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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