October 31, 2005
Halloween themed AdSense ad units... coolest ad units ever
If you were looking closely, you might have spotted some specially themed AdSense ad units for Hallowe'en today.
This is my favorite of the Hallowe'en themed ad units.
The other styling features a pumpkin next to the "Ads by Google", not quite as cool as the themed background though:
These were all taken from regular AdSense publisher sites, these weren't "premium perk" ad units. I hope they go more widespread next year.
Am I the only one who can't wait to see what they come up with for Christmas? I would love to see an ad unit with subtle snowflakes or candy canes in the background. But I definitely rank the Hallowe'en background ad unit as the coolest ad unit ever ;)
October 25, 2005
One poorly converting site can "smart price" an entire AdSense account
Google has said very little publicly about Smart Pricing secret sauce which results in some publishers earning more money for a click while others earn less (and yes, the advertiser will also pay less accordingly).
Here is the basis of how smart pricing works:
Google's smart pricing feature automatically adjusts the cost of a keyword-targeted content click. So if our data shows that a click from a content page is less likely to turn into actionable business results - such as online sales, registrations, phone calls, or newsletter signups - we reduce the price you pay for that click.
And this often used example explains how this works more precisely.
As an example of smart pricing, consider two websites, each related to digital photography. The first page features digital camera reviews, while the second offers photography tips. Clicks from the page of photography tips might be charged less, because they are expected to convert into sales less frequently, resulting in lower value for advertisers. Google data determines that clicks from the digital camera reviews convert better, so clicks from this page are not discounted.
And since very little is publicly disclosed to publishers about how smart pricing specifically works, there are many questions surrounding it. However, while AdSense was attempting to get a publisher back from YPN, one support team member disclosed more details than perhaps he or she should have.
Here is what that team member disclosed, as well as other tidbits already known about smart pricing.
- Smart pricing affects an entire account. It is not on a per page or per site basis.
- One poorly converting site can result in smart pricing impacting an entire account, even sites completely unrelated to the poorly converting one.
- Smart pricing is evaluated each week. So removing ads from sites you suspect are converting poorly could result in seeing an adjustment to a higher smart pricing percent in as little as a week.
- Smart pricing is tracked with a 30 day cookie, so you could be rewarded for new conversions that saw the initial click from your site up to 29 days earlier.
- Image ads are also affected by smart pricing.
- With smart pricing, an advertiser could end up paying less than their minimum bid, which would theoretically include the minimum bid price available, meaning publishers earn less for even the minimum valued clicks.
- Conversions for smart pricing publisher accounts are tracked by those advertisers who have opted into AdWords Conversion Tracking
This raises the question about whether publishers should be removing AdSense from sites they suspect are converting poorly, in order to increase their smart pricing percentage. The loss of revenue could be more than made up with higher smart pricing across the rest of the account. But publishers do not have access to any of the data that would be used to determine which sites (if any) are converting better than others.
It would also be hard to tell this from AdSense stats - even using channels to differentiate sites because one site with a low CPM could actually be converting the highest, but is simply in a lower earning niche. But a publisher could mistaken a low CPM for also being poorly converting and remove those ads... which could result in even smart pricing reducing overall per click earnings even more.
Other things can also affect day to day earnings that have absolutely nothing to do with smart pricing. This means it is extremely hard to track without information AdSense is unwilling to disclose about each account.
This kind of unknown situation makes it very tempting for publishers to want a second AdSense account, especially for publishers that have quality sites as well as "less than quality" sites. While second accounts are hard to get, I bet there are publishers who will be working on getting a new company name for this purpose.
How do you plan on using this information? Removing AdSense - or swapping it for YPN instead - and wait a week or two and see if there seems to be an increase in CPM? Wait and see what others do?
AdSense asking former publishers to leave YPN and return to AdSense
It seems that the AdSense team is phoning former publishers who have switched over from AdSense to the Yahoo Publisher Network, and asking them to return to AdSense. kurtpdx, a member at WebmasterWorld, was phoned more than once by AdSense today on the issue.
