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April 24, 2006

New ad image sizes for AdSense

AdSense has added to their line-up of image ad sizes by adding both the Square (250 X 250) and Large Rectangle (336 X 280). With the large rectangle being such a common ad unit size, I was always surprised it wasn't in the current image ad size lineup.

To turn on image ads, there are two ways to do it. To turn on image ads for the entire account, in the "My Account" tab, click the edit link for the "Ad Type Preference". Then select the "Display text and image ads in all ad units".

To only allow image ads on specific pages only, you will want to check "Image ads only" or "Text and image ads".

Image ads are also available in these sizes (note this page still needs to be updated with the new sizes):
leaderboard (728x90)
banner (468x60)
skyscraper (120x600)
medium rectangle (300x250)
wide skyscraper (160x600)

It may take a while to see many image ads in the new sizes as advertisers build up ad inventory, so you may want to hold off on the "image ads only" selection for the two new image ad additions.

Posted by Jenstar at 06:16 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Site-flavored search launches for AdSense

AdSense has launched site-flavored AdSense for Search, which enables publishers to have their rearch results "flavored" to the theme of their site.

Here is an example of how it works, according to the AdSense blog:

For example, if you've got a site about music, over time our search results might learn that when your users search for [bass], they mean the instrument - not the fish.

With AdSense contextual targeting, it would normally use other words on the page to know whether bass was referring to an instrument or a fish. However, with search, a search engine wouldn't neccessarily know which option was the one the user was searching for. But using site-flavored would "teach" AdSense over time for the search.

To use site flavored, you do need to regenerate your AdSense for Search code by checking off the "'Flavor my search results to my site'" box when generating the ad code.

Posted by Jenstar at 06:07 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 20, 2006

AdSense offers text link referral program

AdSense has launched new text link referrals to accompany the current AdWords, AdSense & Firefox image referrals program. However, before you get too excited, the wording of the text links are not customizable, but come in standard phrases similar to the wording on the referral images. However, the font is fully customizable, including the type of font and the type size.

While it is nice that the font can be customized by publishers, the fact they allow the font size to be customized did surprise me, since I easily changed the font size so that the sentence took up a considerable amount of the browser window. And bolding, italics etc are able to be used on the text as well. I can definitely see this being abused fairly quickly, and there is nothing (currently) in the policies that would prohibit it, since a publisher would not be changing the ad code to do this.

Here is an example of how the text link can be enlarged and bolded.

The code for the referrals text is encrypted by AdSense to prevent publishers from making up their own text, although I am betting some publishers will be trying to figure this code to change the text, if it is possible.

The four AdSense referrals say:
This site monetized by Google Adsense
Generate revenue from your website. Google Adsense.
This site recommends Google Adsense for targeted ads
Get targeted ads on your site with Google Adsense

The AdWords referrals say:
Target your ads. Get Google AdWords.
Increase traffic to your website. Get Google AdWords.
Bring targeted traffic traffic to your site with Google AdWords Target a specific audience. Get Google AdWords.

The Firefox referrals say:
Get Firefox with Google Toolbar
Get Firefox with Google Toolbar for better browsing
Browse the web faster. Get Firefox with Google Toolbar
Firefox with Google Toolbar

The new text link referrals are only available for those publishers using U.S. English, but more languages are planned to be released in the future.

All in all, many publishers will love this option, although after I watched the whole Chitika text link referral fiasco, I was surprised when AdSense decided to allow publishers use text links for referrals as well.

Posted by Jenstar at 06:48 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 18, 2006

Matt Cutts confirms AdSense media bot in natural search index

Matt Cutts confirmed today that the AdSense mediapartners bot (aka mediabot) is indexing pages for use in the Big Daddy Google index. Both Greg Boser and myself have found evidence of mediabot's crawls for AdSense ad targeting purposes have ended up being used in the natural Google search results. Shoemoney, who attended the Google sponsored luncheon at PubCon reports:

At the Lunch sponsored by Google today Matt Cutts confirmed the recent rumors about media bot results getting into Big Daddy. Matt said it is a bandwidth saving feature to have GoogleBot and MediaBot both contributing to big daddy. Matt also stated that you will gain zero advantage in search listings however if you are serving different content to MediaBot then to Googlebot then you could be in trouble.

