A Publisher's Guide to Contextual PPC Ad Optimization

In case you have been living under a rock you should know that PPC contextual advertising networks such as Google Adsense or Yahoo Publisher Network have taken the online publishing world by storm. The reason is that these networks leverage their associated search engine's existing customer base of hundreds of thousands of advertisers. This, paired with complex technology for discerning the topic of a website, allows these networks to deliver targeted advertisements to practically every niche imaginable.

Targeted advertisements have long been the holy grail for website publishers as they work wonderfully and bring in good revenue. Previously to get such advertisements publishers needed to either solicit companies directly, or work with a network or agency who may be able to sell a campaign for your site. Once sold such campaigns would pay well, but often they did not come frequently enough. To compound matters the best networks have high traffic requirements for entrance, so smaller sites were out of luck. This was especially hurtful to some niche publishers who might be the biggest site in their niche, and yet still not have enough traffic do to their niche's limited appeal.

Google Adsense changed all that in the summer of 2003 with targeted campaigns for everyone and no traffic requirements. Yahoo Publisher Network followed in 2005, though it is still in beta and is only taking US traffic & US publishers. Both networks also make it extremely easy to use multiple sites with your account, whereas most traditional networks require each site to be approved individually.

In addition to making it easier for publishers to get high paying advertisements, these networks accomplished that without annoying visitors. PPC contextual ads are simple text, they are not flashing, warning boxes, popups, overlays, or anything of the like. They are as non-invasive as advertising can be.

There are tens of thousands or more publishers using these programs, but many do not use them to their fullest potential. By optimizing the appearance of your ads and their placement you can often double or even triple your income. Sounds amazing, well believe it or not those aren't exceptions, unlike weight loss commercials on TV, those results ARE typical. Most completely unoptimized sites can expect to at least double their income by following the methods outlined in this article.

It isn't entirely easy, and it may require tweaking or redoing your site design, however the advice is free and generated through my experience and experimentations in using these programs since they became available.

Article Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Ethics of Optimization
  3. Universal Optimization Fundamentals
  4. Optimizing Leaderboard & Banner Placement
  5. Optimizing Rectangle Placement
  6. Optimizing Skyscraper Placement & Link Units
  7. Optimizing Ad Layout
  8. Tricky Optimizations & Hints