18, 2005 09:51 AM

That was very interesting Jen. Thanks for telling us about it. Hopefully, this is the first of a series. I'd certainly like to see one in Europe.

Posted by: Liam Morrison at March 18, 2005 10:10 AM

Yes, heat map and power point pretty please!!! I'd donate via PayPal for them.

Posted by: Nige at March 18, 2005 03:27 PM

powerpoint presentation for me too.

Posted by: sheraz at March 19, 2005 01:44 PM

Please send your Powerpoint Presentation to me,

Jen honestly speaking you are too good to help in Adsense.

Posted by: Farru at March 19, 2005 04:33 PM


Thanks for the overview of the Adsense Forum. They should hold one out here in NY. Just wanted to tell you that I appreciate your posts on Webmasterworld summarizing the changes to Adsense TOS.

Take care,

Posted by: Hock Ng at March 20, 2005 12:51 PM

Wow - way to pat yourself on the back! This is the single most amazing display of internet self-love I have ever seen. God forbid you get asked to speak somewhere again. At least a third of Google's stock value must be attributable to you. Way to go! See you at Pubcon!

Posted by: Mephisto at March 20, 2005 07:01 PM


I'm also interested in the powerpoint..

Posting it online will be easier than sending it to all of us individually ;).

Posted by: marcel at March 21, 2005 09:16 AM


powerpoint presentation download link would be great!

looks like google treated you folks better :-(

i'm a certified google advertising professional (first 100 to be certified) and all we got is a black google cap, pen, and notebook... and we are the ones spending ours and our clients money on adwords advertising!


Posted by: Nick at March 22, 2005 07:21 PM

I just found this site after months at Webmasterworld.

I'd certainly appreciate a link/email with the powerpoint presentation as well.

Thanks for all of your incite into Adsense Jen.

Posted by: Brian at March 23, 2005 07:18 PM

Hi Jen,

May I also have a copy of your Powerpoint notes from the Google Adsense meeting? Thanks.

Posted by: Jerry at March 30, 2005 10:34 PM

Powerpoint presentation for me too. Thanks very much in advance.

Posted by: bill at April 30, 2005 02:55 PM

I would be grateful for a copy of the Powerpoint presentation and would gladly donate via Paypal. Just found you via Brad Fallon's blog.


Posted by: Colin Maddocks at May 1, 2005 04:44 AM

PowerPoint presentations suck !

Posted by: Murduch at May 16, 2005 05:10 AM

Great article - loved the various approaches to placement and colour. If you can be bothered sending it then I'd love the hotspot map and your powerpoint presentation
Keep up the good work

Posted by: gordon at May 20, 2005 03:30 AM