Split test your Adsense ads


Warning: Missing argument 2 for Jetpack_AMP_Support::render_sharing_html() in /home/content/41/4299441/html/wp-content/plugins/jetpack/3rd-party/class.jetpack-amp-support.php on line 251

Split testing (also known as A/B testing) your ads is a great way to determine which ad format is best for your website. Regular visitors of my blog would’ve noticed (if you don’t use ABP) that the ad at the top of the sidebar is sometimes a large ractangle (336×280) and sometimes a rectangle (300×250). Well, this is a part of a split test I’ve been conducting for some time. This post will explain how you can split test your Adsense ads.

First of all you need to create two similar Adsense units like a 338×280 and a 300×250 unit or a 160×90 or a 160×600 unit and a 120×600 unit. You may also create two units of the same size with a different layout or format. This depends on what aspect you want to test. Create a separate channel for both these units for the purpose of tracking their individual stats.

Now comes the main part, implementing the split test code. There are many methods to implement the split test code. All of these use conditional statements along with some function to generate a random number. I’ll give two popular methods to split test Adsense ads. Both more or less work on the same principle.

The Javascript Method

This is the basic syntax of the split test using Javascript-

<script type=”text/javascript”>
var random_number = Math.random();
if (random_number < .5){
<! Add first ad code below>

}
else {

<! Add second ad code here>

}
</script>
<script type=”text/javascript”¬†src=”http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js”></script>

Note that it is against the Adsense program policies to edit the ad code. I thought this method was against the Adsense policies when I started writing this post. But then I came across this post on the Adsense blog which mentions that they talked to their policy folks and they’ve given permission to publishers to edit the ad code for A/B testing purposes.

As I’ve mentioned, I used to think that the Javascript method was against the Adsense program policies so I decided to use some other method. This method was the PHP method.

The PHP Method

This method doesn’t insert any bit of code between the ad code. So naturally there is no question of it being against the Adsense program policy. Note that your server needs to support PHP for this method to work. If you are using WordPress, your host definitely supports PHP(duh!). This is the code for the split test using PHP

<?php $splitIt = rand()&1; echo “<!– $splitIt –>”; ?>
<?php if ($splitIt == 0) { ?>

<! Insert 1st ad code>

<?php } ?>

<?php if ($splitIt == 1) { ?>

<! Insert 2nd ad code>

<?php } ?>

Using both these methods both the ads will show up almost 50% of the times the ad is shown. You can now compare the performance of both the ad units and decide which one you want to use. You can also further split test the better performing ad with another ad.

My Results

I’ve been conducting a split test between 338×280 and 300×250 rectangles for quite some time now. The result of the test was mixed. The 300×250 unit and 338×280 unit both have good CTRs but the 300×250 unit has a slightly better CTR. But what attracts me towards the 338×280 unit is that at a decent CTR it gives a much higher CPC which effectively leads to better earnings than the 300×250 unit. I need some more time before which I can decide which size is the best for my blog.

Note that different websites show different results on split testing. The best way to know which format is the best for your site is to split test ad units. I’ll update this post once I get a concrete result of my split testing experiment.

SocialSpark Review-For Advertisers


Warning: Missing argument 2 for Jetpack_AMP_Support::render_sharing_html() in /home/content/41/4299441/html/wp-content/plugins/jetpack/3rd-party/class.jetpack-amp-support.php on line 251

Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this review. Its completely based on my recent experience of being a SocialSpark advertiser.

I recently held a contest on my blog. I publicized it through a SocialSpark cost-per-click(CPC) opportunity. So here I am, ready with a review of SocialSpark from the point of view of an advertiser who’s looking to create some buzz.

I signed up as a SocialSpark advertiser just to look around and to create a spark (a free opportunity). One bright sunny day (according to PST) I got an email from Izea that they were giving away $100 credit to advetisers for free to try out CPC opportunities without any obligations. They just mentioned in the email that you needed to send an email to Joe Vaughn, Director of Sales, Izea. I did so immediately. Three days later, Joe replied saying that the funds had been credited to my account.

I logged in and checked my account to verify that the balance was $100. Now it was time to create an opportunity. I filled up everything, set the payout and budget and reached the final step where I found a catch. The minimum amount you need to spend on an opportunity is $100. SocialSpark also charges a fees of $10 for opportunity creation. This meant that I needed to spend $10. I got a bit double minded at that time. I made the following calculations-

Minimum cost per click=$0.25
Budget=$100
Number of valid clicks=400
Number of invalid clicks=600(max)

This meant I was going to get about 1000 impressions from the campaign which would earn me much less than $10 through Google Adsense. I would be getting traffic indirectly as a result of the CPC opportunity but maybe it wasn’t worth spending $10. So I wrote an email to Joe Vaughn asking him whether I needed to pay the $10 for opportunity creation. He replied in three days saying that the extra $10 had been added. That reply was a bit unexpected( I had slight expectations of something like this happening which is why I wrote to Joe in the first place). This meant that there really was no catch(clarification for dummies) and I had found something other than FOSS that is actually free in the true meaning of it. Here’s my review of different parts of the SocialSpark advertiser experience-

Opportunity creation

Creating the opportunity was a great experience. The level of customizations offered was impressive. The minimum cost per click they offer is $0.25 which is also reasonable. I selected to include only blogs that had more than 100 visitors a day which was a reasonable requirement and could filter out those blogs which are created for the sole purpose of earning a quick buck. I was very satisfied after creating an opportunity. The opportunity was then sent to the SocialSpark team for approval which I must say was quick.