Got a call from Adsense today, asking me to switch back to their product. I switched to Yahoo in September. We talked about the number of reasons I'm currently staying with Yahoo (mainly $$$), and what it would take for me to switch back to Adsense (again, $$$).
This is quite interesting, although kurtpdx doesn't reveal what level of publisher he is. It shows that AdSense actually is paying attention to which publishers have left AdSense for YPN, and taking steps to bring them back to AdSense.
I wonder if more ex-AdSense publishers will be receiving similar phone calls in the coming days and weeks. And perhaps YPN will start phoning those who have signed up for their publisher service yet haven't made a big switch from AdSense to YPN.
October 22, 2005
eMiniMalls adds some new features & makes some changes
Chitika has definitely been busy launching new features and tools for their eMiniMalls program. Here is a rundown of the latest changes and additions to the program.
You can now change the background colors in your ads. In your control panel, you will now find a color picker you can use to select custom background colors.
If you prefer to just hack your own code and not use the control panel interface to add it, simply add this line:
ch_color_bg = "#CCCCCC";
One unfortunate side effect is that images in the ads will still be displayed with a white background. However, I have been assured they are working to change this.
As some people had reported, there were issues with viewing eMiniMalls ads with some browsers, notably the new Firefox 1.5 Beta. These have now been fixed.
Ad Interface Changes
You may have noticed that the advertiser now has a more prominent placement in the ad units now. This has been done to increase conversions for the merchants, which should relate into a higher CTR for publishers, particularly when "trusted merchants" are being shown.
Changes to the Product Image
The product images are no longer "clickable" as they were before. This was done because there were "curiosity clicks". This may affect CTR slightly, but if the person is truly interested in the product, they will click the true link instead. It would be interesting to know just how frequently the image was clicked compared to the regular link.
Something else I noticed is that many of the images were animated, so that they would first appear smaller then "zoom in" to full sized in the ad unit. I checked a variety of ad units and sites, but found they were all static images now.
Adding eMiniMalls to Blogs:
You can now automatically insert your blog entry titles as your eMiniMalls keywords into MT and WP blogs by using the following:
On MT insert the following code:
ch_query = "<? $MTEntryTitle$ ?>";
On WP insert the following code:
ch_query = "<? php the_title(); ?>";
You simply paste that into your eMiniMalls script. A nice feature add-on for bloggers.
Contextual is turned off by default
The code generated in your control panel is now generated without the contextual turned on, but with the keyword targeting automatically generated instead.
You need to be sure you change it to your own keywords, right now the default is set to rotate ads between digital cameras, iPod Mini, Sony Playstation and Dell laptop.
Other things to come
There will be channel support launched soon, for publishers who want to track earnings across pages, directories or sites.
eMiniMalls for Verticals (which I announced on my appearance on SEO Rockstars) which would include eMiniMalls for Books & eMiniMalls for Travel. They are designed to perform better for sites in those niches.
And last but not least, they are working on a speedier turn around time for accessing stats.
My most recent appearance on SEO Rockstars is available for download
A bulk of the conversation was about Chitika's eMiniMalls program - along with an announcement of their new eMiniMalls for Verticals that they will be launching soon. And of course, AdSense & YPN were also touched upon. We also talked about MSN AdCenter which officially launched while we were on the air. I also mentioned the SEW Forums Live event I will be at next week at Disneyland. And last but not least, some AdSense/YPN placement site reviews.
Download the show here.
Troubleshooting wizards launched by AdSense
They have added three new troubleshooting wizards, where users answer yes or no to each question and are led to another yes/no page or information on what they should do to fix it.
- I pasted the AdSense code into my site, but no ads appeared.
- I’m seeing Public Service Ads (PSAs) on my site.
- I want to improve the relevancy of AdSense ads appearing on my site.
- I want to filter my competitors from advertising on my site.
The second and third are actually the same wizard which addresses both problems.
While definitely designed for beginners, it is a great resource to point annoying friends and family to when they ask questions because they want to make as much money with AdSense as you ;)
October 20, 2005
Easier way to login to your YPN account
If you are like me, you probably find it annoying that you can't simply go to http://publisher.yahoo.com and login to your YPN account from there. Instead, you need to navigate to https://publisher.yahoo.com/portal/login.php in order to see the login page.
