How To Use Google Adsense Placement Targeting

Placement Targeting is nothing new, yet after all these years and so many emails, videos and blog posts, some of which came from Google itself, even now most Adsense publishers do not understand and utilize the full potential of placement targeting. The reason perhaps is the lack of insufficient literature regarding placement targeting. Placement targeting is much more than just creating channels, after all, a custom channel is not even placement targeting enabled by default, one has to edit the channel and check the box to enable this feature on it.

So, what exactly is placement targeting?

Let’s say you have a health blog, the categories that you might have will include – weight loss, dieting, exercise, skin care, mental health, diseases etc. Now imagine an advertiser coming to your blog and placing a very high paying and targeted advertisement for his weight loss campaign. But unfortunately your weight loss advertisement and the Adsense channel it carries also runs on the skin care and mental health categories. While Adsense is contextual and tries to target the ads naturally by targeting the content on your blog, sometimes a non related ad can appear, thus lowering the click through ratio. This unrelated ad makes your blog reader unhappy, can cause accidental and low value clicks which will all add up to an unsatisfied advertiser.

Now if your weight loss ads were only for your weight loss category, things would have been different. Someone looking for a weight loss article would have clicked on your weight loss ads and perhaps even bought the product. That would have resulted in a happy customer and a happy advertiser, which in turn would mean a happy publisher. Also, such valuable clicks will save your blog from smart pricing, which is a result of low value clicks or miss-clicks (accidental clicks) that results from unrelated advertisement.

Benefits yes, but how to implement it?

By default when you make a channel, it is not open for placement targeting. Adsense has recently switched its interface and since the old interface is going to be retired in a month’s time, it is better to use the new interface while explaining how to use the placement targeting feature.

Making an ad unit – Once you are logged into your Adsense account, click on the – “My Ads” tab on the top. Next, click on the – “new ad unit”. In the next screen, choose your options to make an ad unit. Suggested best performing unit – 336*280, blended with background and font colours. Make a custom channel for the ad unit. When you make a channel, you will get the option of placement targeting. In the “add new custom channel” page, check the box that says – “Targeting [checkbox] Show this custom channel to advertisers as a targetable ad placement”. The placement targeting options will appear when you check that box. Select the options, like – “Ads appear on – weight loss articles or mental health articles” – enter a good and precise description, like “Rectangular 336*280 ad unit with text only ads appearing on above the fold location for weight loss articles”. If you have more data about your audience it will be great. For example, age and gender of your visitors and their yearly income etc. Choose channel names wisely for better targeting and tracking. Please note that you only have 30 characters for a channel name. Here are a few examples of channel names – “Weight Loss 336×280 Top Left” or “Mental Health 336×280 Top Left” etc.

You need to change your old mindset of creating channels like – “my site top ads”, “my site bottom ads”, “my site sidebar ads” etc. If your channel is site wide, it is not targeted and will never be able to use the power of placement targeting. Quoting John’s words:

You can see how this would be useful. Let’s say that you run a car blog. You can have one set of ads for your Ford category, another set of ads for your Toyota category, and yet another set for your Ferrari category. Each of these can have different Adsense targeting, different keywords, different channels, and different optimization.
– John Chow

Editing an Existing Channel – To Enable placement targeting feature on an existing channel, select the “Custom Channels” option from the left navigation menu, under the “My Ads” tab, in your Adsense account. In the “Custom Channels” page all the custom channels that you have ever created will be displayed. Just click on the channel name and a page will open with the details of that channel. To enable placement targeting on that channel, click on the – “Targeting” checkbox and follow the steps mentioned in the previous paragraph and you are done.

Some frequently asked questions about placement targeting.

  • Q) My blog is already niche, do I need this?

    A) Yes, absolutely. Nothing can be niche enough. If you have a weight loss blog, you will still have categories or articles related to – “how yoga can help with weight loss”, “portion control”, “exercise”, “dieting”, “a disease like hypothyroidism that can be responsible for weight gain” and many more such topics and categories… each so different from the other that if one ad is placed to all these articles, the advertiser will never get a targeted visitor. One needs a custom channel for each of these categories for using the full potential of placement targeting.

  • Q) How does this help to get targeted and high paying advertisers?

    A) If you have a niche Adsense channel with good traffic, chances are, it might be displayed on the adwords bidding system. There are some requirements though, the channel has to be as narrow as possible and yet get a lot of traffic. Also, advertisers signing up on your much targeted niche channels will get more success with their campaigns. Thus, you save yourself from smart pricing problems. If your advertisement slots are converting well, more high paying advertisements will compete for that slot and eventually result in high paying clicks. Another thing about having targeted ads is that it complements the content well. This is not just about having happy readers but also about higher click through ratio.

  • Q) Is placement targeting all about money? My blog hardly get any traffic, not sure if this will help me.

    A) No, it is not all about money alone. Even if you have less traffic, you still have a feed subscription box on your blog, why? You want to capture your readers on feedburner, on your email list; on your twitter and facebook channels… you do all this because you want to grow your readership. The same can be true for advertisers. Why not capture quality advertisers on your Adsense channel which you can do with placement targeting.

  • Q) Is it ok with Adsense Tos?

    A) Absolutely, here is an article from Google – Inside Adsense which will answer this question better.

  • Q) Adsense is Contextual, so why do we need placement targeting?

    A) Contextual targeting and Placement targeting are two different concepts.

How to implement it?

For forums based on vbulletin or sites with Joomla, you will have to hire some coders and get it done. It will require some work but it is worth it. Many forums have been doing this for some time now, and with good results. For wordpress, you can check out this review.

Further Readings:

Advertisers are always looking for great blogs with high quality content and targeted traffic. Placement targeting is a step towards opening up your advertisement spots for your advertisers and making it easier for them to place their advertisements on your blog.

Uttoran Sen is a professional blogger and a webmaster. He is currently working on his Adsense Plugin project. You can connect with him on twitter.