Monday, 10 December 2007

The end of AGLOCO - I hate to say I told you so

As much as I hate to say it, "I told you so!!"

Oh, in case you haven't already heard, I received this very interesting email from AGLOCO today:

We would like to update you on the status of AGLOCO's operations. We continue to believe in the AGLOCO concept, but our revenue is currently not sufficient to give Members a meaningful distribution. And though there are increases in membership, the resulting revenue is not enough to support operating costs. As a development team we are unable to continue to use our savings to fund the operations. If any Member would like to pursue continuing the operations of AGLOCO, you may contact us at agloco1@live.com.

We would like to thank every Member for supporting our effort to bring a piece of the Internet directly to the user. We hope that we can find a way to keep the operations going.

AGLOCO Development Team
I said all along that I didn't think AGLOCO was ever going to happen, despite the desperate promotional efforts of various Internet gurus, such as John Chow, etc. It appears I was right!

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Joel Comm and AdSense Account Closures

Contrary to good blogging practice, this is my first post on this blog for a few weeks. Unfortunately I've been busy setting up a new business and moving to a quaint old thatched cottage in the English countryside. Many topical news stories have come and gone during my hiatus but there is one that I just cannot resist commenting on.

One of the big news stories of recent weeks was the closure of several AdSense accounts that were based on MFA (made for AdSense) sites and AdWords arbitrage. However, for me the biggest aspect of that story was the hypocrisy of AdSense guru Joel Comm when he blogged about this topic. To quote Mr. Comm:

What did those publishers do wrong?

They had either built their site specifically for AdSense or they'd been practicing AdSense arbitrage (buying traffic cheaply from one place then selling it on to AdWords advertisers through their AdSense units.)

What both those practices have in common is that they put the ads ahead of the content.

That's just wrong. Google is making a good move for advertisers in drawing the line.

I'm certainly fed up clicking search results and finding myself on a page full of ad links instead of the content I want. And advertisers are fed up paying for clicks from people who aren't really interested in their services.
Do you see the blatant hypocrisy? No? Well, let me enlighten you. First, take a look at these 2 web sites run by Joel Comm, InstantAdSenseTemplates.com and SuperAdSenseTemplates.com. What are these sites selling? MFA web site templates! That is, Joel himself sells templates to create the very type of sites that he is disparaging in his own blog post. If that isn't hypocritical I don't know what is.

To make matters worse, I left a comment about this very issue on his blog but, of course, it didn't pass his moderation. That's the second time I've left a critical comment on his blog that he has refused to publish. Guess he's more concerned about protecting his online empire than actually being prepared to face honest, valid criticism.

I've had issues with Joel for quite some time (see this post and this one), now I've concluded that he's just a shallow money grabber and a hypocrite to boot.

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Thursday, 10 May 2007

My First Text-Link-Ads Sign Up!

Well, it's finally happened, one of my referrals to Text Link Ads has actually signed up and earned me some commission!

As you may have read previously, I've had my doubts about this particular affiliate program and, despite my first sign up, I'm still not exactly over the moon with it.

As of today, I have sent 453 referrals and only one of them has converted. That's a conversion rate of 0.22%. I don't think I'll be retiring just yet!

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Thursday, 26 April 2007

New Look for the AdSense Home Page

I just went to log into my AdSense account and noticed a new design for the home page. I'd noticed the design a few days ago but it then reverted to the old look. Below is a screenshot.



Interestingly enough, after logging out and going back to the home page, I got the old style page again. I wonder if this page will completely replace the old one soon!

Update: This new design has now permanently replaced the old AdSense home page


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Wednesday, 25 April 2007

MoneyTies' New Logo

If you've visited this blog on the web (rather than just reading the feed), you may have noticed our new logo, which was revealed today.



The basic logo was initially designed by LowCostLogo.com (Rogue Media). However, the designer was unable to complete the work following a serious car accident.

The design was then amended and completed by Michelle of Design2Go.net, a graphic design studio based in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales, England.

Michelle did a great job at a great price. If you're looking for a superb, value-for-money logo, contact Design2Go for a quote (and don't forget to mention MoneyTies!).

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Issues with Michael Cheney's AdSense Videos Affiliate Program

I am an affiliate for Michael Cheney's AdSense Videos. This is a pretty decent affiliate program and I like Michael Cheney. However a slight problem with this particular affiliate program came to light over the weekend.

Whenever someone purchases the AdSense Videos via my web site(s), I am emailed a confirmation to let me know a sale has taken place. Between Friday 20th and Sunday 22nd April, I received X of these emails. I also checked my stats via Michael's own web site, which also indicated X sales. However, when I checked my stats on Clickbank, through whom the sales were made, I was only credited with exactly half X sales.

I contacted both Clickbank and Michael Cheney's support desk and received some interesting replies.

First, Clickbank assured me their stats were correct (despite opinion across the web that Clickbank is understating sales). Surprisingly enough, Michael's reply read as follows:

Thanks for letting me know. I can assure you that ClickBank is 100% accurate - the discrepancy lies at fault with the tracking software we use unfortunately.

For the definitive sales figures always refer to ClickBank.

Thanks,

Michael Cheney
So, at least Michael Cheney is speaking up for Clickbank. However, if you're also promoting his products don't be surprised if you end up getting inconsistent sales stats.

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Saturday, 21 April 2007

Policy Change Hurting U.K. eBayers

A change in the way eBay lists items entered on ebay.co.uk has wrought havoc to many U.K sellers.

Until recently, items listed on ebay.co.uk were automatically returned in product searches on ebay.com (the U.S. site). However, with little notice being given, U.K. products are now only returned on ebay.com if searchers use the advanced search option to include U.K. products.

This has caused a dramatic reduction in sales for many British ebayers who have also had to deal with ludicrous fee increases earlier this year. Some sellers have reported reductions of as much as 90% in sales since the change was introduced in Feburary this year.

eBay has formally apologized to British sellers for the lack of notice. Well, "Thanks eBay . . . for nothing."

Source: BBC.co.uk "eBay 'sorry' over policy change"

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Friday, 20 April 2007

Blog Review: NetBizAsia


I happened across the NetBizAsia blog when the title of a recent post caught my eye in my Google Reader. The post was entitled "Why Most People Fail In Affiliate Marketing With Adwords." I enjoyed reading the posts on this blog so I thought I'd review it. Besides, a little "link love" never did anyone any harm!

This blog, which is authored by Cheryl Goh out of Malaysia is subtitled both "All About AdWords and Affiliate Marketing" and "How I Quit My Day Job & Made Money On The Internet From Scratch…"

I'm sure many readers of this blog are interested in quitting their day jobs too, so this seemed like a perfect blog to review, given that its author has done just that.

Cheryl is predominantly using AdWords to promote affiliate marketing campaigns and has been pretty successful at it. She may not be one of those Internet gurus you regularly read about, she is just a regular person who has made a success of what many of us dream about.

The thing I like most about this blog is that she details many of the steps she's taken to get to where she's at. This involves reviews of many products that I'm sure many of you have seen but wouldn't risk buying because of the uncertainty of their claims.

I also particularly enjoyed the "Why Most People Fail" post because it clearly details the steps that Cheryl is taking to ensure her campaigns are successful. What's more, she plans to go into even more detail in her follow-up post.

If you're an affiliate marketer or are considering becoming one, I thoroughly recommend that you keep an eye on the NetBizAsia blog, especially if you are based in Asia yourself.

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Thursday, 19 April 2007

Pre-Populating AdSense Search Box Queries

I've often seen people asking in AdSense discussion boards whether they are allowed to pre-populate the search box when using AdSense for search. In case you don't know what that means, it simply means putting some predefined text in the text box that you would normally type in before clicking the "Search" button.

