Earning from Advertising Online: Thoughts, Experiments, and Conclusions

As a quick glance around any page will show you, I’ve been fiddling with ad placement on my site since I wrote the above. I was inspired by meeting Robin Good at barCamp Roma in January, where he reported that he earns 200,000 euros a year from advertising on his site. He has been remarkably generous with advice to others on “how to be your own boss thanks to your blog”, but the first tip I took from him was more by imitation. If you look at any page on his site, such as this one with video from rItaliaCamp, you’ll see that he has the (reportedly lucrative) “large rectangle” AdSense ad prominently (indeed, obnoxiously) placed right after the article title and before the body of the article, and a smaller ad is placed further down the page. I’ve never liked this aesthetically – I find it confusing to read. But apparently it brings in the revenue.

So I decided to experiment. Given my site’s current design, the closest I could get to Robin’s layout was to put an ad, as he does, between the title area and the body of the article. I chose, for the time being, to be somewhat less obnoxious, using a 468 x 60 pixel box (which usually displays two text ads) and the same background color as the page.

Wow! My AdSense earnings tripled overnight. That gain has not been consistent, but my average daily take has gone up 50% (from $4 to $6) between February and March – and I only made this change in the middle of March. I immediately applied the change throughout the site, as part of a general clean-up and simplification of my DreamWeaver templates and overall site design. We’ll see how things go now in April.

Google’s own AdSense blog offered a case study of a site which moved an AdSense text link box from the upper right corner of the page to a long bar above the title. I followed suit; that, too, has contributed to increased Google earnings, without being visually too intrusive.

I also realized that my earnings from BlogHer are per view rather than per click, so I should maximize the number of pages viewed with BlogHer ads. The quick way to do this was to put the ads into the comments section of my site as well (I also did a makeover on that area, changing the WordPress template to a simpler, non-widgetized layout which loads noticeably faster).

I can’t measure the results of this directly because BlogHer, after an initial warm fuzzy, has become impossible to work with: I lost my login information for the tracking company they are using (24×7 Media) in my infamous January Windows reload. Repeated pleas to various sources there (including a comments form that does not work) have yet to obtain the desired response – I have no way of knowing my stats for BlogHer ads. At least they do keep paying me money – the first couple of months actually more than my AdSense earnings, but February earnings were down significantly. I can only guess that this is because the ad campaigns being run on the site were less remunerative – my traffic is steadily increasing, so the numbers of views can’t be going down.

New Source of Advertising Revenue

Apr 14, 2007

Thanks to a special offer from John Chow, I was able to join a new advertising network called Kontera. If you wander around my site a bit, you’ll see the results: the new double-underlined links are automatically generated by the Kontera code now embedded in my pages. Roll over these links to pop up ads relevant to those keywords and (we hope, as the system gets to know my content) relevant to the entire page.

Now we’ll sit back and see how well this one performs…

next: Kontera out, booking.com in!

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