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In essence, he displays an ad on his forum only every tenth page, and puts other content there the rest of the time. One of the interesting notes is that rather than accepting the typical "heat map" as how viewers will scan a page, his technique of content rotation may actually modify the heat map. Despite showing only a tenth as many ads, he reports that revenues are up.
I think in a previous thread someone else mentioned content rotation with ads as a way to boost CTR and revenue.
Anyone have any other tricks or tips? Ones that comply with program terms of service, that is?
I have also toyed with allowing registered users to opt out of ads altogether. I expected that offering a completely ad-free experience would be preceived as a benefit of membership. I was wrong, the users let me know otherwise. They expected the ads.
To go OT into AdSense technical minutiae for a second, it's been suggested that smart pricing factors are driven by statistics fro across your portfolio of sites in the AS account, not per-site stats. So "pulling the weeds" by removing lower-performing forum placements can benefit your overall AS performance, even on otherwise unrelated sites. I find that viewpoint fits my observations quite well. Like most things, there's not any hard evidence that would be the case for everyone, so test test test.
Added: how about refining the technique to show ads at a rate dependent on postcount (or postcount-based group)?
I'm about to upload a new batch of trivia, i'll see if that boosts CTR. If not, I'll start experimenting to the ad:trivia ratio. Perhaps putting something more interesting/eye catching than trivia is the answer; i wonder whether i could rotate a shoutbox?
That might be good... or a few of the most recent new thread titles?
I think whatever you rotate has to have some variation. I.e., instead of showing the same shout post time after time until someone posts a new one, you'd be better off rotating the last ten shouts... Even that might get boring.
I agree that the hard part is having enough stuff to rotate through there so people keep looking. Maybe even some kind of external feeds could be used?