Well, in a post entitled "If it ain't broke..." on the official AdSense blog, this question was definitively answered earlier today:

our program policies strictly prohibit altering the layout, behavior, targeting, or delivery of Google ads or AdSense for search boxes . . . includ[ing] . . . [p]re-populating the AdSense for search box with specific queries.
So, there we have it. Don't pre-populate your AdSense for search text boxes or you could find yourself banned from AdSense.

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Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Bidvertiser Introduces a New Pricing Structure for Referrals

Bidvertiser recently announced a new pricing structure for its referral program, as follows:

Advertiser Referrals

When one of your referrals registers as an advertiser, you will earn $5 when the advertiser first spends $10. When the advertiser spends $50 you will receive an additional $20.

Publisher Referrals

When your referrals sign up as a publisher, you will earn $10 when the publisher first earns $10. When the publisher earns $50 you will receive an additional $40.

Comment

Thus, advertiser referrals can earn a maximum of $30 whereas publisher referrals can earn a maximum of $50. In addition, this new pricing structure applies to existing referrals for which you haven't already been paid as well as future referrals. This new pricing structure also means that affiliates will start earning money more quickly, which has been an issue with Bidvertiser's affiliate program until now.

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Tuesday, 17 April 2007

March's Most Popular Posts

I've just been away on vacation for 2 weeks and didn't have time to outline last month's most popular posts until now:


  1. How to Tell If You Are Getting CPM AdSense Ads - Gave step-by-step detailed instructions to determine if you are getting CPM ads on your site, or just CPC ads.

  2. Joel Comm's Monthly Templates Violate AdSense Program Policies? - Discusses the reasons why AdSense guru Joel Comm's monthly templates breach AdSense's rules.

  3. Kontera Doesn't Support New Blogger - This post outlined problems getting Kontera to work under the new blogger. [Kontera is now working on this blog, as you may have noticed!]

  4. Why It's Not Worth Putting Competing PPC Ads Alongside AdSense Ads - Discusses why I don't think it is generally a good idea to put ads from other PPC programs on the same page as AdSense ads.

  5. Alternatives to AdSense: Kontera. - My review on in-text AdSense competitor, Kontera.

Friday, 13 April 2007

Agloco: Will It Or Won't It?


As I've wrote on March 22nd, according to the Agloco blog, "the Viewbar release is currently scheduled for between Monday April 2 and Monday, April 16."

Well, it's now April 13th, only one working day away from the magical April 16th. So, will the Viewbar be released on or before Magic Monday? Somehow, I suspect it won't, but I'm sure there'll be a really good excuse . . . I mean, er, "reason."

In fact, surprise! surprise! The latest Agloco blog post tells us that

while the Viewbar is still on track for release this month, making the April 2nd to 16th window is getting more difficult [even though] the Shanghai team has been working seven days a week for quite a while now.
It's also interesting to note that the issue that is still outstanding is that of integrating the Viewbar with the ad servers. Isn't that pretty basic to the whole functionality of the Viewbar?

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Text Link Ads Affiliate Program - Even More Unhappy

As I've written about here and here, I'm pretty convinced that something major is wrong with Text Link Ads' affiliate program.

As of today, I have now sent 410 referrals to Text Link Ads and not one of them has converted. You would definitely think that at least one out of 410 would have "place[d] an order with us or . . . [become] a publisher and install[ed] the ad script on their site."

So, even if referral number 411 does finally convert (which I doubt, somehow), that would be a conversion rate of 0.2433%. Pretty crap, doncha think?!?!?

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Blend Your Ads for Higher Click Thru Rates

A recent study by MarketingExperiments.com, "How Matching Ad Design to Context Improved Conversion by 127%" (available as an online Web Clinic in Windows Media and Real Player formats) has established what AdSense users have generally believed to be true, that blended ads generally perform better than ads that stand out from the site's content.

"Blended ads" are ads that use the same font, color scheme, etc. to the site's main native content. The study showed that blended ads "performed significantly better" than non-blended ads in both CTR and conversion rates.

The authors also suggested that the main reason for the increased performance is the effect of "ad blindness" when non-blended ads are used. As well as matching fonts and colors, the authors also suggested that, for maximum performance, any logos etc. used in the ads should be "small enough not to shout 'advertisement' so loudly as to be blocked by the subconscious 'ad filters' of content site visitors."

This study isn't exactly breaking new ground since blending ads has been recommended by Google and authors such as Joel Comm for a long time now. However, it's good to see some empirical data to support this. It's also important not just for AdSense (etc.) publishers but for advertisers who place their ads on handpicked sites - including advertisers using image ads. Thus, if you are advertising on site www.somesite.com, make sure that your ad is designed in such a way that it blends into the site's native content for maximum performance.

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Monday, 26 March 2007

Why It's Not Worth Putting Competing PPC Ads Alongside AdSense Ads

I frequently read questions on various AdSense discussion forums regarding whether or not you are allowed to put ads from other PPC programs, such as AdBrite, Bidvertiser, Clicksor, etc. on the same page as AdSense ads.

In this post I'll discuss why I don't think this is generally a good idea anyway. However, first, what exactly are the rules governing this situation?

AdSense Rules Regarding Competing Ads

The rules governing competitive ads and services were amended earlier in 2007 and now read as follows:

In order to prevent user confusion, we do not permit Google ads or search boxes to be published on websites that also contain other ads or services formatted to use the same layout and colors as the Google ads or search boxes on that site. Although you may sell ads directly on your site, it is your responsibility to ensure these ads cannot be confused with Google ads.
In various places, Google has also stated that if the competing ads naturally have a similar look to Google ads, they must use a distinct color scheme to clearly differentiate them from the Google ads.

Thus, you can now use pretty much any competing ad program alongside AdSense provided they are visually different, even if the competing ads are contextual, which was formerly prohibited. Of course, you also need to make sure that the competing ad program permits AdSense to be used alongside their own ads!

Why It May Not Be a Good Idea

There are 4 main reasons why I think it is generally not a good idea to display competitive ads alongside AdSense. However, I want to begin with a proviso. I do not consider in-text ads as being competitive ads. By this, I mean such ad programs as Kontera, Intellitxt, etc.

So, here are my reasons:

1. Poorer Quality Ads
Many of these competing programs simply have poor quality ads, as compared to AdSense. They don't necessarily follow the same editorial policies that Google requires of its ads and often just look tacky. However, this definitely does vary from program to program. Also, the format of some AdSense competitors' ads is not good. For instance, Element Ads often truncates the title of the ad when it is wider than the ad width. Thus, you may see ads for "Bicycle Shelters and R" or "Lake Tahoe Mountain Cabi," for example, where the end of the ad title is missing.

2. Lower Paying Ads
In my experience, AdSense competitors tend to have lower paying ads both in terms of the average cost per click and the click-thru rate. For example, on one site of mine, I earned more than 10 times the amount with AdSense in about 6 weeks than I earned from Bidvertiser and AdBrite during a period of several months. (Note: AdSense was not run alongside Bidvertiser and AdBrite).

3. Competing with AdSense
This kinda goes without saying . . . but if you have other ads on your page that are competing with your AdSense ads, you are going to get less clicks on your AdSense ads. If the AdSense ads tend to pay more per click, why compete against them?

Another issue to consider here is that of payment threshold. Suppose your competing program has a $100 minimum payout requirement, like AdSense has. By running the two programs side-by-side you are going to take considerably longer to reach the payment threshold, even if both programs perform equally well. Now, if you're a high-traffic, high-earning site, that's not an issue, but I know there are plenty of AdSense publishers out there struggling to reach $50 in earnings, let alone the $100 minimum! Can you really afford to wait perhaps twice as long to get paid?

