Lee Odden

SES: Earning from Search and Contextual Ads

Here is the first session I was able to attend at the Chicago Search Engine Strategies conference: 
Earning from Search and Contextual Ads –  A session on how web site owners (content publishers) can monetize their content by carrying search results and contextual ads. Describes programs available and successful practices.

The session was moderated by Andrew Goodman of PageZero

Speakers included: Will Johnson – Yahoo, Scott Meyer – About.com, Jennifer Slegg – Jensense and Satya Patel – Google.

First up was Jennifer Slegg:  Making Money with Contextual Advertising.

Jen started out by comparing Google and YPN:

Large numbers of advertisers
Ads in RSS
Similar formats
Real time stats
Cannot run both at same time – but you can do split testing


YPN – 2000 publishers (correction, actually 3000 now according to Will from Yahoo)
Google – All international publishers can appy

Google – Offers additional ad units
YPN – Just regular ad formats and RSS ads

Google – More competition for ads, means the possibility of more revenue per click on YPN since they are not as competitive

Other Ads

  • Kanoodle BrightAds – one of the first uS based contextual ads. US only
  • quigo AdSonar – Intl pub accepted but traffic us based
  • Chitika – eMiniMalls – recent popularity. Compatible with YPN & AdSense
  • MSN – Nothing yet

Optimizing AdSense and YPN

  • Make the placement work with the site design
  • Make sure multiple ad units are making you money and not costing you money. More is not necessarily better

Placement – Above fold. Avoid traditional ad spaces to avoid "banner blindness"
See AdSense Heatmap

Proximity – Content surrounding your ad unit can affect your ads

Ad unit size
Test – don’t be a lemming
330×280 – top performer

Ad unit colors and borders – customize your for your site, link title in blue, no border

Keywords – Search referral keywords, anchor text and meta tags affect what ads appear on the page

URL filters – Does not force higher paying ads to appear, it shows lower paying ads

Geotargeting for highest paying ads – Test!!

Why test? – Sweet spot on one site may not be the same as on another site.

Tools for testing:

YPN – AdSense
  Custom Channels
  URL Channels
  AdSense Preview Tool – will show you what ads would appear on any web page
Third Party Tools
  Google Analytics hack for tracking AdSense and YPN
  Tools to track what ads are clicked, page

Starting Testing
  Always keep your testing data for future comparison
  Avoid testing during times like the holiday – can skew results

What to test?
  Ad Unit colors
  Link title color
  Size and placement – above the fold is typically the best
  Image ads with AdSense
  Quirks – blank second or third AdSense units – it can take a few days after adding to show up. Also, impressions/clicks not matching up.


Next up Will Johnson of Yahoo Publisher Network

What is YPN?

Yahoo has had relationships with large publishers for a while, and now YPN has launched to include small/medium sized publishers though YPN.

Now the pitch for Yahoo started:

Yahoo small business:
Web hosting, analytics, domain name registration, product info, Yahoo Maps,
Get traffic: sponsored search, RSS – MyYahoo Podcast


Who is going to provide the most revenue, control, value added content/products, service?

– Revenue
100,000 advertisers in network – allows significant payout
YPN offers contextual ads as well as RSS ads

Consumers will be increasingly viewing content off-site
Ex:  Yahoo offering RSS feeds in Yahoo email

Targeting Ads to your site
– Ad targeting allows publisher to pick a certain categories of ads that appear on certain areas of the web site – Idea is to give publisher more control over ad targeting for their audience.

YPN – now up to 3000 Publishers
Adding infrastructure and feature enhancements
Broader release in 2006 that will include international markets


Next up, Satya Patel from Google.

Internet Ecosystem – each has different needs and all are reliant/dependent on the other:
Advertisers – Sales, brand lift
Publishers – Revenue
Users – Relevant, not overly obtrusive

Google’s job is to make sure all three thrive in getting their needs met.

Monetizing Traffic
– AdSense for Content
– AdSense for Search

AdSense for Content
– Google started the automated process of contextual advertising
– Global and all automated – focus on making it simple

Contextual Targeting
– keywords, structure of page, etc. same technology as what drives algorithmic search results

Site Targeting
– Allows advertisers to target specific sites in the network
– Reach users at different points in the buying cycle as well as different users

Both contextual and site targeting should mean more revenue for publishers.

– Onsite Advertiser Sign up:
Generate advertiser bids for your site. "Advertise on this site" ads.
Basically allows you to sell your own advertising

– Link Units – Relevant and targeted advertising
These are ad categories. When clicked, the user is take then to a list of ads

– AdSense for Search
 Google search is embedded in your site and offers revenue share from ads in search results.

– Respect your users – create fresh and unique content,

Contextual ads + site targeting combined make AdSense better

Disclaimed RSS ads, as not that many people use RSS

Mentioned Google’s offline advertising initiatives.


Scott Meyer – President, CEO About.com

What is About.com. Largest publisher of unique content on the web. 500 sites/guides, 57,000 topics, 1.2 million docs.

Editors are paid based on traffic to their part of the site. About trains their content experts to write for the web, not just editorially. Each page is structured to offer multiple advertising opportunities.

– Challenges and Opportunities
  Tremendous opportunity to generate revenue with niche content (long tail)
  Requires the right placements and a lot of maintenance
  Vendors have not yet figured out for targeting the indiviual
  Local advertising is still underdeveloped

Now that Google Base is out, how will it localize advertising.

Don’t underestimate how much effort it takes, but also what opportunity there is.


 There was a Q/A but I had laptop issues. I would note that there was  one very "passionate" question from Mikkel DeMib Svendsen, who was for the first time I’ve been to a SES conference, was NOT wearing a bright red, organge green or yellow suit. He was looking very corporate!

Tags: SES, Contextual Ads, YPN, Google AdSense, Search Engine Strategies, SES Chicago

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


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