AdSense at some point soon (if you haven’t already). As one of the easiest ways to turn pageviews into ad revenue, AdSense has been used by a wide variety of entrepreneurs seeking to make money from Web properties.
AdSense has become tremendously popular for a few reasons; in addition to being relatively easy to use, it’s generally regarded as the ad network that offers partners the best monetization opportunities. That’s the result of both a deep bench of advertisers and a relatively generous revenue split that allows publishers to take home most of the money their sites generate. (For more monetization tips, sign up for the free MonetizePros newsletter.)
If you’re thinking about signing up with AdSense to generate some money from display advertising, here’s a quick primer on how everything works.
What Is AdSense?
AdSense is an advertising network operated by Google. Google acts as the middleman, connecting buyers of ad inventory (i.e., advertisers) with sellers of ad inventory (i.e., publishers of websites that show display ads). Advertisers come to AdSense and effectively ask Google to serve their ads on websites that meet certain criteria (e.g., are focused on consumer products). Publishers come to AdSense and effectively ask Google to show ads on their site that meet certain criteria. AdSense matches up advertisers and publishers, and as a result visitors to many sites out there see advertisements when they arrive on a site.
So why do publishers have a need for networks such as AdSense? In a perfect world (from a monetization perspective at least), you’d work directly with advertisers; you’d agree to the terms of an advertising campaign, and they’d cut you a check for their entire spend each month.
Many publishers, however, don’t have the scale to satisfy larger advertisers. In other words, it doesn’t make sense for Coca-Cola to negotiate directly with thousands of smaller publishers offering 25,000 impressions monthly. It’s much easier to sign a deal with AdSense that lets them buy 250 million impressions over a number of different sites.
There’s a time save on the side of the publisher as well; instead of investing time and money in building out a sales force, they can apply for admission to AdSense, flip a few switches, and be up and running. In that sense, AdSense is like a mutual fund for publishers; it lets them achieve immediate scale and visibility (by pooling their inventory together with other publishers) to advertisers that they wouldn’t get on their own.
There’s a lot to know about getting started with AdSense, but here are some of the basics:
Getting In: In order to start generating revenue through AdSense, you’ll first need to get approved. To start that process you’ll need a Google account and a website to submit. If your site complies with the standards Google sets forth (i.e., you’re a quality publisher and not a spammer), you shouldn’t have any issues getting approved.
Revenue Split: AdSense makes money for Google because the earnings generated are split between network and publisher. The split is rather favorable to publishers; you’ll collect 68% of earnings generated from content ads and 51% of earnings from ads shown on search results.
Getting Paid: AdSense earnings are generally paid out within a month of being earned, either via check or direct deposit.
There’s a more thorough guide to all things AdSense put out and maintained by Google; check out that guide for a more in-depth overview of all the issues that impact partners.
Do’s and Don’ts
Once you’re got an AdSense account up and running, there are a number of “best practices” for maximizing earnings and ensuring a smooth experience. First, here’s what NOT to do if you decide to use Google AdSense as a way to monetize your traffic:
Don’t exceed the limits on ad units. There’s a strict limit in place on the number of ad units you’re able to show on each page. Don’t include more than three ad units, three link units, and two search boxes per page.
Don’t share too much about your success (or lack thereof). The AdSense terms and conditions also specify that partners do not make their earnings public. That means no blogging about the CPMs your ads are generating or the amount of your recent check.
Don’t click your own ads. Clicking on your own ads–which is effectively trying to steal from advertisers appearing on your site–might be the best way to get banned from AdSense.
Don’t use deceptive practices to drive clicks. Besides the obvious “cheat” of clicking your own ads, there are other ways publishers can try to trick their visitors into clicking on their AdSense ads. For example, putting ads under a heading that reads “Features” might lead viewers to believe they’re navigating to a set of tools on your site (when in fact they’re clicking an ad). Basically, don’t be deceptive in your placements, and you’ll be good in the eyes of AdSense.
Here are a few tips for a successful (and profitable) AdSense experience:
Do take advantage of the tutorials out there. Google wants its partners to be successful and monetize efficiently; the more money you make via display advertising, the bigger their cut. So it should be no surprise that they have published a ton on best practices, and also maintain a regularly updated Inside AdSense Blog.
Do experiment with different layouts and implementations. You have a lot of control over what ads show up on your site and how they’re displayed. Experiment with different settings to come up with the combination that’s best for you. We have several ideas if you’re looking for inspiration. Check out our list of Three Easy Ways To Make More Money With AdSense, and if you want even more try Seven More AdSense Experiments To Boost Your Earnings.
If you’re a publisher looking to make some money from serving display ads, AdSense certainly isn’t the only option available to you. There are countless other networks out there that operate in basically the same way–matching up advertisers and publishers and taking a cut of the revenue for their services. A few of the alternatives include:
AdSense is a component of the “revenue equation” for thousands of smaller bloggers and publishers out there, in many cases accounting for a significant portion of total earnings. The experiences of various AdSense users are all very unique, and depend in large part on the investment made and research done to implement properly and the ongoing optimizations made.