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New Case Study at Adsense
Ask the Builder increases revenue from $10k to $30k per month
cyberair

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10356 posted 6:14 pm on Nov 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

In the latest Adsense case study (https://www.google.com/adsense/askthebuilder) AsktheBuilder, established in 1995, started using Adsense in April 2004. The owner of the site initially earned $10,000 per month with his site, but started playing with channels to optimize his site which took him all the way to $30,000 per month.

I looked at his site and the story repeats itself; ads are blended in the site so that it is difficult for the untrained eye to distinguish it from a regular link.

There have been some debating going on about this type of practice, however it is becoming more evident that blended ads are the most effective in CTR, and ptentially overall eCPM.

What are your thoughts?

 

brokenbricks

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10356 posted 8:24 pm on Nov 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

That's a very very plain site. I guess lots of quality traffic plus simple design equals good things.

Plus I learned how to stain my wood floor.

martinibuster

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 10356 posted 8:50 pm on Nov 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

...ads are blended in the site so that it is difficult for the untrained eye to distinguish it from a regular link.

At last year's PubCon in Vegas I stated that ad units can be conceptualized as units of content. I still stand by that statement.

Some people have the knee-jerk reaction that AdSense is not content. I agree 100%, AdSense is not content. So back up and consider what I am really saying.

AdSense units can be conceptualized as blocks of content on the page.

EFV in another thread made a great point along the lines of understanding why a visitor is at your site and how that complements your content. He asked, are you reviewing things that people want to buy, and are your ads showing people where to buy it?

If you apply the matrix of AdSense as blocks of content, then you can see the picture clearer. Imagine a page as consisting of blocks of content. On one side you have navigation, in the center you have text. Up top you might have a leaderboard of AdSense. The content within the AdSense may tell people where they can buy something. Your content may not. The content within your text and the AdSense block is complementary.

Now imagine a page of chicken recipes with links to more chicken recipes. The AdSense units may show ads for more chicken recipes. These are blocks of content that are similar to your content. What do you do? Should you integrate them tighter? If you want the most clicks, probably. But I suspect that the earnings per click will go down because people are out there for a freebie recipe, not researching to buy a recipe book. So I would say that the ads are not complementary.

If on the other hand you build a page about utensils needed to cook a chicken, featuring reviews of great pots and pans and Henkel knives etc., then your ads will be complementary.

I believe that if you think of your Ads as blocks of content, it will becomes clearer not only how you should position those ads but also what is the best complementary content for those ads.

Imo it's not necessary to make your content stand out, so much to blend it as a unit of content just as you would blend your navigation or other unit of content.

I like this guy's website. It's simple and direct with obvious blocks of content laid out in a manner that is easy to follow.

Thez

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10356 posted 9:01 pm on Nov 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

I've also experimented a lot with different colours and placement.

I noticed that placing ads inside content, in the top left side and middle gets the most clicks for me. No borders, same link/text/background color in ads works the best.

If the ad is before or after the actual content of the page, the clicks tend to be low. Nowadays when building a page I start by making a "header" or "introduction", then adding a leaderboard or a rectangle unit depending on the page's layout after that. After the ad comes the actual content, with maybe an ad in the middle "inside" the text.

On some pages where I had first a leaderboard, then the content, switching places with the leaderboard and the header sometimes even tripled click throughs for that unit.

Rodney

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10356 posted 9:03 pm on Nov 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

I like this guy's website. It's simple and direct with obvious blocks of content laid out in a manner that is easy to follow.

I agree, it's so simple and to the point, it almost hurts.

But that's one of the reason why it works. It is stripped down of any "fluff and flash" and anyone from my grandma to my 2 year old could find their way around.

The ads are tightly related to the content which to me makes them seem like an extension of the content. Just more information on the same topic.

