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AdSense: Crossing To The Dark Side

We here at RKG have been, putting it politely, less than enthusiastic about running PPC ads on the content nextworks.

Why? Because, historically, content clicks performed horribly.

In the early days, content was teaming with click fraud.

Google has made considerable progress tossing out bad guys over the last year. Google also offers advertisers more options to tune content campaigns. Kudos for both improvements.

The remaining issue with content advertising is intent -- people reading online are less likely to purchase than people searching online.

It like comparing an affinity mailing list to a response mailing list. Fact: addresses receiving Car And Driver magazine are less likely to buy auto parts through the mail than addresses who have previously bought from the JC Whitney catalog.

Content often has lower sales per click, and typically dramatically lower volume of qualified clicks. And often, the traffic is on the retailer's brand name itself, and we've long argued that much of the sales from brand searches isn't incremental.

Some advertisers can find some good clicks in the content haystack. The issue is how many, and is the time finding them well-spent.

Our agency's position on content has softened quite a bit, but we're still far from raving fans, due to our maniacal focus on conversion.


After years of content-bashing, I had a sudden and unexplained twinge of guilt: was it hypocritical to criticize AdSense without being a publisher?

(Cue the ominous Star Wars music. Cue the video of Obi-Wan warning Luke about the Dark Side.)


There's a post on our blog that averages about 500 visits a day.

The page gets traffic from a handful of first-page results on Google, for terms quite unrelated to our agency's core focus, from visitors quite unrelated to our typical prospective client.

To experience AdSense from the other side, we'll place Adsense on that one single post. We'll report on the relevance of ads Google serves into that slot. We'll describe our progress "optimizing" that page to maximize AdSense earnings (yuck!). And we'll donate all AdSense earnings to charity, with RKG matching the Google check ten-fold.

Stay tuned.


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