Conclusions from tracking ads
I’ve been using the WordPress plugin Adsense Logger for about 4 weeks, and at the same time I’ve also been using a script called phpmyads to run the network advertising and also track things like some of the text links and there are a couple of conclusions I’d like to share on advertising behaviour on blogs that may be useful. I’d note that the readership of all the Weblog Empire sites, and the Blog Herald in particular tends to be high in repeat visitors and links from other blogs as opposed to search engine traffic only, hence the conclusions may not hold true if you’ve got the majority of your traffic coming in from search engines.
1. New ads work
You will always get a higher CTR on new ads, both text and graphical (but not Adsense). Think of it like a honeymoon for ads. In the case of the Blog Herald new ads are good for probably 2 to 3 days in terms of decent CTR, then they drop off to lower levels. Ive tracked the ads from BlogAds for a period as well (sorry Opera users, my bad). My advice if you’re advertising using BlogAds over a period of time: rotate your ad graphics maybe once a week.
2. Regular readers tend to be ad blind
Darrens written about this previously over at Problogger but I’ve actually seen in the figures for the first time. Sure, regular readers will click on ad spots but the CTR is much lower than for new readers, particularly on Adsense ads. Ive had lot of different traffic in the last four weeks on a variety of different subjects and its the posts bringing in completely new traffic that have the high CTR’s, and I’m talking at times four to five times higher rates on the same ad spot as per a post that would attract a regular reader
3. Old posts = revenue
It really, really surprised me how many days I’d look at the stats and see clickthrus from Adsense ads on pages here at the Blog Herald that are so old I don’t even remember writing them! And sometimes the CTR is higher on these pages as well. Perhaps the Adsense ad was more relevant that the 2 year old content? who knows!
4. Niche topics deliver better ad results
I’m a believer in mixing and matching, and you’ll always see a variety of topics and posts here at the Blog Herald, some you’ll be interested in, some you wont, but that’s the way it should be because its a broad horizon. Statistically however its niche topics that do best in terms of CTR, perhaps in part because they bring in new traffic. Without giving away which posts did best (I’m mindful of the Adsense TOS after all, and don’t want to suggest any particular figures) topics that relate to specific occupations, geographic areas or types of people seem to work better than general topics relevant to your broader readership collectively, but again I could suggest that its because the links into the post come from different readership bases as well.
5. Network bars don’t work
The bar across the top of the Weblog Empire blogs is as useful as you know what on a bull. I can disclose the CTR on this one because its nothing to do with Adsense: in the last week 0.12% CTR. Terrible figures. I’m working on a new project (that shall not be named) at the moment and I’ve dispensed with this spot altogether. It’s handy for network branding but a waste of space in my experience for advertising. I’d note that Jason Calacanis at Weblogs Inc uses these and Nick Denton at Gawker doesn’t. My call is Nick is right. I may yet play with the top bar here though as I’ve become attached to it, but if it doesn’t start improving its going to disappear.
6. Top banners are marginally better
I’ve been playing with the top banner space as well. Its marginally better that the top line network bar, but again, rotation is important. If you’re going to do a banner see if you can rotate it with a number of ads, alternatively if you’ve signed the one advertiser see if they’ve got a variety of ads for you to rotate, your CTR rates will be better if you do.
7. Text Links work
Some people might think that text links are all about Google juice, and although they might be partially right, they’d also be partially wrong, because I was amazed to see some text links in the nav bars doing reasonable CTR rates. Sure, not amazingly high, but when people attack O’Reilly and others on the basis of relevance I’d argue that if one person clicks on it, it must be relevant to them. In the case on my tracking, it was a lot more than one person.
One of the most useful posts I’ve seen anywhere for a while Duncan – quality quality stuff. I’ll be pointing people to this post for a long time.
Thanks for the info, Duncan.
There’s no way we could have gotten this without your sharing it with us.
I’m sure that we all can learn and profit from such an in-depth case study.
I’ll echo Darren, useful, quality writing.
I’ll also echo the part about old posts, as we see more clicks from these than we do the new stuff on a daily basis.
Very interesting post. After configuring channels for all of the Adsense ads running on each of my sites also. It is interesting to actually see what ads work and what ads don’t. I have also found that by varying the rotation of colours of the adsense ads this can help a bit with the regular reader blindness.
Nice job Duncan.
This is some excellent information, thanks.
Thank you for sharing! Especially pointing out the different behaviours of regular readers and new readers.
It’s interesting what you say about niche topics creating a higher CTR. One thing I like to do after writing a post is to view the post on its own and see what AdSense serves up.
I’m currently creating a new website and am consciously implimenting extremely niche posts about 20% of the time to see how they perform.
Nice piece on the reco.. of mixing the content. I could clearly see how that will definately bring new visitors. Geoffrey
great post. very informative. I will apply the knowledge and tell my readers this too.
Interersting about the old posts. After they scroll off our page we seem to forget all about them. I think we need to harness the potentials that our older posts have – I don’t know many people visit archives or actively seek older stuff.
Maybe more thought should be put into getting older posts somehow back on the main page… maybe a random feature, a best of…, related posts etc.,
Good post Duncan, got the mind thinking now.
I agree on the value of old posts; something like a random link or a “Best Of” or “Favorites” series would be helpful.
Thanks for the helpful report, I am now installing that plugin you mentioned. Good luck with your web empire! :)
Echoing others here Duncan, but this is a very neat post, highly informative and with lots of food for thought. It’s generous of you to share this, and especially appreciated I would guess by others who, like me, get a bit overwhelmed by the varying opinions on this stuff. I’m also fascinated when I see in my stats, each day, old posts being visited.
Having just started to incorporate ads in posts, this post held my interest. Any thoughts to which size ads work best? Have you received feedback on which sizes your readers prefer?
P.S. I like the way you utilize the Recent Posts below.
Duncan, you’re amazing. You make it all sound so simple that even a dunderhead like me can understand it. Unfortunately, I’ve not been testing the ads on the top banner spot and will now go change them to banner ads rather than Google ads. Thanks for the kind help.
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Been trying out your suggestions regarding ad placements and revenue have doubled!
I totally agree with you Duncan. Regular readers do have a lower CTR than new readers. Regular readers in a way are used to the type of content the are looking for. So if they visit a blog occassionally, they will simply ignore the ads and go straight to hte content they want. However, in case of new readers, they might have to do some searching before they get to the content they want. In this process there is a greater possibiltiy that they might click on ads thus increasing the CTR. Makes sense….right!!
I would advise people to use the large rectangle adsense (if it doesn’t make your site too ugly) and link it into your page. It can help click through rates.
Also, perhaps by changing where the adsense adverts are placed from time to time, it may encourage a better CTR from repeat users.
I would also recommend that you should ban lowly paying competition adverts. You can find them out by doing a search on your keywords in google and noting which ones are listed further down the results page. If they compete with your site you should ban them in the adsense control centre. This tops your competitor getting cheap traffic.
I would also de – apartment – alise you page and understand that different things work on different pages. You should ensure that you monitor the channels very tightly and tweak poor performing pages.
On further thoughts, I would also add that if people see too many adds they may become anti ads and not click on any just because they feel they are being sold to.