Seven Alternatives To Adsense For Blog Monetization

google adsense queryThis article is contributed by Craig Watts.

For those new to blogging, the attraction of Adsense isn’t difficult to understand. It’s easy to get accepted, easy to install and easy to get paid regardless of what you are blogging about. As a result, it’s how most bloggers make their first dollar online.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with monetizing a blog with Adsense, it’s important to be aware of the fact that Adsense isn’t the only game in town. And more importantly, the other options happen to pay a hell of a lot better. Continue reading

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Google Adsense Ads Will Target You

Google starts tracking browsers to target ads and is getting to know you a little better in order to send you ads you’ll more likely like.

Google is starting to gather information about the websites people visit using an individual web browser in order to target ads to their interests.  "Interest-based" advertising was launched Wednesday as a beta test on third-party sites that carry Google ads, as well as the YouTube video site that Google owns.

As the Google Adsense blog explains, this will ensure that ads reach the right audience:

Over the next few months we’ll start offering interest-based advertising to a limited number of advertisers as part of a beta, and expand the offering later in 2009. Whether the advertiser’s goal is to drive brand awareness or increase responses to their ads, these capabilities can help expand the success of their campaigns and should increase your earnings as advertiser participation increases.

To develop interest categories, we’ll recognize the types of webpages users visit across the AdSense network. As an example, if they visit a number of sports pages, we’ll add them to the "sports enthusiast" interest category.  Users browsing the web will benefit from the additional relevancy that interest-based ads can provide. And by visiting the new Ads Preferences Manager, users can see what interest categories we think they fall into, or add and remove categories themselves.

This requires a change in the privacy policy that Adsense publishers apply in order to reflect the use of interest-based advertising. Google Advertising Cookie and Privacy Policies explains more including their use of the DoubleClick DART cookie?

The DoubleClick DART cookie is used by Google in the ads served on publisher websites displaying AdSense for content ads. When users visit an AdSense publisher’s website and either view or click on an ad, a cookie may be dropped on that end user’s browser. The data gathered from these cookies will be used to help AdSense publishers better serve and manage the ads on their site(s) and across the web.

An Adsense publisher must now have a privacy policy that follows the concepts set out by the Network Advertising Initiative, or NAI.  This suggests the following language for data collection of non-personally identifying information:

We use third-party advertising companies to serve ads when you visit our website. These companies may use information (not including your name, address, email address, or telephone number) about your visits to this and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like more information about this practice and to know your choices about not having this information used by these companies, click here.

Not everyone is sure this is a move in the right direction since Google’s Behavioral Ad Beta Scares Publishers Over Contextual Relevancy.

The concern is that Google’s contextual relevancy may dwindle down, in exchange for behavioral relevancy. Contextual relevancy is what Google takes pride in, they love to say they have ads that match the exact content of the page. If you are reading about Sony video cameras, Google will show you AdSense ads for Sony video cameras. But possibly now, if you are a sports enthusiast (Google knows this because you visit sports sites) and you are reading an article about video cameras (because you want to buy one for the next game), you may see sports ads and not video camera ads.

Google may well be on the horns of a dilemma here.  Will they be drawn by whichever variant produces most Adsense ad revenues? Or, as they have always insisted, will they try to ensure the best quality Adsense ad experience for the website visitors?  There are clearly many important questions to be resolved around these interest-based Adsense ads before this approach is confirmed as the best option.

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Some AdSense Ads Can Be As Big As You Want Them

The Adsense Blog notes that they are now Introducing expandable ads on AdSense sites. (Tip of the hat to Frank Reed)

We’re excited to introduce to you expandable ads, a new type of ad that can appear on your pages. Expandable ads are rich media ads that can expand beyond the original size of the ad unit, following a user-initiated action. This creates more real estate for the ad, allowing for more interaction from interested users. For instance, expandable ads may stream a movie trailer, show video game clips, or display various views of an item for sale.

Expandable ads will be served as third-party ads and will be created by Google-certified rich media vendors for the top display advertisers in our network. And like other Google ads, you’ll earn based on whether the expandable ads on your site are priced on a cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-impression (CPM) basis. Keep in mind that you’ll generate earnings from CPC expandable ads when a user visits the advertiser’s landing page, and not when a user simply clicks to expand the ad.

It seems a win/win situation since if you do not click on them, then they do not expand.  The only major criticism that Darren Rowse of Problogger seems to have is that they are not yet available in Australia.  Pity.

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Lipstick on the Google Blogsearch Face

 
Google Blogsearch Has A New Face

Matt Cutts signals that Google Blogsearch now has a new home page.

More and more people are spending free time (and work time) online and lots of those people want to discover interesting things on the web. Google Blogsearch’s new home page applies that insight with a browsable version of what’s going on in the blogosphere. The UI design is a little reminiscent of Google News, but the new Blogsearch home page uses a lot of different code.

It’s great to see this new home page go live, because I’ve watched as the blogsearch team in New York pulled this together. Some people will compare it to Techmeme, but the sites are quite different.

The official Google Blog gives more details.

The home page tries to show what is of current interest and most of them today seem to be about Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential candidate. That is because the TV debate between her and Joe Biden, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, takes place this evening. Despite that, I too think this Blogsearch Home Page is a move in the right direction. Nevertheless I almost inevitably thought about Palin’s remark about lipstick on a pit bull.

Behind the scenes, the Blogsearch algorithm still seems to have its problems. A search for payday loan still has 4 results in the top ten that are Blogspot ‘nonsense’ blogs. Why the algorithm would think these collections of random words are relevant to a searcher’s interests is difficult to understand. It should be easier to correct the algorithm than it appears to be.

However perhaps Google is approaching it from a different direction. Search Engine Roundtable notes that Google AdSense Login Goes Down For Many Publishers. If these were all Blogspot blogs with made-for-AdSense posts consisting of random words then hopefully this will gradually eliminate them.

For another view on the ‘new’ Blogsearch see what Fred Wilson, A VC, has to say in Hacker News, Techmeme, and Google Blog Search. Mathew Ingram isn’t too impressed either.

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Google Adsense Now Has Slideshows

It would appear that Google has introduced a new feature in its Adsense process. If you check the image below, you will see outlined in red a small Previous and Next pair of buttons at the bottom left on the Adsense ads that were shown this evening.

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For avid Google Ad fans by clicking on either of these buttons you can have a veritable horizontal slide show of other Adsense ads. That gives Google and Adsense advertisers many more kicks at the can. It does not appear too often but presumably is used when there are many more advertisers than can appear in one ad block. It would seem to be a win/win/win proposition for all.

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