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AdSense Profile: Making Money on Google

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Posted March 10, 2008 By Amy Mayer     Feedback

No doubt you've heard of, and seen, Google AdSense in action. But how, exactly, does it work, and more importantly, make you money? We tell you in our latest update on the search giant's affiliate program.

(Editor's Note: This is the second in a series updating how several popular affiliate programs work — and pay. We decided to take a look to see what latest Google AdSesne developments are, as well as provide the information you need to get started if you're new to affiliate marketing.)

Google's AdSense program allows Web site publishers and bloggers to leverage the largess of the search giant into profits for themselves. There are two types of Google presence you can place on your site to participate. You can simply put up a Google search bar, allowing your users to conduct site or Web searchers that come back with ads on the results page. That's AdSense for search. The AdSense for content option "automatically crawls the content of your pages and delivers ads," according to the Google AdSense Web site.

The content piece is where advertisers that have signed on to the AdWords program are matched with your site based on similar key words or topics. So if you're selling a particular type of widget, your AdSense ads should relate to that widget, its accessories, places to buy it, and the like.

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Setting Up Shop
Prospective AdSense participants fill out an application and, provided their sites are deemed acceptable, can then quickly begin placing Google ads on their sites. Participation is free. You can customize the colors and sizes of ads and whether they orient horizontally or vertically and you decide where to put them. To avoid sending your own viewers to a competitor's site, you can filter out specific advertisers or ad groups. Filtering options also let you sort by ad type such as text or image.

Getting the ad code to your page, once you have logged into your account, involves a guided setup process. You choose the format and colors you want for the ads. You can also assign a channel to the ads, to facilitate tracking.

The "alternate ads" options lets you specify the types of ads you'd like placed on your site in the event the targeted ad system doesn't generate anything appropriate (if you don't designate something, public service ads will be placed). Google takes all the preferences you've specified and then generates ad code that you simply copy and paste into the source code of your site.

Google launched AdSense in 2003 and a spokesperson says "now there are hundreds of thousands of publishers worldwide." In testimonials on the AdSense Web page, publishers say the vast reserves of Google advertisers and the targeted nature of the ads contribute to their success with the program.

"We knew immediately that AdSense for content would be an extremely powerful combination: the thick Google 'black book' of advertisers, plus great contextual targeting to make ads useful for our readers," wrote Robin Liss, of CamcorderInfo.com.

Getting Paid
Google's payout strategy depends somewhat on how an advertiser has subscribed to the AdWords program.

"AdSense customers get paid every time someone on their site clicks on one of the ads. The ads displayed on their content pages can be either cost-per-click or cost-per-1000-impressions ads, while AdSense for search results pages show exclusively CPC ads," wrote a Google spokesperson in an e-mail interview.

"This means that advertisers pay either when users click on the ads, or when the advertiser's ad is shown on a publisher site. Publishers will receive a portion of the amount paid for either activity on their Web site. Google doesn't disclose the exact revenue share, since our goal is to enable publishers to make as much or more than they could with other advertising networks."

Payment is made through direct deposit and the AdSense Web site has this advice for determining how much you'll make: "sign up and start showing ads on your Web pages."

As is true with similar marketing programs that match site publishers with advertisers, AdSense can appeal to both small sites and bloggers and to large, established companies.

"For small, start-up publishers, AdSense allows them to earn revenue while still being able to focus on developing fresh content for their site and growing their business," the spokesperson said. "For larger and established publishers, they are also able to earn revenue while further engaging their audience with video units; the first offering for content distribution on AdSense."

(Continue to Page 2 for Video and Mobile Programs)

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