4. AdSense is More Than Adquate On Its Own
In my opinion, you really don't need competing CPC ads because you can already place more than enough AdSense units on a page anyway. Under the current rules, you can place 3 ad units (which may each contain up to 4 ads), 1 link unit, 2 search boxes, and 2 referral units per product. That's potentially an awful lot of ads to appear on a single page!

Of course, if you're unhappy with the performance of your AdSense ads, feel free to try other programs, or test their performance against your AdSense ads. However, in my opinion, AdSense is by far the best contextual PPC program available.

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Thursday, 22 March 2007

Agloco Viewbar Release Delayed - Why Am I Not Surprised


According to the Agloco blog, "the Viewbar release is currently scheduled for between Monday April 2 and Monday, April 16."

So much for the March release that was promised! As I expressed in a previous post on the subject, I had my doubts that a March release would occur and I've been proven right.

Given the promises and the fuss that people have made over Agloco, when (if) it does eventually launch the Viewbar, it had better be one highly successful program or there is going to be a lot of "egg-on-face."

I continue to wait with breath that is even more bated than before!

Related Posts
Agloco's 100 Day Report
Agloco Viewbar Scheduled for a March Release
Agloco: What No-One Seems to be Mentioning About It

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Google PPA Ads: The Pros and Cons

As you've probably already read elsewhere, Google recently announced a limited beta test of its new Pay-Per-Action ads. This new pricing model will initially only be available to U.S. advertisers and the ads are only going to be shown on AdWords' Content Network, that is, as AdSense ads.

Under the PPA pricing model, publishers will only generate income when a customer completes an action that the advertiser has predefined, such as making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, etc. Each action is assigned a value by the advertiser and part of the price the advertiser pays goes to the AdSense publisher.

As part of this new pricing model, Google is also introducting a new type of advertisement: text link ads. This is in addition to standard text or image ads.

So, what are the pros and cons of this new form of AdSense advertising for you, the AdSense publisher?

Pros

More Control
Google's PPA advertising model has four characteristics that provide greater control and choice for the publisher:

  1. Publishers can choose whether or not they want to have PPA ads on their web sites.
  2. Publishers can choose "between an individual ad, a shopping cart of ads, or a specific term or phrase that is relevant to their site’s content."
  3. The introduction of the new "text link ad" format gives publishers more flexibility in the type of ads being served.
  4. Finally, before the ads start to be served to their sites, publishers will be able to "view the specifics of the ad, including company name, logo and products or services being sold."
I think point 2 is of particular importance. It is a frequent complaint of (newbie) AdSense publishers that they have no, or little, control over the ads being displayed on their sites. With the PPA model, publishers will be able to choose specific ads to display, or ads pertinent to keywords of their choice. This is potentially a big plus for the PPA pricing model.

Potential for Greater Earnings
This "pro" is certainly more uncertain and tenuous than the issue of greater control. However, because the advertiser can place a fairly accurate value on the action, they should be willing to pay considerably more per action than they would pay per click because, in reality, only a certain percentage of clicks ever leads to a conversion for the advertiser.

The issue of clicks and conversions also raises another important point to remember. Under the CPC pricing model, if clicks on the Content Network are less likely to lead to a conversion, the publisher's income per click is reduced as a result of Google's Smart Pricing methodology. Thus, PPA ads are a way of avoiding Smart Pricing.

Cons

Uncertainty and Risk
By far the biggest issue on the negative side with PPA ads are the issues of uncertainty and risk, particularly with regards to income. Because this pricing model is new, it will take time for prices to reach their optimum levels, such that they are attractive to advertisers but still providing a decent income to publishers.

Also, and by far the most obvious issue, is the fact that publishers will only earn when an action is completed. This will therefore put pressure on the publishers to ensure that such ads are displayed on pages that are likely to be read by customers actively looking to complete such actions. Thus, PPA ads are more likely to succeed on, for example, product review pages, than on purely informational or educational pages. Thus, it is going to be risky for publishers to place these ads on their sites without any way of assessing the likelihood that clicks will lead to conversions. This is particularly true of pages that are already generating a relatively decent income on a CPC basis.

Minimizing the Risk
So, given the riskiness and uncertainty of PPA ads for the publisher, how can this risk be minimized?

1. Have you Been Smart Priced?
If you have been an AdSense publisher for a while, analyze your income per click over time and see if it has gone down. If so, that means you have probably been "smart priced." That is, clicks on ads on your site(s) are generally not converting well. In this case, PPA advertising is probably not a good choice for you unless smart pricing has so siginficantly reduced your income per click that the value of a single conversion would exceed your CPC income within the time needed to get a conversion in spite of smart pricing.

2. Analyze Your Site's Content
Take the time to analyze your site's content with regard to the action the advertiser is trying to achieve. Are visitors to your site likely to be seeking to do what the advertiser is hoping for? Is your site's content very specific to the content of the ad and its associated action?

If you can answer "Yes" to these questions, PPA ads may be a good choice for you.

3. Test
Test PPA ads on a small section of your site as a trial. Make use of AdSense Channels to analyze the performance of the ads and compare their performance against (1) non-PPA ads on other parts of the site during the same time period, and (2) the peformance of non-PPA ads on the same section of the site prior to the switchover to PPA ads.

4. Are You Unhappy with your CPC/CPM Income?
If so, then PPA ads may simply be worth the risk!

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Update: If you are interested in reading the pros and cons of AdWords PPA advertising from the advertiser's perspective, read my blog post on the subject.

Friday, 16 March 2007

February's Most Popular Posts

Well, better late than never, the most popular MoneyTies posts in February were:

  1. Alternatives to AdSense: Kontera. - My review on in-text AdSense competitor, Kontera.

  2. Joel Comm's Monthly Templates Violate AdSense Program Policies? - Discusses the reasons why AdSense guru Joel Comm's monthly templates breach AdSense's rules.

  3. AdSense Optimization: Tricks That Harm AdSense Publishers - This post looked at how much AdSense optimization is really tricking users into clicking on ads and how this can result in a lower CPC as a result of Smart Pricing.

  4. AdSense: A Bifurcated System - This post discussed how Google is willing to bend its rules for premium publishers. Note, since this post was first published, AdSense has changed some of its rules to give more flexibility to all publishers, rather than just to premium publishers.

  5. How Google Targets AdSense Ads - Discusses the factors that Google takes into account in determining which ads to display on your web site.

Thursday, 15 March 2007

Affiliate Links on this Blog

Several prominent bloggers, such as John Chow, have been discussing the issue of whether affiliate links in blog posts should be marked with (aff) or some other designation.

As you may be aware, with a view to open disclosure, I have generally indicated afiliate links with "(aff)" following the link. However, after reading posts on this topic, I have come to the conclusion that this practice is probably not helpful and could, in fact, confuse readers who are unaware of the meaning of "(aff)". Thus, I have decided not to indicate affiliate links in future but rather to simply state here that any links found on this blog or on the moneyties.net web site may be affiliate links.

Bidvertiser Has a New Look

Bidvertiser launched their completely redesigned Bidvertiser.com web site today.

Bidvertiser New Web Site

This new site, which has been "redesigned from the ground up," certainly looks a lot slicker and more professional than the previous site. However, when I've tried to access it today it's often been extremely slow and unresponsive—in fact, it produced a pretty serious-looking error message the last time I tried to visit the home page and also when trying to log in. Not a great start for a newly launched web site! However, given my prior review of Bidvertiser, I am, sadly, not surprised.

In addition to the new look web site, Bidvertiser has also just launched a blog, "where we'll keep you informed with the new features to come." Let's hope the Blog gets off to a better start!

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Putting AdSense Code in External Files

If you are managing a web site comprised of several pages and you would like to be able to add AdSense code to the site without having to paste the exact same code into each and every page, there are two main ways this can be achieved.

Include Files

Dynamic page building technologies such as ASP, ASP.net, PHP, and SHTML allow code that is common to multiple pages to be stored in an external file and incorporated into the main page with a single command.

For example, if you were using ASP you could place your AdSense code in a file named i_adsense.asp (the i_ prefix indicating an include file. Note: It is not good practice to name ASP include files with a .inc extension). In order to include this file in your main code, you simply use the command

<!--#include file="i_adsense.asp"-->
Similarly, in PHP you use the command
<?php include("i_adsense.php") ?>

External .JS Files

Using this method, you simply place your AdSense javascript in a file that has a .js extension, such as adsense.js, and reference this file in your main code, wherever you want the AdSense ads to appear. To incorporate the external .js file in your code, you would use the command
<script language="JavaScript" src="inputmasks.js" type="text/javascript"></script>
Note, the src attribute can contain a full path or absolute URL, such as js-files/inputmasks.js or http://www.mywebsite.com/javascript/adsense.js.

Is this method permitted?

There seems to be some confusion as to whether external .js files are permitted. In order to clarify this situation, I recently contacted AdSense support and this is how they responded
You're welcome to include the AdSense ad code in .js files, but please don't modify the code or manipulate the ad targeting in any way, as this is against our program policies.
Thus, as long as you don't alter the core JavaScript code in any way, it is perfectly acceptable to make use of external .js files.

Limitations of these Methods

External files make managing your AdSense code across many pages much simpler. This is particularly useful when you are using a template that allows for an ad unit of the same size in the same place on every page in your site. However, this is not without its limitations.

The single biggest issue with this is that it makes the use of precise channels much more difficult. For example, supposing every page has a leaderboard at the top of the page that is in an external include file and you want to include a unique channel for every page's leaderboard. If you had no other AdSense ads on the page, you could make use of URL channels, but what would you do if you also had a skyscraper unit on your pages? How would you differentiate the two?

By incorporating programming techniques into your external include files in ASP, PHP, etc., even this is possible, but is beyond the scope of this post.

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Thursday, 8 March 2007

Agloco's 100 Day Report


According to an email I received today from Agloco (aff), "[i]t is now 100 days since AGLOCO went public with its pre-launch plan to become the Internet’s first Economic Network."

Is it really only 100 days? Seems a lot longer than that.

However, the thing that really caught my eye in this email was not Agloco's 100 day birthday but rather the statement that the

Viewbar software team (now seven engineers in Shanghai) is making steady progress. - Release of the software will be announced with both an email as well as a notice on the AGLOCO website.
Previously, Agloco reported that the Viewbar would be released in March. Now, I know it's still only March 8th but it concerns me that the software team are only "making steady progress." Shouldn't such an eagerly anticipated piece of software that is scheduled to be released within 23 days be at a stage beyond "steady progress?"

I still wait with bated breath.

Related Posts
Agloco Viewbar Scheduled for a March Release
Agloco: What No-One Seems to be Mentioning About It

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Wednesday, 7 March 2007

How to Tell If You Are Getting CPM AdSense Ads

Confusion still reigns regarding CPM AdSense ads, as I've discussed in my previous "AdSense Nonsense" post and elsewhere. I'm also still reading advice that if you place large AdSense ad units on your site, you're more likely to get CPM ads. So, how do you get CPM ads, indeed, what are CPM ads, and how can you tell if you are getting any on your site?

What are CPM Ads?
CPM ads are advertisements that are part of Google's AdWords program for which the advertiser pays per 1,000 impressions rather than per click. Thus, they are the only type of AdSense ad that pay you for impressions rather than clicks. However, even though your AdSense reports are showing relevant impressions, you may not get any associated earnings because an advertiser may be paying as little as 50 cents per 1,000 impressions, which is the equivalent of only $0.0005 per impression!

How Do You Get CPM Ads?
This is really very simple-you get CPM ads on your site if an AdWords advertiser, choosing to advertise with CPM ads, handpicks your site to advertise on. As AdSense help states:

Advertisers running CPM ads . . . select the specific sites on which to show their ads, and pay each time their ad appears.
Source: What are CPM ads? AdSense Help Center.

In the world of Google AdWords, the flip-side of AdSense, these ads are known as "site-targeted ads."

How Can You Tell If You Are Getting Any CPM Ads on Your Site?
You can very easily verify whether you are getting any CPM ads on your web site by using functionality built into AdSense's advanced reporting mechanism. Simply follow these instructions:
  1. Log into your AdSense account
  2. Click on the "Advanced Reports" link under the "Reports" tab
  3. For the "Choose product" drop-down, make sure "AdSense for content" is selected
  4. For the "Show data by" drop-down, mak sure you select "Individual Ad"
  5. Check the box immediately below the "Show data by" drop-down, labeled "Show data by targeting type - contextual or site"
  6. Select the Date Range you want to check for
  7. Click the "Display Report" button
  8. In the report results, you should see a column labeled "Targeting." If you are getting CPM ads, for some (or all) days you will see the word "Site" in this column, with a value in the "Ad Impressions" column. Any days that do not have a "Site" value as well as a "Contextual" value in the "Targeting" column did not get any CPM ads. (Note: "Contextual" in the "Targeting" column refers to the standard cost-per-click ads.)
Using this report, I can see that I had some CPM ads on March 3, 4, 5 but none on March 2 or 6.

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Saturday, 24 February 2007

Element Ads Has a Slick New Look

The Element Ads (aff) web site has a slick new look and much better looking banners. All in all the site looks quite a bit more professional than previously. However, the problem with truncated ad titles, which I wrote about before, still seems to be there.

However, Element Ads is definitely a reasonable alternative for those unwilling or unable to use AdSense ads or another 1st tier PPC program.

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Friday, 23 February 2007

Problems with Perry Marshall's Affiliate Program: An Update


If you're a regular reader of this blog, you may recall I wrote a while ago about problems I was having with AdWords guru Perry Marshall's affiliate program.

Since I wrote about it, I contacted Perry S. Marshall & Associates at the email address listed on perrymarshall.com (info@perrymarshall.com) in order to get their feedback on the issue.

Not surprisingly, I have heard nothing from them. That is a great shame because they used to operate a great affiliate program that was very popular with both affiliates and buyers.

I shall try contacting them once more and if I don't hear from them again, I will have no choice but to drop his affiliate program entirely.

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Tuesday, 20 February 2007

MyBlogLog, a Passing Fad?

If you spend any time reading blogs, you cannot help but have noticed the impact of MyBlogLog ("MBL") over the last couple of months. For example, you've probably noticed those "Recent Readers" widgets sitting in the margins of many blogs, including this one. However, there seem to be mixed feelings about MBL and whether it really is a useful service or just a passing craze.

For example, Darren "ProBlogger" Rowse just authored a post entitled, "MyBlogLog - Is It Adding Value?" in which he wrote:

I guess I'm also still a little confused about what MyBlogLog offers bloggers . . . I'm worried that in it's current form their communities could actually hurt the reputation of the blogs that they form around.
Yet other "A-List" bloggers such as John Chow have been actively pushing their MBL communities and John has even run a competition for which you had to join his community in order to be entered. A sure sign that he's keen to build up his MBL community membership.

Futhermore, MBL was recently purchased by Yahoo, Inc. and will soon be transitioning to using Yahoo IDs in order to log in.

