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June 26, 2007

AdSense now offers rounded and squared ad unit corners

While creating some AdSense ad unit javascript for a client today, I noticed a new feature in the AdSense control panel, the ability to chose the style of corners in the ad unit. Publishers can now select "slightly rounded", "very rounded" or "squared" corners on their ad units, which is done by adding a new line to the javascript.

Here is what the slightly rounded looks like:
slightlyrounded.gif

Very rounded:

veryrounded.gif

And squared:

squared.gif

And here is what the implementation looks like in the control panel (click for larger view):

corners4.gif

This is a great stylizing change for publishers who want the ad units to mesh well with a site. Now you can chose the corner styles that best match the rest of the site.

Posted by Jenstar at 09:25 AM | Comments (9)

June 05, 2007

AdSense Policy Updates bring new quality guidelines and more link units

It's that time again! Google AdSense has updated their Policies... and don't forget, when you agreed to the AdSense Terms, you also agreed to adhere to the policies, even when they are updated.

The first main issue is the quality aspect of it for publishers.

Webmaster Guidelines

AdSense publishers are required to adhere to the webmaster quality guidelines posted at http://www.google.com/webmasters/guidelines.html

Previously the URL references was:
http://www.google.com/webmasters/guidelines.html#quality.

So Google has definitely broadened the scope of the webmaster guidelines that all publishers must conform to all the guidelines (such as the technical ones) and not just quality guidelines. Really no surprise here, though.

Site and Ad Behavior
A new bullet point has been added to this one:

Publishers using online advertising to drive traffic to pages showing Google ads must comply with the spirit of Google's Landing Page Quality Guidelines. For instance, if you advertise for sites participating in the AdSense program, the advertising should not be deceptive to users.

An interesting decision to just link to the AdWords landing page quality guidelines, I am not sure why they just didn't create new guidelines just for AdSense publishers. But again, for the majority of publishers, no changes or real surprises here, although some of the, um, less-than-quality publishers could run afoul with this change.

These new quality guidelines, however, are more hand in hand with the June 1st crackdown we saw on arbitrage and "Made for AdSense" sites, particularly now that they reference the new landing page quality score on the AdWords side of things... and that they don't specify just AdWords traffic sources, but that all your online advertising practices that drive traffic to your site must also adhere to the AdWords quality score.

The Inside AdSense blog also comments on this quality issue:

We're now requiring AdSense publishers to comply with the spirit of our Page Quality Guidelines. If you're an AdWords advertiser, you might already be familiar with these guidelines, which are intended to provide a better experience for users, advertisers, and publishers alike. If you use any kind of online advertising, know that these guidelines encourage publishers to, among other things, create sites with simple navigation and substantial, useful content.

This new policy requirement doesn't mean that you can't use online advertising; it simply means that if you do, you need to be sure that the way you advertise meets with the guidelines, whether it's through AdWords or through any other advertising program. However you advertise your site, it can always benefit from significant and relevant content, clear navigation, and the other points in our quality guidelines.

So this definitely clarifies that these guidelines refer to all advertising, not just those driving traffic via AdWords. It is interesting to note that publishers who advertise are required to comply with these rules as per the AdSense terms/policies, yet on the actual quality guidelines, it seems to be more of a suggestion to help improve quality score - rather than hard and fast rules to follow.

Ad Placement
Google added the following:

Up to three link units may also be placed on each page.

This means that publishers are not limited to just a single ad unit, they now can have up to three, so you can now have a link unit in the footer as well as in the navigation.

So really, there were only two major changes, the first that won't likely affect many quality publishers, while the other will be good news to publishers who find that link units convert very well on their sites.

That's all folks!

Posted by Jenstar at 11:42 AM | Comments (6)

Google now targets AdSense on pages behind password protection

For quite some time, people have wanted to be able to monetize pages that are located behind a login screen, whether it is for premium content, webmail, or just special member's only pages. But until now, the ads would not be targeted to the page, simply "themed" ads, or worse, display PSAs. But now AdSense allows publishers to place ads on pages behind a login by following an authentication process.

Here is the step-by-step process to authenticate to get contextually targeted ads on those pages:

1. Enter an authentication rule
Specify an authentication URL and a set of parameters that will allow Google's web crawlers to access your content.

2. Verify your site ownership using Google Webmaster Tools
We will direct you to Google Webmaster Tools, where you can verify that you own the site by uploading a file to it or changing the META tag of a file.

3. View your improved ad targeting
When your authentication rule is verified, you should see better ad targeting on your pages. You can check the status of your authentication rules at any time.

There is also a FAQ for the process as well.

You do need to login to Google Sitemaps using the same login email address as you use for Google AdSense, so if you currently use two differen logins, you will need to set up a new Sitemaps account with the matching AdSense email login.

