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January 28, 2006

AdSense "Quick Reports" section of control panel updated

AdSense has changed their control panel interface when it comes to viewing reports, making it easier for publishers to quickly switch between checking stats for ads and for search.

Formerly under the reporting tab, advanced reporting was split into two tabs - "Advanced Reports - Ad Performance" and "Advanced Reports - Search Performance". Now, both are combined into a single "Advanced Reports" tab, where you can select between Ad and Search reports from a drop down menu without having to change screens.

They still need to update all of the support documents in the help files with this new information, as they all reference the old style of selecting between ad and search performance. This change will be appreciated by AdSense stat junkies who check all their stats at 15 minute intervals ;)

Posted by Jenstar at 02:46 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 27, 2006

Chinese New Year is the latest themed ad unit from AdSense

AdSense has decided to celebrate Chinese New Year, and the Year of the Dog, with a dog doodle in the AdSense ad units.

This image has been showing in a variety of different ad units, including leaderboards and large rectangles.
chinesenewyear.gif

A member on Digital-Point spotted a different dog doodle in an ad unit.

chinesenewyear2.jpg
(View the thread for the full size).

It is worth noting that this new themed ad unit does NOT override a publisher's chosen styling of an ad unit, something that made many publishers opt out of themed ad units when the Christmas themed ad units overrode a publishers chosen settings by adding a coordinating (to the doodles) border to the ad unit... something publishers complained caused a reduction in CTR rate. It appears that Google took that feedback into account with these new Chinese New Year ad units. I suspect they will be watching to see how many publishers opt back into the themed ad units program.

I am unsure how long these ad units will be running for, but likely for not more than a few days, with Chinese New Year being celebrated on Sunday, January 29, 2006.

Posted by Jenstar at 09:22 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Did AdWords forget to tell AdSense about maintenance?

Normally AdWords and AdSense coordinate efforts to alert advertisers and publishers when there will be mainenance on the control panel. I noticed AdWords posted a maintenance alert on their blog a couple days ago.

Please plan ahead Just in case you were planning to work on your campaigns this weekend, please note that on Friday, January 27th, the AdWords system will be temporarily unavailable from approximately 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. PST due to system maintenance. While you won't be able to log in during this time, your campaigns will continue to run as normal.

As always, we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

As publishers soon discovered, AdSense control panel also went down for maintenance at the same time. The login page was unavailable to most publishers. I did manage to access my control panel, but when I clicked another tab in it, I was greeted with a note saying it was unavailable for system maintenance.

All ads are being served as usual, however.

Often, when both AdSense and AdWords go down for maintenance together, there is something new and shiny for publishers to play with. Hopefully we will see something new once the maintenance is complete.

Posted by Jenstar at 08:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

AdSense back to showing 4 ads in large rectangle

AdSense must have switched up their ad serving optimization yesterday, because the large 336x280 ad units have been showing 4 ads in an ad unit on most page views, instead of the two ads per ad unit that began showing up under their expanded ad unit optimization.

I did some detailed ad hunting this morning and while I remember seeing all two ads in the large rectangle ad unit yesterday, today I am seeing many more of the four ads in an ad unit, with an occassional ad unit showing two or three ads instead of four.

Many publishers were complaining about the reduced number of ads appearing in the large rectangle, especially because there was no way to force display 4 ads instead of 2. The concern was that there were fewer ads - and thus less choice - for visitors to click on. Others also complained because those using the images beside or above ad units were faced with those images not being lined up correctly to the ads in the ad units.

I am pleased to see the ads are back to four within the large rectangle ad unit. Hopefully this change is permanent, and if not, hopefully they will allow publishers to chose whether they display two, three or four ads within an ad unit.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Posted by Jenstar at 10:10 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

January 26, 2006

MSN Spaces allows users to monetize with Kanoodle

In a decision that has left many puzzled, MSN Spaces now allows users to monetize their space with contextual advertising... however the contextual advertising is served through Kanoodle's Bright Ads, and not through MSN AdCenter.

MSN Spaces update which was released a couple of hours ago, has implemented many new features for users.

