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September 29, 2005

Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) out of beta for Google AdSense

When you login to your account today, you will see that there is a new update for September 2005. This month is just a short announcement about EFT finally going out of beta.

Electronic Funds Transfer is ready for the big-time! We've been working hard on our payment system, and with our thanks to the thousands of AdSense publishers who took part in our beta test, we're now ready to bring EFT out of beta.

Publishers who have already received payments through EFT don't need to do anything – they can continue to have their payments conveniently deposited directly into their bank accounts.

So if you were hesitant to try out EFT because it was in beta, you can sign up for it now.

Posted by Jenstar at 05:22 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

AdSense ads for Google related services and products

Andrew Goodman noticed today that Google runs ads for their own products and services on content network sites via the AdSense program.

Search Engine Watch then picked up the story, and Danny Sullivan comments that he would find out if they are actually paid ads or not. He then added a postscript to the blog entry later:

Postscript: Chris Ridings writes to say, nope, Google doesn't pay for those ads. See section 11 of the AdSense terms:
Google shall not be liable for any payment based on....(d) Google advertisements for its own products and/or services;

While that is actually in the terms, I have confirmed with Google on several ocassions since these types of ads first bagan running over a year ago that yes the Google product or service ads are paid ads for publishers. I also confirmed with them once again this morning about this, after I got nearly bombarded with questions about it.

The official word from Google on Google products and services ads running on AdSense publisher websites:

Ads for Google products and services enter into the auction just like ads from any other advertiser, and clicks/impressions on these ads absolutely do result in payment to publishers.

PSAs (public service ads), on the other hand, do not result in any payment, but these are not for Google products or services. Publishers can override PSAs by using the alternate URL.

So there is no need to panic, you don't need to run and add Google to your URL filter list under the impression that you would not be getting paid for these ads. Rest assured, any Google service or product ads can make you money on either a per click or per impression basis.

Posted by Jenstar at 10:21 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 26, 2005

MSN jumps in with talk about their new contextual ad program

It has been long suspected that MSN would eventually jump into the contextual ad game with their own competitive program to Google AdSense. And quotes from Yusuf Mehdi of Microsoft in today's New York Times seem to officially confirm the fact it is a program they are working on in conjunction with their soon-to-be-released AdCenter PPC program.

Microsoft also expects to use its new system to sell ads on other Web sites, just as Yahoo and Google do with their systems.

The article also goes on with specific comments by Mehdi:

He said that once Microsoft had a large number of advertisers and had refined its ad placement formulas, it would be able to compete with Google and Yahoo to sell ads on other Web sites because it would be able to offer higher ad revenue.

There is a virtuous cycle in this business, Mr. Mehdi said, because the more sites in an advertising network, the more advertisers are attracted and the higher the potential advertising prices. For Microsoft, running such a network has another benefit - the building of relationships with Web site owners, many of whom are users of its software and online services.

MSN launching their own contextual ad program comes as little surprise to those familiar with the industry. After all, Google generates a significant amount of income from their content network partners and Yahoo launched their own beta program YPN last month. However, if MSN gets plenty of advertisers on board with AdCenter, they have some advantages over both Yahoo & Google.

Because MSN AdCenter will feature options of target ads to particular demographics, including age and gender, this could allow publishers greater flexibility in what ads they show. For instance, I have a few sites targeting female audiences... if I could include this information in the MSN contextual ad platform, these sites could be given higher priority to showing ads that advertisers are targeting female audiences. This combined with other targeting methods could result in high paying ads for publishers and good CTR and ROI for advertisers.

How far away could the MSN contextual ad program be? We probably won't see beta for a while. They not only work out any potential kinks in AdCenter once it starts its US beta in October, but they also need to build up ad inventory as well. When they launch, they will still be using Yahoo ad inventory as well as their own, with plans to have fully replaced Yahoo by the spring.

