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StarBuG
20 Mar 2010, 15:22
Hello

Like most of you know Google Adsense is a good way to monetize your vBulletin Forum to cover your costs and even earn money with it.

But simply slapping a few banners on your forum will not get the maximum amount of money out of your forum.
Who would have guessed?

You most likely know that Google Adsense offers custom channels for tracking.
But how do you use it to maximize your earnings?

The big secret is experiment with placements, colors and fonts and TRACK YOUR RESULTS!

I worked with adsense for nearly 5 years now and I am constantly improving my ads on my forum to maximize earnings.
This is only possible if you track EVERY SINGLE AD on your forum via separate Adsense Channels.

I first will explain how to use channels and after that I will explain why it is important to use them this way...
so bear with me ;)

The secret to tracking Adsense with channels

You must create a channel for each single ad you place on your site.
Tracking every ad is easy if you have "just" one website/forum.

If you have multiple websites (like I do) then an expressive naming system will help you a lot with tracking your ads.

Example:

I have 5 websites, but for this example I use 2 to make it easier.
I run www.patientenfragen.net (http://www.patientenfragen.net/en/) and www.elternfragen.net (http://www.elternfragen.net/en/)

Both websites use the same ad locations to display adsense ads.
To differentiate the Channels from the different websites my channels start with:

PatFra or EltFra

Suggestion 1: Start all your channels with a short acronym for your different websites


Now you are able to track each website with channels.

If you use multiple ad units on your website you most likely use different ad formats as well.
Like I for example use a leaderboard (728x90px) below the navbar, two large rectangles in showthread as second post and some other ad units as well.

To track the different ad formats use acronyms for each ad format.
I use:

LB = Leaderboard
LR = Large Rectangle
LU = Link Unit
B = Banner (468x60px)
and so on....

So the channel names so far look like:
PatFra - LR - Suggestion 2: Use acronyms for the ad formats in each channel

Now you are able to track each website and each ad format with channels.

If you use multiple ad formats you most likely use multiple ad locations as well.
I for example place ads into the navigation, below the navigation, into a thread as second post and so on....

To track the different ad formats use expressive names for their location.

I for example use template names or descriptive names to describe the location:

"navbar" for ads in the navbar template
"2nd post" for ads in the second post of each thread
...

So the channel names so far look like:
PatFra - LR - 2nd postSuggestion 3: Use a descriptive name for each placement in each channel


If you display 2 ad units of the same type in the same ad location don't use the same channel.
Remember, track each single ad separately!

I for example use 2 large rectangles in each thread as second post:

To all the New: Welcome (http://www.patientenfragen.net/en/vorstellungen/to-all-the-new-welcome-t1810.html)

Add an ID into the channel name so you can differentiate each of the same ads.

In my example the channel for those two described ads above look like:

PatFra - LR #1 - 2nd post
PatFra - LR #2 - 2nd post
Suggestion 4: Use different IDs for ads of the same format in the same ad location

If you start experimenting with different ad formats like changing font size, background color etc...

Use a description to name the changes you did and create a new channel for the banner with the changes.

For example:
Not long ago I experimented with the different font sizes to see which font size performs best on my website in the leaderboard below the navigation.

So I created 3 new channels:


PatFra - LB - LF - navbar
PatFra - LB - MF - navbar
PatFra - LB - SF - navbar
With LF being the large font, MF being the medium font and SF being the small font.

Suggestion 5: Use descriptive naming for changes to the ad layout and create a separate channel for each changed banner

OK, now we have the naming thing down.
Let's get to using these channels to create useful reports for tracking purposes:

Log into your Adsense account, click on the Reports - Advanced reports tab.

Here you can create all the reports you will need to track your channels.

What kind of reports are useful to have?

I use the following reports:

One Report for each website that shows all channels for:
Todays tracking
Yesterdays tracking
This month tracking
Last month tracking

I named them in a similar descriptive way like I did with channels.

PatFra - All channels - TodayAlso one report that shows all channels for:
Todays tracking for all websites
Yesterdays tracking for all websites
This month tracking for all websites
Last month tracking for all websites

And one report that shows aggregated total earnings for:
This month
Last month

These are just my reports that I am interested in but you can create as much statistics as you like once you know how to do it.

Let's get started with an example for a Report of all channels on one website for todays tracking

On "Reports - Advanced reports" Tab you can chose:

Choose product: which shows you reports for content or search ads.

Chose "Adsense for content" because that is what this examples are about

Below that you see all settings for the time interval of the report.
We want to display all channels for one website for today so we chose "today" in the first drop down.