It was one of those pesky things that a few publishers had commented on to me, but something that I just never seemed to remember to mention to the YPN team... until today when I had to login while on the phone to them...
So the YPN team has put in a request to the powers-that-be to add a noticeable login link on the main http://publisher.yahoo.com. But in the meantime, if you click the Yahoo! Publisher Network ad on the top left, it will take you directly to the YPN login page.
Now if only I had thought to mention how much I wish I could change my YPN password in the control panel from the one I was issued when I joined ;)
A thread at Search Engine Watch forums details how to use NO SCRIPT tags to display an alternative ad to those visitors (such as an affiliate ad or an image related to the site or a partner site) so you can attempt to monetize those visitors who will not see your AdSense or YPN ads.
A simple appending of NOSCRIPT to your Google AdSense code solves this problem and displays ads when all Google Ads are disabled. Note that this is not modifying the AdSense script whatsoever and only runs when AdSense is disabled so there isn't any terms and conditions issues.
Just make your HTML look like this:
... Google AdSense Code....
.... some affiliate code here....
incrediBILL, who posted the tip, is correct that it is completely within the terms and policies to do this.
YPN sponsoring reception at SEW Forums Live at Disneyland
If you would like your chance to chat with the YPN team, they are hosting the cocktail reception at next week's Search Engine Watch Forums Live next week at the Disneyland Hotel.
Many of the various team members will be there to answer all your burning questions and talk about YPN. And speaking of burning questions, please leave a comment if you would like me to see something specific covered in my presention at SEW Forums Live.
And if you are looking for a YPN beta account, be sure to bring along a business card with your URL... you just might get your site fast tracked for one of those coveted beta accounts :)
October 18, 2005
Thank you to those who donated to Run for the Cure
A special thanks to everyone who donated for my Run for the Cure. While my original goal was $4000, I ended up dropping it down to $2000 after Hurricane Katrina because so many people decided to donate to Katrina (including myself!) I didn't quite make $2000, but I did raise $1549.
Thank you to:
Shawn Hogan (of Digital Point)
SEO Black Hat
And at few anonymous people (and if anyone donated today, it might not show names until tomorrow)
And again, thank you very much to those who donated :)
MSN AdCenter just launched for the US today
If you have been eagerly awaiting the MSN AdCenter launch, I just heard right from MSN that it just went live for the US. The initial group is a small group of self-service advertisers, with more advertisers being added every week. I am one of the lucky beta testers for MSN AdCenter, and I was fortunate to see a demo at SES San Jose in August.
They are still accepting applications to be one of the beta testers here.
MSN is really wanting feedback from their advertisers about AdCenter, and when you are logged into your MSN AdCenter control panel, you can submit your feedback to them... and it will be heard ;)
And you can read more about my thoughts on MSN AdCenter, as well as the upcoming MSN Contextual Ads program... which I have been calling Code Name MicroSense... here.
Problems with rotating YPN with AdSense?
Since Tim Flight wrote that rotating YPN & AdSense was a bad idea, I have had plenty of emails and instant messages on the subject.
This is a problem I have not had whatsoever, and I have been rotating AdSense & YPN on JenSense for quite a while now. I have it set to rotate per page view per person (so while you will hit reload and see the the same ad program, the next person to hit the page would see the other ad program). And stats show page views are pretty evenly split between the two.
But when Tim phoned support and chatted with an engineer, this is what he found:
So the next logical question was why am I getting PSAs on YPN? After having a few of the YPN engineers look at my site they figured out the reason it was getting PSAs was because I was rotating pageviews between YPN ads and AdSense ads. Basically the YPN bot that crawls pages to determine the content was getting confused because the page content was constantly changing and the YPN ads were there one second and gone the next. So each time a YPN ad was displayed it triggered a new “content review” and PSAs would be displayed.