What Does MBL Offer?

Stats
So what does MBL really offer? Well, in my opinion, the best thing that MBL offers is its stats and the best bit about the stats is the "What Readers Clicked" listing, which lists all of the hyperlinks on your blog that visitors clicked on, including AdSense ads, external hyperlinks, etc.

However, even though I really like the stats, there are other sources of such stats, especially where your visitors came from and what they viewed.

Contacts & Admirers
I like the fact that I can see what other MBL users have linked to me as a contact or an admirer. But does this really have any value apart from massaging my ego . . . and the egos of other MBL users? I suspect not. However, people like having their egos massaged (and I got quite a buzz to see someone as well-known as Jill Whalen adding herself as a contact!) so I guess there is some value here but it's an intangible value and not anything that will actually add to the value of your blog in any real sense.

Communities
Again, this merely shows a list of people who have joined your blog's community. This gives them a chance to network with each other and to have your ego massaged again. Yes, it gives you a way of networking with others that you might not have met elsewhere but I'm not convinced again that it offers any real value despite the John Chows of this world that are making such a point of promoting them.

Spam
Yes, MBL offers quite a bit of spam, both in the form of messages, requests to co-author blogs, spam images in the "Recent Readers" widget (including scripts to refresh pages so a person's icon remains in the listing all day) and so on. In fact, this last weekend witnessed a bit of an MBL spamming frenzy, which the MBL owners have since tried to take steps to prevent in future.

Conclusion

If it weren't for the stats, I would say that, at the moment, MBL offers more fluff than substance and it was the stats that really caused me to join. The only other real value that MBL offers is the value that has been placed on it by well-known bloggers who are both promoting it and using their services on their blogs. As for whether Yahoo will add any real value to MBL remains to be seen and I shall look on with interest to see how it develops over the coming months.

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Monday, 19 February 2007

Untargeted Ad Spotted on this Blog

The screenshot below shows an AdSense ad that I spotted on this blog earlier today.



Does that look like an ad targeted to this site ... or an ad that someone thought would do well on a site with this blog's subject matter?

So much for Google's ad targeting technology!

Google Related Links Are Not AdSense

I just came across a couple of blog posts (this one and this one [update: second blog post was removed by its author]) about how Google is testing a new tabbed ad unit for AdSense.

Now, I may be wrong, I have been plenty of times before, but I don't think this has anything to do with AdSense whatsoever. Rather, these bloggers are confusing an entirely different Google tool with AdSense. That tool is Google Related Links.

Admittedly, they do look a tad like AdSense link units but they are designed to "use the power of Google to automatically bring fresh, dynamic and interesting content links to any website."

What's more, you don't earn anything by having them on your web site, no matter how often those links get clicked on!

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Thursday, 15 February 2007

Alternatives to AdSense: Element Ads

I recently noticed an advertisement for Element Ads (aff) among the Google ads on this blog, so I thought I'd try them out.

Overview

Element Ads (aff) provide semi-contextual text ads, very similar to Bidvertiser or AdSense. They are only semi-contextual because they are actually based on keywords that you enter for each web site on which you want to place their ads.

[Aside: at the moment you cannot edit these keywords either, the interface doesn't handle that yet. If you want to edit them, you have to email the changes to Element Ads directly.]

Element Ads also offer a nice range of ad unit sizes as well as the typical color scheme customization. They also seem to have a good advertiser base - at least, they do in this blog's niche!

As well as publishing ads, you can also earn money from Element Ads through their affiliate program.

The sign up process was also easy to complete, with no big hassles at all. The site is also pretty clean and crisp and easy to navigate and find your stats.

Rating

As far as customization and choice are concerned, Element Ads do well. However, my biggest concern is that their ads simply don't fit properly into the ad unit sizes in all cases. For example, in the wide skyscraper that has appeared on this blog, the ad title is often truncated, so you get ads containing text such as: "XML Affiliate F," "Earn Extra Mone," and "Work in the Com, " etc. Also, the boxes in which each ad appear contain a LOT of whitespace beneath the text. All in all, they look pretty tacky compared to AdSense.

In terms of earning potential, at the moment I cannot really judge this effectively but my gut feeling is that it may be quite low, but I could well be proved wrong. My ads are in a low visibility position so I wouldn't expect a high click thru rate. Thus far, they have had 274 impressions with no clicks. I think this is in part due to their position on the page and partly a result of the poor fomatting of the ads.

My rating for Element Ads as compared to AdSense: on the basis of the variety of options, 5/10. This could be increased or decreased when I am better able to assess their earning potential.

Footnote

If you want to display Element Ads on the same web site as AdSense, you may do so under the new AdSense competitive ads policy. However, in order to differentiate them from the Google ads, you will have to ensure that you use distinct color schemes for the two ad programs, otherwise you will be violating AdSense policies.

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AdSense and AdWords CPC Site Targeted Ads

Google has recently announced that they are going to be beta testing CPC site targeted ads. Site targeted AdWords ads are currently the single source of CPM (cost per impression) AdSense ads, whereas most AdSense ads work on a CPC (cost per click) basis.

So, what this means for AdSense publishers is that, in future even fewer ads will earn you anything for impressions alone. However, in my opinion, the chances of an advertiser handpicking your site to advertise on is pretty slim anyway and, as I've discussed previously, very few AdSense publishers ever see a CPM ad on their sites, so in practice this change will have only a minimal effect on AdSense publishers.

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Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Kontera Doesn't Support New Blogger

As I mentioned in a previous post about Kontera, I have been having problems implementing Kontera's code in my Blogger.com blogs, which use the new version of Blogger.

I wrote to Kontera about this and, along with a bit of a mixup on their part, they said to contact them again if I continued to have problems implementing their code. I did just that and I finally received a reply from them, which is bad news for New Blogger users and, in my opinion, for Kontera.

Here is the beginning of their reply:

At this time, Kontera is not providing technical support for products like . . . Blogspot . . . but a number of our publishers have written about it and there is a fair amount on the web that can offer you advice as well. (Emphasis mine.)
So, even though Blogger ("Blogspot") could potentially carry an enormous user base for Kontera, they do not seem particularly interested in ensuring their advertising program works on it but just fob you off to go find a solution elsewhere on the Web.

Thanks Kontera, for nothing.

On the basis of this, my previous rating of 6/10 has dropped to 4/10.

Update: At some time since this post was published, Kontera has started working on Blogger. I have no idea if the change occurred with Blogger or with Kontera, or both.

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Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Agloco Viewbar Scheduled for a March Release

According to the Agloco (aff) blog, the infamous Viewbar should be released in March.

The author of the post, Brian Greenwald of the Agloco development team, goes on to say

Obviously, I have two minds when it comes to this. I really want the Viewbar out there. I want Members to start using it. I want advertisers and online merchants using it. And I want to start generating revenue for Members and the company.
On the other hand, I also want more time to get ready for the Viewbar. As a part of the AGLOCO Revenue team, I want to have more time to get more agreements in place so the Viewbar makes more money even at the start.
I don't know about you, but I find this whole thing rather worrisome. There are so many reputable people actively promoting Agloco members and yet there is nothing tangible to promote, except a hope that Agloco will live up to its own promotion. I also find Brian's ambivalent prevarications seem to be underpinned by a hint of concern that Agloco doesn't yet have the necessary advertisers to meet the promise of the Viewbar that has thus far been promoted.

Of course, time will eventually tell whether it's all smoke, mirrors, and snake oil or whether Agloco really is a viable means of generating online income, with a good base of advertisers. I hope it is, or there are going to be a lot of web gurus with egg on their faces.

