Coverage of SES San Jose: Earning from Search & Contextual Ads

August 8th, 2005


Hello from sunny San Jose. I’m at the Search Engine Strategies conference – THE place to be if you care about search. I’m going to be blogging the sessions, so stay tuned over the next 4 days.

Here’s my first installment: a recap on the session I attended before lunch today on “Earning from Search & Contextual Ads”. Panelists were: Jason Calacanis, Co-Founder, Weblogs, Inc., Will Johnson, Yahoo! Search Marketing, Scott Meyer, President & CEO, About, Inc., Gokul Rajaram, Group Product Manager of Google AdSense, Google Inc. and Jen Slegg, Owner,

Jen from started the panel off:
Jen started off by comparing and contrasting AdSense w/ Yahoo’s new YPN (Yahoo Publisher Network). Similarities include…
– very large pool of advertisers
– real time stats
– neither will tell you the revenue split
– can’t show both YPN and AdSense ads on the same page

Differences include…
with AdSense:
– 4 ads in smaller font
– international publishers ok
– offers additional tools & services
– more competition for higest paying
– multiple ad units per page
– “smart pricing” (CTR taken into account in pricing)

with YPN:
– 3 ads in a much larger font
– beta for US publishers
– only traditional ad units
– fewer publishers means less competition
– same ads on multiple units
– no smart pricing
– in future will be able to transfer your earnings to your advertising account

Many alternatives to AdSense and YPN:
– Kanoodle brightads: avg $0.35 earnings per click (EPC). 30,000 advertisers in network.
– Adsonar: thousands of advertisers
– Clicksor: avg $0.20 EPC. 4,000 advertisers running 20,000 campaigns. Will pull ads from other ad networks if insufficient clicks.
– Chitika: avg EPC $0.50
– Mirago: avg EPC .21p (approx $0.31 USD). you must invoice them. 12,000 advertisers
– ContextWeb: over 40,000 advertisers
bidclix: avg EPC 0.30. 11,000 advertisers
– Others include Miva Adrevenue xpress, Quigo, etc.
Rhetorical question from Jen: “When will MSN jump in?”

Optimizing tips:
– Placement: Bottom of page is bad. Good practice is to make link color the same as other links on the site. Anther good tactic is to place the ads on the left column where the nav usually is.
– Proximity:
– Ad unit selection: Try a variety of sizes and test.
– Ad unit colors & borders: Don’t use the standard ad unit colors / layout. Mix things up to prevent banner blindness. Try both complimentary and contrasting colors. Most sites find hidden borders yield highest CTR. like 2 or 3 times
– URL filters: Don’t do it as a way to get higher paying ads to appear. Only block your direct competitors or your own websites.

– Use AdSense or YPN channels to track highest CTR & earnings pages. AdSense or YPN may perform better. Try both.
– Test on non-holiday weeks
– Try switching ad placement, ad unit sizes and colors
– Keep track of what works and what doesn’t
– Never assume that what works on one site will work on another.

Make sure you are in compliance with their terms and policies.
Never ever click your own ads!

Gokul Rajarem from Google was up next:

Google AdSense for Content
– 17 languages, 100+ countries
– uses click-feedback
– uses a combination of contextual targeting and site targeting

Site targeting:
– Where advertisers can bid directly on sites they choose.
– This is a new feature that made its debut recently at the Ad:tech show.
– more audience focused.
– great for small publishers who don’t have a advertising sales force.

Link Units:
– show topics instead of ads.
– when user clicks on topic, a page of ads are displayed
– you can have 3 ad units on a page and 1 link unit

Google AdSense for Search
– Have web search and site search on your site and monetize it.
– Can have your branding appear on the search results pages, with results being served from Google

Then came Will Johnson from Yahoo! to talk about YPN:

Just launched last wednesday

The 6-point value proposition: community, customer focus, content, control, conversion, competitive revenue

Going into those points in more detail…
– competitive revenue: network of 100,000 advertisers
– publisher control: ad targeting feature rolling out in a few weeks. e.g. a music publisher can make travel ads appear by category, on a page by page basis
– content: publishers can put a YQ button on their pages, and an Add to My Yahoo button. search, shopping, rss etc. coming
– customer focus and community: messaging. an 800 customer service number! publisher poll: what would you like to see to improve YPN. some (basic) tips for publishers.

Then came the publishers to talk about their experiences… starting with Jason Calacanis, Weblogs Inc:

Jason proclaims his love: “I love Google!! I love you SO MUCH!!” I saw Marissa (from Google) in the audience laughing. Then he railed on Yahoo!: “I have problems with Yahoo!”.

– He makes $2300 per day off of AdSense, across his 80 blogs.
– His CPM advertisers take first position
– Readers look to the AdSense ads as content.
– A big mistake was to put text ads above the logo
– They put link units up near the top of the page, which performs well.
– Do not embed sponsored links within your text
– If you publish a full text feed, you have a right to put ads in your feed.
-Wrapping the ads around text: looks cheap to him. should be clear where the ad begins and the text ends
– Create a ton of channels. Google expanded the number of channels they could use.
– They’ll move to Google’s premium service soon.
– “Add to My Yahoo” button: Who is that great for? He’s disillusioned with Yahoo. Google is more magnanimous. He claims that Yahoo is going to disclose the percentage (but Will from Yahoo! in the Q&A says this as wrong). Suggests guaranteed minimums by the end of this year. Ad networks don’t take enough risk. “Why shouldn’t they put up a 50 cent guaranteed minimum?”
– RSS = really simple stealing

Finally, Scott Meyer, CEO of
– America’s largest developer of original content. 500 guides who are independent contractors.
– 30 mil unique visitors
– Diversify your revenue stream. They do this through relevant ads, ecommerce/lead generation, and sponsored links
– Offers boxes on the left nav helped drive results quite impressively
– They have a metrics team. They say within the company: “Every pixel is precious”. test and learn all the time.

One Comment

  1. Peter says:

    Anyone know how to control or restrict the key terms that appear with the Link Unit from Google Adsense on the page?

  2. by Peter — July 25, 2007 @ 5:26 pm