About two or three times per year I rotate through all of my advertising networks to see how they are performing. I think it’s a good idea to test all your ad-networks every once in a while to make sure you aren’t missing out on any potential earnings – a network that performed poorly six-months ago might do much better today (not usually, but you never know).
These are my results, listed worst to best, for the year – with the last test finishing up just a day or so ago. Note that due to the various TOS’s, I do not include any actual CTR, ePC, eCPM or earnings data:
BidVertiser: very low CTR and even lower earnings. A waste of my valuable page real-estate.
Adbrite: I put the most time and effort into testing Adbrite because I have read of many other publishers that were getting good results. But for me, it just did not work out. I tested both text-only and banner units and after ~100,000 impressions, earned only a few dollars. It seems that most publishers generating good earnings with Adbrite are using their “full page” ads which to me seem to be the #1 way to piss-off/drive away potential visitors. Adbrite also has “in text” ad-units, but I did not test them.
Chitika: Chitika’s new “Premium Units” performed fairly well. These ad-units only display to search-engine traffic and target ads based on the keywords used when searching. This type of keyword targeting results in very relevant ad-units and very good CTR. You can configure the Chitika Premium Units to display another ad-network such as Adsense or YPn for display to non-search engine traffic – otherwise direct/non SE traffic will not be shown any ad-units. Chitika also has an “in text” unit which when tested earlier this year performed well. Some publishers do not like the “in text” type ads, but I don’t have an issue with them – although I only display them to anonymous vistors, not registered members. With Chitika you also get a dedicated account manager for support which is a big plus.
Yahoo Publisher Network: YPn was a real surprise this time around (this is why I test a few times a year!). I have done nothing but badmouth YPn over the last several months, but now I’ll eat my words and take it all back. This time YPn gave well-targeted ads, fair CTR, and decent ePC. YPn also has support! When I had a question regarding the Yahoo Publisher Network TOS, my email was replied-to in less than 24 hours, and when I had a follow-up question a YPN representative called me by telephone to avoid more email confusion. YPn also has a toll-free phone number for questions/support.. Yahoo Publisher Network gets my “comeback of the year” award!
Kontera: If I was comparing only the last 2-months of the year, Kontera would be the clear winner. But since i’m comparing the overall performance of the entire year, Kontera comes up a strong #2. Kontera’s in-text ad-unit performance started out slow this year generating about 50% of what Adsense generated on a daily basis. But beginning around September/October Kontera was earning 80%-90% of what Adsense was doing, and by December, Kontera was generating approximately 200% of what Adsense was (that is more than double Adsense on most days!). Kontera’s other strong-point is support. With a dedicated account manager that you can contact any time by phone or email (and actually get a response) this puts them far ahead most of the other ad-networks. Some publishers do not like the “in text” type ads, but I don’t have an issue with them – although I only display them to anonymous visitors, not registered members. Many publishers have also complained that Kontera slows-down their page load times. If you experience this, be sure that you have your code loading at the very bottom/last of your page right before the
/BODY tag. I have never experienced this issue, and I check/test almost daily.
Adsense: Still king over the entire year, but if I was comparing only the last few months, it would fall to Kontera as #2. Excellent ad-inventory and near-perfect targeting no matter what your niche/content makes Adsense hard to beat. Combine that with (usually) good/high ePC and Adense is still #1. The Adsense support team does well in answering support-requests (usually in 48 hours or less), but you don’t get a dedicated account manager unless you are in the “UPS club” (a really, really big, Premium publisher).
Remember: Just because an advertising network performed good/bad for me does not mean you will get the same results. Whenever anyone asks me, I recommend trying everything and sticking with what works (seems almost obvious, eh?).. I also recommend trying different networks every several months as I do to make sure that you are using the best-performing network – you never know when you might be pleasantly surprised.
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