Blog > Earning Money From Contextual Ads

Earning Money From Contextual Ads

This is a transcript of the live session in San Jose, August 20, 2007. Subject to typographical errors. 

Earning Money From Contextual Ads
This session looks at the way publishers can generate revenue by carrying contextual ads offered by major networks. Learn about some programs out there and tips on getting more from the ads you carry.



  • Danny Sullivan, Conference Co-Chair, Search Engine Strategies San Jose



Danny intro’s how many are earning money off of AdSense.


Jennifer Slegg:


How to influence ads that appear. Title tags are most important for getting targeted ads. Make sure they have good keywords. Metatags influences AdSense. Alt tags in images. Proximity – Ad units should be placed near content to influence ads. If you have a site and not getting relevant ads – can contact Google to get tools for more relevant ads. Stop words – not as big as used to be, words trip the paid service announcement ads.


Enabling image ads if have too many text units. Adding images gets more CPM ads, and will look less ad heavy. No PSA’s in second ad units. The ad unit that appears first in HTML will have the highest CTR. Even if it looks high up on the page, it won’t get the highest paid ads. The highest paid ads are the ones highest in the HTML.


Borders – beginners mistake – assume blended is best. Test different colors, styles, corners.

To test YPN, you need to split test. Some people make more with YPN.

Drawing attention to your ads: Labeling sponsored ads works.

AdSense for search – some people report dismal results or make alot. Hit or miss.

Offer a site search solution, so you can monetize the ads.

Banner blindness – big problem. So, some things you can do is Ad Rotation – OpenAds, – different colors, styles, sizes, mix them up- and CTR goes up. When testing, setup custom channels so you can see which ads people respond best too. Can make sidewide changes based on that.


CPA ads – referral ads – super targeted. Don’t go overboard. Don’t select everyone just because Google says they are performing well.


Think about the links. Think about the words that are leading to the page. Make sure you have good keywords in link text. Helps get more relevant ads.


Remove clutter – everything can influence ads. Externalize Javascript and CSS. User section targetting, so you don’t dilute ads on page. Want best ads for your content.


Ad Titles is a good trick becoming more well known. Optimize ad title colors. Hyperlink “blue”, or a “brighter” version works great. Use an external link thats different.


Use filter lists with caution. Some people blacklist poor paying ads. Only filter competitors, grossly mistargetted ads, and inappropriate for audience.


One ad unit vs. three. One can make more than 3. More is not always better. Beginners mistake – overloading page with units. Don’t overload customer with advertising – give a good user experience.


AdSense on forums. CTR is low. Change style and colors, so people dont skim overthem. Image ads do better on forums. Attract the CPM advertisers – have a link to send them to Adwords.


Blogging with AdSense. Try YPN RSS ads. Section targeting. Use ads on individual pages rather than homepages. Never put ad units on homepage. Image and flash heavy sites – add image ads – not text ads.


Protecting your AdSense account:


  • Don’t mix adwords and adsense accounts
  • Unsecured connection – don’t go into a public computer
  • Keep raw logs for bad clicks
  • Use ad tracker – it gives you lots of information including IP’s clicking
  • Adsense keeps changing policies – keep up to date
  • Email whitelist on your spam filter- add, etc.

If you get banned for any reason, they will give you 3 days to rectify. Sometimes they block the account, domain, or page. Resolve issues as soon as possible. Don’t do anything to incite clicks such as buying traffic, emailing people to click ads, blabbing stats or beta tests – can’t give out stats. NEVER CLICK ON YOUR OWN ADS! Even if interest in products.

If you get suspended, look at logs. Adtrackers come in handy. Look for something unusual. Competitors sometimes try to sabatoge you. You need raw logs , if you dont have them, get them! Formally appeal any suspension if it happens. Invalid clicks include bad traffic sources, or inciting clicks (ie in a newsletter). Thank you!



How he got started – always into creating free services for himself and friends. Started a mobile service where one can upload pictures and also in the ringtone business. Started March 8, 2004. Made $4 a day and was ecstatic. Got obsessesd with how cool. Started reading WMW and DP, bought ebook. Read all of, got more into marketing – within 6 months – got fired for reading too many books on subject.


Looks for a site that is completely functional, and then monetize. Looks for site that has a min of 1000 visitors a day. Don’t kill a site before it gets started. Positive aspects – so easy, anyone can do it. Negative – lots of work, need to target properly. Be careful not to ruin user experience. Also, people have to leave your site to make money. Goal is to build subscription base – RSS readers – repeat traffic. With contextual advertising – there is black, white, gray – so much creativity – not much defined as good or bad. Innovative or ATBB – about to be banned. At one time, people put images above ads, like girls in bikinis to draw attention to ads. Thats no longer allowed. “click here or you will die” tags.


Contextual Arbitrage: Buy traffic from MSN for $.05, and then get $.60 from Google. Find value of visitor. Buy traffic for cheap, and send it to my page that has a good CTR – good return.


Bear Share is the biggest filesharing P2P network. They ask if you want it to make the homepage Bear Share. Your startpage is Infecting alot of people. Against TOS because modified Adsense code.


Just look at digital point forums to see how many people are getting banned. Shoemoney has been warned a few times, but always complies. Keep a good record of compliance.


YPN is a mess right now. Still unstable. Bad targetting. Too focused on advertisers and not publishers. Lot’s of false alarm compliance issues.


Tools: Uses – Heatmap- where they click. Can see best positioning. Also uses Analytics and raw logs. is a new free product – v 2.3 0 You can throw in your Yahoo and Google account and varies colors and styles and mixes up ads. Digg users and FF users don’t click on ads as much. Set up a rule that if they are coming from Digg or Firefox, lets show them something else.


CPC is most important metric. 1 click and gone effect. The most money you can make from one click, the better. Test EVERYTHING. Use an Ad server if possible, use analytics, heatmaps, and communication!!!


Bryan Vu:

His job is to help Adsense publishers do better. Ads from Googlers don’t count as paid clicks. New ad formats. Gadget ads. Video content. Goal is advertiser performance balance and publisher. Publishers can create channels for different demographics. New products that are coming out. Acquired feedburner to help monetize feeds. Just announced deal for content syndication with Seth McFarland (Family Guy), trying to get more use out of the Adsense API, and Adsense for Mobile.

[tags]ses san jose, search engine strategies, ses, contextual advertising, shoemoney, YPN, AdCenter, AdSense, JenSense[/tags]

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