Google Adsense In Your City: A Learning Experience

Posted: December 5, 2011

Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas

Last month, I traveled to Las Vegas to attend the Google Adsense In Your City. Since launching Vancouver Trails in 2007, the Google Adsense ads being run on the website have been the primary way of generating revenue from that site and this event offered a good opportunity to catch up on what I was doing right and what needed improving.

The event was supposed to be split into 2 parts, the first being a group class with tips on optimizing Adsense Ads on your websites followed by a 20-minute sit down with a Google Adsense expert who would go through your site and Adsense account, offering direct feedback on your website. Due to another event happening nearby, the group session wasn’t held but fortunately, it was the 20-minute sit down that I really came for.

Once the friendly Google employees loaded us up with candy and other sweets, the 20-minutes started. Here are some of the highlights of how to optimize Adsense Ads that I picked up:

Preferred Ad Formats

The best performing Ad Formats are:

  • 300×250 Medium Rectangle
  • 728×90 Leaderboard
  • 160×600 Wide Skyscraper

These sizes are most popular with advertisers, thus increasing the pool of ads that could be displayed on your site. The increased demand bids the cost of the ads up, giving you an increase in revenue. Advertisers have become accustom to designing ads these sizes and that’s why they are the most popular.

Opt-in to Text and Image Ads

Back in 2007, I only displayed text ads on Vancouver Trails as advertisers were not using images as much at that time. In late 2011, more advertisers are using images and opting into both gives you a greater possibility for higher cost-per-click ads to be displayed on your site, thus increasing your revenue.

Use Custom Channels so Advertisers Can Target Areas of your Website

I originally setup custom channels in a way that made it easier for me to update the website. I had channels called Right Column, 2nd Paragraph, and Content Bottom. Instead, the proper way to set these channels up is to choose areas of your website that are popular and maybe desirable for advertisers to place their ads. For example, the Homepage maybe a good place to have a custom channel so advertisers can go and bid to have their ads placed directly on your homepage. If your homepage is a desired location to advertise, advertisers will bid for placement on the Homepage Channel that you create, thus pushing up the cost of the ad and giving you more revenue. I’ve also picked out some high traffic pages on Vancouver Trails and will be setting up custom channels on those specific pages for advertisers to target.

Ads Above The Fold

The Google Adsense expert pointed out on a few templates that I should move ads slightly higher so they appear above the fold, or high enough on the page where the ad will be visible upon page load. This has always been a challenge for me. While I see the need for revenue, I’ve always wanted the focus of the website to be the content which drives visitors to use the site. I did move a couple of ads up higher while trying to not to make ads the central focus of the website.


Besides these tips, they also recommended using their complimentary services in Google Analytics and the Google +1 Button, which I had already implemented. The expert followed up by sending an email summarizing all the recommended tips.

The 20-minutes flew by but I found the tips about the Custom Channels, Preferred Ad Sizes, and some other general conversation made attending the event worthwhile. It also made me realize that I had setup Google Adsense in 2007 and hadn’t really kept up on some of the changes, both in the system and in the evolution of online advertiser’s behaviour relating to display ads on my site. The real test will come in seeing how much of an increase in revenue these changes will lead to, something that probably won’t be accurately measured for a year due to the seasonal shifts of traffic on Vancouver Trails.

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