Chitika Placement Failure

I’ve spent some time discussing the virtues of using Chitika ads next to Google Adsense, but my latest experiment has left me looking for lost revenue.  In this experiment I placed Chitika Ads in my highest click-through location, where I used to keep Adsense ads, directly below my post title.  The result was surprising to say the least.

My impressions dropped by almost half and my clicks fell even further.  I can honestly offer up no reasonable explanation as to why Chitika would fail so miserably in prime realestate.  Keep in mind that I removed Adsense completely from the equation, which would lend Chitika to receiving even more clicks.  What happened?

The lack of impressions I can’t explain, considering statistics for my site remained virtually unchanged, in regards to search visitors.  But perhaps, looking at the CTR, the reason is because Chitika Premium Ads look like ads.  Cheesy I know, but Adsense does a phenomenal job at blending in with content and looking natural.  I think that my visitors liked the natural look rather than the picture next to an ad trick.

It will take more testing to know for sure, but lets just say for now I’ve moved Chitika back down to the bottom of the page.  Time will tell if Chitika will ever warrant the #1 paying spot on my automotive website.

Keeping Adsense Legal

I’m not sure if a new inspection crew started working for Google Adsense late last year, but it looks like my websites are getting more attention than they used to.  My guess is that my increase in traffic, coupled with high click throughs, raised some sort of a flag.  At the end of last year I was notified by Google to remove the large square text ad from the top of my blog posts on my automotive blog.  Adsense was disabled on my domain until I complied.

Thankfully the people that I had contact with at Adsense were understanding, gave some direction, and allowed me to fix the problem instead of banning me.  Apparently, the large square at the top of posts blended too well with my content.  In my opinion nothing was blended, it was applied almost exactly like it is on Blogspot blogs, only on top of posts, rather at the bottom, or mixed in with the next post.

Nevertheless, I have learned over the years not to argue with the hand that feeds.  So, after complying with their requests, within 48 hours Adsense was again running on my site.  Currently my clicks have dropped considerably and revenue in tow.  I’m hoping to come up with an different ad placement that garners as much attention as previously or perhaps use a diff type of ad in the old location.  This will take some testing and the patience of my regular readers of the automotive site. 😉

Chrome gMail Errors

I’m guilty of giving the latest beta release of Google Chrome a go and I’m glad I did.  However, there is one glaring problem when using the Chrome browser with my daily needs, I get an error message when opening gMail.  Ok, maybe that’s not the only problem, but one of the bigger ones.  I guess it’s also annoying that I get a warning https message when trying to open up Adsense as well, but we’ll save that for another post.

Google Chrome Version 4.0.249.30 gives me an error message when opening Google gMail, stating that some functions will not be enabled.  It’s also suggested that I use the basic html version of gMail.  I don’t think so.

Although this poster is not me, here is a link to the Chrome gMail error message on the Mozillazine support forums.  This leads me to believe that it’s an issue with my new gMail notifier extension for Chrome.  I’m using Google Mail Checker v1.2.

If the Google Mail Checker V1.2 extension is the problem, then I’m willing to live with it until a patch comes out.  Not having plugins or extensions is what has kept me from using Google Chrome in the past, so they are finally coming around.  What are your experiences with the new Google Chrome or what extensions do you recommend?

Chrome Conspiracy Theory

Maybe it’s the fact that AdBlock Plus has started cutting into my profits, maybe it’s the fact that I’m starting to like Chrome and faith that it will reach it’s full potential, or maybe it’s because I watched a 90 movie on the JFK assassination last night.  Either way, I’m starting to wonder if the Google Chrome Browser wasn’t created to preemptively stop add-ons like AdBlock Plus.  Why wouldn’t Google want to protect it’s paying AdWords users from a potentially dehabilitating browser add on that is growing in popularity?

As you know, as of now, there are no add ons for Chrome.  Sure, there are tweaks, and lots of options to configure, but no real meat and potatoes for add ons, which are available for FireFox.  Now, I strongly believe in a future version of Chrome there will be some opening up to 3rd party addons and stronger in house addons developed.  However, I think they will be tightly monitored and those that couldn’t potentially hurt Google’s interests will not be allowed.  The best way to nip this in the butt, to start gaining market share now, to control the flow of change progress interruption.

