If you’re seeking to monetize a blog you will want to take the time to determine which ad program will have the best return on investment for a space on your blog. Here’s how I evaluate these programs:
Google Adsense - The Gold Standard
Love it or hate it, when it comes to advertising on the Internet Google’s Adsense is the one that all others are judged by. My method is to use Adsense first to get a good idea of how an ad location will perform. I note the conversion rate, eCPM, earnings and other data over a trial period, usually 2 to 4 weeks. This gives me a good baseline of how an ad should perform in that slot.
Before Deploying a New Ad System
My first criteria of a new ad system are its rules. Surprisingly, many of these are just cut-and-paste jobs from other programs! Watch out for rules that might be overly restrictive or put your Google search ranking at risk. For example, WidgetBucks had a backlinking scheme as part of their ad deployment which earned them a Google penalty.
Next, I make sure the ads are a standard size, meaning the same basic sizes that Adsense offers. Smaller is generally OK since you can place them in a DIV tag of the standard size, but larger ones that don’t fit standard sizes may cause changes to your template that might affect the way users interact with your site. Very large page and half-page sizes may work for landing pages though.
I place the new ad in a location where I had previously had Adsense and then I allow it to run for a trial period. I compare the stats between my standard, Adsense, and the new system. If it isn’t working as well it may be a targeting issue so I may tweak the criteria some. For example, if a "desktop computers" keyword wasn’t working I might switch to "laptops". I may extend the evaluation period to account for these changes. Ultimately, the bottom line for me is, "Does this ad system outperform Adsense?" If it doesn’t, I’ll pull it and either replace it with something else or put Adsense back in that slot.
Another performance concern is how the ad affects user experience. If an ad is slow to load or has other problems then I’ll pull it rather quickly.
If the company placing the ads doesn’t provide good reporting or if their stats are off, I’ll pull them. For example, you show 1000 views in a day while they show 100 views of their ads. This may mean that they aren’t recording accurately or that a lot of people have them blocked. Either way, it isn’t good for your site.
That’s how I do it. Do you have some methods you use that are different? Any other thoughts? If so, leave a comment.