Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Adsense Blindness - How To Beat It!

Adsense blindness is a topic that is becoming more relevant with each passing day based on the enormous success of Google’s Adsense program. The amazing success of the Adsense program has led to what seems like universal adoption of Google’s ad serving technology. The problem is that the ubiquity of Adsense is causing more and more people to unconciously filter Adsense ads as they view websites. The question that this article seeks to answer is what can be done to recapture the revenue that is being lost?

In a word - experiment. Gone are the days when you could throw up some great content and cash in by throwing some Adsense panels above the fold integrated into your text. The mantra of the past couple of years has been blend - blend your Adsense panels into your content. Common wisdom and experience dictated that the closer your Adsense panels resembled your content, the better your click- through ratio. Trick the user and all that…

This strategy will suffer from lower and lower conversion rates on high-value content sites with a high returning visitor rate. You see, the more familiar a reader is with your site and its layout, the easier it is for her to identify your Adsense panels and filter them in favor of your content.

This is not a new trend; it is simply the culmination of several factors.

First, Adsense has achieved world domination or something close to it. Adsense is everywhere and its format is static and unchanging. There are only so many panel sizes and each of them is branded plainly with Google’s label. Sure, you can vary colors, borders, and link colors but that darn Google name is still tacked on to the corner of every panel. Second, Internet adoption rates in the English speaking countries is slowing. With less new users coming online each day the pool of Adsense neophytes is shrinking. Every day a larger percentage of users become desensitized to the presence of Adsense and that Google tag on the corner of each panel. Finally, as I previously mentioned, if you provide high-value content your readers will return and the more familiar a user is with your site, the easier it is for her to filter your Adsense ads.

What can be done to turn the tide back in the favor of the humble website owner? Don’t be afraid to experiment with Adsense. While the panels remain relatively static you can vary colors and borders. The key with experimentation is to make subtle changes. Your Adsense panels should continue to blend with your content overall. Well blended content captures new readers every time. What you want to do is create a situation where the user, especially returning readers, stop and process your changes. You want her mind to note that the Adsense panel is different but only slightly. Those borders that everyone matches with the page’s background color can be made to be slightly darker or lighter than the page background color. Nothing too garish mind you - just a slight difference that makes the reader pause and consider what she is being presented with.

The same approach can be applied to text color and link color. Subtle changes can work wonders for improving click-throughs. The idea here is that we have trained the reader’s mind to expect Adsense panels to be blended very deeply into our content. Now, their mind is presented with panels that are standing out just a little more than usual and once they notice this, they will process the Adsense text and hopefully click-through.

Varying the panel type and size you are using can also help to improve your click- through ratio.

Every change you make to your site layout causes readers to work at processing the changes this requires attention. This simple act draws the reader’s attention to the panels and hopefully creates a click event. The key to sucessful testing is to make only one change per day so that you can effectively assess what effect the change has. If you make two or more changes you will have no clue which change caused your reader’s behavior to differ from the past. My Adsense resources page listed below has some great pointers concerning how to effectively test changes to your Adsense panels.

My next suggestion will shock and anger many - heresy some will claim but I stand by it nonetheless. There are other options! Adsense isn’t the only game in town. In fact, there are thousands of other fine affiliate programs that you can join and integrate into your content right along with Adsense. Granted, you will have to work a little harder and this is the true evil that Google has perpetrated upon us. Adsense is so easy that we have become lazy in matters of monetization. Break the Google chains that bind you! Do some research. Yes, work and find an affiliate program that matches your niche and promote the hell out of it. I suppose if you are happy with your Adsense earnings you can stick with Google solely but consider the money you are leaving on the table.

Almost any piece of great content can be matched with a suitable affiliate offering. There are literally thousands, perhaps even tens of thousands of affiliate programs available. Find one or two that match your niche and give them the same billing you give Adsense on your website.

You might just be surprised. A quarter-per-click is nice when coupled with a conversion rate of 1.5% and some decent traffic but consider a $5 or $10 affiliate commission that only converts ten percent as often. You will quickly discover that adding a program or two has no effect on your Adsense earnings but does provide a welcome new revenue stream!

BW Griggs consults and develops but rarely sleeps. He is the author of Affiliate Success: eBay, a nifty piece of software that has nothing to do with teaching people how to become eBay super-sellers but rather, enables people to create a new, powerful income stream by displaying eBay auctions on their websites in much the same spirit as Google's Adsense program but with suprisingly better results!

http://www.shrubsoft.com/ase-details.php
For additional resources concerning how you can defeat Adsense blindness, visit: http://www.shrubsoft.com/blog/affiliate/adsense-blindness-resources/

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