I am not sure why Tim got such a high prominence of RON ads (ie. Vonage, Comcast) on his site while using an ad rotator, while sites like JenSense and SERoundtable do not really suffer from these problems, even though new entries are added regularly.
I am wondering if the problem could be related to the way he was previously rotating the ads. Both Barry & I use phpAdsNew to rotate between AdSense & YPN. So there is the possibility that the problem is with *how* Tim was originally rotating, rather than it simply being the fact he was rotating. Hopefully Tim can let us know how he was previously rotating his ads.
Cohosting the SEO Rockstars with oilman today
On the agenda? Contextual advertising including AdSense & YPN as well as a bit of talk about eMiniMalls which oilman has also been testing. MSN AdCenter which is just about to be beta launched in the US market. Chat about SEW Forums Live happening next week... and we will hopefully have the go-ahead to make an announcement about one of the events happening there. And whatever else we happen to want to chat about ;)
And yes, I will be doing another AdSense/YPN placement optimization site review at the end of the show... but you must be in the chat room in order to submit your site! You can access the chat room here or via IRC at irc.webmasterradio.fm #webmasterradio (you can use a program such as mIRC to join).
I hope you can tune in! And I am finally giving a bit more notice so you can plan to catch the show :)
Chitika eMiniMalls search tab is compatible with AdSense
If you have disabled your eMiniMalls search tab in order to comply with AdSense terms and policies, you can re-enable it. Because it is not a web search tool, but only a product search tool within eMiniMalls, publishers are permitted to run AdSense on the same page as eMiniMalls with the search tab.
This is the line you can remove:
ch_nosearch = 1;
Do remember you still must turn off contextual targeting to comply with AdSense, if you plan to run both on the same page.
Chitika eMiniMalls referral program launches
Chitika eMiniMalls has launched a new referral program for publishers.
Refer publishers and make more money! Just in time for the holiday shopping season
The Publisher Referral Program rewards you for bringing new business to Chitika. Refer new Publishers to Chitika's eMiniMalls service and earn 10% of what your referral earns. The referral makes the same revenue that they would normally and Chitika pays you for your efforts. It's that simple!
Once you sign up and your account has been approved, you will see a section in your control panel where you get your referral URL, as well as a new section in your reports specifically for tracking referral revenue as well as the number of referrals you have generated.
October 17, 2005
YPN does away with PSAs, introduces Run of Network ads instead
If you have ever had a PSA problem with AdSense, you will be pleased to hear that YPN is no longer running PSAs - otherwise known as Public Service Ads or charity ads - so you no longer have to worry about displaying ads for which you will not earn money for.
YPN introduced Run of Network ads (aka RON ads) on September 9th, when they introduced their ad targeting.
Not having the ability to provide an alternate URL for PSAs (as you can with AdSense) was one of the problems that many of the initial beta testers had, especially when targeting took much longer. But with RON ads, there is no need to have any tools that would be needed if PSAs were still running.
There is not a list of RON advertisers, nor is there an easy way to tell if they are RON advertisers or simply a case of targeting gone awry. But many have speculated that Comcast and Vontage are the most visible of the RON ads.
One problem with RON ads is that they can appear to be a case of ad targeting gone awry, which is what many of us believed was happening. However, Will Johnson of the Yahoo Publisher Network cleared up some of the questions I had surrounding RON ads - such as how to know if ads we are seeing are RON ads, as well as how advertisers could potentially see their ads run ala RON ads on publisher sites.
Is there a list of what these RON ads are (even though I realize it is subject to change)?
There is not a list of RON ads as they do change. They change based upon two factors;
a) Advertiser participation (opting in and opting out) and;
b) Performance of the ads. If the ads do not perform well on a publisher’s page, they will be removed from the list of ads that are served. If they perform well, they will continue to be served.
I find the fact they are tracking performance of the ads interesting. While I do not know how many ads are appearing as RON ads, there is the potential that I have simply not noticed many of them because they have not performed well on my sites. I do have to wonder if Comcast and Vonage are really performing that well on so many different publisher sites, in so many different niches and market areas... although they do have a broad appeal for internet users as a whole.
