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SES: The Context Of Money

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Contextual advertising can be a nice little revenue stream for the site publisher who puts in the work, and we have some advice from the SES San Jose session presenters on the topic.

(Our on-scene WebProNews staff has passed along this latest news from SES San Jose 2007. If you can’t be there, you need to be here with WebProNews this week, for videos and reports.)

Jennifer Slegg of JenSense.com called banner blindness a growing problem. That doesn’t bode well for the publisher who wants to earn money from advertising.

She suggested rotating ads, and varying the color and style can help. Optimizing ad title colors provides a better chance for higher click-through rates. External-link colors should be consistent with that title color too.

Site publishers should be wary of CPA referral ads. Slegg said she has seen people go and select random ads that aren’t super-targeted to their audience. That leads to poor performing ads.

Filtering represents another potential trap. Site publishers should only filter ads that are for competitors; grossly mistargeted ads; and ads that are inappropriate for the desired audience.

The temptation exists to place more ad units than fewer on a site’s pages. A case study Slegg discussed found its subject had worse performance with three ad units than with just one. Overloading pages with ad units is a beginner’s mistake, she said.

Jeremy Schoemaker of Shoemoney urged publishers to make sure one’s site is complete and functional before dropping contextual ads onto those pages. He suggested 1,000 unique visitors per day as the mark to hit before placing contextual ads.

With contextual ads, publishers don’t make money until people leave. Having a solid base of incoming traffic per day increases the opportunities for ads to convert into clicks, and profit.

Schoemaker has continually experimented with what he does with ad units. Sometimes that has meant operating in a grey area of the terms of service of a contextual ad provider like Google’s AdSense.

"I’ve been warned a half a dozen times in the past 3 years, but I always immediately respond and address the situation," he said.

The temptations of making money quickly can’t be allowed to overcome a sensible approach to using contextual advertising. Site publishers should test ads, and track them with something like Google Analytics, which Schoemaker called "phenomenal for a free product."

Like any other way to make money legitimately, contextual advertising requires some hard work on the part of the site publisher. Building an audience, testing and retesting contextual units, and tracking ad performance can reward that effort over time.

SES: The Context Of Money
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