Monday, November 23, 2009

Lessons Learned

Some of you may have noticed that last week I had an Adsense ad in the sidebar.  One of the reasons for this site is as a vehicle to try new stuff.  Whether it is a new game or a web technology like Adsense, there is plenty to learn.  While the Adsense is now removed, I did learn more about how it works.

Personally, I don't have any issues with blogs having ads as long as they follow a few rules.  First, it must be relevant to the content.  Second, the ads should not be obtrusive.  And finally, it should look good.

Relevant. Adsense is actually pretty good at getting relevant ads using their contextual engine.  The problem is keeping certain types of ads out.  When it comes to MMO's, this is often gold or item selling ads.  The first step in keeping undesirable ads out is to use their Category Filter. 

This filter offers you 11 categories to choose from, like Dating or Video Games.  The problem is you can only check 5 of them.  The rest will be shown in your ad space.

The next tool you can use is the Competitive Ad Filter.  This allows you to block specific URL's.  For me, this was very helpful with getting rid of irrelevant ads.  I would go through my posts, check the link properties for the bad ad, get the URL and put the domain name in the filter.  25 minutes or so later, it would be blocked.

As I added more domain names to the filter, the more relevant the ads became.  This requires a bit of work and a lot of supervision though.

Classy Hats.  Sometimes, there is no hope for the contextual ads.  Take last week's post about Fallen Earth, Classy.  They introduced a new buying bonus which happened to be a hat. You guessed it, all of the ads were about hats.  I can't really blame Adsense, as most of post was about a hat. 

Looks are important.  It may just be me, but I don't like the way Adsense text ads look.  I'm not sure why they invoke a negative feeling in me but they do.  I never click on them, so why would I expect my visitors to?

I should mentions their Image ads.  It seems like they are much more relevant and look a lot better.  The way my site is setup, they just wouldn't fit nicely.

In the end, they just didn't work well for my site.  Over the next few weeks I will be trying other things (like Project Wonderful) in an effort to see how things work.  It will never interfere with the content, and if you are subscribed via RSS you may never even notice.