It will phase in the system in the United States, using its own ads on some pages and ads sold by Yahoo on others, starting in October, said Joseph Doran, MSN's senior director of monetization. The company hopes to replace the Yahoo ads entirely by next spring.

And as the MSN AdCenter US beta will start relatively small as an invite-only beta, it would be very likely that they would do something similar when they do launch a contextual ad program. It could end up being something similar to the limited beta release YPN is currently doing.

So while you won't be able to sign up for an MSN contextual ad program tomorrow, the good news is that it is in the plans of AdCenter to eventually offer their own program to compete with AdSense and YPN.

Posted by Jenstar at 09:46 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

September 22, 2005

Enhanced AdSense interface launched on Blogger

Blogger has just launched a new AdSense interface for bloggers on the Google Blogger/BlogSpot network, announced today on the official Blogger Buzz.

It features a new tab within the control panel where bloggers can sign up for AdSense as well as manage their AdSense placement and options for the ads that will appear on the blog. This makes it just about as easy as can be for bloggers to sign up for a new AdSense account.

One unique feature of this new integration is that you can preview the placement before it goes live, changing ad units and ad styles on the fly... all without ever having to touch the HTML code or the AdSense javascript.

Click to view full-sized screenshot:
blogger.gif

Another unique feature is that in addition to the regular Google AdSense color palettes offered within the account, bloggers can also select "Match Template" or "Blend Template". While some of the Match Template color combinations are on the garish side, a few of the blend templates are not too bad, but still not as "blended" as I would make them for the highest CTR.

You can also select "Custom" from the drop down template menu, and supply your own colors (click the screenshot below for full-size), although there is not the built in color picker available as there is in the regular AdSense control panel.

blogger2.gif

This easy integration also limits the ad sizes and styles as well:

And the placement is identical on all the templates - below the blog title, but above the first entry, which is probably the best AdSense placement for these blog templates. They do offer another help page on adding AdSense to the sidebar, but note that this is not available via the instant integration option in the control panel.

It is interesting to note that it automatically defines the resulting javascript to show text ads only, and not image ads. Perhaps this option will be available for bloggers at a later time.

Bloggers with limited HTML experience should be warned... once you add AdSense via the instant integration option, you are not able to remove it unless you delete it via the HTML code under the template tab's "edit code".

More information on adding AdSense to Blogger is here.

Added: Forum discussion at Search Engine Watch.

Posted by Jenstar at 09:29 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Google AdWords launches their own forum at Google Groups

The Google AdWords team has decided to launch their very own AdWords support forum for advertisers, not surprisingly hosted at Google Groups.

Blake of the AdWords Team announced the official public launch on the Inside AdWords blog this week.

Recently, the AdWords team built an online forum in which AdWords advertisers may search or browse for answers, ask questions, and assist others with AdWords -- 24/7. It is our fondest hope that a strong and vibrant community of AdWords advertisers will grow there and enjoy each other's company while sharing their knowledge and skill.

This new forum, called AdWords Help, may be found on Google Groups. And if the idea of helping others -- while also learning from them -- excites you at all, you're cordially invited to join. We've quietly grown to just over 125 members now, and we thought it was time to mention AdWords Help to a wider audience. You'll be getting in right at the start of something good, should you decide to join us.

And as in the case of the many webmaster forums online, AdWords Help also has an official Google AdWords team member posting answers for advertisers, who goes by the name of AdWordsPro. The posting is slow right now - although the membership has more than doubled in size since it was announced on the Inside AdWords blog earlier this week.

Also to watch is any impact this new forum has on existing webmaster forums for AdWords. There could be the possibility of advertisers preferring to go to an "official" forum, rather than an unofficial one - even the unofficial ones with official Google representation, such as the WebmasterWorld AdWords forum with the very prolific AdWordsAdvisor posting regularly.

It is also too bad that there wasn't some differentiation on the groups for member experience, such as members who are an AdWords Professional get the logo next to their names. Unlike on traditional style forums, you cannot see user profiles of members nor how many posts a member has made in order to judge how much weight any advice posted should be given.

