Experimenting with AdSense

Anyone who’s not logged in here may have noticed the ads behaving a bit oddly – we’re doing a bit of testing.

What we’re doing is ‘split testing’ – we’ve made nine different layouts of ads to go with articles, and we’ve got the server putting random layouts on each page. So each article you look at could have completely different layouts – just a square ad on the left, or a tower on the left and a small square on the right, or a tower and a small square on the left, and so on.

The idea is that after a week or two we should find out which ones make us the most money (profits! buwahahaha!), so we can decide which one (or ones) to use. Some are more intrusive than others, so unless they make us a fairly significant amount more money, we won’t stick with those.

Once it’s all done, I’ll probably put together another post about it, and share what we’ve learned from it. How much information would be useful? Would people be interested in knowing how we went about setting this up? Let us know in the comments if you would be interested.

One little tip that set all this going – we added a ‘half-banner’ sized ad into the top bar – the black bit at the top of the page – just to the right of the ‘find’ box. Just adding that one ad seemed to halve our income from AdSense.

Seriously. I wasn’t sure if the extra it would bring in was going to be worth it, but I didn’t expect anything like that. My best guess is that it was taking the best ad – they get put in order from top to bottom – and placing it where it wasn’t seen.

Once I’d seen that effect, though, I figured it wasn’t worth taking anything for granted about what would work best – time for some scientific testing.

We’ll let you know what happens.

(It doesn’t happen to logged in users, because logged in users get less ads, and the ads they get are smaller and less in the way. Just sign up, and you’ll get less ads too – and you’ll be able to post comments.)