Monetization Makeover: Tom Keating’s VoIP Blog

Welcome to the second edition of Monetization Makeover. In this series, I review the monetization of different blogs, in terms of both strategy and ad placement, and make suggestions for improving profits.

Today’s lucky blog: Tom Keating’s VoIP and Gadget Blog. Optimized correctly, a blog like this can make bank.

In Monetization Makeover Part 1 I critiqued PSPFanboy’s ad implementation, copiously citing the Adsense heat map as justification for my recommendations. If you haven’t seen the Adsense heat map, I suggest you take a good look (and even if you have, I’d suggest reviewing it early and often). And now, to this week’s blog.

Tom Keating’s VoIP and Gadget Blog

Tom Keating’s VoIP and Gadget Blog is a very well read site in its area. The niche he’s in is one that pays very well with contextual advertising, since CPC bid prices for VoIP-related keywords are very high (trust me, I know). With this in mind, let’s analyze a “permalink” page. As a long-established blog with gobs of content, Tom Keating’s blog receives tons of traffic from search engines like Google. The traffic from search engines mostly flows to these permalink pages (blog software packages like WordPress and Movable Type handle these permalinks very well for search engine ranking purposes).

Transparent Visitors Pay Your Bills

Now, a bit of an aside on search engine visitors: they tend to be transparent, meaning they find your site in a search engine, click over to your site, either find what they’re looking for, or not– but either way, they usually exit by clicking on an outbound link on your site, or by clicking the back button on their browser.

This is a very important point in terms of its implications for monetization. Visitors from search engines are not going to subscribe to your XML feed at the rate visitors from links do. They’re going to come over for 40 seconds or so and leave, so you need to make the most of them in that quick timeframe.

Now, if you’ve read any of my posts before, you know how my mind works, and you already have figured out the conclusion: these transparent visitors are ripe for monetization. If they’re going to click off, I might as well get them to click off on an ad that pays me for each click. Further, you should note that the CTR on ads from transparent visitors tend to be higher than that of repeat visitors, as repeat visitors have seen your design before and often become “banner blind” to your ad placements.

To sum it up, I think a very good strategy is to maximize the CTR of your ads from transparent visitors without going too far and annoying your regular visitors.

Back to the example at hand. Tom has obviously tried to maximize the monetization of his site (there sure are a lot of ads on the page!)

I’m seeing 6 ads, actually count em. Great monetization, right? Not necessarily.

This is one example where less is more. The ad units that can make him the most money (namely, Adsense) are not featured prominently, nor are they optimized. Further, the page is cluttered with ads that probably pay a lot less than Adsense (Chitika, and, I’m guessing, the graphical units). Using those units has the effect of lowering the CTR (and eCPM) of the Adsense units, while probably not making up that lost revenue. And at the end of the day, it’s all about eCPM of the entire page.

Sometimes Less Is More

With that in mind, I’d probably do something like this:

  • Make the skyscraper part of a left column – Skyscrapers nearly always perform significantly better on the left.
  • Change the sky to 160 width (it was 120 before) – 160 sky’s perform a lot better than 120 sky’s. The human eye can read the wider text much more easily (and thus click more often).
  • Blend the skyscraper – The default Adsense color pattern (white background, blue border) performs terribly. Blending = good.
  • Put the graphical skyscraper below the Adsense skyscraper – This one comes with a caveat as I’m not sure what kind of deal, CPC or CPM they get from these. But chances are, they pay a lot less than Adsense for a topic like VoIP. So feature the Adsense.
  • Drop Chitika – For a theme like VoIP, Adsense is going to wildly outperform a program like Chitika (again, I know from experience).
  • *Not pictured* Change Adsense title text to a more clickable color – To get that ridiculously high CTR on Adsense units, all you have to do sometimes is use red, orange or a shade of blue as the title text. Experiment a bit, as this will vary from blog to blog, but it can make a pretty big difference. (I didn’t picture this one however since I thought it might detract from the design–everything is a tradeoff.)

That wraps up the second edition of Monetization Makeover. Remember, when in doubt, just ask yourself What Would Andy Hagans Do?

I welcome your thoughts.