It will be interesting to see if AdSense will also launch a support forum as well. There is a private Google Groups for AdSense I discovered, but not sure if it is an official Google one or one set up by an AdSense fan. I am sure publishers will be watching to see if a similar announcement by the Inside AdSense blog is made sometime in the future.

Posted by Jenstar at 10:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

AdWords advertisers can now filter 500 AdSense publisher sites

Google AdWords has upped the limit for their site exclusion tool (also previously known as the "Campaign Negative Sites" tool). Previously, advertisers could block 25 URLs per campaign, but now advertisers can block up to 500.

Recently, we increased the number of sites that you can exclude using this tool to 500. This gives you the ability to further tailor your AdWords account to the needs of your business. Remember, excluding a site in the content network will prevent you from showing on all of the pages that fall under that site's domain. We suggest that you review these sites carefully before you decide to exclude them. After all, the content network allows you to reach a targeted audience across a broad range of sites, and we wouldn't want you to miss any customers!

500 sites is a huge jump from the previous 25, and from an advertiser's perspective, this is a great change for the site exclusion tool. However, it still works on a per campaign basis, so advertisers would need to add a site URL to all campaigns individually, even if they want to block that particular URL from showing on any campaigns.

It will be interesting to watch and see if publishers notice a significant difference or impact in earnings or ad inventory with this new limit. It will likely be the scraper type of sites that find themselves targeted first, by advertisers judging simply on looks and not necessarily ROI.

This could also potentially free up advertising revenue for quality sites that aren't likely to get filtered out if many advertisers chose to block scrapers or other obviously "made for AdSense" variety of sites. If advertisers aren't spending them on poor quality sites, more advertising money is available to the publishers whose sites are not getting filtered out.

Quality sites could also see a revenue jump from advertisers making the decision to opt into the content network, because now they will have considerable more control over where their ads are appearing. Advertisers who are right on top of this could block a considerable number of sites they don't feel are good enough to show their ads, or sites that just aren't performing well enough in terms of ROI. So there could be another potential jump in available ad revenue... and again it will primarily be quality sites that will benefit from this.

That said, how many advertisers really will go to all the effort of filtering publisher sites? And it would be interesting to see exactly how many advertisers have taken advantage of the site exclusion tool and had 25 URLs added on every campaign.

More on the official Inside AdWords blog.

Added: Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld here.

Posted by Jenstar at 12:15 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 21, 2005

ContextWeb makes changes to their terms

One of my main hesitations about ContextWeb was their policy of:

Because we are assuming the risk of collection from the Advertisers, we will hold back an additional five percent (5%) of Net Revenues from your share for bad debt allowance. We shall not be required to remit any Net Revenues to you for any month in which you provide ContextWeb with less than $50 (USD) in Net Revenues or fewer than 50,000 Countable Impressions (as defined below) from the Website; such revenue share shall be forfeited.

Since many publishers test new contextual ad programs with limited ad impressions to check on relevancy, eCPM, CTR and EPC, this would mean that if you earned anywhere from a penny to $49.99 in a month, you would forfeit this amount to ContextWeb.

Now, they have updated their terms, and they will now roll over the amount earned each month until the publisher makes the minimum payment amount of $25.00

If you earn less than $25 (USD) in Net Revenues in any month, payment of such amount shall be deferred until the month in which the cumulative total exceeds $25 (USD).

They also no longer withhold the 5% bad debt allowance they previously held back from all publisher payments.

Their old terms also stated the following:

If you are unable to obtain the Advertisements from our ad servers on a consistent basis, you must stop requesting the Advertisements and contact us promptly, but in no event more than four hours after the problem first occurs.

Since most publisher sleep for more than four hours in a row per day, I thought this was quite restrictive. This has now also been changed to one day, rather than the previous four hours.