I hope I’m wrong, because the slippery slope means bad things for the open source community.  But I just get the nagging feeling that Google is attempting to control the browser market so that they can eliminate potential 3rd party threats to their business models.

When Will Adsense Catch Up

This post is not meant to bash Adsense, nor am I writing it because I’ve found a better alternative.  The point of this post is to illustrate how the advertising marketplace is changing and it appears to be adopting methods to fight ad blindness, yet Adsense ads have remained largely unchanged since day one.  I think that there is more money to be earned by publishers and advertisers if Google would decide to place images next to their text ads.

It Works

Not too terribly long ago it was a method used by Adsense publishers to place their own small images next to their Adsense text ads.  This greatly increased the CTR (click through ratio) in almost every single case.  However, because publishers were adding their own images, Google was unable to moderate the implied related content.

A few bad apples ruined it for the rest of us when they started placing questionable images next to their Adsense Ads.  Probably having a bigger impact was that publishers were placing unrelated images next to the Ads in question.  Then an unsuspecting visitor would click through on an add expecting something else and then immediately bounce out.  Obviously Google doesn’t want to piss off Advertisers by sending them unrelated traffic.

How To Fix The Problem

Google could implement their own program to allow Advertisers to upload their own authorized images to be displayed next to their ads.  This way Google could moderate what images were being used before approving the ad and know that these were not being changed by the publishers to drive unrelated traffic.

Who’s Doing It Before Google Adsense

Already there are a number of publishers that allow images to be uploaded and used along text advertisements.  The two that stand out the most are Chitika and Facebook Ads.  Both of these programs have already proved to be wildly successful for both their Advertisers and Publishers.

Facebook Ad w/ Image
Facebook Ad w/ Image

I’ve used them both and can attest that as an Advertiser I don’t mind spending a bigger budget with lower cost per clicks.  And if I’m controlling the images then I know that the traffic can be just as interested in buying what I’m selling.  I forsee Google making some changes, soon, to adjust to this change in the online advertising marketplace.

We have to fight ad blindness somehow.

WordPress Incoming Links

The Google Blog Search powered Incoming Links widget on the dashboard of my WordPress blog is no longer functioning.  This has been going on for a few days now and I know I have links, although it shows none.  I’ve verified incoming links because I’m getting ping backs and interlinking amongst my own blogs as well.

Perhaps this function is broken because of a change in Google Blog Search or in the latest update of Word Press.  I can’t remember if this just started happening around the time of upgrading to WP 2.8 or not.  Either way, it was a nice feature to have, especially when said blogs weren’t pinging and were just mentioning your posts in passing.

No Links
No Links

How To Allow Pop Ups In Chrome

FireFox allows you to do it, Internet Explorer allows you to do it, but guess what?  There is no function within Google Chrome to give permission to a website to automatically allow popups.  This means, that every time you try to open an external PDF, login screen, or game on some websites you are forced to click the allow button everytime.

This would seem like a no brainer to fix, almost immediately after launch.  But here we are, months after Chrome’s initial release and there has yet to be a patch for this.  Furthermore, I’m still waiting on Chrom Add-Ons that helped drive FireFox’s p0ularity.  Unfortunately the lack of addons and now the lack of ability to allow popups based on domain have sealed the deal for me.  It will be awhile before I start my Chrome browser up again anytime soon.

Also, if you feel like giving Google an ear full, drop a line over at their complaint department.  There are plenty of other people pissed off that there is no way to allow popups in Google Chrome.

*Update – Google Now Allows Popup Authorization to Websites, How To Allow Popups In Chrome

Paranoid Of Google Analytics

Recently I’ve been doing more thinking about a statistics program for my websites.  Of course, money is always a concern so I’ve been looking at free alternatives, namely Google Analytics.   Now, I used Google Analytics for over a year, was happy, but always a little bit paranoid.

Why would I give total and utter information of my website over to the company sending me traffic and providing me a monthly pay check?  I mean, Google provides the search traffic, will have access to my statistics through Analytics, and then will be writing me a check for my Adsense earnings every month.  It just doesn’t make sense and always made me feel uneasy.  Especially once I started hearing more and more about Google adjusting SERPs based on bounce rates.

Now, more information has surfaced that indicates that Google in fact does not take bounce rate into consideration, but I trust Matt Cutt’s as far as I can throw him.  Why take the chance of giving over valuable statistical data on your visitors to Google when there are other options available?  Thus my search for a quality statistics program began.

First, Piwik Stats was great!  However, it bogged down my server, seemed buggy, and needed updated far too many times in the short span I was using it.  I needed to take my web statistics program out of house.  What I found was that statistics programs are not generally free, like Google Analytics, and to get the good stuff plan on dropping around $10 per month.

Right now I’m testing out the free version of W3Counter, which limits you to a single domain tracking and less than 10,000 visitors per day.  The single domain is a problem, but I’m nowhere close to the visitor limit.  So far I like the reports, layout, and general live tracking that W3Counter boasts.  However, my only complaint right now is that their website is slow to respond on occasion.

I’ll be trying out some new web statistics programs here over the next few weeks.  I also plan on using free and paid tracking software so I can finally settle down with a program I can use for years to come.  I’ll report back with my findings as I go, so look for a W3Counter review in the next few days.

3 Favorite Features of Google Insights

Google Insights
Google Insights

I just got around to reading the blogpost on InsideAdwords and man, even in a short few days I’ve really been missing out.  The announcement of Google Inisght for Search will be a priceless addition to any CPC campaign user.  Hell, I’ve already picked up a handful of new keywords to add to my Adwords campaign.  My initial thoughts are that paid services that are already in this market will quickly become obsolete.  Second, here are a list of 3 of my favorite things about Google Insight for Search.

  • Incorporation Of Google Trends – To be honest it was a bit cumbersome using Google Trends and as such, I never really used it as much as I should have.  But now, I can search my keyword and get a trend for the past 5 years.  This trend for seasonal search keywords is already becoming invaluable as I ramp up my campaigns for the summer rush.  Furthermore this trending graph will allow me to plan for slow times in the year or adjust my campaign accordingly.
  • Rising Searches – This handy little feature on Insights allows you to see related keywords that are rising in popularity.  Although it does not directly give a numerical figure to how popular the search keyword is, it does give you the percentage increase in search frequency.  This obviously becomes important when looking for sub-niches or seasonal changes to an Adwords campaign.
  • Categories – This may seem like a ho-hum addition to most people, but not affiliate marketers.  Hell, most of the products that I market online I don’t know a thing about, I just know keywords.  So the category section of Google Insights gives me areas that I can explore within the keyword and how relative my keyword is to a specific niche.  For example, on golf carts, I now know that most searches originate within the Sports Category rather than Automotive, which I had originally been targeting.

Without a doubt I will be spending a lot more time on Google Insights in the upcoming weeks.  This new tool by Google will allow me to flesh out some more keyword ideas and fine tune the Adwords Campaigns I already have running.  Thank you Google for such a great free tool, but curse you in the same sentence for creating more competition in the fly-by-night domain of affiliate marketing.

How To Find Your Adwords Quality Score

Adwords is a phenomenal and arguably the best PPC advertising medium currently available.  It’s easy enough anyone with 5$ can get started, but advanced enough to meet any veterans needs.  Adwords operates on auction style pricing, meaning those who bid the most for keywords get highest placement, more visability, etc.  However, an individual ads pricing may need to be higher based on an ads quality score.

The qualitys core is described by Google as a dynamic variable, which takes into account many on page factors (your ad landing page) to determine keyword relevancy.  The more relevant the landing page is to the keyword you are bidding on, the lower your bid must be to gain placement.  There is an easy way to find out what your Adwords Quality Score is, for each individual keyword within your Adwords campaign.

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account at https://adwords.google.com.
  2. Select the campaign, then select the ad group for which you’d like to see keyword Quality Scores.
  3. Click Customize columns at the top of Keywords tab in the ad group table.
  4. Select Show Quality Score from the drop-down menu.
  5. Click Done when you’re finished.

For more official tips on maximizing your Google Quality score and finding out the official Google word, please view their Quality Score Help Page.  Getting a high quality score is extremely important to get low cost bids on keywords to maximize the ROI for any campaign.