With MSN deciding to utilize BrightAds, it does make you wonder how close (or far) they are to having a potential contextual advertising program for publishers. MSN Spaces could have provided a huge test bed for testing contextual relevance as well as feedback from users on how well the ads were targeting the content and any other issues they saw related to that.

Of course, MSN/Microsoft is a huge company... it could also be an issue of one hand not knowing what the other is up to ;) But an interesting decision nonetheless. And it gives Kanoodle access to an enormous number of new publishers as well as ad impressions for their advertisers.

Posted by Jenstar at 07:47 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Google AdSense begins rich media beta test

Google AdSense is moving beyond the traditional text and graphical advertising to rich media, including interstitials, expanding ads and floating ads. AdSense began contacting publishers last week to be involved in the rich media limited beta test.

The campaigns will likely be site targeted, rather than contextual, but details on the actual implementation of these new ads are still under wraps. With these kind of top-secret beta tests, NDAs are often requirements before being accepted into it.

Floating ads are ads that either stay on top as the page is scrolled, or ones that "float in" from the side of the page to the center of the page. Expanding ads are those that require user interaction to expand, either with a mouseover or a click. Interstitials are perhaps the most interesting addition to this rich media beta, because they are a format that people love to hate, and that are often more annoying than pop-ups. You have likely stumbled across an interstitial ad - they appear when you click through to read a page, and before they will show you the page, you are bypassed through to a full page ad that you must view before seeing the actual content you were wanting, often by having to click a link on the interstitial ad page.

No further details are known about the new rich media beta test, but I will see what I can find out. I can probably safely say that this is an invite-only beta test to which only a small number of publishers were invited to. So emailing the AdSense team for an invite to this beta probably wouldn't work. But the good news is that often beta tests are turned into features that all publishers can utilize, so if you are interested in implementing rich media through AdSense, keep your fingers crossed and it may be added in the future.

This is definitely a departure from the usual text ads as well as the image and Flash ads in standard ad unit sizes that AdSense usually runs. Rich media ads are usually associated with companies such as Fastclick, PointRoll and Falk eSolutions, so the fact that AdSense is making inroads on this territory is quite significant. If AdSense offered rich media to all publishers, it could really hurt competitor companies offering similar rich media ad formats because of the vast number of publishers that AdSense has.

And if AdSense did offer rich media to all publishers, they could easily add a new clause that would mean companies such as Fastclick and PointRoll would suddenly be competitive ads and not be permitted on the same pages as AdSense. Many AdSense publishers implement rich media ads to compliment AdSense, and as non-contextual, most of these ad products are well within the AdSense terms. But if AdSense decided to not permit rich media ads on pages also running AdSense or AdSense rich media style ads, this could mean that many publishers would drop competitor's ads and just show AdSense... as well as those advertisers flocking to AdWords to get their rich media creatives showing through the AdSense program.

In terms of dominating the online advertising market, AdSense rich media could seal the deal to make AdSense the force to be reckoned with, by not only dominating the online text ad and graphical banner-style advertising, but in the entire online advertising market. Definitely a story to watch.

Posted by Jenstar at 11:39 AM | Comments (29) | TrackBack

AdSense silently adds a 90-day time limit on AdSense referrals

A thread over at DigitalPoint points out that Google AdSense has quietly added a new term to all AdSense referrals generated by a publisher. They have now instituted a 90-day time limit on that referral, meaning a referred publisher must earn the $100 within the first 90 days, before the referring publisher is eligible to earn that $100 for a completed AdSense referral.

When generated the AdSense referral code, above the buttons shows:

When a publisher that signed up for AdSense through your referral earns their initial $100.00 and is eligible for payout, we'll credit your account with $100.00. *

(Click thumbnail for full size).
referrals90c.gif


Note the asterisk at the end. And at the bottom where the asterisk references:

* An AdSense referral is counted when a publisher, who has never previously enrolled in AdSense, creates an account and earns at least $100.00 within 90 days of sign-up. The referred publisher must be eligible for payment to qualify as a successful referral.

(Click for full size).
referrals90d.gif


No one seems to recall that "within 90 days" clause added. And frankly, neither do I.

It is also worth noting that NONE of the AdSense support documents for AdSense referrals include this 90 days either.

From What is a conversion in my referral reports?

In contrast, a conversion for AdSense is counted when a user you've referred to AdSense has signed up and earned $100 through the program.

Because not all referred publishers who sign up for AdSense will reach $100 in earnings, you may notice that the amount of sign-ups is higher than the amount of conversions. Depending on the success of your referrals, these statistics may even out over time.

From How much will I earn from referrals?

When a user you've referred to AdSense first earns US $100, we'll credit your AdSense account with US $100.

Again, no reference at all to this 90 days clause.

AdSense Terms refers to the main AdSense referrals page, and again, no 90 day information there either.

But what is most telling is the fact that AdSense referrals page has a screen shot of the control panel screen - and there is no asterisk or mention of the 90 days.

referrals90a.jpg

And the AdSense Blog also used a screenshot of this page, which shows yet a different version of the wording, but no reference to the 90 days or an asterisk.

referrals90b.gif

Something else I pondered is the "earns their initial $100.00 and is eligible for payout". This could potentially be interpreted to mean that the 90 day window is actually closed much further than that, because a publisher is not eligable for payout until 30 days after the end of a month. So a publisher would need to earn that $100 during the first two months of the referral.

Hopefully AdSense will provide some clearer information about this new 90 day requirement for AdSense referrals.

Added: I have been asked about my personal thoughts on the change. On the one hand, I can fully appreciate AdSense not wanting to keep track and pay our referrals years after the initial referral was made. But on the other hand, I believe that 90 days is too short a time frame for that referral lead to expire. I think that if the change had been made initially to 180 days, there probably would not be the complaints as there are now with the 90 days, especially when you take into account the thirty days needed for earnings to be eligible for payout, as well as time it takes for new publishers to not only implement the code but also to do some testing to find out what kind of placement and style works best. 6 months is a good time frame for earning from that referral lead, but 3 months is far too short.

Posted by Jenstar at 10:45 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

January 23, 2006

YPN's Run of Network advertisers among top internet advertisers for Dec. 2005

I was browsing the Nielsen//Netratings list of top internet advertisers for December 2005 and I noticed that several of the advertisers were also advertisers commonly believed to be Yahoo Publisher Network Run of Network (RON) advertisers as well.

The three I noted included Vonage, the advertiser most commonly associated with RON ads, as well as LowerMyBills and Nextag.

The complete top ten included Vonage, General Motors, LowerMyBills, NexTag.com, United Online, BellSouth, SBC, Dell Computer, Netflix, Inc., Scottrade, Inc. It is also possible that there are more RON advertisers in this list, but doing their advertising under a different brand URL.

It does make me wonder how extensive this advertising was done through the YPN RON ads, although it is well known that these advertisers also use other advertising sources besides YPN, including other Yahoo Search Marketing advertising as well as through Google.

You can download the complete report from Nielsen//NetRatings in PDF format here.

Posted by Jenstar at 11:50 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Yahoo Answers to integrate YPN for contributors

Yahoo Answer accounts have something new in the control panel, namely a section for contributors to include their YPN login information, which is currently labelled as coming soon. You need to signup for Yahoo Answers, which is currently in beta, to see this section, but here is a screenshot taken from my account:

yahooanswers.gif

Or you can view it here once you have logged in.

There is also the sign up link from the profile page, but it goes to the regular Publisher Network landing page. It does not seem to have any referral on it, so it would appear that those signing up through the Answers link are not given any sort of preferential treatment for getting into the YPN Beta program, at least not at this time.

There is no word yet on how exactly this will work, other than it is tied to those who answer questions. And there are currently no ads running on Yahoo! Answers, so it is unclear if ads will be added, and clicks on ads would be shared with answer contributors. Yahoo! Answers also works on a point system, so earnings could potentially be earned in accordance to the number of points earned in the system.

Gary Price at Search Engine Watch wrote a detailed article on Yahoo! Answers when it launched on December 8, 2005. He specifically mentions to possibility of YPN being integrated at a later date, while he discussed the new program with Ofer Shaked, Director of Engineering for Yahoo Search.

What about ads? During my chat with Shaked, he was rather reserved about the future of advertising on Yahoo Answers pages.

When I tested, no ads were visible, but Shaked did mention that in the future answerers with strong reputations (feedback, etc) could be able to benefit from use of the Yahoo Publishers Network on certain pages. Again, this is just talk and it will be interesting to see if people try to game the system for YPN access.

This will be interesting to watch and see how this program develops. I will see if I can gather any additional information on YPN's integration into Yahoo! Answers.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Posted by Jenstar at 10:12 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 19, 2006

Interviews with myself & the YPN Team on the YPN beta

At WebmasterWorld PubCon in Vegas, I was interviewed by Webmasterradio.fm at the PURE nightclub in Caesar's Palace, at the fabulous YPN sponsored party. It aired earlier this month on Webmasterradio, and the podcast is now available for download.

In addition to myself, four YPN Team members were also interviewed about the beta program too.

"The buzz surrounding the launch of the Yahoo! Publisher Network has been phenomenal," explained Brandy Shapiro-Babin, Vice President of Marketing for WebmasterRadio.FM. "With interviews from some of YPN's biggest insiders, we are able to both re-cap a fantastic event and present a new perspective on this highly-anticipated and groundbreaking program. The YPN radio special and shows like our newest Yahoo! Search program 'Power Source' illustrate our commitment to providing the highest-quality business radio programming with the biggest names in the industry."

Interviews conducted and streamed live from the floor of the YPN launch by WebmasterRadio.FM's Brandy Shapiro-Babin and Sarah "Ms. Write" McKay include:

* Jennifer Slegg (Jenstar) of Jen Sense – Jen, one of the first beta testers for the Yahoo! Publisher Network, gives her early impressions and a progress report of the program.

* Ben Fox, Senior Project Manager for Yahoo! Publisher Network – Ben discusses the program's RSS format and illustrates how advertisers can take full advantage of all of YPN's features.

* Cody Simms, Manager of Product Marketing for Yahoo! Publisher Network – Cody discusses YPN's focus on customer's needs, as well as ad targeting with the new program.

* Will Johnson, General Manager of Yahoo! Publisher Network – Will comments on the launch, the inception of YPN and how they strive to differentiate themselves from other ad networks, as well as the Caesars Palace launch party at PURE Nightclub.

* Josh Siegal, Senior Business Manager of Operations for Yahoo! Publisher Network Online – Josh speaks to YPN's unique customer service approach and how they are able to cater to all their publishers with 24-hour support.

It is nearly 40 minutes of YPN goodness. You can download it from Webmasterradio here.

Posted by Jenstar at 10:09 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

New contextual ad correspondent at Search Engine Watch Blog

In case you missed Danny Sullivan's announcement on the Search Engine Watch Blog, I am their new correspondent for all things contextual advertising related.

I've written before that Search Engine Watch doesn't focus on contextual advertising because it's not search. Having said this, with two major search engines pushing contextual products toward search advertisers, we do some limited coverage. Plus, sometimes contextual issues can overlap into search.

We're going to be doing a bit more coverage out on the blog now thanks to our new contextual ads correspondent, Jennifer Slegg. Many of our readers probably recognize Jen's name, as she publishes the excellent JenSense blog that we've pointed at from time to time.

So if you haven't added Search Engine Watch to your RSS reader, you can do it here. You will see me posting about the important happenings in contextual advertising with Google, Yahoo and MSN.

Thank you to Danny for inviting me aboard the SEW Blog!

Posted by Jenstar at 09:43 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 16, 2006

Interactive & graphical enhanced ad units from Yahoo's ContentMatch

I spotted these interesting ad units on CNN a few weeks ago over Christmas holidays, and spotting a Gary Price post on the SEW blog today reminded me to post about them.

On the main page of CNN, as well as internal pages shows a leaderboard ad unit with two traditional looking ads on the right side. On the left side is a list of keyword phrases - very similar to Google AdSense Ad Link units - which can be clicked on to change the ads that are displaying. And in between the ads and the keywords is a related photo.

Here are some samples of the different themes in these enhanced ad units. There are travel, computer related, education, and finance themed units currently running (click thumbnail for full-sized image).

contentmatch1.gif

contentmatch2.gif

contentmatch3.gif

contentmatch4.gif

contentmatch5.gif

The ad units that Gary blogs about are units with 15 different keywords, and once a keyword is clicked, the ad unit expands in length to then show three releated ads about the chosen keyword. All the related screenshots are here or on this Yahoo! Movies page he first noticed them on.

Google has displayed ad links within an ad unit in the past, although they have been appearing with more frequency since the beginning of the year. However, when these ad links are clicked, it launches the traditional Ad Link landing page, as opposed to changing the ads within the ad unit as the ContentMatch ad units are doing.

I am hoping these ad units become available to Yahoo Publisher Network publishers, this would definitely create a buzz - not to mention a leg up on the competition - and give publishers a fantastic style of ad unit that Google does not currently offer AdSense publishers.

Forum discussion at Search Engine Watch.

Posted by Jenstar at 12:39 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 15, 2006

AdSense pays publishers 78.5 cents on the dollar, according to NYTimes

I was reading the New York Times article (non-registration link here) tonight "Google's shadow payroll is not such a secret anymore" (which features Shawn Hogan of Digital Point) and one paragraph literally jumped out at me - namely a specific figure given to the ultra secret revenue share.

Google.com and the company's foreign search sites contribute more to Google's bottom line than AdSense, because for every dollar the company brings in through AdSense and other places that distribute its ads, it pays roughly 78.5 cents back to sites like Digital Point that display the ads.

Yes, the article clearly states Google pays roughly 78.5 cents for every dollar an advertiser pays for advertising on partner sites. Unfortunately, it isn't clearly attributed to anyone. However, this figure is definitely in the neighborhood of what I had believed the revenue split was at, so I do believe it is fairly accurate to my knowledge, based upon the information given in the SEC filings.

Posted by Jenstar at 11:52 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

DigitalPoint in NYTimes article on AdSense

New York Times features an article in today's (January 16, 2005) issue about AdSense, featuring Shawn Hogan of DigitalPoint. Shawn discusses the forum, and the revenue share format he uses on the forum where he splits revenue from every thread with the thread starter, if that member includes their publisher ID in their profile.

Google pays Digital Point about $10,000 a month, depending on how many people view or click on those ads, said Shawn D. Hogan, the owner and chief technology officer of Digital Point.

Mr. Hogan said he started the revenue-sharing approach in 2004 "as kind of a marketing gimmick."

"But everyone seemed to think it was a cool idea," he said. "I saw a lot of other sites doing the same thing maybe six months later."

He also touches on some of the other concerns he had about AdSense (namely members starting threads on high paying keyword subjects).

The article is here and definitely worth a read. And congrats to Shawn and the members of DigitalPoint!

Added: Forum discussion at DigitalPoint.

Posted by Jenstar at 11:38 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 13, 2006

AdSense "My Client Center" beta testing

Many people have been asking about the new "My Client Center" since a member of DigitalPoint reported seeing in his account when he logged in last night.

This is actually one of the many limited release or invitation-only beta tests that AdSense runs. So you likely won't be seeing the client center in your own AdSense accounts. According to the thread, it does appear to be linked to the AdWords Client Center, as Sem-Advance did reveal he is also part of that program.

So rest assured, I have confirmed this is legitimate, but it is simply a limited beta test at this time.

Posted by Jenstar at 05:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 12, 2006

Chitika releases November & December audits for eMiniMalls

Chitika has finally released their November earnings audit (which was expected last month) and have also released December's audit as well. Payments will be sent in the next few days for November earnings but December earnings will not be released until the end of January.

As for the audits themselves, there hasn't been any feedback on the forums yet, so I will post a follow-up in a few days after seeing publisher reaction.

