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July 21, 2005

AdSense reports webinar review - July 21, 2005

I attended today's AdSense webinar on the new reporting interface, and as I hoped, I picked up a few new tidbits about AdSense.

First, for the reporting specifics, the new channels search box feature allows publishers to search for specific channels, allowing search by both URL string and ad channel name.

Also, you can now view impression data on your channels both by page view impressions and ad unit impressions. This will make it easier to check your data on a page level as well as ad unit performance level.

During the Q&A, some interesting questions were raised, along with some publisher feedback.

Tracking multiple ad units on a single page was brought up, and whether there would be the possibility of an added reporting feature that would specify which ad unit on a page performed the best. Currently you can only track individual ad unit performance on a page by using individual custom channels on each ad unit on the page.

Another question was asked about enabling the login time to be extended beyond the current 30 minutes. Rob, an AdSense product manager mentioned this would require a backend change to do this, so it wasn't an easy thing to change.

Another publisher questioned about the change made to the 7 days report. Formerly, the 7 days report included today plus the previous six days. After the interface change, this was switched to only showing the previous 7 days, and not showing the current day's earnings at all. Rob stated they have also heard feedback about this change, and I would guess it was from people who used this as their perferred report, but wanted to see today's earnings in it. So this could be a change rollback that publishers could see in the next update.

Someone asked about the possibility of showing a list of what sites the AdSense ad code is being displayed on, but Rob replied this is not publicly exposed information. Publishers would like to see this added so they can potentially be proactive and notice any strange domain names popping up with their AdSense script being executed on it. That way if they see "www.somestrangedomainname.com" show up, they can be proactive and determine why this URL is showing AdSense, and report it to AdSense so it can be blocked. This kind of feature would have raised the flag on the rogue third party javascript AdSense ads showing up on others sites without permission.

Another issue was raised with increasing the size of the channel selector box. Despite the redesign, it still only shows 4 at a time, and it can be a lot of scrolling to select a handful of channels out of 75. I would love to see this box increased to ten or fifteen rows, if not more. It would do wonders for usability. They confirmed they are looking into making the channel selector more user friendly for publishers.

AdSense also announced they will be working on more optimization techniques for publishers this summer, and it sounds as though they will be focusing on specific publisher areas as well. We know they are currently working on specific optimization for forums, so it will be interesting to see what other areas they focus on. I am betting blogs will be another area.

Rob also confirmed that when it comes to image ads versus text ads, they will always serve the ad that will make the publisher the most amount of money. It was requested that publishers be able to track them individually as well, so publishers could compare earnings of images versus text ads, and then make usage decisions based upon that.

Another publisher asked about the use of third party trackers. Rob admitted he was not familiar with them, but there are no plans for Google to release any reporting based upon outbound links (what ads visitors are clicking on).

The most interesting part was the use of RSS and it's integration into AdSense. Someone asked about the possibility of having an RSS update feed to keep publishers alerted to new changes in the AdSense program, to which Rob replied "stay tuned, i think you will be pleasantly surprised." Perhaps an Inside AdSense blog is in the works, similar to the Inside AdWords blog. However, the URL of http://adsense.blogspot.com/ still pops up a username and password request for viewing, as it has since the AdWords blog launched.

And yes, the inevitable came up... someone asked about what is being done about spam sites running AdSense. Rob replied that the quality team does work on this, and he also suggested reporting sites via the "Ads by Google" link.

All in all, it was worth the half hour to attend :) It is too bad it wasn't set up so the entire webinar took place online, I expected to listen through my computer, and didn't realize you would have to phone in order to listen to the demo and Q&A until I popped into the chat room. Since it is long distance outside of the US (although the toll free from Canada did work) it could be quite expensive for a non-US publisher to attend.

There were 50 or so people in the chat room, although there easily could have been more simply listening. And the entire Q&A was filled with questions, and it sounded like there were more that did not get answered.

Publishers sounded enthusiastic about the idea of future webinars on different topics. Who knows, you might even see yours truly as a future panelist ;) I resisted the temptation to ask a question this time, because it was more a feature request. I would like to see AdSense bump up the number of available channels from 100 to 200... hint hint :)

Posted by Jenstar at July 21, 2005 03:05 PM

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I went and attended the webinar because of your post and I enjoyed it. Although it was a little bizarre to hear the whole thing over a speakerphone.

Also wanted to let you know that I learn a lot from your site and that it is the first place I turn to for news about AdSense.

When the new Terms appeared the other day, I instantly hit "I Agree" knowing I'd get the lowdown from you later, which I did. Thanks for your wonderful and informative and helpful site!

Posted by: Eric Martin at July 21, 2005 09:26 PM

Good report, Jen!

However, there are two comments from the AdWords rep that I found silly:

1) Regarding the session expiration time ..
"Rob, an AdSense product manager mentioned this would require a backend change to do this, so it wasn't an easy thing to change."

LOL, what a lot of BS. Just about everything they may change require backend changes - unless it's some simple front end markup. Extending the standard session expire time is easy. VERY easy. Making it part of your preferences, so users can set it individually is easy too. It is too funny - here we have a company with some of the best engineers in the world driving a 9 bliion document index and they claim changing the session time on the Ad-interface is difficult. My Good! Either Rob is lying or he is outright stupid. It would have served him and Google much better to just say (what I suspect might be the truth): "I have no clue! - but I'll ask"

2) Regarding third party tracking tools ...
"Rob admitted he was not familiar with them ..."

Again, this just dosn't sounds like the truth - and if it is, I must say it's VERY embarrassing
for Google. The tools does exsist and people use them. Google better wake up and realize how the market is using their products and deal with it!

Posted by: Mikkel deMib Svendsen at July 22, 2005 01:49 AM

I also attended the webinar and I wanted to ask the same question you wanted to ask about getting more channels! I don't see why it wouldn't be a 1000 or more. I mean gmail gives you a gig for emai ;)

Posted by: chrispian at July 22, 2005 06:23 AM

Hi - I was the one who asked a about making the Channel List longer, adding an RSS feed of our income, and a simple chart to show earnings trends.

I just wanted to say thank you for letting us know about the webinar. I wish I had brought up your site during the call.

Posted by: Dylan Greene at July 22, 2005 12:38 PM

Just on Dylan's comment, found out the same way so snaps for you Jen. On the phone in side I live in Western Australia but I use Project Gizmo for my US calls, 1.8c US a minute for calls. Skype would do a similar thing.

Posted by: Duncan Riley at July 24, 2005 11:31 PM

I was on the phone with Skype :) for 2 eurocent a minute. Great experience!

Posted by: Luca Conti at July 27, 2005 02:51 AM

Hi Jen,

I tuned in also but had no sound (and did not try to pick up the phone to see if the long-distance call would assist). I was really surprised that a webinar would require a phone call!...it really seems to defeat the whole purpose of it being on the web really! :-)

Thanks for the summary though,

Cheers, Glen

Posted by: Glen at July 28, 2005 06:52 AM