Who Else Thinks AdSense Is Changing Forever?

Author: Gab Goldenberg

What’s The Future of Adsense?

In the past month, I’ve noticed retargeting campaigns on a few quite random websites. Retargeting means targeting ads to people who already visited your site.

The remarkable implications for AdSense may forever change the AdSense publishing industry!

PPC company Webrageous has been following me all around the web because I read something they wrote about the content network.
A/B split testing company Unbounce has similarly shown me their ads as I watched streaming illegal video, err, porn, I mean, How I Met Your Mother.

What really made me notice how significant this could be was IfByPhone’s retargeting while I was on a camera review site.

If you’re in the digital camera adsense biz, or read about Darren’s Digital Photography School, you know that AdSense can be a good earner in that niche.

Speaking of which, I just saw this…

Digital Photography School with a retargeting campaign

Digital Photography School with a retargeting campaign

When I was getting into internet marketing, I recall that people used to publish lists of AdSense niches with high CPCs.

(Ex.: “Mesothelioma,” a form of cancer that features tort lawyers advertising for class-action lawsuits.)

Now suppose retargeting via the Google content network (now renamed Google Display Network) becomes mainstream, or even default.

The results are wide-ranging.

For AdSense publishers, niche selection becomes virtually pointless.

If call-tracking ads show up when I’m looking for camcorders, and PPC management / split-testing when I watch How I Met Your Mother (instead of the more logical DVD sales/rental option) – what use is it to publish about camcorders?

Why not publish about something that requires less expertise and capital?

Political blogging may become profitable.

For AdSense advertisers, optimizing becomes more difficult.

– For ordinary content network campaigns, you can just look at an AdSense block and see who else shows up.

With retargeting, you can’t see who else is bidding for that ad space unless you happened to have visited their site before.

– Site exclusion tools may be less effective, because you’re targeting users and not sites/contexts.

– Category exclusion tools may be less effective for the same reason.

What results do you guys anticipate from this change? Will it last long term? Or will this be a temporary trend whose ROI won’t be shown to warrant wide adoption? Perhaps it will be adapted with impression caps?

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  1. What you're forgetting is the underpinnings of how Adwords auctions work... The publisher is only going to get a small increase. Remember - its not a keyword auction. It's an auction for an impression to a particular visitor on a particular page. The real winner in remarketing are companies who are in expensive PPC verticals - lawyers are a particularly good use-case. Instead of paying $50 for a click they are only spending 1 penny (..fraction of a penny?) more than the other top bidder at adwords auction to remarket to a past visitor that has yet to convert. While it's certainly not bad news for adsense publishers - remarketing ads certainly have higher click throughs than your average ad - its not THAT big of a boon IMHO.

    Comment by Ryan Underdown - September 16, 2010 @ 7:09pm
  2. The world we live in is controlled by perception and for most animals masquerading as humans perception is controlled by hype. It's like Obama and Wall Street trying to control the economy, the economy is a wild beast and it will do as it wants. Enter Google, just like the New York Jets, Google is a creature of hype. Their attempt at search although it may possibly be the best we have presently it is prehistoric in concept. To get on page one for any search term you only need a good spamming tool. Somewhere in the bowels of MIT or Stanford a nerd is dreaming and Google like a good relay team member is getting ready to hand over the baton. The Wright brothers might have been first in flight but it is Boeing and AirBus who control the skies.

    Comment by chris - September 18, 2010 @ 8:24am
  3. Ryan - excellent point regarding the expensive PPC verticals... [assuming that retargeting converts though.] I get that it's an auction for an impression. I don't see how I missed that in writing my post? Can you clarify?

    Comment by Gabriel Goldenberg - September 20, 2010 @ 12:15pm
  4. I have noticed this quite a bit lately. The first time it happened, I had just finished researching an article about Xerox Phaser printers, and ads for those printers started following me around the web. I can see how this could be effective if I was really in the market for a printer, rather than just doing research for an article.

    Comment by Beth Parker - September 26, 2010 @ 1:16pm
  5. You lost me somewhere there.

    Comment by Gabriel Goldenberg - October 4, 2010 @ 5:13pm
  6. Interesting to hear Beth - thanks for sharing. I'd guess in a profitable vertical like that, they'd definitely try this out!

    Comment by Gabriel Goldenberg - October 4, 2010 @ 5:14pm

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