It could definitely be used as a tool to detect when content is being cloaked for either the Google or AdSense bot, particularly since the mediapartners bot has been indexing pages since at least the beginning of February.

It will be interesting to see if other consequences arise for webmasters, such as excluding pages for googlebot via robots.txt that end up being indexed via the mediabot. But very nice to see an official confirmation on this from Matt at Google!

Posted by Jenstar at 08:35 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

April 17, 2006

Upcoming conferences I am speaking at

Since I was alerted one conference I am speaking at his nearing capacity, I thought I should post an update on where I will be speaking at and when.

Search Engine Strategies Toronto
Toronto, ON, Canada; April 25-26, 2006
I am back at SES next week for the Canadian edition in Toronto. I will be on two panels, both on the second day:
Targeting Search Ads by Demographics & Behavior
Search Ad Buyers Forum (advanced session on PPC).
Registration is here.

Search Engine Watch Live
Seattle, WA; May 19, 2006
After the last one in Disneyland, this regional event series is headed to Seattle, WA, the home of Microsoft, and fittingly, MSN AdCenter is hosting a session at the event on their new PPC platform. I will be speaking, you guessed it, on contextual advertising ;) You can register here.

BlogHer
San Jose, CA; July 28-29, 2006
This will be my first time at BlogHer, and I will be leading two workshops "$$$ Generation" on blog monetization, the use of various publisher advertising programs (ie. AdSense, BlogAds, Chitika, LinkShare) and placement. These two workshops will be on the first day which initially sold out, but they have added an additional 100 spots that are going fast, so you will need to register soon if you plan to attend.

Search Engine Strategies San Jose
San Jose, CA; August 7-10, 2006
While the agenda won't be done for a while, no one wants to miss out on seeing how Google will top last year's Google Dance, how Yahoo will top their Search Night Out event at Great America, what exclusive party Webmasterradio.fm will be hosting and see if MSN will storm into SES San Jose with a party to top all parties.

I'll update my side bar and conference speaking page as needed. And if you are interested in having me speak at an event, please contact me!

Posted by Jenstar at 10:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 16, 2006

AdSense mediapartners bot adding to the Google search index

Since Google AdSense launched, there has been rumors and speculation about the possibility of the AdSense bot (officially known as the "Mediapartners-Google/2.1" and unofficially as the "mediabot") including some of its information into the regular Google search index. After all, it would be a nice perk of using AdSense if it gave a publisher easier access to getting pages into the natural search results ;)

But no one has ever seemed to have concrete evidence of this happening. And I have had several discussions with Matt Cutts over the past few years about this issue, and I have always been assured that they are completely separate and they are always careful the two never cross contaminate each other. And I have looked hard to try and prove Matt otherwise, but in the past it has always been to no avail ;)

But on SEO Rockstars this week, Greg Boser (aka WebGuerrilla) mentioned that he had seen mediabot information showing up in the natural search index, and my ears perked up. And Greg has now followed up with this entry detailing what he is seeing.

During last Tuesday's Rockstar show, I mentioned that I had been working on a project that got a bit messed up due to the fact that Google's Mediapartner bot was being used to index content for Google's database. We had setup some 301's for Googlebot, but had neglected to redirect the AdSense bot. The end result was a whole bunch of duplicate content due to the fact that we were serving the AdSense bot the old url, and Googlebot the new one. Both were getting indexed and added to the cache.

As I am often doing testing with AdSense, I had a collection of sites that I had not done any natural search optimization on it, since I was strictly using specific PPC terms (as a control group) to drive traffic and test some placements and ad unit color schemes. And none of those sites had any pages in the index as a result of the mediabot.