The previous terms also stated:

your account falls below the acceptable levels of US-based traffic, as determined by us in our sole discretion
But acceptable levels were never revealed to publishers. This has also been removed.

Most of my major concerns with ContextWeb's terms have been changed to where I am comfortable recommending them now (I had also sent my concerns to ContextWeb a few months ago when I discovered them). Kudos to ContextWeb for making their contextual ad program much more publisher-friendly.

Posted by Jenstar at 01:01 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 19, 2005

Called out for being a blackhat spammer?

A noted an interesting trackback this morning going to my YPN case study about one of the first sites showing Yahoo's Publisher Network ads, Womens-Finance. Primarily, he is accusing womens-finance as being nothing but a black hat spam site.

I find this amusing on a few levels.

First, he claims that it is scraped content, based solely on the usage of such tags in the HTML as:

<!– #BeginEditable “content” –>
and
<!– #EndTemplate –>
notes.

He claims that is the use of a program such as Traffic Equalizer and on his site, you will note the fact he actually links to Traffic Equalizer using an affiliate link... perhaps hoping those who want to copy what I have done will believe that is what I used and then use his affiliate link to buy it?

But anyone who uses Dreamweaver will recognize those kinds of tags as being simply Dreamweaver template tags. The "content" tag denotes an editible region where I can change the content from one page to the next, while stll using the same template. I could have named that particular region "bananas" if I wanted to. But some templates I use on other sites can have up to five or six editible regions, so I usually name the region where the main page content goes something easy like "content" "article" or "main". And the end template tag simply denotes where the template content ends.

Next, he claims the pages indexed are only the result of the link from JenSense when I did the case study, as well as site maps:

She’s done a good job getting this spam site index (1490 in G, 493 in Y ). Most likely site map submissions followed a link from her high page rank Jensense site. But with only 66 backlinks in yahoo, it appears that she has not yet fully embraced Black Hat SEO techniques.

Well, he obviously didn't look to closely... that site has been well indexed by the engines since 2002... with it launched with nearly all the same articles in place. Here's the archive.org link to Womens-Finance. And as for the "only" 66 backlinks, the site initially had many more backlinks in the first couple of years it was online, but many of those sites are now non-existant. No site map submissions used here, sorry to disappoint.

As for the "advice" he gives to turn Womens-Finance into a full-on blackhat SEO site, you can rightly assume I won't be following it. If I wanted to go blackhat, I wouldn't be taking advice from an anonymous blog. I am sure some of my friends would be more than happy to indulge me on helping me with a blackhat campaign, and I would bet what they suggest is a lot more cutting edge that the older techniques the SEOBlackHat blog advises me to do.

But I find the fact I am being accused of being a blackhat SEO pretty amusing, because I am endlessly teased about being too straight-up with my various websites by many of my friends who lean slightly more to the dark side ;)

Added: Discussion at Threadwatch.

Update:He has retracted his original story, apologized, and donated $100 to the Run for the Cure I am participating in on October 2nd.

Posted by Jenstar at 06:48 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

September 16, 2005

Google Earth, National Geographic... and Yahoo Ads?

I was catching up on the Google Blog and was reading about the new National Geographic overlays on Google Earth. Thinking my daughter will love this, I fire up my copy of Google Earth to see it in action.

Since this is a partnership with Google, if I was expecting to see ads, I would bet they would be either in-house ads or Google ads. So I was more than a little surprised when I clicked one of the National Geographic links and when the content appeared in Google Earth's lower right window, Yahoo / Overture Content Match ads were covering a good portion of that window.

Here is the screenshot (click for the full-size version):
nationalgeographic.gif

There is nothing quite as amusing as seeing a Google program with Yahoo / Overture ads being so prominently featured... with nary a Google ad to be seen. And I wonder how long before they are approached by Google to see what they can do about getting those ads switched to Google's ads instead.

Posted by Jenstar at 08:40 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 15, 2005

YPN's Will Johnson interviewed by Chris Pirillo at SES San Jose

Will Johnson, VP and GM of the Yahoo Publisher Network was interviewed at SES San Jose by Chris Pirillo. If you attended SES, Will spoke on the same contextual advertising panel as I did, and many know Chris of Lockergnome and Gnomedex fame.

The interview is lengthy, about twenty minutes, and covers a wide range of topics. Some of the juicier tidbits I noted include ads in RSS (which I noticed yesterday), direct deposit likely being added soon, as well as a search box functionality.

He also talks about the possibility of a blog to keep publishers updated with the latest from the YPN team.

You can listen to it in Windows Media Player or MP3 format here.

Forum discussion here at Search Engine Watch's new YPN forum.

Posted by Jenstar at 11:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Why are so many non-US publishers being accepted to YPN?

Yesterday I mentioned that many non-US publishers are being accepted into YPN. I have since heard from many people, including some of those non-US publishers who were accepted, wondering why so many of them are being accepted into the beta when they don't live in the US and cannot submit the required US address and tax information.

Well, the answer is quite simple :)

When anyone applies to be a part of the Yahoo Publisher Network beta team, they must use their official application form. And near the top of that page, in nice bold text, it says:

Participants of the program must have a valid U.S. Social Security or Tax ID number, and web site content that is predominantly in English and targeted at a U.S. user base.

So when a potential publisher submits all his or her site information to be considered for the beta, but does not have a US SSN or tax ID that would qualify for the program, it isn't really YPN's fault when they accept that application. By submitting that form, YPN is believing that person has actually read the page and meets the requirements it asks of anyone who applies for beta.

There is also a link on that page to Content Guidelines, for a listing of the types of sites Yahoo does not want their advertisements associated with. It would be interesting to see what the CTR on that link is from the application page... I have a sneaking suspicion that most skip over the entire top part of the page, and their eyes go right to the first box for entering their email address.

A drop down box on that page with a Yes/No question of "Do you have a US SSN or Tax ID?" would solve a lot of the problems. Or maybe a second international application is in order, so YPN could begin drawing applications from that when it starts offering YPN outside of the US.

And next time you hear a non-US publisher grumbling that they were accepted and can't use it, remember that the only reason they were accepted is because they didn't read the instructions in the first place :)

Posted by Jenstar at 06:16 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

September 14, 2005

Ooops? Single clause silently added back into the AdSense policies

When I did the Google AdSense Policies update last month, I noticed the clause "No Google ad or search box code may be pasted into any software application" had been removed. Now it looks like that section under "Client Software" might have been removed since it has now been returned to the policies.

That particular clause was originally added in August 2004, over a year ago. Primarily, it was meant to restrict software programs that rendered html pages in the program from displaying AdSense. Kazaa was one such software that displayed AdSense within the interface on a webpage in the browser-like window. eBook authors were also placing AdSense within their .exe ebooks, since those types of ebooks are designed using live webpages on the web that could theoretically be updated at any time, which resulted in the end user's ebook automatically updated.

When the clause was originally removed last month, I thought it was odd it was removed, but I could not determine why that was. Since it has been added back in - and is the only change made to the policies since the update last month, and because the date remains the same on the policies page, it was likely an oversight that it was not returned to that section when it was rewritten to cover poor traffic sources as being against the policies.

Update: Kudos to Never_again for noticing this small change, forum discussion in this WebmasterWorld thread. The original person I cited took Never_again's post word for word and posted it on Digital Point - true kudos go to Never_again for spotting the change.

Posted by Jenstar at 07:28 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Selling YPN invites on eBay

Spotted via Jeremy Zawodny's linkblog, a publisher is selling a Yahoo Publisher Network invite on eBay.

It seems that several publishers based in India mistakenly received YPN invites despite it being open for US residents only. While some have submitted fake address information, this invitee is obviously trying to make some cash off the error. And surprisingly, he's got a bidder at GBP 79.00 (about $150 USD).