Now, how would an advertiser start advertising via the RON ads? Will Johnson reported back with the scoop:
Advertisers are currently invited to become a RON advertiser based. Typically they are invited because they have expressed a desire for additional traffic across our network.
This also opens up the possibility that in the future, advertisers could site target ads to appear as RON advertisements on specific publisher sites. So advertisers could potentially target JenSense specifically, similar to how some advertisers target JenSense via AdWords.
It is worth noting that these ads are treated as PSAs in that you are unable to block them from showing, using the "Ad Blocking" feature in your YPN control panel. So if you are trying to block an ad that keeps stubbornly showing up on your sites, chances are good that it is actually one of the RON ads, and not a regularly targeted ad.
Update: You can now block RON ads. There was an apparent bug in the system that prevented blocking of these ads, but now it has been fixed.
Search Engine Watch Live Does Disneyland
Well, if you ever needed an excuse to be able to go to Disneyland and write it off, here is your opportunity! Search Engine Watch will be hosting Search Engine Watch Forums LIVE right at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim on Thursday, October 27th.
I will be speaking for 15-20 minutes on contextual advertising - focusing a lot on AdSense versus YPN, pulling out a lot of the testing data comparing the two. The last time I spoke on the two, which was at Search Engine Strategies in San Jose, YPN had only been launched for a week or so, so SEW Forums Live in Disneyland will be my first opportunity to speak on the nitty gritty of them both together. I will also touch on Chitika eMiniMalls contextual advertising as well, since it is creating a lot of buzz lately.
Other things covered:
This informative, interactive session covers the latest trends, hot topics and issues in today's SEM marketplace. Short presentations will include expert views on the future of organic and paid search, contextual advertising, multilingual search, affiliate marketing, and more!
Then there will be a chance to Q&A with Search Engine Watch Forum moderators and ask us all your burning questions. And many of us are attending:
This event will be hosted by Forums Editor, Elisabeth Osmeloski, and features a special appearance by Search Engine Watch's own Founder and Editor, Danny Sullivan.
Confirmed guest speakers and featured attendees include SEW Forum moderators Jennifer Slegg, Nacho Hernandez, Joseph Morin, Linda Buquet, Alex Bennert and Marcia Welter.
Registration is limited, so don't wait until the last minute - sponsorship information is here. It starts at 1:30, meaning a chance to visit Mickey Mouse in the morning, for those Disney fanatics like me. There will also be another announcement this week for something not yet listed on the schedule, so stay tuned!
I hope to see many of you there when SEW Forums Live does Disney!
October 13, 2005
Weblogs Inc the latest AdSense Case Study
At the beginning of August, we featured an interview with Jason Calacanis of Weblogs Inc, after he famously announced he was on track to make a million a year with AdSense.
Recently, we caught up with Jason Calacanis from Weblogs, Inc. who shared with us how he's taken his AdSense earnings to a new level. We really enjoyed speaking with Jason, and knowing how much you enjoy hearing from your fellow publishers, we're featuring him as our newest case study. Check it out and find out how he went from making a few hundred dollars a day to $3,000 a day with AdSense.
Jason Calacanis has managed to achieve great success utilizing a mixture of both AdSense and other advertising to make a highly profitable blog network, and his success is shown by the fact his network was recently aquired by none other than AOL.
Google AdSense advertising via Yahoo Publisher Network
While viewing this entry today, I was amused to discover that there was an ad for Google AdSense in my YPN ads.
While seeing various Google ads in AdSense ad units is fairly common, you don't often see Google or Yahoo advertising in each other's PPC ad programs. So seeing an AdSense ad in the competitve Yahoo Publisher Network's ad units is pretty funny. Maybe we will see YPN in AdSense ad units next ;)
Inside scoop on making Chitika eMiniMalls AdSense & YPN compliant
A few people have run into issues with making eMiniMalls compliant with AdSense & YPN, since it is NOT compliant with their terms/policies in its "out of the box" form. Here is what you need to do in order to use eMiniMalls & AdSense or YPN on the same page without racking up any policy or terms violations.
ch_query = "keyword keyword2";
Obviously, you will specify your keyword(s) either per site or per page. This will disable the contextual targeting of the ad units, which would make it against the AdSense/YPN terms otherwise.