However, I went and checked some established sites. And the date and time on the Google cached version of the page is the identical time that the mediabot visited the site. (Cached time is GMT; Log time is EST). Click on each screenshot of the logs/cache info to view full sized version.

The first one is taken from this site (JenSense.com). The page can be viewed here and you can view Google's cached version here. The time matches on the logs and the cached time.

mediabotindex.gif

The following two are from a site URL I cannot reveal, but I included them to illustrate the problem is across multiple sites and covering multiple date ranges (JenSense is indexed regularly and there were no cache dates back that far). Again, the times on the cached version of the page and the time of the mediabot visit are identical.

mediabotindex1.gif

mediabotindex2.gif

With multiple dates being affected, it doesn't seem to be a case of just a one day glitch.

It is interesting to note that these pages have been visited by the mediabot since this time, but the new visits are not reflected in the cache.

So what does this all mean? First off, the AdSense support site clearly states that the two bots serve complete different purposes and should not affect the other.

Participating in Google AdSense does not affect your site's rank in Google search results and will not affect the search results we deliver. Google believes strongly in freedom of expression and therefore offers broad access to content across the web. Our search results are unbiased by our relationships with paying advertisers and publishers. We will continue to show search results according to our PageRank technology.

Adding the Google AdSense ad code or AdSense for search code to your site will not queue your pages for crawling by our main index bots. While our bot (starting with 'Mediapartners-Google') does crawl content pages for the purpose of targeting ads, this crawl is not associated with our main index crawl.

There is the possibility that there was an accidental cross over taking place if the AdSense team was keeping cached copies of the pages serving AdSense for quality checking purposes, such as checking to see if a publisher is serving the mediabot something different than what Joe Surfer sees when visiting the page.

It does seem that it is only affecting those sites that are already indexed, and likely pages that were already indexed at the time the mediabot took the cached version snapshot for the regular search index. I could not find any evidence of multiple sites I checked that were not already indexed getting any sort of indexing boost via the mediabot. However, could it potentially be an option for getting fresher pages in the index? Possibly. But I also found instances where the mediabot had visited the same pages yet not updated the cached version of the page, so there is likely more to the hows/whens of the mediabot updating the cached copy of a page.

But what is potentially more dangerous is the fact that the Google search index is including what the mediabot sees, and not what the Googlebot would see, as noted by Greg.

The content of that post got indexed in a template that we only serve to AdSense. It has no navigation and no comments; just the actual post.

This could have severe consequences to webmasters, such as Greg who suddenly had a duplicate content issue to clean up. Webmasters usually wouldn't think to include the mediabot in any special headers or robots.txt instructions they have for the regular googlebot.

But how much does it actually help from a webmaster perspective? On the surface, it saves on bandwidth for those few who complain about how much bandwith the various Google bots are using. But as far as how it helps in the natural search results, that is something that much more testing is needed on.

It will be interesting to see what happens with this issue. I must admit I was pretty surprised to finally see evidence of it, because I have periodically hunted for it over the years. But this is definite clear cut evidence that yes, the mediabot is sharing info with the googlebot, and possibly vice versa.

Posted by Jenstar at 01:08 AM | Comments (9)

April 13, 2006

JenSense on Webmasterradio.fm

Well, you may have heard the rumors for the last few months, but now I am officially announcing it... I will be hosting my own radio show on all things contextual advertising on the Webmasterradio.fm Network. I have made several appearances on the show in the past (often as a guest cohost for SEO Rockstars) as well as doing live coverage from various conferences. But now I am going to have my own show.

