Jon Symons

Can Installing an Ad Server Make You More Money?

Sorry all you freeloaders, it’s time this site looked like the rest of the Internet and had an in-your-face money making strategy :)

I’ll post more of the how’s and why’s in a few days, but for now, I thought I’d just acknowledge that no, Art of Money hasn’t been sold, or hacked by rogue Google engineers.

Currently I’m testing a cool system for delivering the ads. It is actually a system that I will use on Home Turf Media, but it is easier to try it out here first.

In WordPress

Rather than just dropping ad-code directly into your template, define a specific php file for each ad placement on your site. Then use a php “include” statement to suck the code from these files into your template dynamically. This will keep the code in your template more manageable and easy to read.

If you want to change or update your theme you’ll have the ad code already separated out, all you’ll need to do is migrate the include statements.

The Ad Server

The next part of the picture is an ad server. I signed up at AdSpeed, they have a free (no credit card required) 10 day trial and there pricing is affordable for even a single site with decent traffic: $9.95 a month for up to 100,000 ad impressions.

Once you have signed up with an ad server, then you create a “zone” which just means a place where you’ll plunk one or many ads.

Then you need to create at least one ad and put it into the zone you set up. If you’re using AdSense you can grab the regular code that you would use in your template and place it into an “ad” on your ad server control panel.

Next you grab the code for the “zone” and put it into the php ad file that you created in your WordPress theme.

A Quick Recap on How the Ad System Works

  1. A reader comes along and visits your site.
  2. The server executes the request and activate the WordPress files. The WP theme you are using calls the special ad.php file with your ad server zone code in it.
  3. The ad server zone code calls the ad server company’s server and requests one of the ads that you have assigned for display in that zone.
  4. If, for example, the ad selected in that zone is from AdSense, then the code in the ad will call Google’s server and request a set of AdSense ads.
  5. Finally the page is displayed to the visitor with AdSense ads in place.

8 Big Benefits of Using an Ad Server

While the system may seem complex and confusing there are some very real benefits to setting things up in this fashion.

1. Rotation – with an ad server you can rotate many types of ads into a zone. Meaning I can create an AdSense ad, and any number of banners ads and then allow the server to display them all into the zone according to criteria that I define.

2. Testing – now you can do proper testing. For example when using AdSense you can set up split testing and really know which ad link colors are getting the highest CTR’s. Or which of two banners for a product gets the highest click-through rate.

3. Weighting – this is one of the control factors for selection of ads into a zone. Ads with higher weighting are displayed more often. Advanced ad servers will allow you track clicks or even earnings of an ad and then run algorithms which will maximize your profits for each ad impression based on many factors.

4. Tracking & Statistics – the stats you receive with an ad server are pretty amazing. Clickthrough rates by region, impressions and clicks by the hour of the day, visitor tracking by ads viewed and sequence and on and on.

5. Targeting – you can target an ad geographically, to a certain page on your site, to a certain site only or have an ad that displays only from 9am – 5pm in a certain time zone.

6. Advertiser Control – an ad server also allow you to let advertisers view the statistics on their ads. They can view CTR, geo-region of the visitors seeing their ads, number of impressions etc. Being able to offer these types of stats to potential advertisers is a definite selling feature.

7. Freedom – you can now sell ads in many different ways. For example you can sell CPM (cost per thousand impression) ads directly to advertisers. Or you can target a single page with an text link ad.

8. Be Your Own Client – you can put ads for your other sites or for jobs you may want to have done, into your rotations. For example, if you want to sell a text link ad at the bottom of your posts, you can set up a zone to display in that spot, then create an ad that says, “Would you like your ad to appear here?” with a link to your advertising rate page. Show your sales ad until all the space or inventory is sold.

Drawbacks

The AdSpeed system does not track clicks on AdSense, so you’ll still need to use AdSense channels to track CTR on AdSense.

There is a slight learning curve, mostly just to understand how to set everything up and get the most out of it. It is a lot easier just to put the AdSense into your template.

You are relying on an external server to display ads. If your ad server company is down, you don’t get any ads…one more point of failure in your system.

Conclusions

As with almost any type of computer system, separating out the pieces of your advertising system has very distinct and powerful benefits.

By inserting an ad management tool in between your site and the ads you want to display, you gain a lot of control and increase the profit potential of your site.

If you have multiple sites then the system really starts to pay dividends, since you now can have your ad inventory centralized in one place and display it across many sites. If you realize that the color blue “000080″ is the most profitable, you only need to drop the other colors from your rotation and all your sites are now updated. Much better than carving up your templates in 6 WordPress sites to replace the link color.

If you find a hot new offer and what to insert it to display on your site on 20% of your ad impressions, it can be done in seconds. If you realize that it is profitable, you’ll be able to increase it’s weighting so you can make more money.

Considering the cost of about $10 a month any site getting decent traffic should be able to pay for a system like this many times over just from the increase in earnings off of one AdSense split test on ad color.

This is the way that big sites and networks set up advertising on their sites, but there isn’t anything preventing almost everyone from doing it.

AdSpeed has a live demo if you’d like to have a peak at an ad server back end.

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3 thoughts on “Can Installing an Ad Server Make You More Money?

  1. Pingback: Links - 28/04/07 « Krugergold Finance

  2. Hi Jon. Thanks for your explanations.
    I’m not clear on why using an adserver is necessary unless you have specific ads you want to run. Why not let Adsense do the work?

    Please forgive me if I’m being ignorant. I’ve been thinking of making my public service blog (blog.riscario.com) commercial-free as a point of differentiation. I’m assuming visitors would notice and care :)

    The Adsense ads my blog shows are not as relevant as I’d like and in a sense “cheapen” my content (which is meant to help Canadians reduce their financial risks).

    Maybe I’m convincing myself that using an adserver will be a good idea as readership grows.

  3. Pingback: $100 a Day Blogging! Discover My Top 5 Action Steps · Art Of Money

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