Making Sense (and cents) of Adsense

The bloggers at SiliconValleyWatcher started a buzz last week with a scoop about changes to Google’s Adsense. I want to join the conversation about that newsbit, and couple it with an item about an ad shut-off utility in the Open Source browser Firefox that could give users a way to “Tivo” web ads.

First things first.

SiliconValleyWatchers Tom Foremski and Candida Kutz reported last week that Google was giving publishers greater control over “when, where and who” can view those little text ads that pop up on the pages of websites in Google’s affiliate network. (Foremski says Google had 1,800 ad people meeting in San Francisco last week!) He also had an earlier, insightful piece on Kanoodle, the New York aggregator that is challenging Google. (If you’re new to the conversation, affiliate vendors like Kanoodle, Chitika and others act as advertising brokers. They link advertisers that want to reach niche audience with MiniMedia web publishers (as I call them) starved for ad revenues.)

John Battelle circulated the scoop and added an observation from Jupiter Research’s Gary Stein that Topix had enhanced Google Adsense in a way that gave “a 500% boost in click-through rate on home page ads.” (Again, if you’ve confused, MiniMedia types who depend on affiliate ads get paid when someone clicks-thru on an ad on their site. More clicks, more cash.)

While all of this is good news for the cash-starved pioneers of cyberspace, a bit in Cory Treffiletti’s Online Spin email newsletter pointed me to several references like this how-to from weblogger Loren Hughes. It shows how to turn of all or most ads through Firefox. As Firefox catches hold, the question will be how many users opt for ad-blocking. A trend in that direction could pinch off one of the promishing cash capillaries nourishing the MiniMedia community.

Tom Abate