And as a goodwill gesture, they have continued their 10% bonus for December earnings as well. This was originally added for November earnings as compensation for the loss of revenue caused by the ad unit changes.

Personally, here is what I saw. For my own earnings, I lost 5% for November and 3% for December. For my referral earnings, I saw my earnings reduced about 40% for November and about 25% for December. Unfortunately, those referral earnings audits were still pretty significant in my books, especially since they began filtering clicks at the beginning of December.

Chitika also announced the audit being released on their blog with mention of significant enhancements possibly being released over the next few weeks.

Posted by Jenstar at 07:53 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

AdSense Party Trick #1 - Name that Company

So, what do you do in the contextual advertising world to amuse yourself and (freak out) your friends? The AdSense Party Trick #1, that's what.

First, you find an AdSense site belonging to a friend of yours. The <ahem> higher quality </ahem> the better. And bonus points if he or she happens to be slightly on the paranoid side, especially when it comes to the hidden powers of search engines.

Next, find that "advertise on this site" link on an ad unit, if the publisher has opted into Onsite Advertiser Sign-Up. And click the link. Hopefully, you will see either the person's name or better yet, their ultra secret hidden company business name.

My latest victim was oilman (who is also a new moderator at the SearchEngineWatch forums). When I click on a link from one of oilman's super secret AdSense sites, I am greeted with:

oilman.gif

I got him good ;) Then he was gracious enough to let me use him as an example.

There are many others I have come across (that I won't be announcing to the world!), and they are more revealing than simply saying the person's name. Often, plugging that company name will give you even more juicy info to dazzle your friend with when you show off the AdSense Party Trick to him or her.

Moral of the AdSense Party Trick #1 - if you are wanting to keep your network private, especially when you go to the trouble of hiding whois information, be sure that your "advertise on this site" link isn't telling more than you want it to ;) You can easily login to your account and change it - here on JenSense, I changed it to "my site" with a wink added on the end. After I showed Oilman, he changed his to "Google Today".

If you are running the on-site advertiser signup and never modified the landing page, it seems to pick up the original URL you signed up with or the personal or business name you signed up with (it could be dependent on the sign up date). And remember, the same name will appear on all sites you run AdSense on. There is a somewhat complex workaround to see the name even if the publisher has opted out of the onsite advertiser signup (and no, I am not revealing it!) so it would be a good idea to change the name on the landing page if you would like to keep the name private, even if you are opted out.

Now go and see which friends you can play the AdSense Party Trick # 1 on, who didn't realize just how much their AdSense sites were saying about them ;) You will probably find a lot of them!

Posted by Jenstar at 05:32 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

January 11, 2006

Seeing "check error" in YPN payments? It's a good thing!

The first time I noticed "Check Error - State Unknown" I thought it was a payment issues affecting only me, as a Canadian publisher in a US-only program. However, beginning in December when October earnings were being processed, many more YPN publishers noticed this error showing up on their payment reporting screen in the YPN control panel. It would appear a few days before the check was received by the publisher.

I have had a few people ask me about this error this month, and worried about what it might mean for their payments being sent. But it is a good thing to the "Check Error - State Unknown", and you should expect to see your check shortly. I am not sure if this appears in all accounts, but I haven't seen any mention in the forums of people not seeing it after it showed up for myself and others this month.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld (that thread begins in December, when people first noticed the check error issue) and at DigitalPoint.

Posted by Jenstar at 08:02 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

YPN adds "remember my ID" to login

A small change I noticed when logging into YPN today, they have added a "remember my ID" checkbox to the login page. Login as usual, checking the box. Then the next time you login, the username - but not the password - are automatically entered into the username field.

A very minor tweak, but one that those who login every 15 minutes like clockwork to check stats will appreciate.

Posted by Jenstar at 06:13 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 10, 2006

AdSenseAdvisor on the large rectangle ad units showing only two ads

While publishers having noticed fluctuating number of ads in ad units that show multiple ads since August 2005, beginning in December the Large Rectangle (336x280) ad unit began showing two ads instead of four with increased frequency. So increased, in fact, that you would be hard pressed to find a large rectangle ad unit showing anything other than two ads at the moment.

