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April 28, 2005

Yahoo! follows suit by adding image ads to their contextual line up

Hot on the heels of the news that Google is expanding their own contextual image ad program by now allowing both animated images as well as Flash ads, comes the news that Yahoo is also now testing their own image ad program.

A Yahoo Inc. spokeswoman confirmed this week that the company's search-marketing division, formerly known as Overture Services, has started testing graphical banner ads displayed based on their relevancy to a Web page's content.

"We're always looking at ways of enhancing our services," Yahoo spokeswoman Gaude Paez said. "There are a number of things we're looking at doing [in search advertising], including tests we've begun for putting sponsored listings in a banner, graphical format."

What is worth noting is that these image ads are dynamic in nature, and will change from the initial image ad to a sponsored link ad.

While Yahoo! has so far been playing catch-up in the contextual ad marketplace, it will be interesting to see what they pull off to give them an edge over the Google AdSense product when they finally do launch their own competitive Yahoo Publisher Network.

Posted by Jenstar at 10:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 27, 2005

Quigo AdSonar's "good" implementation really isn't so good

While responding to a thread at the Search Engine Watch forums today, I was talking about the limited market areas that AdSonar currently serves, and went to the Quigo website to double check.

What did catch my eye is a link to "Examples of Good Implementation" of their AdSonar ad units. And with the exception of one of the four examples, the others I would definitely consider extremely poor placement, particularly the first one they showcase:

adsonarplacement1.gif

AdSonar ads are circled in red. This is the last place I would recommend for placing ads on a CPC basis. And it also goes against the recently released Google AdSense heat map as well.

I don't know anyone who finds this placement successful - the entire right column looks like an afterthought for the sole purpose of placing ads, as it is placed outside the natural design of the site with the header. And that style of placement is actually the one I use in my Google AdSense presentations as the worst placement ever created ;)

Bottom line, AdSonar publishers could be making a lot more money (as could AdSonar!) if Quigo revisited those "good implementation" examples and replaced them with some that really are good - or take some advice from those experienced in contextual ad placement. It does make me wonder how many AdSonar publishers are doing poorly because they took implementation advice from those examples.

Posted by Jenstar at 11:31 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

April 26, 2005

AdSense adds heat map to their optimization tips page

AdSense has now added the heat map to their Optimization Tips page. This is the same heat map I talked about after visiting the Googleplex for the Google AdSense Bay Area Forum.

adsenseheatmap.gif

Certain locations tend to be more successful than others. This “heat map” illustrates these ideal placements on a sample page layout. The colors fade from dark orange (strongest performance) to light yellow (weakest performance). All other things being equal, ad placements above the fold tend to perform better than those below the fold. Ads placed near rich content and navigational aids usually do well because users are focused on those areas of a page.
Many of my experiences on many sites show this to be a fairly accurate representation, but of course, not all sites are made alike. But it is a great reference tool for AdSense publishers who are still utilizing poor placement on their sites.

Posted by Jenstar at 10:20 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 25, 2005

Bloggers are buzzing about AdSense beta testing in RSS feeds

Darren Rowse of ProBlogger and Chris Pirillo in his own blog are both raving about the latest sighting of AdSense in an RSS feed.

The Longhorn Blogs has added AdSense ads in their RSS feed. For the curious, the ads are served using this html code (publisher ID is removed), instead of the usual javascript.

<a href="http://imageads.googleadservices.com/pagead/imgclick/20f58a17-7e15-440c-89b3-dfe02fe74bcd:13901?pos=0"><img border="0" src="http://imageads.googleadservices.com/pagead/ads?output=png&amp;url=http://www.longhornblogs.com/winhec/archive/2005/04/25/13901.aspx&amp;cuid=20f58a17-7e15-440c-89b3-dfe02fe74bcd:13901&amp;format=480x46_aff&amp;client=ca-pub-123456789012345&amp;hl=en&amp;adsafe=high&amp;color_bg=486FA6&amp;color_border=486FA6&amp;color_link=FFFFFF&amp;color_text=AECCEB&amp;color_url=AECCEB"/></a></td></tr><tr><td><div align="right"><a href="http://www.google.com/ads_by_google.html" style="font-size: 9pt; color: #999999;">Ads by Google</a></div></td></tr></table>
The ads are served in a similar fashion to the way AdSense is served in email newsletters.