I know I have been asked numerous times for an inside track on getting a beta account. It seems those invites really are coveted! Although this is definitely not a way I would recommend getting your beta account.

Update: It looks like the seller originally tried to peddle it on Digital Point, before another member suggested eBay. Thanks Shawn for pointing it out.

Posted by Jenstar at 07:03 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

First sighting of Yahoo Publisher Network RSS ads

I spotted Yahoo Publisher Network ads in an RSS feed today, the first time I have seen them delivered via a feed. They look very similar to AdSense for Feeds ads and are formatted in the traditional ad unit styling.

The ads are delivered as images and seem to have an autogenerated script of some sort as it contains start and end tags in the RSS code.

<!-- begin(Yahoo ad) -->
<table><tr><td>
<a href='http://ypn-rss.overture.com/rss/2/760/click/'>
<img src='http://ypn-rss.overture.com/rss/2/760/img/?url=http://www.wdr1.com/blog/archives/000760.html&pid=2136985443&type=3121' alt="Ads by Yahoo!" style="border: 0"/></a>
</td></tr><tr><td align="right">
<p style="font-family: verdana, sanserif; font-size: 9pt; margin-top: 0">
<a href="http://publisher.yahoo.com">Ads by Yahoo!</a></p>
</td></tr></table>
<!-- end(Yahoo ad) -->

Here are screenshots of YPN in RSS:

ypnrssad1.gif

ypnrssad2.gif

YPN has a poll for active publishers in the control panel, and this was what I chose for the feature I would like to see soon... although it was a toss up between ads in feeds and a YPN for Search option.

I am looking forward to getting my hands on this one... I never had much luck with AdSense for Feeds, but one of the problems with having a blog about contextual advertising is that no one has the tendency to click the ads because "don't click the ads" is something many publishers practice - whether it is their own site or another publishers site. But there definitely seems to be differences between YPN and AdSense on this blog that visitors seem to favor YPN over AdSense. So I am very interested in trying this out and seeing if the trend follows through to the RSS ads as well.

And yes, I am still watching you :)

Posted by Jenstar at 06:26 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 12, 2005

AdSense contacting publishers in hurricane hit areas

In addition to switching all PSAs to run Red Cross ads on September 2nd, they have emailed publishers in the hurricane stricken areas to ask if they need any assistance with their account, such as changing mailing addresses or setting up electronic payments.

Hello, We've noticed that your AdSense payment address is located near the area most impacted by Hurricane Katrina. We also know you may have issues more urgent than your AdSense activities right now, so we'd like to offer our help.

If you're having trouble managing your AdSense account in any
way, please let us know. We can assist you with holding your
payments, updating your payment address, switching to electronic
payments, or any other account issues you may have.

Please feel free to reply to this email or contact us at
adsense-support@google.com to let us know if there's anything
else we can do for you.

We offer our deepest sympathy during these difficult times.

Sincerely,

The Google AdSense Team

A classy thing for Google to do by offering assistance for publishers facing difficult times ahead. While I am sure that other affiliate and advertising programs are offering the same kind of assistance, AdSense is the only one I have heard of doing this thus far.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld here.

Posted by Jenstar at 09:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 09, 2005

New ad category targeting added to YPN

Yahoo Publisher Network has added a brand new ad category targeting feature for publishers, which should help create tighter ad targeting.

In addition to the contextually-matched ads that Yahoo! serves, Ad Targeting enables you to target your visitors with ads based on their specific interests. You can choose up to two ad categories to apply to your web site (e.g., http://pets.yahoo.com), a specific directory of your web site (e.g., http://pets.yahoo.com/dogs/) or a content-specific web page on your site (e.g., http://pets.yahoo.com/dogs/toys.html). Your ad category selections, in combination with our matching technology, will determine what types of ads will be displayed. Selecting ad categories for a Targeted URL, however, does not guarantee that only ads from those ad categories will appear.

