Like most of you know Google Adsense is a good way to monetize your vBulletin Forum to cover your costs and even earn money with it.
But simply slapping a few banners on your forum will not get the maximum amount of money out of your forum.
Who would have guessed?
You most likely know that Google Adsense offers custom channels for tracking.
But how do you use it to maximize your earnings?
The big secret is experiment with placements, colors and fonts and TRACK YOUR RESULTS!
I worked with adsense for nearly 5 years now and I am constantly improving my ads on my forum to maximize earnings.
This is only possible if you track EVERY SINGLE AD on your forum via separate Adsense Channels.
I first will explain how to use channels and after that I will explain why it is important to use them this way...
so bear with me
The secret to tracking Adsense with channels
You must create a channel for each single ad you place on your site.
Tracking every ad is easy if you have "just" one website/forum.
If you have multiple websites (like I do) then an expressive naming system will help you a lot with tracking your ads.
I have 5 websites, but for this example I use 2 to make it easier.
I run www.patientenfragen.net and www.elternfragen.net
Both websites use the same ad locations to display adsense ads.
To differentiate the Channels from the different websites my channels start with:
PatFra or EltFra
Suggestion 1: Start all your channels with a short acronym for your different websites
Now you are able to track each website with channels.
If you use multiple ad units on your website you most likely use different ad formats as well.
Like I for example use a leaderboard (728x90px) below the navbar, two large rectangles in showthread as second post and some other ad units as well.
To track the different ad formats use acronyms for each ad format.
LB = Leaderboard
LR = Large Rectangle
LU = Link Unit
B = Banner (468x60px)
and so on....
So the channel names so far look like:
Suggestion 2: Use acronyms for the ad formats in each channelPatFra - LR -
Now you are able to track each website and each ad format with channels.
If you use multiple ad formats you most likely use multiple ad locations as well.
I for example place ads into the navigation, below the navigation, into a thread as second post and so on....
To track the different ad formats use expressive names for their location.
I for example use template names or descriptive names to describe the location:
"navbar" for ads in the navbar template
"2nd post" for ads in the second post of each thread
So the channel names so far look like:
Suggestion 3: Use a descriptive name for each placement in each channelPatFra - LR - 2nd post
If you display 2 ad units of the same type in the same ad location don't use the same channel.
Remember, track each single ad separately!
I for example use 2 large rectangles in each thread as second post:
To all the New: Welcome
Add an ID into the channel name so you can differentiate each of the same ads.
In my example the channel for those two described ads above look like:
Suggestion 4: Use different IDs for ads of the same format in the same ad locationPatFra - LR #1 - 2nd post
PatFra - LR #2 - 2nd post
If you start experimenting with different ad formats like changing font size, background color etc...
Use a description to name the changes you did and create a new channel for the banner with the changes.
Not long ago I experimented with the different font sizes to see which font size performs best on my website in the leaderboard below the navigation.
So I created 3 new channels:
With LF being the large font, MF being the medium font and SF being the small font.PatFra - LB - LF - navbar
PatFra - LB - MF - navbar
PatFra - LB - SF - navbar
Suggestion 5: Use descriptive naming for changes to the ad layout and create a separate channel for each changed banner
OK, now we have the naming thing down.
Let's get to using these channels to create useful reports for tracking purposes:
Log into your Adsense account, click on the Reports - Advanced reports tab.
Here you can create all the reports you will need to track your channels.
What kind of reports are useful to have?
I use the following reports:
One Report for each website that shows all channels for:
This month tracking
Last month tracking
I named them in a similar descriptive way like I did with channels.
Also one report that shows all channels for:PatFra - All channels - Today
Todays tracking for all websites
Yesterdays tracking for all websites
This month tracking for all websites
Last month tracking for all websites
And one report that shows aggregated total earnings for:
These are just my reports that I am interested in but you can create as much statistics as you like once you know how to do it.
Let's get started with an example for a Report of all channels on one website for todays tracking
On "Reports - Advanced reports" Tab you can chose:
Choose product: which shows you reports for content or search ads.
Chose "Adsense for content" because that is what this examples are about
Below that you see all settings for the time interval of the report.
We want to display all channels for one website for today so we chose "today" in the first drop down.
On the right site below "show" you can select, if you want "aggregated data" (combines all channels into one day) and "channel data".
Select "channel data".
Now select all channels in the box that just appeared that starts with the website you want to create this report for.
That is easy because we started each channel with the acronym for each website.
In my example I selected all channels starting with "PatFra"
Select Group by: "Channel" to display all channels
Blow that box is "Choose Units".
Because we named all ad formats differently and therefor can differentiate link units from ad units select "combined"
Click on "Display Report" and you will see a nice list of all your channels for this website for today.
Now finally so that we don't have to do this every time we want to see this report we will save it.
Above your channel report on the right site there is "Save as Report Template:"
Enter a descriptive name for your report, e.g.:
and click SavePatFra - All channels - Today
Now do these steps to create and save all the reports you want for your statistics.
See my reports list above if you need inspiration.
Now to the experimenting and optimization part to get the maximum out of your adsense placements
First of all in order to see if changes you made to your ads will have a positive or negative effect you have two options:
Run an ad for 1-2 weeks, then change it with the modified ad, run this ad for the same amount of time and see which ad performs best.
Remember, you are able to tell because each ad has a different channel so you have the stats
PRO: You don't need an Adserver
- It will take a longer time to find out which ad performs best
- Variations in clicks and ad impressions based on the number of visits can falsify the conclusion
Install an Ad Server to manage your ADs.
I personally run: OpenX
You can either install it on your own server or you can use the free hosted option from openX.
I wont get into how to use the AD Server but if you use the naming system for the Adserver as well you will see it is quite easy.
PRO: you can run multiple ad layouts in rotation to see which performs best
CON: It takes additional work to setup the ad server
I personally strongly suggest you use Option 2.
In the long run this will save you time and has far better results then Option 1
My last secret I want to share with you is:
Never stop optimizing your ADs on your website.
There is always room for improvement.
And if you need inspiration on how nicely optimized Google Adsense ADs look on a vBulletin Forum...
feel free to check out my website:
Patientenfragen.net - We have the answers
May the money be with you
ps: Feedback of how it worked for you, suggestions, additions and useful criticisms are very welcome