I must admit, having one of the beta tests on a blog about Microsoft is an interesting choice.

I bet there are plenty of bloggers who are going to request to join this beta test, or eagerly await for it to be out of beta and available to everyone. It will go a long way towards the ability of bloggers to monetize their blogs, especially with the high usage of RSS feeds by their readers. And these AdSense ads are definitely not as intrusive looking or as blatant as some of the previous ways bloggers have attempted to monetize RSS feeds.

And it is yet another step by Google AdSense to keep publishers happy with plenty of options with the Yahoo! Publisher Network on the horizon. AdSense has really been stepping up their game in the last month or so, and the changes and updates they have recently released will likely make it harder for YPN to gain a loyal following, unless they are going to offer more benefits, options and a higher EPC.

Update: Longhorn Blogs now addresses the RSS ads with a new blog entry specifically about their AdSense RSS ads.

Posted by Jenstar at 08:30 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

AdWords adds Flash ads to its ad lineup

AdSense publishers could begin to see Flash ads appear in ad units they have selected to allow image ads to run on.

Your image ad inventory will also include a small number of Flash ads from a test group of advertisers. These new ads will adhere to the 50KB size limit for image ads, and will be reviewed according to our content guidelines.
While many advertisers believe that Flash ads convert better, this could cause problems for publishers who keep their sites Flash-free. And it could result in problems when Flash ads attempt to display for those surfers who do not (or chose not) to have Flash installed on their computers.

As a publisher, I am not so happy about this change. I keep all of my sites Flash-free because of those who do not have Flash installed, as well as the segment of my visitors who still utilize dial-up and do not have Flash installed for that reason. It doesn't seem that there is a way for a publisher to opt-out of Flash ads without opting out of all image ads at this time.

It will be interesting to see what kind of results Flash ads produce, and if it will become available beyond the select group of advertisers at a later date.

Posted by Jenstar at 10:12 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 24, 2005

AdSense publishers will begin to see animated image ads in the future

Another new change that Google is making is to allow advertisers the option to use not only static image ads, but also animated image ads as well. I reported last December that this was something AdWords was beta testing, but it now appears that this will be a feature available to all advertisers soon.

Posted by Jenstar at 10:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Adwords advertisers now allowed to control what AdSense sites their ads appear on

The Wall Street Journal and Search Engine Watch are reporting that Google is expected to make an announcement Monday on new features for AdWords publishers that will affect the targeting of their advertisements on content sites through the Google AdSense program.

The new Site-Targeted Ad information is already online for advertisers.

Site-targeted campaigns are a new enhancement to Google AdWords. Site targeting lets advertisers choose individual sites in the Google content network where they'd like their ads to appear.

Since Google first introduced AdWords, advertisers have asked us for the ability to run their ads on specific websites. Site targeting gives our users that ability, while also allowing their ads to compete for ranking with traditional keyword-targeted AdWords ads. It's one more tool that AdWords advertisers can use to bring their message to highly-targeted groups of web users.

Site targeting isn't available yet. We're currently running a beta test of site-targeted campaigns with just a few advertisers. We expect to make site targeting available to all AdWords advertisers in the near future.

This could result in some high profile publisher sites earning even more, if some advertisers want their ads appearing on certain sites that they may not be currently appearing on. The bottom line is that this will allow advertisers to target their ads on content sites with higher conversions while excluding those with lower or non-existant conversions.

But there is no mention on what will happen if an advertiser wishes to target a completely unrelated website (for example a company selling XBox games wanting their ads to appear on a fashion or pet website).

The New York Times, however, does relate what will happen in this event, and it can result in completely untargeted ads appearing on a publisher site.

Google will abandon rules that require advertisements to be directly relevant to the pages on which they appear; it will now place a motor oil ad on a wine site if the refiner outbids the cheesemonger.
Now the question is if a publisher then blocks that URL using the competitive URL filter within the AdSense account, if it will then overrule the advertiser selecting that AdSense site for his or her ads to appear on. There will likely be plenty of publishers unhappy if completely untargeted ads appear on their sites, if they are unable to block them. And it will also result in higher-profile publisher sites watching for any advertisers targeting their site with irrelevant ads.