Officially, this is called an expanded text ad, since the ad being shown are expanded in the ad unit. I have always referred to these as optimized ad units, since AdSense is automatically optimizing these ad units to show ads that will make the publisher the most amount of money.

I caught up with AdSenseAdvisor (an official Google AdSense Support Team member) today to get the nitty gritty on the whys and hows of the large rectangle showing primarily two ads now. My questions are in bold while AdSenseAdvisor's answers are in italics.

Why are the large rectangle ad units showing two ads now instead of four? There has been a lot of discussion about this, particularly in regards to earnings.

If you only see two ads in an ad unit appearing, it is because our technology has determined the publisher will receive a higher eCPM. This is an automatic optimization feature.

We think some of the reportedly lower earnings are probably seasonal. However, as always, people should email adsense-support@google.com if they feel there is a problem on their particular site.

I have not seen a single ad unit in that size running four ads for weeks now - all are running two ads only. Are the vast majority (or all?) of these ad units only showing 2 now?

No, it's on a dynamic system. In general, many sites seem to perform better with expanded text ads. However, some sites are still receiving 3 or 4 ads because on those particular sites, the eCPM is higher with more ads.

Is this determined on a per account, per site, or per page basis?

Per page basis.

It is also worth noting that expanded text ads can also appear as a single ad in an ad unit built for multiple ads, and these are still CPC ads, not the site-targeted ads that appear on a CPM basis.

So the bottom line is that these ads are appearing because they will make a publisher more money on the page they appear on. And they do affect other sizes of ad units as well, not just the large rectangle. But it seems that it is the large rectangle everyone is buzzing about. It will be a little more difficult to actually judge if these ads are making more money or not, because they began in December when publisher normally see skewed earnings because of the holidays.

Optimized ad units are all automatic, so you can't "force" more ads to appear, if you prefer to show more ads in the ad unit. So there isn't a hidden tag publishers can add, or an account setting to change. AdSense will continue to automatically chose what is more profitable for each page, whether that is 2, 3 or 4 ads in an ad unit.

Posted by Jenstar at 11:43 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

January 01, 2006

Chitika delays audit and payments by two weeks

With Chitika facing issues with publishers who have stopped running their eMiniMalls product until audits for November earnings are complete, you would think that they would make it a priority to not just get those audits completed within the thirty days, but get payments sent for November earnings. But Chitika has announced that November earnings audits - and thus payments - will not be completed until January 15th. And not only that, they announced this Saturday, December 31st at 6:20pm, a day after publishers are expecting to see those earnings hit their PayPal accounts (based on net 30).

This is definitely disappointing to publishers, especially when faced with the entire auditing issue on October earnings that saw publishers lose as much as 90% of their total income. So many publishers were waiting to see how the November earnings audit shaped up before pulling eMiniMalls or before adding it back to their sites.

And with it being just after the holiday season, you would have to expect that many publishers were counting on those earnings to be in their accounts by January 1st. And Chitika did not sent out any notice to publishers that they would be breaking their own Terms & Conditions by not sending out payments in the net 30 terms. Instead, the only announcement on this issue was simply through a post on Chitika's blog.

Publishers are definitely upset with this latest turn of events. More discussion at DigitalPoint, ThreadWatch and WebmasterWorld.

With all the negative publicity Chitika received following October's audits, you would have thought they would bend over backwards to have November audits ready well ahead of the end of December, or at at the very least, have them completed by the time publishers are expecting their payments. And if they knew there could be an issue with audits not being completed on time, they should have sent out an email notice to all publishers well before the blog post they did do. Telling publishers the evening of the 31st - and only on their blog - was not the smartest move.

I believed it was going to be an uphill struggle for Chitika to restore publisher's faith in the eMiniMalls product after the previous auditing issue. However, this new 16 day delay that contravenes their own T&Cs has the distinct ring of a nail being driven into the eMiniMalls coffin. Very disappointing for a program that had so much promise.

Posted by Jenstar at 05:19 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack