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 ( 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?

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.

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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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 ...
2) The better way to do it, using styles is
<div style="text-align:left;">
... your code goes here ...
(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 ...
2) Or the better way to do it, using styles is
<div style="text-align:right;">
... your code goes here ...

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 ...
2) Or the better way to do it is:
<div style="text-align:center;">
... your code goes here ...
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


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 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.


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.


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, 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.