Thursday, January 19, 2006

Microsoft to Offer Contextual Ads - MSN AdCenter

Microsoft is using its MSN network to launch MSN AdCenter. It will be very similar to the AdSense, YPN business model.

To stay in the loop about a beta program, or their official launch, visit the MSN AdCenter home and sign up for e-mail updates.

This may turn out to be another great revenue generator. As more players get in the game, they will become increasingly competitive to keep publishers.

How Much Money Can You Make with AdSense?

Great White Heron knows focusPeople ask - how much money can you make with Google AdSense? There are plenty of success stories on the 'net. One thing I have noted is that most people quit before payday.

Living in Florida has its advantages - especially South Florida. Orlando (Disneyworld, Universal, etc.) can be freezing while we're enjoying weather in the 50's. Another advantage, if you enjoy critters, is living near the Florida Everglades.

For weeks I've noticed a few Great White Herons around the school on our street. I grabbed my camera one day because I noticed how captivated they are about one thing - finding their next meal!

It's true - you can get fairly close to these guys because they are so focused on finding that next bug (lizards work well, too).

And that's how you have to be with your contextual ad campaigns. Focused.

One of my best kept secrets is my contextual ad journal. I write everything in there. From day to day I can see what I've changed and see how it's affected performance. I can see what works and like the heron, seize that opportunity. I'm sure the herron has recorded that the good bugs are around the shrubs at the school.

I thought this recent article in the New York Times was revealing, but there is no source listed and I doubt this is true for every publisher. Here's what it says: and the company's foreign search sites contribute more to Google's bottom line than AdSense, because for every dollar the company brings in through AdSense and other places that distribute its ads, it pays roughly 78.5 cents back to sites like Digital Point that display the ads.

That's right around the figure I had; actually, I came in a tad lower for publishers - around 50 - 60%. So, it's believable.

And my thinking is that YPN is right up there as well.

Tip for today - stay focused, work it like a business, and don't quit before payday.

Oh, and go out and buy yourself a journal! Gotta find them bugs!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Tracking Traffic Costs

Today I want to touch on the costs of getting traffic to your site. Your earnings with Contextual Advertising will only grow when you have visitors who are interested in your ads and click on them. But you gotta have visitors.

Here's the formula:

Earnings = page impressions * ads per page * click thru rate * average price per click

Let's assume page impression is a constant p.

Then earnings = p * CTR * CPC.

So calculating how much your traffic is costing you is vital, because it draws from your bottom line.

There are MANY ways to drive traffic to your site; the main two, search engine optimization and advertising. Advertising takes on many forms: text ads, banner ads, newspaper ads, links, word of mouth, etc.

The most important part to remember is that there is no free lunch. In other words, every form of advertisement costs something. Effort was expended to get you the results. The key is that you need to quantify the effort. You'll hear me use that a lot - quantify it. Only when you can measure it is it possible to track.

And remember to count your time and effort. Here's my rule of thumb: count $10 for every hour of personal labor you put into traffic. This includes chatting with someone to spread the word about your site, work on SEO items, keyword optimization, literally anything that takes your time - you must quantify it.

Say you are out and talk with someone for ten minutes about your new site; that's $2.00 of your time.

Okay, Dave - that's getting picky.

Using AdWords or Yahoo! Search Marketing to drive traffic is a little easier to quantify. You can easily see how much of your budget was spent. But even here, I count my time spent creating ads, working on keywords, tweaking and refining.

So here's your homework:

Grab a sheet of paper and write down your campaign name. Below that, list the ways you are currently using to drive traffic to the site. Then, count your time spent to accomplish the work. Make this a figure you are comfortable with.

Here's an example.

Campaign: Shelled Brazil Nuts
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Traffic: SEO work - $5.00 (30 mins/day @ $10/hr)
AdWords account - $7.00/day
Links - $1.00/day ($30/month)
Total: $13.00/day

So, great! We have a liability of $13.00 a day. Why do we need to know this number?

This number is key, because this is the number we must beat in order to see a profit. Anything over $13.00 is good. Anything less is not good. But there's more. Don't forget your other costs - hosting (unless you use a free blog account), bandwidth, and design of your site.

See how important it is to keep track of what our traffic costs are? It's vital, if you want to get profitable.

Next, I answer the question of how important it is to choose the right contextual ad company.

Until then, as Mom always said, "do your homework!"


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

AdWords Dominator - Not Ready for Prime Time?

Late Sunday night I went online and purchased KeyWords Analyzer and AdWords Dominator, both from Chris Lee & Goran Nagy. These appear to be two tools that can do my work a little faster. In this business, efficiency is job one.

I first installed KeyWords Analyzer, and proceeded to try to find a nice "walk you through a typical scenario" for the software. After a half hour of futile searching, this document doesn't exist.

With KeyWords Analyzer there is a help file that tells you what all the bells and whistles do, and a few suggestions as to what to look for. I actually found more information in an unrelated doc included in a bonus pack of other software. The doc is called The Keyword Master's Course by both Chris and Goran. But, watch out - the last paragraph talks about the program selling for $79.00. It does not. It's $97.00 - maybe a typo - nonetheless, I wrote Chris about this and never heard back.

I will fully review KeyWords Analyzer and report here at a later date.

Next, AdWords Dominator. This sounds like a nice piece of software to have on the onset. It uses the Google API to connect to your AdWords account and allow you to manipulate it from the desktop - not a web interface. So far, so good.

AdWords Dominator Not ConnectingThe software and database install well, but problems soon crop up when trying to connect to the Google AdWords site. Untold timeouts and connection errors pop up on the screen when the web browser has no problem making a connection.

Next, you naturally have to download historical data into your database on your PC. This allows the program to work much faster. I had problems. At first, the data seemed okay - but then - I see I have no keywords listed for some campaigns. On others, the ad data was zero - like CTR for the past 3 months.

After half a day of uninstalling and deleting databases, reading forums and searching, I e-mailed Goran Nagy. Over half the day has gone by an I haven't heard from these fellows. They just may be out of pocket.

What frustrates me is that there is no documentation on AdWords Dominator to again - walk you through a typical scenario, no slick video as the sales one on the web site. Would it be all that hard to write up how best to use their software? Because right now, the Google AdWords interface is looking pretty good.

What's your experience?