Rotating the keyword ads
You can also take this a step further and include lines for roating keywords, which is great for templates as well as showing fresh products on each page view, helping to prevent banner blindness on pages that are viewed frequently, such as blog index pages or forums:
ch_non_contextual = 1; var ch_queries = new Array('keyword1', 'another keyword'); var ch_selected=Math.floor((Math.random()*ch_queries.length)); ch_query = ch_queries[ch_selected];
Don't forget to not only use generic keywords but also brand names.
ch_nosearch = 1;
This will disable the search tab from the ad units, so you are within the AdSense terms. If YPN releases a similar "YPN for Search" product, you will also very likely need to disable this search tab to make it YPN Search compliant as well.
Yahoo Publisher Network checks being sent this week
The first wave of beta YPN publishers are expecting their first payments for August earnings shortly. The terms state that checks will be sent 45 days after the earnings period, meaning August earnings should be sent by October 15th. Publishers noticed their total balanced decreased a few days ago, by the August earnings amount, but nothing showed up in payment history or available balance when this was done.
I went direct to YPN to get the scoop on payments, since this is the first pay period and publishers aren't quite sure what to expect. And I can confirm that checks are being sent to publishers this week. YPN is also working on shortening up the 45 days publishers currently wait, so that will be nice to see, especially with AdSense working on 30 days.
So if you met the $100 minimum for August earnings, you should expect to receive your payment very soon.
October 10, 2005
Best forum placement tips from AdSense
In their most recent blog entry, AdSense offers up an AdSense heat map specifically for forums, likely as a result of their forum optimization tests that some publishers were participating in this summer.
I would be curious to see how this breaks down across forum styles, if they release this information. I found with phpBB that the right column, while higher CTR than some placements, was definitely not as good as immediately following the first post of a thread. But even then, forum CTR is notoriously low in comparison to a non-forum page.
However, forums that manage to get a lot of CPM ads can do quite well revenue wise. So be sure to enable image ads, but also being sure to use one of the ad unit sizes that supports image ads. These are:
- Leaderboard (728 x 90)
- Banner (468 x 60)
- Skyscraper (120x600)
- Wide Skyscraper (160x600)
- Medium Rectangle (300 x 250)
The other ad unit sizes will not be able to take advantage of the full range of CPM ads, since while other ad units can display the text CPM ads, you would be missing out on all the image CPM ads.
October 07, 2005
Google AdSense begins reissuing checks for affected publishers
I have spoken with Google and received the latest update on the payment issue. Google AdSense has confirmed that they will begin reissuing payments to those publishers who have been affected with the AdSense versus AdWords issue.
If you have contacted Google about getting your check re-issued, they will be cancelling your payment and re-issuing a new one today - you should see it on the payment screen in your control panel. It will be sent within the next 7 days via DHL. From their email to publishers:
A new check will be mailed to you within one week to the payee name and address associated with your AdSense account. In order to speed up the delivery of your payment, we will send your check via DHL express delivery, at no additional cost to you
They are not doing a blanket issue to all publishers affected because many were able to cash their checks or receive their payments from the address in their AdWords account, so they do not want to cancel any payments legitimately cashed by the publisher.
If you haven't requested reissue and you were affected, you can send a reissue request now.
If you were affected, you would have already received an email identical to the one here. If you did NOT receive one, you are not affected and there is no need to contact Google if you haven't received your payment yet... your mail service is just a bit slower ;)
Google has also confirmed this will not happen again.
A few people have asked why I was so critical of Google's initial decision to wait until the following month to reissue those payments. Of course, none of those who asked were directly affected by it ;) But I thought it was an important issue that needed to be resolved so that publishers were happy with the fix.