One of the new changes for advertisers with site targeting is the ability to now price these campaigns on a CPM basis, pricing model that Danny Sullivan calls a "pseudo-CPM" basis, as opposed to the current CPC model.

The new system will work on a cost-per-impression basis, or CPM. Ads in the new system will compete against ads using CPC bidding, with the CPC price being multiplied against the clickthrough rate of those ads to come up with a pseudo-CPM rate to match against.

This will be interesting to watch and see how it affects publisher's revenues, and if this will result in a lower or higher EPC when advertisers are targeting a specific site.

Overall, this is a great move for Google to make and should pay off for publishers with solid quality content. However, the effect on publishers with less-than-stellar content could be significant, if advertisers begin monitoring their content conversion rates and begin excluding sites they feel are not up to par.

Posted by Jenstar at 10:26 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 16, 2005

Ad Links by Google has been rebranded on the one month anniversary

Today marks the one month anniversary of the introduction of Ad Links by Google AdSense, and they appear to be rebranded from the former "Ad Links by Google" to "Ads by Google".

This accomplishes a few things - the "Ads by Google" becomes a lot more prominent on the new style of Ad Links.

The old style:
oldstyleadlinks.gif

The new style:
newstyle.gif

It also makes it much more obvious to Joe Surfer what these exactly are... advertisements. Although there could be the confusion that that link will take a person directly to a site selling whatever the link is, rather than a page of ads where a person can then select which site to visit.

Is this a permanent change? You never know with Google. It has not been updated (yet) on the ad unit display page. This could be something they are testing, but it does appear that the changes are across the boards, rather than on a select few sites. And the change is already being discussed by eagle-eyed publishers at WebmasterWorld.

Posted by Jenstar at 12:46 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

"Ads by Yahoo!" now "Ads from Yahoo!"

It appears that the beta version of ads displayed through the Yahoo! Publisher Network (YPN) have been given a slight makeover in their appearance.

Formerly, these ads were displayed with the very Google-esque "Ads by Yahoo!" However, a check of the ads this morning shows they seem to have been changed on all the beta test sites to "Ads from Yahoo!"

I do not know if this is permanent or temporary, but it is interesting to note they seem to be distancing themselves from the usual "Ads by ____" that most other contextual advertising programs seem to use on their ad units, following the lead of Google AdSense, which was the first to use it on contextual advertising ad units..

Of course, "Ads by Yahoooooooooooooo!" could show up on the YPN ads one day ;)

Posted by Jenstar at 12:26 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 05, 2005

AdSense offers real time AdSense stats for publishers among other improvements

AdSense has taken another leap towards keeping publishers happy, with the introduction of real-time AdSense channel stats, along with a few other new features.

The three new features for channels:

  • Channel reports in real-time: Until now, channel data was delayed 2 days before appearing in your reports. We've upgraded our system to provide real-time reporting, allowing you to quickly react to changes in your ad performance on a page-by-page basis.
  • Remove channels: Your channels UI has been cleaned up, by introducing a 'Remove Channel' option that allows you to remove channels from your active and inactive lists.
  • "Shift-select" for channels: When selecting channels from the Reports page selection box, use SHIFT+click to select multiple channels at once.
The introduction of on-the-fly channel stats is a most welcome change. As someone who routinely tests out new placements/colors/etc, this change makes it much easier to see the immediate results, instead of waiting two days which can negatively affect income if the new test did not work as well as the previous.

AdSense will remember your favorite report settings for the next time you login, making it convenient for those who tend to run the same report everytime they login.

They have also added the capability of selecting to view page impressions or ad unit impressions. This will be helpful for those who have more than one ad unit and/or Ad Links unit per page. Since CTR can look unusually low if you have multiple ad units on a single page, you can now isolate the CTR of the actual page performance itself. A low CTR with ad unit impressions can actually turn out to be a high CTR page when basing it on page performance.

Also, Russian and Hungarian have been added as the two latest content languages supported by AdSense.

These changes are very much welcomed by AdSense publishers, particularly the ability to see channel stats on the fly. This should hopefully result in more publishers working on tweaking ad unit performance, since they can see the results immediately, rather than waiting two fill days to see if it worked or not.

Posted by Jenstar at 01:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack