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October 04, 2005

AdSense CPM ads affected by impression version of "smart pricing"

While poking around the AdSense support site, I came across a page "How am I paid for CPM ads". Now, it is rare I find any juicy tidbits just in their Q&A style support pages, but this was one of those rare occassions.

Many publishers have believed that AdSense CPM ads - where publishers are paid per impression rather than per click - would result in the same impression earnings regardless of placement. And this has often been evidenced by many sites adding back image-only banners and skyscrapers in low-CTR areas of a webpage, such as the footer and right hand column, while still utilizing text-only ad units in the premium ad placement spots. While not all CPM ads are text-only, many of them are, hence the decision by publishers to use image only ad units in low-CTR placements, hoping to boost up income with impression earnings.

However, this section on the "How am I paid for CPM ads?" seems to call into question this practice, or at least for those publishers hoping to earn full amounts from these impressions.

Please note that the placement of CPM ads on your pages can affect the amount an advertiser pays for that impression. Placing your CPM ad units below the fold, or in an otherwise low-impact location, may result in lower earnings than if the ad unit was placed in a conspicuous location.

So this raises some interesting questions. With the use of external CSS, would the mediapartners bot necessarily know how prominent the placement showing CPM ads happens to be?

Some possible ways they could be determining this:

Sounds suspiciously like CPM impression ads version of smart pricing.

Here is how CPM ads are currently displayed on publisher sites:

Because CPM ads compete against CPC ads in the AdWords auction, we'll always choose the highest-performing ad for your page. If an advertiser wants to specifically target your site, they will need to bid high enough to beat out the CPC ads that are already in the auction in order to show up on your page.

Let's hope that it takes into account CPM smart pricing when determining the highest-performing ad.

Posted by Jenstar at October 4, 2005 10:19 AM

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It's very easy to determine where the ad actually is on the page using javascript. I would be willing to bet that they simply figure out where it sits on the page visually (i.e. it's top and left position) and makes calculations accordingly. I would assume they only check the left position to ensure that it's within the visible window, and use the top to make sure that it's between 0 and 400-ish pixels ('above the fold' so to speak).

Posted by: Kevin Brown at October 15, 2005 04:03 PM

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