I am one of those people that know mistakes are going to happen. Those who have been with AdSense since the fall of 2003 were faced with a situation where October earnings payments were sent a couple of weeks late, meaning payments many were expecting to arrive by the beginning of December didn't show up until much later. But the next payment, which was for November earnings and would be expected the beginning of January, Google surprised us all by sending checks out a couple of weeks early, meaning they arrived a week before Christmas. Many of us viewed that as their way of making peace, because there were a lot of cranky publishers waiting for their Christmas shopping money.
So my issue wasn't the fact they made a mistake. Even Google is human, so to speak. Mistakes have happened in the past, and I am sure they will happen in the future. But it isn't so much the mistake that makes the impression but how they correct it.
Looking back on the Christmas season 2003, I bet more publishers are likely to remember the "feel good" of getting the November earnings payment early, rather than the reason we suspect those payments were sent early.
Even though my check was not affected by this, I am extremely pleased to see Google step up and do the right thing and get these checks reissued so publishers aren't waiting until the following pay cycle. And extra points for sending the reissued payments out via DHL, to also speed up the delivery process. Mistakes do happen, but as I said, it is how they correct them that is often more important than the mistake itself. And Google came through with a good solution for all those publishers affected.
MSN AdCenter beta pilot - referral link for "friends & family"
Todd (AKA oilman) & I both had the opportunity to break the story on the AdCenter beta yesterday, but we got the lowdown on it while we were coincidentily out for coffee together. And since Todd lives closer to Starbucks than me, he beat me to it ;)
I have been given a special "Friends & Family" link for people to submit to the US pilot of AdCenter. And I can include all JenSense readers as friends. And best of all, these applications will be given priority when it comes time to select the testers.
Here is the full scoop:
As you know, we launched MSN adCenter --our next generation advertising platform -- in France and Singapore last month. This was an important first step to delivering our global vision to connect advertisers to consumers in a more meaningful way.
Now, as we prepare to launch the US pilot of MSN adCenter, we need your help in getting your friends and family to apply to participate in the self-service offering for small-to-medium businesses. This pilot represents a unique opportunity for small and medium businesses to be among the first to experience the more powerful tools and wide-ranging benefits of MSN adCenter. Our paid search offering will help advertisers:
Learn by accessing comprehensive data to plan more strategic campaigns,
Connect by using advanced demographics to target the right audience at the right place and time, and
Refine by making meaningful changes on the fly with features for greater flexibility and control.
If you know a business-owner who would be interested in advertising their business on MSN Search, please forward this email to them and encourage them to apply to participate in the US Pilot by completing our online registration form at http://advertising.msn.com/adCenterPilot/89621.asp.
Please note that entry in the US pilot is by invitation only. We will select participants on a rolling basis from those you refer and who express interest. During the US pilot, MSN adCenter will be delivering text-based advertisements on up to 25 percent of MSN Search traffic; the remaining traffic will continue to be served through our partnership with Yahoo.
I hope that you will support this important initiative by sharing this information with your friends and family. We look forward to serving their advertising needs and gathering their valuable feedback on our products and services.
Hope to see some of you in the pilot later this month!
October 05, 2005
AdSense error means many publishers must wait until NEXT payment cycle for August earnings
It seemed there were more publishers than usual with payment problems - people reporting their payment was made to their company name instead of their personal name (or vice versa), payments being addressed with a middle name never submitted to AdSense, as well as postal address problems.
Turns out, there was a problem with information crossover between AdWords and AdSense, resulting in payment information actually being taken from the AdWords account instead AdSense account when they shared an email address.
Affected publishers received the following email today:
Due to an issue with our payment system, your most recent AdSense payment was mailed to an incorrect address. Our system pulled the payee name and address information from your Google AdWords account, rather than your AdSense account, when printing and mailing your check.
If you are unable to receive your payment at the address listed in your AdWords account, or if the payee name is incorrect,please respond to this email so that we may cancel this check. Your earnings will be credited back into your account and included in your next payment cycle. Once this process is
complete, you will see a 'Payment Canceled' line appear on your Payment History page.
If you are able to receive your payment at the alternate address, or if you have already contacted us about this issue, no action is required on your part.
We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.