Tracking the campaign

Now that I had created the opportunity, I headed straight to the marketplace to check if it was there. Since it was the most recent opportunity that had been created, it was right at the top of the list of opportunities. Then I checked what CPC they were offering to bloggers. It was $0.13. That meant that SocialSpark was paying bloggers around 50% of what they charged me. I did expect them to keep their share but I feel 12 cents on 25 cents was a bit unfair. Some advertisers might think that this is something that bloggers need to bother about but it equally affects the advertisers as not many people are willing to take an opportunity at $0.13 per click. I monitored the opportunity for a few days and seeing that just 5 people had taken the opportunity, I increased the CPC to $0.50 per on my side. Note that I’m telling about different features of the advertiser admin panel along with my experiences like you can change the payout whenever you want to.

The number of participants of the campaign increased a bit in the next few days so did the number of invalid clicks. I had got no valid clicks for the first few days. Later, slowly valid clicks started getting registered. I expected that to happen as the number of participants in my contest started increasing at a good rate. This rate increased exponentially and my balance was finished in no time.

Quality of clicks

Every click on a CPC link is checked by Click Forensics before being called a valid click. My experiences as a blogger have been bitter and I absolutely hate the system they use to check the clicks. I’ve been in situations when I’ve got 30 to 40 clicks on a CPC link and all were called invalid. I refuse to believe that not even one click was valid. From an advertiser’s point of view, it great. As I’ve mentioned, for a few days I didn’t get a single valid click. This might seem to be good for advertisers but bloggers are also a part of the system. Any blogger would prefer Adsense or any other CPC network over SocialSpark’s CPC opportunities. The advertisers may enjoy the number of invalid clicks but the number of people taking CPC opportunities is bound to decrease eventually.

Overall the quality of clicks was good and I was able to get many participants for my contest. Some of them came through posts and a good share came through twitter. Facebook proved that it is just another useless social network and generated no valid clicks. SocialSpark CPC opportunities are a good way to generate some buzz, but it definitely needs some changes like making the click validity checking system a bit lenient. I would’ve given it a rating of 6.5/10 but the great customer support for advertisers and the fact that they don’t believe in the *Conditions Apply way, SocialSpark gets a rating of 7.5/10.

My view is a neutral view but a person who’s purely an advertiser would have given a better rating. I personally want that there should be something more for bloggers and they should be treated equally.

Choosing Your Web Host


Warning: Missing argument 2 for Jetpack_AMP_Support::render_sharing_html() in /home/content/41/4299441/html/wp-content/plugins/jetpack/3rd-party/class.jetpack-amp-support.php on line 251

I recently moved my blog from blogger to WordPress my own hosting. Choosing a web host was a major step in the process. I used a web hosting ratings and awards site called Web Hosting Geeks to make my choice of web host. First of all you should ask yourself a few questions- What do you intend to host? How many sites do you need to host? How big are the sites you want to host? If you ask yourself these questions, you’ll get an idea of what type of hosting plans you need and the amount of bandwidth you require. Then check up Web Hosting Geeks’ web hosting awards and ratings. According to your needs, select a host and have a look at a few reviews.

Web Hosting Geeks’ blog has some good articles too. These will help you answer the questions you need to ask yourself. For instance, you should read the article on The Pros and Cons of Web Hosting Platforms. Depending upon your needs and the CMS you want to use, you should select your hosting platform.

Hosting provider websites often phrase features differently and tend to mislead you with words like ‘unlimited’. You need to understand the TOS and the real meaning of the word unlimited. Nobody can literally provide you unlimited bandwidth or disk space. Web Hosting Geeks can help you escape such traps as it lists all features in an easy to understand tabular form. If you are looking for a web host, Web Hosting Geeks can definitely help you make your choice.

Sponsored by Web Hosting Geeks

Best resort in Orlando


Warning: Missing argument 2 for Jetpack_AMP_Support::render_sharing_html() in /home/content/41/4299441/html/wp-content/plugins/jetpack/3rd-party/class.jetpack-amp-support.php on line 251

The Windsor Hills Resort is one of the best resorts in Orlando. It is just a couple of miles away from the Walt Disney World resort. Its the perfect choice for a Disney World holiday. It offers extensive community facilities and restaurants, shops and golf are in the vicinity. Have a look at this video to get a better idea-

Sponsored By Windsor Hills Resort