But, I need your help. First up, the show needs a name!! I don't want the show to be the same name as the blog. Jentextual is one name being thrown around at the moment, but Daron (aka SEGuru) is insisting that the name be official very soon, so I need suggestions! Either comment on this entry, or drop me an email, and if you come up with the name that ends up being chosen, you get a public shout out :)

Second, I am open to suggestions for show topics and guest recommendations. Is there a publisher you would love to hear talk about how they have made their AdSense or YPN thousands or millions? Is there a particular rep who works in one of the programs that you would like to hear an interview with? Do you think you have something interesting to share about testing you have been doing with contextual advertising? Would you like to hear from someone who does click arbitrage? So if there are burning topics you would love to see covered on my show, I am definitely open to suggestions and guest ideas.

Official launch date is May 8, 2006 at 2pm EST / 11am PST. Stay tuned for more info as the date gets closer!

Posted by Jenstar at 10:41 AM | Comments (58) | TrackBack

April 10, 2006

YPN launches their own Yahoo Publisher Network Blog

You heard it here first! YPN has launched their own YPN blog to keep publishers (and want-to-be publishers!) up-to-date and in the loop with the very latest about the program.

Yahoo! Publisher Network blog will be a resource for publishers, by publishers. In it, publishers will find not only what they might expect from a product-focused industry blog-the latest on issues, new releases, and tips-but also in-depth how-to's, publisher interviews, industry trends, links to articles and other news and information you can use. The blog is also intended to be a community platform that will help publishers learn how to be more successful and profitable publishers.

I must admit, this is one of the coolest search engine blogs out there. They have pics up on Flickr, complete with amusing blurbs like "beefcake" and "the boss smiles". You can also check out the team picture posing with flying Ys... and check out the notes on their photo there to see the two YPN team mascots! They also link their appearances via Upcoming.

The YPNBlog also has both comments (I made the first one!) and backtracks enabled... although I am not sure if they are on moderation or not, or if only active publishers will be allowed to comment. They do make the comment in the side bar that "Please note that Yahoo! may, in our sole discretion, remove comments if they are off topic, inappropriate, or otherwise violate our Terms of Service."

They also have an about us page with profiles of many of the team members you see at conferences or may have talked with on the phone or via email. So you can learn a bit more about each and even check out some of their sites. And at the end under blog voices, they have listed "Jeremy Zawodny – Yahoo! Troublemaker", a title I am sure many think suit him perfectly ;)

They also have a poll running here too (you have probably seen many polls within the account control panel). But with this one, you can see how everyone else votes too. The current poll is "Do you think contextual ads are appropriate for RSS?"

They will also be featuring a different YPN publisher weekly in their Publisher Spotlight to showcase on the blog, and they are accepting reader nominations. They will also have guest bloggers writing columns for YPNBlog, which will probably be a popular thing with readers.

We’ll also feature guest columns by noted publishers, industry leaders, thinkers and futurists designed to help you see ahead to where the Web – and your market – is going.

They have a great looking blog, although it appears that it doesn't quite work as expected in my versions of Mozilla Firefox, although I don't have the 1.5 version they recommend for "optimal browsing". The background for the blog entry isn't showing up, so the dark grey text does not show up well against the darker colored background. It works fine in IE, and I am sure someone will comment here if there are issues with Firefox 1.5 too.

It also appears that Yahoo got/bought the blog from a publisher who registered the name once the YPN name was announced last year to make his own blog about YPN.

The YPNBlog will definitely be one to watch, they seem to have jumped right in to make this a great blog off the hop. They are also open to feedback and suggestions, so you can help make it better. Add it to your RSS/XML reader, or visit the blog to grab the MyYahoo link.

And congrats to the YPN team on the new blog launch!

Added: I forgot to mention there is a video profiling some of the team members, you can access it by clicking on the large group photo on the blog, or by clicking here. But you may have to wait, too many people appear to by trying to watch it at once ;)

Posted by Jenstar at 06:12 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

April 05, 2006

Referral program for AdWords live for all publishers now

I reported several weeks ago that some publishers in select countries (US, Canada & UK were amongst those excluded) were able to refer new advertisers to AdWords in exchange for a commission after the advertiser spent a certain advertising value. Now AdSense has released this program to all AdSense publishers in countries and languages where AdSense for Content is currently available.

