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June 23, 2006

A look at the new Content Referral CPA from Google AdSense

Google AdSense publishers have been buzzing about the new Content Referral program from Google AdSense since it was first mentioned on Seeking Alpha this week, which allows advertisers to advertise on the Google AdSense network using a Cost Per Action model, meaning those advertisers will only pay if the visitor not only clicks on the ad, but also converts for that advertiser. A conversion could be something as simple as submitting an email or mailing address, completing a survey, or placing an order.

This program is invite only at this time - for both advertisers and publishers - meaning if you are wanting to test out CPA through Google, you will either have to wait to receive an invite or wait and see if it becomes more widely available once the initial testing is over. AdSense is constantly beta testing new features and while some do make it to a wider release for all publishers, others are tested for a period of time and never seen again.

The Google AdSense team would like to invite you to test a feature that provides you with a new way to earn revenue from your website by hosting ads that are compensated based on a Cost-Per-Action [CPA] basis. These ads are very different in that you will be able to choose amongst a selection and you will also have more flexibility in promoting them.

I have heard from several publishers who have been invited to test out the new Content Referral program. Those who are invited also receive the following Q&A attachment about the new program and how it works.

How do I participate in the CPA test?

Simply reply to the invitation email and express your interest in participating and we will send you some sample CPA ads. You can then choose which ads you’d like to host and we will send you the code to copy and paste on to your site. It’s just that easy!

What can I do to optimize my revenue from the CPA ads?

While we encourage you to experiment as much as possible with these ads on your site, here are some general tips on implementing a CPA ad:
1) Ads that blend in with the site and are placed prominently tend to perform better. Look to integrate the ad within the page.
2) Ads that are relevant to the interest of your site visitor also tend to perform better. For example, if you have a travel site, having ads relevant to airline travel would generate higher interest. For more tips on increasing revenue, please see our optimization tips page at: https://www.google.com/support/adsense/bin/static.py?page=tips.html&sourceid= aso&subid=ww-ww-et-asui&medium=link

How do I get paid?

You get paid whenever a site visitor clicks on the ad on your site AND performs a specified action, such as generating a lead or purchasing a product.

Do these compete with regular content ads?

These ads will not compete with contextually targeted ads. Instead, they will show across a separate network, the Content Referral network. To place one of these ads on your site, you can set up a new ad unit that supports any of our current ad unit sizes.

How much could publishers expect to earn with this CPA test?

How much a publisher will earn will depend on a number of factors about the publisher and advertiser, including whether the ads match the topic of the site, and level of interest of their site visitors. We have tried to match the appropriate publishers with advertisers for this test.

Will CPA offerings compete with my current AdSense revenue?

We expect that the CPA test will offer ad units that will expand publishers AFC revenue because the ad units are separate and appeal to different types of users. These CPA ads are also additional inventory to your existing AFC ad units.

How can I promote the CPA ad unit?

Since this is a test and these CPA ads are not regular ad units, we are giving you more flexibility in saying things like “I recommend this product” or “Try JetBlue today” next to the CPA ad unit. However, you should still not incite someone to click on the ad, so saying “Click Here” is not ok.

Where do these CPA ads comes from?

The CPA ads come from a limited group of high quality advertisers that are interested in displaying ads on a CPA basis. They pay you whenever a site visitor performs a specified action, such as generating a lead or purchasing a product.

Will I be able to see reports within my account?

When the test begins, you will receive weekly email reports of conversions you have accrued and your total revenue within the CPA test.

I also emailed Google to ask for more details. Brandon McCormick from Google released the following statement.

We're always looking for new ways to provide effective and useful features to advertisers, publishers, and users. As part of these efforts we are currently testing a cost per action pricing model to give advertisers more flexibility and provide publishers another way to earn revenue through AdSense. We're pleased with how the test is progressing and will continue to gather feedback from advertisers and publishers.

So invited publishers will need to add a new specific Content Referral ad unit to their site in order to display these CPA ads. However, earnings will be sent via email to those publishers only once a week, which will make it extremely difficult for publishers to know how well these ad units are monetizing for them in comparison to regular ad units. However, it is safe to say that these will pay out significantly higher than regular CPC ad units.

Publishers get to pick and chose which ads appear in these ad units, and also get to do more to encourage clicks, without breaking the AdSense terms. While "Click Here" isn't allowed, publishers will be able to encourage clicks with such things as "I recommend this..." However, publishers must email Google for each individual ad unit code, it isn't available integrated within the AdSense control panel, at least not at this time. Because of this, it is very likely that the numbers of invited publishers are extremely limited to only a handful. However, if it does become a wider release, there will definitely be the need to have it integrated within AdSense through new tabs or through a completely new Content Referral program interface.

The move to the CPA model definitely placed Google in the new role of an affiliate program with the potential to compete with the likes of Commission Junction. With their access to so many advertisers, they could quickly amass a large number of campaigns, as well as likely attract new advertisers simply based on the Google name alone. And it could create issues for companies such as CJ. There is no word yet on how the deal works on the advertiser end of things as this time, although there is the assumption that Google will be tracking conversions closely and likely only using highly trusted advertisers at this time.

There is also no word on whether this could eventually be moved to being tested on the search results, although it would be a natural move for Google if these initial Content Referral tests are successful.

Posted by Jenstar at June 23, 2006 04:54 AM

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It would be good if people who had their AdSense account closed for "click fraud", whether real or not, were allowed to use this - after all, if a purchase has to be made before any publisher payment is made then all sides are going to win.

Posted by: Paul Wells at June 23, 2006 09:50 AM

I can't see them being too eager to allow suspended publishers to use any of their products that allows publishers to make money from Google.

Posted by: Jenstar at June 23, 2006 09:53 AM

Hello here. it's a weekend on the 25th so that would be why. No reason to make a big deal about it.

Posted by: Josh at June 23, 2006 05:30 PM


While I think that this is a good move and I welcome it, I'm not sure everyone is looking at the whole picture.

It is true that click fraud will almost completely disappear, I believe that credit card and fraud against the merchants will increase significantly for the companies that use this model. You see, in my opinion, many of the people that engage in click fraud will simply progress to "real" fraud with credit cards against the merchant.

Before Google goes live with this they will need a way to give advertisers the control to get reimbursed for fraudulent users that originate through Google's system. They will also need a system that provides the advertiser with the ability to choose which demographics see their ads to filter some of the fraudulent users out.

Joel Strellner

Posted by: Joel Strellner at June 24, 2006 09:05 PM

Pauschalreisen Lastninute

Posted by: Katzianka at June 27, 2006 11:31 AM

Holla and Happy Thanksgiving. nokia6630

Posted by: toni at July 1, 2006 10:15 AM

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