Very nicely done.

dzcap

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10356 posted 9:05 pm on Nov 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Well I found a way to get more clicks but all it does is lower the EPC and overall revenue, what good does optimizing do? They entice us with these case studies then when you apply the same thing, your earnings plummet!

cyberair

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10356 posted 9:21 pm on Nov 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Like Rodney mentions, one thing I noticed also was the fact that the design is so simple and traditional. Contrary to CSS design styles that create a more attractive and uniform style, giving links a different look sometimes of a different color, AsktheBuilder (ATB) has white background, black text, and blue underlined links.

Nowadays in design, it isn't too obvious what is a link and what isn't. I have a feeling that much of the CTR success is also in that link clarity found in sites such as ATB. These ads are blended, but users know unequivocally that they are links.

cyberair

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10356 posted 9:32 pm on Nov 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

This was on their site:

Here are some other facts that may be of interest to you:

Ask the Builder has, on average, 10,000 - 12,500 unique user sessions per day.
The clickthrough rate for ad images at AsktheBuilder.com is between 7.5% and 32.4%. These astonishing click rates happen because visitors to AsktheBuilder.com trust AsktheBuilder.com content.

I would have expected for them to have much more traffic than that. However, the CTR is excellent. Alexa indicates an average of 2 pageviews per visit; maybe this might help calculate pageviews, but that amount of pageviews doesn't sound right.

Thez

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10356 posted 10:07 pm on Nov 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Alexa's page view indications are nowhere near the real values, at least for me it shows 1/3 of what I really have when I analyze my log files.

elfred

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10356 posted 11:57 pm on Nov 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

I wrote this in a previous thread [webmasterworld.com...] I think that web site is deceptive. I couldn't easily recognize content from affiliates. I spend most of my time trying to avoid to create a web site like that one. I prefer to have a web site where people know what they are about to click on as this is the kind of web site I trust.

[edited by: martinibuster at 3:12 am (utc) on Nov. 10, 2005]
[edit reason] fixed url [/edit]

sfatih

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10356 posted 2:47 am on Nov 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

Well I found a way to get more clicks but all it does is lower the EPC and overall revenue, what good does optimizing do? They entice us with these case studies then when you apply the same thing, your earnings plummet!

Yes, the same here. Blending ads with content, poking them into the eye of the visitors, simply don't work for my sites. cpc goes so low that all the ctr becomes worthless, plus my site looks trashy with all the ads inside content.

It must be about the type of the site I have. Mine is a quite generic service related site, not a product site. So I am trying to feel happy with low ctr and relatively high click values. I am looking forward to try Yahoo when they make it available for publishers outside US.

JoeS

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10356 posted 4:28 am on Nov 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

I visited his site and was astonished that most of his ads are link ads in the top left corner.

Amazing that he has boosted his revenue to $30k mostly with link ads.

sfatih

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10356 posted 5:51 am on Nov 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

I visited his site and was astonished that most of his ads are link ads in the top left corner.

Amazing that he has boosted his revenue to $30k mostly with link ads.


It is only the main page though. In the articles, different sized ad blocks are in the content area.

Jane_Doe

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jane_doe us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10356 posted 7:21 am on Nov 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think that web site is deceptive.

The ads are kind of in your face and overwhelming. I'm surprised to the sites makes that much. If I were looking for that kind of info, I personally would look for a much less sales oriented site.

dzcap

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10356 posted 8:26 am on Nov 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

I tried ads that are "in your face" following some of these case study examples, and within hours come smart pricing. They encourage you through case studies yet you're penalized when you use the tips.

Jane_Doe

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jane_doe us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10356 posted 6:13 pm on Nov 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

I tried ads that are "in your face" following some of these case study examples, and within hours come smart pricing. They encourage you through case studies yet you're penalized when you use the tips.

If I'm doing the math correctly, his site only makes .03 per page per day. So if you have a lot less pages to work with, you may need a different approach to make the same kind of money.

annej

WebmasterWorld Senior Member annej us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10356 posted 2:44 am on Nov 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

I visited his site and was astonished that most of his ads are link ads in the top left corner.

I noticed that too. Though he does have regular adsense on some pages there are a lot that simply have that link ad in the upper RH corner.

I have a few pages like that and have been surprised at how well they do. Maybe people feel like they have more choices with link ads.

DennyTang

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10356 posted 4:00 am on Nov 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

People read the links before they click so it's obvious that they know what they're clicking on. The ads are effective because they make the user read the ad before reading the article.

Hobbs

WebmasterWorld Senior Member hobbs us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10356 posted 6:31 am on Nov 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

Personally I blend too, but as elfred said, it does not feel right, in this forum it is common to hear people responding to what is right and what could be a violation of TOS in terms of a gut feeling when things are in the grey, the "duck test" imo confirms it is not right ethically even with G saying it works, this does not say much morally, and the TOS is contradicting itself.

IMHO there are two reasons:
1) Google TOS considers it a violation if you mask or hide "Ads by Google" in any way, while blending by definition achieves the same result.
2) The moral contract you have with your visitors and accordingly the trust meter of your site drops when you have a blended "window if greed" inside your content that you have Little Control Over specially if like me you have thousands of pages, and this window is only relevant when a) Google's relevance is spot on and b)when advertisers wordings are honest, and let's face it, a and b are not always reliable.

Please do not get me wrong, I blend for the money, and the money is good, and will keep doing it as long as it works, it just walks talks and smells like a duck, and martinibuster's call to consider this wondow content worries me as it can justify MFA pages which "ducks" the issue even more!

greatstart

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10356 posted 5:42 am on Nov 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

The funny thing is, the site owner of askthebuilder.com is actually earning more money per month with adsense than he does with his radio show. He can now retire for life!

martinibuster

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 10356 posted 6:57 am on Nov 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

martinibuster's call to consider this wondow content worries me as it can justify MFA pages which "ducks" the issue even more!

Whoa...

I am not suggesting that people consider their adsense blocks to be considered content. I am suggesting that it's a good exercise to conceptualize them as content when arranging your web page, to apply that as a matrix over your web page in order to better visualize your AdSense block positioning.

Some people have the knee-jerk reaction that AdSense is not content. I agree 100%, AdSense is not content. So back up and consider what I am really saying.

hehe. I am repeating myself.

Hobbs

WebmasterWorld Senior Member hobbs us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10356 posted 7:34 am on Nov 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

>Imo it's not necessary to make your content stand out,
>so much to blend it as a unit of content just as you would blend your navigation
>or other unit of content

Sure martinibuster, the difference is clear to me, but it will not be for unethical MFA webmasters who do not build their own content and will exploit any ambiguity, please agree that there is moral ambiguity in the blending call (that makes me money admittedly) and fails my duck test.

martinibuster

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 10356 posted 8:16 am on Nov 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

please agree that there is moral ambiguity in the blending call...

Here's what Google has to say about blending:

[google.com...]

So basically my name is Phoebe and I work on the Optimization Team here in Google AdSense...

Another important feature that I want to talk about is making sure that you are using the best colors for your site. Here you'll see a snapshot of Topics.net with the ads by Google. You can see with the colors that they've chosen that it blends well with their site. It matches the background and it looks like it provides additional content and compliments the site rather than contrasts against the site.

The reason the color palette is so important is because it adds to the content and not separate from the content and what happens is, something that we call ad blindness; so the more you blend in with the site, the less chance that ad blindness will occur.


david_uk

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10356 posted 8:21 am on Nov 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

But that's one of the reason why it works. It is stripped down of any "fluff and flash" and anyone from my grandma to my 2 year old could find their way around.

The ads are tightly related to the content which to me makes them seem like an extension of the content. Just more information on the same topic.

Erm - doesn't EVERYBODY try and have a simple, clean look to their sites, and have easy navigation?

I do know the answer to that question, but I am constantly surprised that it comes as a shock to people that simple works best!

openmind

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10356 posted 8:46 am on Nov 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

Aksthebuilder.com has got a Google Link that says "Advertise on This Site". Is that an Adwords Referral program? If so how can I join it?

openmind

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 10356 posted 8:50 am on Nov 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

OK, Have just checked the Adwords Referral program info - it's by invitation only. Is there anyone who could sticky me an invitation? Thanks in advance and keep your mind open.

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