The program uses buttons and banners very similar to those used for the other referral products (AdSense & Firefox), although these images are definitely red in color. I can only hope they will come out with other colors, as these ones definitely clash with several websites I own!

It is interesting to note that the text on these AdWords images seems pretty pixelated and not quite clear as the Firefox and AdSense images are.
Compare the three 120x60 images from the three different referral products.

refadwords.png refadsense.png reffirefox.png

Hopefully someone will get in there with handy photoshop skills and make the image a bit sharper.

And on an unrelated note, am I the only one who has noticed that the word "toolbar" has two different sized O's right next to each other (or worse, one letter O and one number zero) in the Firefox toolbar referral image above? A couple others have this same problem in the image when I looked closer at the generation page for all the Firefox ads. I can understand needing to change the width of some of the words to make them fit, but it does look odd to see two letter O's right next to each other being such different widths.

Back to the AdWords referral program, publishers will earn $20 when they refer new advertisers to AdWords that spend $100 in advertising within 90 days of signing up.

I definitely find the fact that referring a new advertiser is only worth $20 for the publisher, but referring a new publisher earns $100. Perhaps this was grandfathered in under the old AdWords referral program where the referrer earned $20 after the advertiser spent $20. But I would have thought a new advertiser would have been just as valuable to Google - if not more so - than a new publisher. The only reason I can think of for this is that they are trying to capture more of the publisher market share, especially with new publisher programs for competition out there such as YPN and MSN ContentAds.

It would have been brilliant if AdSense had launched this program where it was integrated with the "Advertise on this site", but unfortunately the Onsite Advertiser Sign-up was not included in the AdWords referral program. However, I can see the inherent problems why this probably was not done... namely the spamming problem that could be done with the way the "Advertise on this site" link works. With many people linking to that "Advertise on this site" landing page directly without having it appear in their ad units, there is the possibility that people could then use that same link with all kinds of anchor text to get people to sign up for AdWords, the same kind of affiliate spam problems that have plagued the Chitika affiliate program. However, with the images as javascript and referral tracking, this hasn't been a problem with the Google AdSense referral products thus far. Perhaps the way the "Advertise on this site" link is generated within the ad unit will be changed so publishers can earn referral revenue when new advertisers are referred to AdWords via the ad unit.

And I couldn't help but notice... the referral generation page is causing unsecure warnings to pop up. I should have mentioned that a couple of weeks ago when I commented on the AdSense unsecure errors in the help center, but forgot that the error was also triggered from within the control panel as well since I don't go to the referrals section of the site very often. Since the last one was corrected, maybe this one will be too :) Especially since it isn't reassuring to see unsecure warnings pop up when you are logged into a secure area. However, this one is due to the way all the referral images are rendered with javascript in the control panel, so this one will definitely be a bit trickier to fix.

Everything else aside, it is nice to see Google launch the AdWords referral program to all publishers instead of the select few who had it before.

Posted by Jenstar at 04:17 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

One screen ad code generator back at AdSense

I am more than happy to report that the one screen ad javascript generator has returned to the AdSense control panel, after being "upgraded" a month ago.

It's baaaack: Single page code generation After launching the new code wizard we received feedback that some of you preferred the previous one-page method for code creation. If you're one of these folks, you can now use the new single page option when generating your ad or search code. To use this option, just visit your AdSense Setup tab, choose either AdSense for content or AdSense for search as your product, and then click the Single page link toward the top.
I was among many publishers who really disliked the new multi-screen format of javascript generation, particularly when I just needed to change a channel code on an ad code I had been tweaking colors on manually, or on one I had never saved the palette colors for.

Good to see AdSense listening to user feedback... I know many publishers grumbled about the multi-page code generation change last month!

Posted by Jenstar at 04:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack