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Google AdSense Forum

AdSense vs private vendor arrangements
Just curious as to your thoughts on the two.

 1:26 pm on Jul 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

Say for instance I have a popular non-commercial hobby site and I'm a prime target for something like AdSense. It seems to me that I have another option - cut google out as the middle-man.

High content sites are on the agenda for online vendors of products and services. I think that will be reflected in the success of AdSense. What is to stop me contacting the online vendors direct and coming to an arrangement with them for a set monthly fee?

I'd appreciate anyone's thoughts on this. The reason I raise the question is we have been considering AdSense but in the meantime have been approached by two manufacturers of widgets who are looking for a deal.

What we don't like about AdSense is the fixed design aspect and the fact that we have to fit our site around that rather than the other way around whcih is, in my view, how it should be. Our site is very design orientated. I don't want to change anything, but AdSense will look *OK* but not fantastic. If I were custom building the ads myself I could obviously make it integrate beautifully.

What are the other pro's and cons in your view?




 1:45 pm on Jul 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

A major pro with adsense is the low maintenance on your part - just throw in the code and forget about it. Managing ads privately must take a lot more work.


 1:53 pm on Jul 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

But does it really take a lot more work? Quite easy to set up a php module that does it for you - you just supply the link and the text. The rest from there on is actually easier than setting up for AdSense I would think?



 4:18 pm on Jul 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

For a small site like mine AdSense makes much more sense than selling my own ad space. I donít see how I could make money though selling my own ads than I am making right now from AdSense.


 4:23 pm on Jul 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

I donít see how I could make money though selling my own ads than I am making right now from AdSense.

That's the part I don't really understand - as a vendor I would think it more profitable to advertise directly by association.

If I had a Video Camera reviews site, the best place for a link to a vendor (from a vendor's point of view anyway) would be a "click here to buy now" link at the end of the review.

That, I would think, has far greater value.

Or am I missing something here?



 4:29 pm on Jul 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

Unless you're a decent size, advertisers aren't going to bother dealing with you. And if they do, they'll want to get a cheaper deal than they get at Google, otherwise what's the point.

Then you have to do customer service - provide stats, send invoices, have secure payment or some other cash collection mechanism, chase advertisers that can't pay or won't pay, find advertisers (unless you're lucky and they come to you), vet the ads, ensure they're up, deal with complaints when they're not or the link breaks, answer questions on clickthrough fraud, ensure their competitors can't run down their accounts, have an appropriate privacy policy, etc. etc.

If you're big, or have a very desirable niche audience, it may be worth it. But otherwise, I'd leave it to Google.


 4:49 pm on Jul 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

I do ads for one of my sites, as well as all the maintenance that goes along with it (all hand coded, no php ad solution). Right now, I would say that unless I am (greatly) underestimating the amount of revenue that AdSense would pull, I am making more money with advertisers.

As for maintenance, once the actual coding is done, I have very little work to do. But I don't provide PPC style of advertising for my advertisers, it is strictly static ads on a per week, per month, or per year basis. I have the occasional request by advertisers to update a URL or start-up price, but generally, once I have done the initial coding, I can forget about it until the ad expires.

I am going to try AdSense on a portion of my site that does not already have text ads, so I can compare the two, but my instinct tells me I am better off doing advertising on my own.


 4:56 pm on Jul 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the info Jenstar. This is kind of what I had in mind - hand coded php engine would make life very easy.


have a very desirable niche audience

That's us.

I understand the point about having to chase for payment etc, but my gut instinct tells me the increase in margins would make it worth it.

And if they do, they'll want to get a cheaper deal than they get at Google, otherwise what's the point.

I think that actually advertisers would pay considerably more money than for google AdSense. What they get is the real deal - targetted in context link traffic. AdSense is not that - it's close, but not the full deal. I'm talking about links to shopping sites that are within, for example, review text.

But I'm interested in hearing from others like Jenstar who have done this.



 5:04 pm on Jul 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

I understand the point about having to chase for payment etc

For my site, all ad payments must be paid for up front. Ads do not go live until payment has been made in full. Every once in a while, I will put an ad online before payment, but this is usually only in special circumstances of repeat advertisers I trust to send the payment on the date they say they will. Otherwise, there is just too much hassle chasing down payments.


 6:44 pm on Jul 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

Why does it have to be either/or? AdSense doesn't prohibit you from running display ads on your pages (only competing text ads). So why not use both?

Let's say you've got an information site devoted to amateur radio. Ray's Radio Rodeo, one of the top three ham mail-order outfits in the country, wants to advertise on your site. So does BeamWorks, a company that builds and sells ham antennas. So...

1) You run a 125 x 125 button for those Ray's Radio Rodeo and BeamWorks on every page, or you run display banners for those sponsors. You collect a hefty monthly fee from each sponsor. AND...

2) You also run AdSense banners to get all the advertisers who don't want banners, don't want to be sponsors, or sell equipment that fits very specialized needs.

Note the reference to "very specialized needs." This is where AdSense really shines. Looking at your imaginary ham-radio site again, we notice that you've got a handful of pages for CW (Morse code) and RTTY (radioteletype), two subspecialties of amateur radio that appeal to a limited number of hams. With AdSense, a vendor of CW keys or RTTY equipment can easily advertise on those special-interest pages. Even a sponsor like Ray's Radio Rodeo might want to buy AdSense ads for CW keys or RTTY equipment if it wants to move those specific products.

Bottom line: AdSense doesn't have to replace direct ad sales. It can complement direct ad sales, just as it's now complementing (without cannibalizing) affiliate sales on my own Web site.


 7:19 pm on Jul 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

So why not use both?

The vast majority of my advertisers want text ads, not banners or buttons. Text ads outperform the banner ads by a wide margin, at least on my site, and likely on others too. True graphical banners account for very little of my overall ad revenue. And it comes down to what the advertisers want and will pay for, so I cater to them ;)


 8:00 pm on Jul 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

Looking at many Google Adsense sites it seems you are allowed to have other text ads. I have also seen an email quoted on another message board stating that google does not mind affiliate text ads.

I think they only object to similar content-targeted-automatically-generated text ad systems.

Email google and ask them if you can include text ads for your customers as well as google adsense ads.


 9:59 pm on Jul 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think it really boils down to preventing double exposures of the same ads.

It would really serve if google was more specific and gave greater details instead of using ssuch blanket bans/rules to avoid spending effort on clarifying it's stance.



 12:10 pm on Jul 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

re: other text ads, what Google is saying (IMO) is that you cannot have something like an Overture version of AdSense running alongside Google's.

re: the design etc., I went to www.timeanddate.com today to see what time it was in Seattle (to see what time the "day" began for AdSense) and saw across the top of the pages a customized AdSense ad. Horizontal banner, custom color and font, and served up to 4 links in horizontal mode (whereas AdSense only serves 2 in horizontal banner mode). So if you have the high-volume hits, you can apply for this.

re: again, design. Many have complained about it. Yet I found that on one of my sites, it fit perfectly. (Maybe my design isn't so hot, eh? LOL)


 12:55 pm on Jul 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

on the other text ads prohibition issue, i asked google direct on this and went to one of my pages to have a look. According to them the inhouse (one site) text ad system we were already using did inddeed mean we couldnt use it on the same page. They ARE in a box but the design predated adsense and even adwords! They generally had double the amount of words than adwords, and sometimes a small graphic, were rotated, and there was a link at the bottom to our ad rates page.

So we are testing adwords on diferent pages to compare ROI using adwords vs our own system.


 1:55 pm on Jul 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

So why not use both?

I have no evidence to back this up, but again gut instinct tells me that a vendor would be likely to pay a higher price for advertising where AdSense is not present (I would).

Again, I think those figures are likely to be higher than AdSense would pay, because Google is not making a profit on top.

AdSense does not offer anything that a webmaster cannot offer a potential advertiser direct.

And if AdSense is targetting high traffic information websites I can only see that it's a matter of time before vendors start approaching those websites with more lucrative proposals?

Being in control has it's advantages - you get to set the prices and you get a set monthly fee. You get paid a month in advance rather in arrear. You also get to dictate the style and placement of the textual links (as part of the negotiation with the client) with the human ability to really make sure it's in context rather than that decision being taken by a piece of software.

When I first read about AdSense my initial reaction was "hey, what a great idea". But on thinking it through, and after having been approached by vendor sites now (surprisingly close to the launch of AdSense btw) I'm starting to think "what's the benefit?".

And I still haven't found an answer to that question, except the admin is made easier and you don't need to go chasing payment, both of which are easily dealt with if approached in the right way.



 3:39 pm on Jul 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

AdSense does not offer anything that a webmaster cannot offer a potential advertiser direct.

Yes, it does. It offers targeting of advertising by page--which translates into ads from more different advertisers.

Let's use a real-life example: I have a site with some 3,500 pages of travel-planning information. A couple of those pages deal with barge cruises. Now, my site gets a lot of traffic (well over 1 million impressions a month), but only a small percentage of that traffic is on the pages about barge cruises. So it's highly unlikely that a barge-cruising company or travel agency would find it worth the bother to purchase a dedicated ad on my site. AdSense makes it practical for those advertisers to run ads on my site as wel as Google's search pages. That's good for the advertisers, and it's good for me because it provides incremental advertising revenue that I'd never be able to obtain otherwise.

And if AdSense is targetting high traffic information websites I can only see that it's a matter of time before vendors start approaching those websites with more lucrative proposals?

Not necessarily. On a high-fidelity site, for example, a mail-order vendor like Crutchfield (which sells all kinds of stereo gear) might find it useful to buy run-of-network ads. But a company that specializes in replacement cartridges and stylii for phonograph turntables might be like the barge-cruising advertiser in my previous example: It would be much better off buying an AdSense ads that runs on Google and highly relevant pages at many different sites.

Also, you've got to remember that some advertisers and advertising agencies don't have the knowledge or the inclination to deal with indidivdual Webmasters. They may not know which sites have the pages that will help to sell their products, and they may not know how to find those pages. Those barge-cruising companies and that phono-stylii vendor are cases in point: It's unlikely that they know my site has two pages on barge cruising, or that somebody's high-fidelity site has an article on phono turntables. And they may prefer to deal with a known corporate entity (Google) than with an individual they've never met. (Don't underestimate the importance of the "familiarity factor"--in the ad business, it's a lot more important than logic might suggest.)


 3:51 pm on Jul 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think it makes sense to view AdSense as an aggregation tool for advertisers (hit a bunch of closely related pages, where individually neither party would find it worth the time to connect with the other), and as a testbed for website owners (test fly the AdSense stuff, and find out what works. Then cut your direct deals armed with a fair knowledge of what works in your niche, and what sort of cash you can expect to make. If the advertisers only want to pay $3 CPM, and you're making $3.50 from AdSense, you can be strong and say "No" until they offer $5)


 3:53 pm on Jul 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

Exactly. I have the case of a large site with many pages on wildly different topics. Eahc page only gets 1-2 impressions per day, but ion total it ads up. I could never sell that space to high-price advertisers exclusively.



 4:01 pm on Jul 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

OK guys, I can see all of those benefits - but I have a high content hobby related site in a very niche market where each page is relevant to the overall topic.

So what do you think from my point of view?

I guess the only real answer is to try AdSense and see what happens?


<Had to bail out of foo for a second as the posting speed in there is approaching violent!>


 4:42 pm on Jul 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

OK guys, I can see all of those benefits - but I have a high content hobby related site in a very niche market where each page is relevant to the overall topic.
So what do you think from my point of view?

I like TallTroll's idea of using AdSense as a "test bed" to set a rate floor. If you can find advertisers who'll pay more than your effective AdSense CPM, great; if not, you can just stick with AdSense until something better comes along.


 5:05 pm on Jul 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

Funilly enough, we had a meeting today discussing our new advertising system, and considered the same thing. Have an onsite bidding for ad space, with the adsense payout as the minimum bid. Then bit by bid replace adsense with direct advertisers, and leave adsense to fill in the unsold inventory.



 5:07 pm on Jul 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

Killroy - great idea.

That's maybe what I'll do....



 8:17 pm on Jul 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

You can make way more money if you sell directly to advertisers. The more customized your offering, the better success you'll have.

But, it can be a mountain of work to integrate specific ads into various categories that will only serve up a few page impressions.

Sell ads when you can to get revenue, and use Adsense as your default.

Until now, our defaults had to be affiliate programs which typically paid out pennies, so the world has improved. But we're not at the point where Google does a good enough job of ad sales that we can all just focus on content.

Maybe someday...

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