On the right site below "show" you can select, if you want "aggregated data" (combines all channels into one day) and "channel data".
Select "channel data".

Now select all channels in the box that just appeared that starts with the website you want to create this report for.
That is easy because we started each channel with the acronym for each website.

In my example I selected all channels starting with "PatFra"

Select Group by: "Channel" to display all channels

Blow that box is "Choose Units".
Because we named all ad formats differently and therefor can differentiate link units from ad units select "combined"

Click on "Display Report" and you will see a nice list of all your channels for this website for today.

Now finally so that we don't have to do this every time we want to see this report we will save it.
Above your channel report on the right site there is "Save as Report Template:"

Enter a descriptive name for your report, e.g.:
PatFra - All channels - Todayand click Save

Now do these steps to create and save all the reports you want for your statistics.
See my reports list above if you need inspiration.

Now to the experimenting and optimization part to get the maximum out of your adsense placements

First of all in order to see if changes you made to your ads will have a positive or negative effect you have two options:

Option 1:
Run an ad for 1-2 weeks, then change it with the modified ad, run this ad for the same amount of time and see which ad performs best.
Remember, you are able to tell because each ad has a different channel so you have the stats ;)

PRO: You don't need an Adserver
CON:
- It will take a longer time to find out which ad performs best
- Variations in clicks and ad impressions based on the number of visits can falsify the conclusion

Option 2:
Install an Ad Server to manage your ADs.
I personally run: OpenX (http://www.openx.org)
You can either install it on your own server or you can use the free hosted option from openX.

I wont get into how to use the AD Server but if you use the naming system for the Adserver as well you will see it is quite easy.

PRO: you can run multiple ad layouts in rotation to see which performs best
CON: It takes additional work to setup the ad server

I personally strongly suggest you use Option 2.
In the long run this will save you time and has far better results then Option 1

My last secret I want to share with you is:

Never stop optimizing your ADs on your website.
There is always room for improvement.

If anyone wants to expand on the topic of using AdSense Channels you can read my newest Article:

Different strategies to use AdSense Channels (http://www.adsenseexperts.com/adsense-statistics-channels/strategies-adsense-channels-t31.html)


May the money be with you :D

StarBuG

ps: Feedback of how it worked for you, suggestions, additions and useful criticisms are very welcome

StarBuG
05 May 2010, 17:13
Is it only me who cares about tracking and optimizing ads or is this article so basic that no one cares to write a comment?

ChopSuey
07 May 2010, 09:04
May the money be with you " - Awesome line good artice, i'll look into it.

kamcreation
13 May 2010, 12:02
Nice Tips would surely try these.

adeel80
02 Oct 2010, 20:50
Great Advice. Will start doing this from today. Thanks for sharing :)

daveaite
06 Oct 2010, 20:45
I do the same as well, creating a channel for each ad. This is a must as you can always monitor improvements within ad click through and payout. Ones that do bad, change them up.

2fast4ya
04 Nov 2010, 18:48
Very interesting, this is much appreciated, thanks for taking the time to write it.

StarBuG
04 Nov 2010, 19:49
If anyone wants to expand on the topic of using AdSense Channels you can read my newest Article:

Different strategies to use AdSense Channels (http://www.adsenseexperts.com/adsense-statistics-channels/strategies-adsense-channels-t31.html)

Greetings

StarBuG

08 Nov 2010, 02:04
Great tips, StarBuG. Thanks for sharing them with us.

SaN-DeeP
08 Nov 2010, 16:46
Great article Starbug.. bookmarked this for use on forums.

StarBuG
09 Nov 2010, 16:04
You are welcome ;)

Edgespeeder06
11 Jan 2011, 23:00
do you have any recommendations for someone trying to get a forum with over 4000 unique visits approved by adsense? I have tried several times using my forum at www.NJStangers.org

Blog at www.NJStangers.net and with flixya.com and few others but have been rejected every time. Please advise if you have any recommendations.

Thanks.

StarBuG
12 Jan 2011, 13:24
Normally it should not be a problem to get approved by AdSense with your forum.
Maybe it is because you only allow guest access to off topic forums.

RobbieZ
11 Feb 2011, 23:17
Excellent stuff, Have you been able to get better revenue by placing an advert where you sign into the forum? Im not sure of that particular part of the forum would be called to place an advert there.

But anyone browsing and coming across your forum and NOT signing in or registering will still see the advert which should cause income, should it not?

StarBuG
11 Feb 2011, 23:58
I don't really understand your question, sorry