The Google AdSense Team
However, note the Your earnings will be credited back into your account and included in your next payment cycle. Due to no error on the publisher's fault, they now must wait until the NEXT payment cycle (ie. the end of October or early November) before they will receive those August earnings. But with publishers given absolutely no warning to check AdWords account information because AdSense payments would be sent to THAT address instead of the one in the AdSense account (which logically, it should be), those publishers are going to suffer being without that revenue for another month... something many publishers count on for things such as mortgages, payments and bills.
Should publishers have checked their AdWords accounts to check on names and addresses? They had no reason of knowing they would have to, since payments were nothing to do with AdWords. And because of credit card information, payee names and addresses in AdSense could be completely different from what was in the AdWords account, even with a shared email address.
If the error was truly on the publishers end (such as not updating their address in the AdSense control panel) my reaction would be tough luck, wait til next payment cycle. But when it is Google who has made the error, then refuses to correct it immediately by issuing new checks now rather than next payment cycle, it is going to cause plenty of hard feelings by publishers... something Google doesn't neccessarily want to do with YPN taking more market share daily.
I truly hope Google changes their stand on this issue and sends new checks to publishers - based on their AdSense account information, not AdWords account information - immediately. If not, this could just be a nail in the coffin for many people depending on contextual ad income to jump the AdSense ship and hop aboard the S.S. YPN.
Added: Yes, I have received my check. But I have been getting an earful from people who have wondered why there were payment issues, and I suspect I will be getting an even bigger earful once publishers realize they will be waiting for those earnings until at least the end of the month.
Everyone is talking about Chitika's eMiniMalls ad program
Everyone has been buzzing about Chitika's eMiniMalls the past couple of weeks, and when you see how their ad units work, it is not hard to see why.
That is an example of one of their ad units. But when I think is the best part of these ad units is the interactive nature of the ad. Depending on the ad style chosen, it currently defaults to the "Description tab", but a simple mouse over of the other tabs results in seeing "Best Deals" opf the product currently being shown, "Reviews" of the product, and "Search" where users can search for different products... and they will display without the user ever leaving the commfort of the publisher's webpage.
Publishers who currently use AdSense or Yahoo Publisher Network can also disable the contextual aspect of it, and use keywords only with the following tag:
ch_query = "keyword keyword2";
For example this ad unit should (hopefully!) show a laptop ad:
And this one something digital camera related:
And for something non-techy, this one should hopefully show something about kitchen appliances:
And here are a couple of ad units to see how they handle brand names that I am a big fan of, the first being Disneyland, the second being Starbucks.
Stats are a bit behind the times, but I have been assured they will be improved. Right now, they are updated at the end of the day. There unfortunately is not any channel data or URL tracking, making it hard to guage what pages or sites are performing the best. The reports currently give publishers date, impressions, clicks, and revenue data. All stats are unaudited at this time, they audit for any fraudulent activity at the end of the month. Payments are net 30 by check or PayPal.
The fact that this program can be run in conjunction with AdSense & YPN makes this advertising program attractive to publishers, since many find it difficult to find programs that are automated, profitable, yet are "legal" to run on the same page as AdSense or YPN.
They were also just named as a finalist for the 2005 MITX Awards for the Interactive Marketing Strategy category.
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:
- Flagging accounts showing more than X amount of impressions with quality checkers checking ad placement for those ad units, and determining if that placement is worth the full value of the impression earnings, or only a percent of it.
- Scale impression earnings based upon what the actual CTR ad is on the ad unit, working off the assumption that higher CTR likely is the result of a more prominent ad placement.
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.
Rotating AdSense & YPN
Since I began testing AdSense versus Yahoo Publisher Network, many people have asked how they can test themselves by rotating the two on their own sites. Here are three ways you can do this.
SeRoundtable has step-by-step instructions on using phpAdsNew to rotate the two. phpAdsNew is what I use to rotate ads here in JenSense. While these instructions were not online when I added mine, chances are I probably did the identical steps when I set it up myself.
So if you have been accepted into YPN and are looking to rotate the two programs, using one of these options will allow you to do so and see for yourself which program monetizes best for your site.