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AdSense and Exchange Rates

I realized that I've never seen anyone blog about this issue before but I think it's an important one that needs to be addressed.

Does Google allow for current exchange rates when calculating AdSense earnings?

This issue is premised on a few basic facts:

  1. All AdSense earnings are calculated and reported on in U.S. dollars
  2. AdSense ads are ads from the AdWords content network, which are paid for (and bidded on) in local currency
  3. People browsing sites containing AdSense ads get ads served to them based on their geographical location
So, here's a scenario.

I am in the U.K. which currently has an exceptionally favorable exchange rate against the U.S. dollar. I have various web sites serving AdSense ads. If someone from the U.K. visits one of those sites, some of the ads they see may well be from advertisers whose target audience is solely within the U.K. Thus, if one of those British ads gets clicked on by a British visitor, is the current exchange rate taken into account when my AdSense earnings are calculated?

At the moment, the same ad on the same site should be worth more to me, all other things being equal, than it would have been a year or two ago because of prevailing high value of the G.B. pound against the U.S. dollar.

If you have any thoughts or information on this topic, please leave a comment.

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Saturday, 10 February 2007

Text Link Ads Affiliate Program Update

As mentioned in my previous post, I was contacting TLA to find out what an affiliate referral has to to in order for me to actually earn any money. This is the reply I received:

Once the referral takes place you can earn money two ways. One, if someone places an order with us or two, if someone becomes a publisher and installs the ad script on their site.
So, it would appear that of the 321 people that I have referred to TLA, not a single one has decided to advertise with TLA or publish TLA's ads on their site. I have really only promoted the latter program and, given that TLA is supposed to be one of the best-paying programs after AdSense, I find it hard to believe that not a single referral has placed the TLA script on their web site, particularly when you consider that it's a way of earning money that costs the publisher nothing. What's more, there's not even a minimum earning requirement.

Furthermore, supposing the very next person I refer does sign up, number 322. That's a 0.31% conversion rate.

I still think something's not right. What do you think?

If you've had experiences with TLA's affiliate program let me know about it by leaving a comment.

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Friday, 9 February 2007

Does the Text Link Ads Affiliate Program Actually Work?

Back in July of 2006 I became an affiliate for Text Link Ads (aff). Since that time, according to my TLA stats, I have referred 321 people to TLA but guess how much I've earned as an affiliate? Zip! Zilch! Nada! Nowt! Not a single cent has been added to my balance.

You would think that at least one person out of 321 would have done whatever is necessary to earn me at least a cent, wouldn't you?

I have written to ask TLA what a referral has to do in order for me to earn anything and is it correct that no-one has actually done so. This is the second time I have written, the first time I received no reply.

I will keep you posted.

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Thursday, 8 February 2007

Why You Can Explicitly Encourage Clicks on AdSense Referral Ads

Google has just published an interesting post on the Inside AdSense blog entitled, "Referral policies - clarified," which explains why publishers are allowed to explicitly endorse the referral products (i.e., encourage clicks on them!) when they're not allowed to do so for regular AdSense ads.

The post gives 2 main reasons.

The CPA Nature of Referral Ads

Because referrals require the user to actually do something (the action) before the publishers gets paid by the advertisers, the advertiser will always get what they're after even if the publisher encouraged the click. For example, you won't get paid for any clicks on a referral ad for Firefox unless the person who clicked on the ad actually installs Firefox on their computer. In this case, the advertiser is happy, they got what they wanted, so they're happy to pay up!

Endorsing a Specific Product

When you endorse a referral ad product, you know exactly what product you are encouraging your visitors to click on. This is not true of ads that appear in regular AdSense CPC ad units and, as such, if you encourage visitors to click on those ads, you cannot possibly be doing so with any real knowledge that the products or services being advertised are of value to the visitor.

My Thoughts

I think in many ways this is a very sensible policy, however, as the post also points out, it must be remembered that you still cannot encourage visitors to click on referral ads "for deceptive purposes." In fact, unless you have actually used the product yourself, you cannot possibly genuinely endorse the product with any real knowledge of it.

Thus, this policy is still open to blatant abuse and I personally think the CPA nature of referral ads provides only a limited level of protection to the advertiser because many of the products being referred cost the user nothing.

It will be interesting to see if Google eventually changes this policy for free referral products.

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HTML for AdSense Publishers: Aligning Left, Right and Center

This is the first in a series of posts intended to provide AdSense publishers (and, indeed, anyone else using other similar services) with some basic HTML knowledge that will help them display their ad units correctly.

This first post looks at how to align your ads to the left and right and how to center the ads.

Left Aligning

Left aligning is the default way that ads will be displayed, however, if your ad unit is contained inside a page element that is centering or right-aligning its content, you will need to manually left-align. To do so, you can implement either of the following methods:

1) The old-fashioned and now "deprecated" method is as follows

<div align="left">
... your code goes here ...
</div>
2) The better way to do it, using styles is
<div style="text-align:left;">
... your code goes here ...
</div>
(Alternatively, if you're familiar with CSS and external style sheets, you can simply assign a class to the div tag that has a style of text-align:left - but that's another lesson for another day!)

Right Aligning

Right aligning is basically the same as left-aligning, only you simply replace left with right!

1) Thus, the old-fashioned method is:
<div align="right">
... your code goes here ...
</div>
2) Or the better way to do it, using styles is
<div style="text-align:right;">
... your code goes here ...
</div>
Centering

Again, centering is basically the same as left-aligning, only you simply replace left with center!

1) Old-fashioned method is:
<div align="center">
... your code goes here ...
</div>
2) Or the better way to do it is:
<div style="text-align:center;">
... your code goes here ...
</div>
Note: These techniques only align the ads within another page element. If you want the ads to be on the left or right but have other content wrap around them, you need to "float" them ... which will be the subject of the next post in this series.

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Alternatives to AdSense: Kontera

Introduction

Kontera is a contextual advertising system that examines your site's text for keywords. It then transforms some of those keywords into hyperlinks that, when you hover the cursor over them, display advertisements. You get paid a certain amount every time one of those ads is clicked on.

Thus, Kontera is:

  • Contextual advertising
  • Pay per click advertising
  • In-text advertising
Or, as Kontera puts it,
[Kontera works using] ContentLink™s, [which] are contextually relevant keywords discovered in real time on a publisher's web page that are automatically turned into a link to the most relevant and highest paying text ad from one of Kontera's thousands of advertisers.
Sign Up Requirements

According to Kontera's web site, in order to be eligible as a publisher, your web site must generate more than 500,000 page impressions per month, be primarily in English, and have more than 50 words per page on most of the site.

However, my experience with Kontera is that they are often happy to work with sites generating far less page impressions. Indeed, when I registered with them, the site I was publishing their ads on did not receive anywhere near that amount of impressions!

My Experience of Kontera

So far, in terms of payout, Kontera is currently second only to AdSense. However, it has still fallen way short of my AdSense earnings.

Another issue that I recently had (in fact, I'm still having!) is that I have been unable to implement Kontera's code on any of my Blogger.com blogs. I have tried every method I can think of to do so, but they have all failed.

As a result, I contacted Kontera support and received a fairly quick reply (less than 48 hours). However, the advice was not very good. In the email, I was also told to let them know if I still had problems. So, I wrote back to tell them I'd tried everything they'd suggested but with no joy. This email lead to the biggest frustration I've had so far with Kontera--their reply didn't even acknowledge or seem to realize that I'd already written before on this issue and, what's more, they didn't actually address the problem I was having with implementing the code but simply told me I needed to use different code on each of my blogs. This, of course, I not only knew but had already been emailed the unique code blocks a few days earlier, by Kontera. I am still waiting for their response.