This is an awesome addition to AdSense by Google, one that people have been requesting for quite some time. It will be interesting to hear back as people authenticate their password protected pages and report on the targeting on those pages.

Posted by Jenstar at 05:02 AM | Comments (4)

June 04, 2007

Smart pricing comes to the Yahoo Publisher Network

Those publishers who fled Google AdSense for the Yahoo Publisher Network because of revenues being affected by the impact of smart pricing on EPC will now have to content with YPN's own version of smart pricing, called Quality-Based Pricing.

Essentially, this means if your traffic that clicks on your YPN ads doesn't convert for advertisers, your revenues will be negatively impacted. If you tend to have quality traffic, you shouldn't see a problem, but those with sites with traffic that tends to convert poorly for advertisers could be affected in the same way that Google AdSense smart pricing affected revenues.

But quality of traffic is not the only thing that Yahoo is taking into account when it comes to quality-based pricing. Original traffic source as well as implementation type are considered as well. So Yahoo could discount publishers for specific traffic sources, whether it be from spammy third tier engines or theoretically even taking a competitive stance against Google or MSN traffic while boosting Yahoo referred traffic.

If a publisher is earning less for a click than the same ad on another site would earn, that doesn't mean that Yahoo is pocketing the difference. The savings are passed on accordingly to the advertiser, just as is done with Google's smart pricing.

Of course, this does bring up the whole issue surrounding relevancy. If I have a site about hockey yet am seeing ads for mortgages and long distance, those ads are definitely not targeted to those visitors. And as a result, the odds of a successful conversion - and value - for those advertisers is seriously impacted. So publishers who are showing irrelevant ads for their content could find themselves losing revenue through no fault of their own, but simply because Yahoo is not providing ads that are targeted to the content.

It is a gutsy move to make at this time because of the current relevancy issue, although I am not surprised they have decided to follow the path Google set with smart pricing. And the end of the day, Yahoo wants to encourage advertisers to advertise on the content network, and this is one way to give advertisers the warm fuzzies when they know that if a specific site has lower quality traffic that they simply won't have to pay as much for that click.

Yahoo is going to roll out the new quality-based pricing slowly, where it will first be released for specific market & keyword areas, although the specifics of which ones has not yet been released yet. But they expect to expand it in the coming months.

What do you think about this new quality-based pricing?

For more information, see the YPN Blog (for the publisher perspective) and the YSM Blog (for the advertiser perspective). They also have a new FAQ for advertisers.

Posted by Jenstar at 05:59 PM | Comments (4)

AdSense publishers could earn money through Google Maps

Are you a webmaster using the Google Maps API to create some of the cool customized maps or showoff specific places in various city maps? If so, you may be able to integrate advertisements - and your AdSense publisher ID - into your Google maps, meaning you could earn money if any of your visitors click on one of the ads displayed on the maps.

So how exactly would this work? Quite easily, actually. Publishers would not have to go and tag other locations of interest in hopes that there might be an advertisement associated with it. Instead, Google would automate the system of adding AdSense ads to the map.

This would mean that in addition to the points you are displaying on the Google map, Google would also add and display other paid for points of interest on the map. If a visitor moused-over one and then clicked on the displayed AdWords advertisement, they would receive revenue off of each of those clicks... just how Google AdSense currently displays ads that publishers earna portion of the revenue on when the ad is clicked.

When could this possibly be released? Google is not announcing that, at least not yet, according to Andrew Eland, the Google software developer who talked about the program at the Developers Day. But very likely, surfers could see some AdSense beta testers using this new feature on some of the customized Google maps out there in the near future, so keep your eyes open.

More from InfoWorld.

Posted by Jenstar at 11:29 AM | Comments (3)

June 03, 2007

Off to SMX Search Marketing Expo

Danny Sullivan's first non-SES conference - Search Marketing Expo - gets underway tomorrow morning bright and early with a You&A with Matt Cutts. I will be speaking Tuesday afternoon on Give It Up!

No more secrets time. In this session, our panel of noted SEOs all share some of their favorite and largely overlooked SEO tips. Then we turn to the audience for more sharing. Attendees vow not to blog what's discussed (on your honor now!). Matt Cutts and his mighty notebook might be barred from the room. Alternatively, any search reps found lurking have to give up a secret of their own or head for the hallway.

I will be around now through Wednesday, so feel free to have a quick chat if you see me. I have a few events scheduled in the evenings - including the parties Monday night that all attendees are invited to (both Yahoo & Google), and the one Sunday (tonight) with Microsoft, but afterwards you will very likely find me in one of the hotel's lounges or bars... which is where all the real networking happens :)

Posted by Jenstar at 02:05 PM | Comments (0)