Did you know that you could make money with the Adsense dashboard?
Did you know that set-up correctly, you can test ad locations to learn best positions?
Did you know that optimizing Adsense doesn't mean making as much money as you can from it?
In this post I will teach you the secrets of the Adsense dashboard!
Since Part 1 of this series, we've been seriously looking at the business of blogging as it pertains to Google's Adsense advertising network. Slapping ads up on your site is for hobbyists.
What we really need to do is calculate, analyze and understand the value of the different space on our site.
The Adsense dashboard is designed to give you that information.
The Adsense Dashboard
Properly set-up, the AdSense dashboard give you a lot of information about your site, and that information extends long past Adsense.
Failing to set it up correctly means you will just have data that's fun to look at. What you really need is actionable information. We're going to start by talking about two things specifically: [unordered_list style=”tick”]
- Adding URL's to give you page information
- Creating custom channels that give you placement information
The importance of page information
Take a look at the above image. This is a screen shot from the Google Adsense Performance Reports for URL Channels (for a site I don't pay much attention to but keep live so I can use it as an example in talks). You can see in the far left column of the page the url of each web page on site, followed by page views and and what each ad is paying (CPC).
I'm sure you can immediately see the value in having the url's set up in your dashboard. You can know exactly which pages of your site are making you money.
In this example it appears that the page Organic Wine Labeling Policy is paying $1.58 / click. Looking closer you can see that this high paying page, the highest shown, only had 3 page views. Why 3? Why would a web owner keep hidden the highest paying page?
If you knew this about your site would you tweet it everyday? Would you make an ad for your sidebar driving traffic to this high paying page? What kinds of changes could you make if you just knew?
The trick is getting them from your Google Analytics account into Adsense. Allow me to explain . . .
Unlike your host Leslie Samuel, I am not as eloquent when it comes to describing how and why you should add your URL's to Adsense. But I am good with video. So take a quick gander at this video explanation (then you can keep reading):
Creating Valuable Custom Channels
The process of creating an ad is quite simple. . . but the language that Adsense chooses to describe parts of that process can be confusing. Let's start with the “My Ads” tab at the top of the page. This is where we'll see the completed list of ads we have created and where we can create ads, edit ads and delete ads.
To create a new ad, we click the “New Ad Unit” button (that's the easy part). A dialogue box opens up with several buttons to click and blanks to fill in. They can be described as
Ad Name: This is where you name the ad so you can retrieve it later if you need to.
Ad Size: This is where you choose the size that best fits the spot you have available.
Note: If you use a size like 336 x 280, it can also fit 300 x 250 ads. This flexibility makes it so that you can make more money in each spot.
Ad Type: When you get to testing the ad types, this is where you pick text, display (banners) or both.
Understanding Custom Channels
The most critical part of the create ads function is the “channels” section and it's also the section where most people go wrong. When you can fully understand what Channels are, you can begin to create fantastic, actionable data.
You are likely familiar with the blogging term “tags”, correct? This is the list of terms we assign to a blog post that, when clicked, give the reader access to other “related” posts using that term.
If you were to write a blog post about Walt Disney World, it would not seem inconceivable that someone would include Orlando, family vacation, Mickey Mouse, and amusement park as tags to that blog post. Should a reader then click the “family vacation” tag they would be taken to a page where all the other blog posts tagged with the same word become available.
OK. Now we both understand that, right? Let's go back to AdSense. To really make Adsense meaningful, I want you to delete the term “custom channels” from your brain and replace it with “tags”. So where it says Add Custom Channels. . . think Add Tags. If you can do that, then the rest will be easy.
Navigate away from the ads for a second and head back to your website. Your website is where we will come up with the tags (aka “custom channels”).
Looking at your website, I want you to break it what you see into monetized areas for data collection, for instance: above the fold, right side, left side, sidebar general, sidebar top position, sidebar 2, below navigation, above header, top of post. . . break it into as many pieces as you can.
We're also going to look at the size of the locations we're placing ads as well as the type of ad that could go into the spot. Examples of these kinds of tags would be 336×280, 300×250, 728×90, skyscraper, wide banner, text and image, image only, text purple.
Together these will become our list of tags (AKA “Custom Channels”). And these tags become the tracking code we need to test ads, find out which ones are making us money and most importantly help us figure out what each and every corner of our site is worth.
Going back to the “Ad New Unit” part of the dashboard, let's create a 336 x 280 ad for the top position in our right-hand sidebar. Thinking about the tags we mentioned above, here is the list of “tags” I would add to the Custom Channels box.
336 x 280, above the fold, right side, sidebar 1
Now when we place the code for that ad in the top right sidebar position on our site, we'll begin to collect the data for the ad in that spot.
(Side note: For data collection purposes, you could even create channels like “Black Friday Ads”, “Ebook Launch Pages”, “21 Day SEO Challenge” for those campaigns where you want to see how much money you made in total from all your efforts driving traffic to those specific pages. But that also means you would need to use custom sidebars to isolate those ads to just those pages.)
Why do we do this?
Running a business isn't easy unless you have data to help guide your efforts. Even kids at a lemonade stand know when they've run out of cups and need to get more. That “zero cups left” data makes them take action, run inside and grab more cups from the cupboard. Without feedback, we can't grow.
With the data from the tags (AKA Custom Channels) we can see which positions make us money. Wouldn't it be nice to know if the top sidebar position or the 2nd sidebar position made you more money? When you look at the Performance Report for Custom Channels you see this:
In this view we can see the tag, network (adsense), # of ad views, # of clicks, click through rate, cost per click and revenue per thousand views from that ad position. If you look at the final column there, you can see that the sidebar 1 and sidebar 4 ads are more profitable than the sidebar 2 and 3 positions.
With this information we know the exact minimum we can charge for private advertisers, we know where the eyeballs are if we want to sell more ebooks or newsletter subscriptions. You can't make actionable changes unless you have actionable data.
Testing ads is extremely difficult if you don't have the custom channels section filled in for each ad. It's also difficult if you forget that each ad you placed has these bits of tracking code in them (the tags). Dropping and dragging the ad code “widgets” just means you're dragging the tracking code to the wrong spot. And then your sidebar 1 data gets mixed up with your sidebar 2 data and you never know which position made you more money.
To test Adsense ads we want to make sure we keep track of all our ads, and leave no rogue ads on site that don't have the correct custom channels. Rogue ads will upset the data.
To start, I suggest testing your site-wide ads first. Place ad code in the top sidebar position with the appropriate custom channels and then after 1,000 people have visited your site, remove the ads and create new ads for different spots.
So I ask you: Do you understand the value of knowing this data? Can you be a better blogger if you know your numbers? Let me know in the comments below