Here is a screenshot (click the screenshot to view full-sized version of the page):

adtarget1.gif

They have quite a number of categories and sub-categories, much more detailed than I expected, a total of 20 categories and 134 sub-categories. For those who are still eagerly awaiting a YPN beta account, here they are:

A great variety of categories are included, as you can see. Although some do strike me as a little on the odd side, such as the inclusion of tattoos/piercings and botanical gardens. And some seem to overlap, such as telecommunications selections. Publishers can select up to two categories per URL (can be targeted on a site, directory or page level), which would make the overlap workable for publishers with sites or pages in those areas.

YPN has really jumped on this option, and it seems much more in depth since I heard Will Johnson talk about it at Search Engine Strategies San Jose last month.

Active publishers will also see the option to "suggest additional ad categories and subcategories" to the YPN Support Team when viewing the Ad Targeting tab in the control panel.

This also gives YPN a leg up on Google AdSense. While they have a similar option, it is not something given to all publishers by default, but rather to those publishers suffering from chronic targeting problems.

I am curious to know what ads will be targeted under the "mass markets" category. Will this include things such as eBay and Shopping.com types of ads? These are generic ads, such as "Buy ____ on eBay" that many publishers have been blocking because of low relevance and many incidents of things like "Buy Used Dogs on eBay" which AdSense publishers are familiar with.

Using targeted categories also opens up an interesting possibility, since it is available to all YPN publishers. Since publishers can select specific categories for pages and sites, this could also give the option for advertisers to target those pages using those categories, allowing for a wider audience for their ads. An advertiser could potentially select to run their ads - either on a CPC basis as usual, or as a CPM basis, similar to how the Google AdSense CPM ads work - on a specific category such as "Cruises" or "Office Electronics".

Do keep in mind that category selections won't automatically change the ads, particularly if you are choosing financial categories on a page about a particular dog breed, for example.

Ad categories serve as suggestions and will be used in combination with other technologies to determine which ads will be displayed on your web site. Selecting ad categories for a web page does not guarantee that only ads from those categories will appear.

To start using Ad Targeting:

It is a great bonus that publishers do not need to make any changes to the javascript to implement Ad Targeting, unlike similar category/keyword targeting with AdSense that require a line being added to the javascript on those pages. However, publishers are limited to a maximum number of 50 Targeted URLs.

Once implemented, it will take approx 4-6 hours to see the category targeting take effect.

You can read more specifics about Ad Targeting on the Yahoo Publisher FAQ page.

Kudos to YPN for releasing this much-sought-after feature. It will be interesting to watch and see if this improves ad relevancy, something that has been an issue with YPN so far. This, combined with the new ad unit makeovers, could be what is needed to give a boost to publisher CTRs. My testing comparing the two could have a new winner at the end of the month ;)

Posted by Jenstar at 02:07 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Yahoo Publisher Network ads get a makeover

One of my initial complaints about YPN was the fact that their large rectangle only showed three ads with a larger font as opposed to the same ad size in AdSense which showed four ads with a smaller font. Lo and behold, feedback has been taken into account and some of the YPN ad units have received a makeover.

Screenshot of the older style with the larger font and three ads per ad unit:

rectangleold.gif

And a screenshot of the new style with a slightly smaller font and four ads per ad unit.

rectanglenew.gif

This is a good change because this was one of the factors that might have contributed to the vast differences in CTRs that many publishers have seen. It gives a visitor four ad choices rather than just three.

The skyscraper is another ad format that may have also received the makeover, although I do not have "before" screenshots to compare.

Posted by Jenstar at 01:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 08, 2005

New troubleshooting demo for AdSense publishers

Google AdSense quietly released a new troubleshooting demo today for publishers, in the similar style to the other demos they have released.

The demo has 23 slides with an accompanying voice over, and includes a slide covering each of the following:

  1. AdSense HTML Troubleshooting Demo
  2. Objectives
  3. Accessing your account
  4. Finding your ad code
  5. Finding your search code
  6. How to copy and paste your ad code
  7. How to view the source code
  8. What to look for in your HTML source
  9. WYSIWYG Program - Code view feature
  10. WYSIWYG Program - Code view feature continued
  11. WYSIWYG Program - Code view feature continued
  12. WYSIWYG Program - Code view feature continued
  13. WYSIWYG Program - Code view feature continued
  14. WYSIWYG Program - HTML insert function
  15. WYSIWYG Program - HTML insert function continued
  16. WYSIWYG Program - HTML insert function continued
  17. WYSIWYG Program - HTML insert function continued
  18. WYSIWYG Program - HTML insert function continued
  19. Common Problem #1 - Copy your code exactly
  20. Common Problem #2 - Extra HTML added to your ad code
  21. Common Problem #3 - Delay after adding your ad code
  22. Common Problem #4 - Using ad formats to fit your site layout
  23. Useful links

While there is nothing new for experienced publishers, it will be a useful demo to send those friends, family or forum members to when they want to know how to add AdSense so they can earn an AdSense check just like you :)

Posted by Jenstar at 04:58 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 07, 2005

AdSense stat junkies be warned

AdSense will be doing some maintenance on Thursday, September 8, 2005 and stats won't be updating for six hours beginning at 12pm PST (aka "AdSense time") / -8 GMT. Of course, ads will continue to serve and you will see a nice jump in your earnings around 6pm PST.

The Inside AdSense blog also discusses this, and refers to AdSense stat junkies as suffering from G.A.S.S. - Google AdSense Stats Syndrome. Symptoms of GASS include the compulsion to check stats every 15 minutes to see how much more money has been made.

Sufferers face strong withdrawal when separated from a PC with Internet access and have been known to experience mild abdominal discomfort and general irritability.

Will I be suffering? Nope... I generally check my stats once or twice a day to check my daily earnings, although I may login more frequently for other reasons on occasion (such as getting a week's worth of channel data I am testing something on). How often do you check your stats and will you be suffering from GASS ;)

Posted by Jenstar at 10:22 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 04, 2005

Another guest appearance on SEO Rockstars

I made another guest appearance on SEO Rockstars on WebmasterRadio.fm with Todd "Oilman" Friesen and Daron "SEGuru" Babin on Tuesday. One of the owners of a site I reviewed the previous episode reported that my suggested changes resulted in quadrupling her CTR. So another site owner in the chat room asked for a site review as well, which I did at the end of the show.

You can listen to it here. I appear in the last 15 minutes of the show, although some of the quadrupling AdSense CTR discussion is earlier in the show.

A quadrupling CTR is a great result for being brave enough to volunteer a site for review on live internet radio!

Posted by Jenstar at 08:07 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 01, 2005

Running Red Cross donation ads for your AdSense alternate ad

The Red Cross is appealing to bloggers and site owners to add donation ads to websites. In addition to donating your web space for the various banners, you can also add the Red Cross donation banners as your AdSense alternate ad to help with the relief effort for victims of Katrina.

To do that, here are the complete step by step instructions on what to do. First, you need to select the Red Cross ad that corresponds with the same image size as your AdSense ad unit. Images are available in the following ad sizes:

Then submit the form, and it will give you the banner ad code you need. There is no need to save the graphic to your own server. Take the code and paste it into a plain webpage document and save it (ie. psa.html or redcross.html)

Then, you can go and generate new AdSense javascript in your control panel, or you can add this line underneath your publisher ID line in the javascript you already have on your webpage:

google_alternate_ad_url = "http://www.example.com/redcross/psa.html";

Be sure to change the URL to the exact URL your Red Cross ad code is on. Then upload the page you placed the ad code on, along with all the pages you have added the new alternative ad to the javascript.

Hopefully many AdSense publishers will chose to help the Red Cross by running these ads as their alternate ad, or donate separate ad space as well.

Posted by Jenstar at 01:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack