AdWords, AdSense and Affilliate Marketing, oh my!

AdWords, AdSense and Affilliate Marketing, oh my!

The names alone are enough to send Dorothy running down a yellow brick road. And her little dog, too! Today we will take a look at Adwords, Adsense, and Affiliate marketing – the unholy trinity of monetizing a website.

AdWords

AdSense is an interesting dichotomy of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Results (SER.) Let’s start with AdWords and work towards AdSense.

Search Engines need to make money but they will attract the best audience by displaying the most accurate results. When you (as an advertiser) sign up to put an ad on Google through AdSense you also have the opportunity to put it into the AdSense Network – right into other websites like yours. I have always found that the conversion rate (people who come to your site through AdWords) convert much higher when they come through the Google search page rather than someone else’s blog. I also (as an advertiser) am more comfortable with having my Ad on Google as I believe they have a quality product and the audience is only clicking on my ad because they want to be sold something. I do not believe that to be the case in the rest of the AdWords network. This is a round about way of saying I don’t like advertising on a bunch of random sites that have AdWords enabled.

One thing that would change my mind is the newer Pay-Per-Action model where advertisers only pay a referral fee if the user performs in some way (signs up for a newsletter, buys something, etc.) That way I know I am getting positive ROI. Think about it. If you are selling Mercedes and you can pay $50 / click for a guaranteed test drive, you are ecstatic.

AdSense

Now, let’s look on the flip side. As a website owner displaying Ads for revenue I may need to do everything allowed by Google to encourage people to click on ads so I can make a referral fee. Every time you send your audience away from your site to one of those ads in anything but a very obvious way, you erode their trust. Less trust = less readership = less referrals…. downward spiral.

Let’s say that the entire model moves to Pay-per-action. The revenues you should receive for sending qualified traffic would be huge in comparison to other PPC campaigns. It would be much more difficult to do that. I would say the only way for a website owner to win in that scenario would be to have total control over what gets displayed as an ad. For example, you have a performance driving blog and you select Audi, BMW, etc to display ads and no one else because you trust those brands and you feel comfortable advertising them. You win. Your readers win. Search Engines win. Advertisers win. Looks good to me.

Affiliates

That strategy is very similar to successful affiliates. Affiliate marketing is something all to easy to have manipulated on the back end. Ex. Someone tells you that if you sell a bunch of their stuff, you’ll get a portion but only they’re keeping score and you have to trust them because you can’t really follow the lead once it leaves your site. That just sounds too ripe for abuse for me. However, if you find a few products from a reputable source that you love because it is a great product, have at it! You can confer your trust on to your audience in good faith.

There are a bunch of good AdSense blogs out there. However, the only name I can recall right now is JenSense because I thought the name was clever. There are likely links to other similar places there. I’ll send more as I re/uncover them. Affiliate sites tend to be thickets of self-promoting garbage. I do not know of any that I could recommend.

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