Finally, Kontera's reporting mechanism often seems to have issues where they fall a few days behind. This happens frequently enough that it makes me feel uncomfortable but it always catches up in the end. However, it does sometimes make me wonder if it under-reports my actual earnings.

Competitors

The main competitor to Kontera is Intellitxt. This has similar sign-up requirements to Kontera but, in my opinion, is less open to smaller publishers. I also personally just plain like Kontera more - I prefer the format of their ads and the actual advertisers. However, Intellitxt generally seems a tad more popular than Kontera.

Conclusion

Kontera is definitely a worthwhile addition to any web site owner hoping to generate extra income, provided you have text-heavy site. As compared to AdSense, my rating would be a generous 6 out of 10.

To learn more about Kontera, read the ebook Kontera AdLinks Secrets (aff).

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Thursday, 1 February 2007

January's Most Popular Posts

The most popular MoneyTies posts in January were:

  1. AdSense: A Bifurcated System - This post discussed how Google is willing to bend its rules for premium publishers. The post was mentioned on johnchow.com, which is where much of the traffic originated from
  2. AdSense Optimization: Tricks That Harm AdSense Publishers - This post looked at how much AdSense optimization is really tricking users into clicking on ads and how this can result in a lower CPC as a result of Smart Pricing.
  3. AdSense Nonsense: Clearing Up Some Common Misconceptions - Covered the topics of CPM ads, eCPM and image ads.
  4. Effective Blogging: Stick to a Theme - Discussed the importance of a common theme in your blog in order to get targeted ads.
  5. Alternatives to AdSense: Bidvertiser - A less-than-flattering review of AdSense competitor, Bidvertiser.

Wednesday, 31 January 2007

ShoeMoney's AdSense Interview

Jeremy "ShoeMoney" Schoemaker has recently interviewed Brian Axe from Google AdSense and made the entire interview available in MP3 format.

The interview covers such topics as the recent changes in the Program Policies, being banned from AdSense, Smart Pricing, and more!

This is a must-hear AdSense interview.

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Friday, 26 January 2007

How Google Targets AdSense Ads

There is a lot of speculation about how Google actually targets AdSense ads. Does it read the keywords meta tag? Should you put keywords in b(old) tags? What about em, strong, or i(talic) tags? Does font-size matter? What about the title tag? And so on.

To make matters worse, I regularly read messages from supposed AdSense experts stating with apparent authority that most of the above really do make a difference, particularly the meta keywords and b tags. So, do these things really make a difference?

Well, the answer to that question was recently supplied by a Google employee and I have kindly been given permission to share that information with you, courtesy of the direct recipient, Jon of Cobnut Web Services.

However, before we take a closer look, we need to examine what we already know from official sources about how Google targets AdSense ads.

What Google Says About Ad Targeting

In AdSense's help pages you will find the following in answer to the question, "How does Google target ads to my website?"

We go beyond simple keyword matching to understand the context and content of web pages. Based on a sophisticated algorithm that includes such factors as keyword analysis, word frequency, font size, and the overall link structure of the web, we know what a page is about, and can precisely match Google ads to each page.
In addition, according to AdSense help, the only method of emphasizing some text over others, and having other text ignored, is by the use of Section Targeting.

Thus, we can conclude from official sources that the factors affecting ad targeting include:
  1. Keyword analysis
  2. Word frequency
  3. Font size
  4. Link structure (overall, web-wide)
  5. Section targeting
However, many of those terms are pretty vague. Do "keyword analysis" and "word frequency" include the keywords meta tag, for example?

One point that is of great interest though is that font size is listed as a factor. I can only assume that this is true whether the font size is declared using font tags or CSS's font-size. Thus, it appears that words in a larger font may be given more emphasis than those in a smaller font. It is also my opinion that this applies mostly to headings and sub-headings that incorporate a larger font, not simply using a large font size for keywords that appear in the middle of sentences (if you see what I mean!).

What Has Been Shared With Me About Ad Targeting

Much of the information I received simply repeats the information above but it also contains a few hidden gems:
Our technology takes into account factors such as linguistics, keyword analysis, word frequency, font size, and the overall link structure of the web. AdSense only targets ads based on overall site content, not keywords within the meta tag or categories . . .
[i]f you'd like to display ads related to specific topics on your website, we recommend including more text-based content about these topics on your site to assist our crawlers in gathering information about your pages and determining relevant ads to display. Complete sentences and paragraphs are helpful to our crawlers in determining the content of a page. (Emphasis not in original.)
So lets, take a closer look at those gems.

Google Does Not Target Ads Based on the Keywords Meta Tag

AdSense only targets ads based on overall site content, not keywords within the meta tag

So, it is the overall site content that counts and not meta tag keywords. This is a very important point because it implies that you should be able to get ads that are relevant to your site even on pages that have low textual content provided there is sufficient text on the site as a whole.

Google Needs Text-Based Content

Now, this piece of information isn't exactly a surprise or new, but it's good to have it re-emphasized by Google that AdSense is contextual advertising with an emphasis on the text! If you don't have text, you won't get targeted ads.

Google Needs "Complete Sentences and Paragraphs"

Thus, if you want well-targeted ads on your site, you don't just need text, you need text that is comprised of complete sentences and paragraphs. That doesn't mean that Google cannot ascertain context from "telegram-style" bullet points or any other text but it does mean that the more keywords you have in complete sentences and paragraphs, the more accurately targeted your ads will be.

Summary

So, if you want highly targeted ads on your site, make sure your follow the following guidelines:
  1. Put keywords in larger font-sizes (probably headings/sub-headings, etc.)
  2. Try to ensure that pages linking to your site incorporate your keywords inside the hyperlinks
  3. Use keywords inside internal hyperlinks (i.e. hyperlinks between pages of your own site)
  4. Employ section targeting
  5. Ensure there is sufficient "keyword-rich" text across your site as a whole
  6. Make sure that your keywords are contained in complete sentences and paragraphs
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Thursday, 25 January 2007

Bye-Bye eBay

I am done with eBay.

eBay used to be a great place to sell stuff and I have sold many items on eBay over the years. However, that has all changed. eBay now has a virtual monopoloy in the online auction world and its power has gone to its head. The fees that are now being charged by eBay U.K., especially when coupled with the additional fees you have to pay PayPal, which is, of course, also owned by eBay, it means that it is now no longer viable for me to sell on eBay.

So, I have closed down my eBay store and, if I ever need/want to sell anything else online, I certainly will never use eBay again unless they drop their fees by a considerable margin.

Yes, there are other online auctions but none that even comes close to having the clout that eBay has. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Bye-bye eBay.

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Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Sick of Inside AdSense Video Posts

As you've probably already figured, I'm not happy with all of the video posts that keep appearing on the official AdSense blog, "Inside AdSense." The latest post, "Laura Chen answers your referrals questions" contains the following teaser:

Laura addresses these burning questions:

1. Why am I receiving less than the full amount for each conversion in my reports? Is something wrong?

2. After I've referred a person to AdSense, can I see how much they've earned so far?

3. Can I ask users to click my referral buttons?
The post goes on to mention how you can find further information on referrals in the AdSense Help Center.

So, what is my problem with these video posts, and this post in particular? One simple word: accessibility.

Video posts are great if you have a decent computer with speakers and you can hear - but what if you can't hear?

I am shocked and dismayed that in this day and age, Google doesn't provide a transcript of the video that is linked to from the post itself. As an accessibility advocate, I think this is appalling.

What makes this even worse is that at least 2 of the questions in the "teaser" are not answered in the AdSense Help Center. How frustrating is that!

Shame on you Google.

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Monday, 22 January 2007

Joel Comm's Monthly Templates Violate AdSense Program Policies?

In the Program Policies for AdSense, which all AdSense publishers must adhere to, you can read the line:

No Google ad may be placed on pages published specifically for the purpose of showing ads, whether or not the page content is relevant.
The well-known Joel Comm, author of "The AdSense Code," sells from his web site AdSense templates, which are basically ready-built web sites, content and all, whose purpose is solely that of generating income via AdSense ads.

That sounds like a Program Policy violation to me.

So, I left a comment on his blog post in which he promoted his monthly templates. I mentioned this program policy and my opinion that his templates possibly violated the AdSense program policy. Now a few days later, my comment has not been posted and, of course, he has left no reply.

That troubles me. I'd mentioned in a previous post entitled "Joel Comm or Joel Con?" that I had my concerns about Joel, now I'm more concerned than ever.

So, in order to assuage my concerns, I wrote to AdSense support to inquire as to whether or not such templates violate the program policies and I received an interesting response:
I understand that you would like to know on whether using a certain template complies with the program's policy. However, we do not endorse or encourage the use of any third-party tools.

We recommend that you exercise caution when using third-party software to ensure that you do not violate the AdSense Terms and Conditions. Please note that AdSense participants are solely responsible for verifying that any tools or software used in conjunction with AdSense do not violate the AdSense Terms and Conditions.
So, if I were you, I would not use any pre-built web site templates, whether they are from Joel or anyone else for that matter.

You have been warned!

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Finnished With AdSense?

So, I was looking at my Internet Marketing and SEO Blog earlier today when I noticed the following AdSense ad:


Now, my blog is written entirely in English. I am sitting here at my computer in the U.K. yet I'm being served an AdSense ad for SEO in Finnish! I have a feeling it won't be the most popular ad being published on my blog.

Go figure!

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Friday, 19 January 2007

Other Contextual Ads Get the Official OK from AdSense

I just received an email from Google in which they confirmed my interpretation of the Program Policy changes and, as a result, you may now run any other contextual ads alongside AdSense ads provided they have a different appearance, which, in some cases, means a different color scheme.

In addition, the email also confirmed that excessive advertising is no longer prohibited but is merely discouraged because "doing so may result in fewer repeat visitors."

Note, however, that the terms and conditions of the other advertising programs may prohibit their use alongside AdSense. In particular, the Yahoo Publisher Network's conditions prohibit their use alongside AdSense ads.

The bulk of the response that I received from Google is copied below:

AdSense publishers may display ads from other contextual ad networks on the same page as Google ads only if the formatting or color scheme of these ads is sufficiently different from the layout of the Google ads. In other words, if you choose to place non-Google ads on the same site or page as Google ads, it should always be clear to the user that the ads are served by different advertising networks and that the non-Google ads have no association with Google. If the formats are naturally similar, we'd ask that you use different color schemes for the competing ads.
Of course, we're constantly investing in our advertising technology, and we believe that Google ads will monetize best for most publishers. Be aware that the addition of third party ads to your site may cause fewer users to click the Google ads on your site and thus your AdSense earnings may decrease. We'd also recommend that publishers be careful not to place excessive advertising on their sites, as doing so may result in fewer repeat visitors.
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Lesser Known Forbidden Uses of AdSense

In the depth of the AdSense Terms and Conditions, in the Prohibited Uses section, you will find the following:

You shall not, and shall not authorize or encourage any third party to . . . display any Ad(s), Link(s), or Referral Button(s) on any error page, on any registration or "thank you" page (e.g., a page that thanks a user after he/she has registered with the applicable Web site), on any chat page, in any email, or on any Web page or any Web site that contains any pornographic, hate-related, violent, or illegal content;
The two "prohibitions" that I want to concentrate on in this post are the "registration page" and the "thank you page."

Even though this is consistent with Google's requirement that ads be placed on pages with "content," I can foresee a situation whereby this condition is unintentionally breached.

If your web site has been created as a dynamic site, using a technology such as ASP, ASP.net, PHP, ColdFusion, or even SHTML, you may well have created a site template that incorporates your AdSense ads into each and every page of your site via a standard "include file" or template file. If that is the case and your site contains a registration page or a thank you page, then you will need to conditionally remove the AdSense ads from those pages in order to comply with the Terms and Conditions.

(Note, by "conditionally" I mean by using programming logic such as: if page = registration then don't display ads).

This example shows you just how easy it is to unwittingly fall foul of AdSense's Terms and Conditions!

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Is "Excessive Advertising" Now Allowed By AdSense Program Policies?

Prior to the January 2007 changes in the AdSense Program Policies, sites displaying Google ads were not permitted to include "excessive advertising." However, this is no longer listed in the policies as one of the things that AdSense sites may not include.

So, what does this mean for you? Well, I guess it now means that you can put as much advertising on your pages as you like, provided you adhere to the rest of the policies and the Terms and Conditions.

This may also be a response to the fact that you can now contain a lot of Google ads on a single page: 3 ad units, 1 link unit, 2 search boxes and 2 referral units per product (which gives you 8 in total). Now, given that a wide skyscraper can contain 5 ads, that gives you a potential grand total of:

15 ads
1 link unit
2 search boxes
8 referral units

which gives you 26 all together! That sounds a tad excessive to me!

However, I have a feeling that things are not quite that simple. Given that AdSense still requires Google ads to be displayed on pages that have "content," make sure that your pages have more genuine content that ads, otherwise you could find yourself in trouble.

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Thursday, 18 January 2007

AdSense Now Allows other Contextual Ads?!

According to Joel Comm's blog, he has heard officially from Google that you may now use "contextual ads like those provided by Kontera, Intellitxt, Amazon and Chitika . . . on the same pages as your AdSense ads."

Interesting, especially in light of the latest Jensense post in which Jennifer explains how the Terms and Conditions forbid the use of "any non-Google content-targeted advertisement(s)."

Of course, I still need to look into whether Kontera, etc. allow the use of AdSense alongside their ads!

I wonder if Google will be updating the Terms and Conditions too!

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Digging Deeper into the New AdSense Program Policies

As I mentioned in my previous post, "New AdSense Program Policies", the "Competitive Ads and Services" section now reads

In order to prevent user confusion, we do not permit Google ads or search boxes to be published on websites that also contain other ads or services formatted to use the same layout and colors as the Google ads or search boxes on that site.
In this post I want to concentrate on the first six words of this policy, "[i]n order to prevent user confusion."

That's an interesting statement, don't you think? What Google is saying here is that, the entire rationale for our policy is that we don't want our users thinking they're clicking on a Google ad when they're really clicking on an AdBrite ad, or a Yahoo Publisher Network (YPN) ad because they'll get confused.

What a load of baloney!

Do you honestly think John or Jane Surfer could care less whether the ad is from Google, AdBrite, Yahoo, or even Bidvertiser!?! Yet, apparently Google is so concerned about us being "confused" that they want to make sure their ads look different to everyone else's.

I would love to hear from Google why they think John or Jane is getting confused and how that's harming them (harming John/Jane Surfer, that is).

I personally think this is a complete bluff on Google's part - all they're concerned about is making sure it's as hard as possible to incorporate two competing ad services in your web site, so that you will stick with AdSense.

On a side note, the only other time I've ever come across "preventing confusion" being used as a rationale for anything is in the area of trademark law. In trademark law, the "likelihood of consumer confusion" is a key concept and one that must be proven in order to win a trademark infringement lawsuit. Could Google possibly have legal reasons tied in with trademark law? I don't think so, as I said above, I think they're just concerned with maintaining their market share, but maybe there's a tad more to it than that.

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