Google's Adsense is definitely the king of the road. Just do a quick count of what you see on serious bloggers' sites or just about any site for that matter and you'll see what I mean.
It's been quite a while since I signed up with Adsense, but I believe the process was fairly painless. I submitted by personal information and within a day or so they emailed me back that I was approved.
- The Google Adsense/Adwords program is large, well-known and used everywhere by everyone. Because of this there should be no problem with Google finding ads to display on your pages.
- Google's ads are context sensitive, they will display ads relative to your site's theme and the content of your pages. When used in conjunction with Google Search on your site they will be relative to the search terms.
- Because of the context sensitive nature you can have three banners (or text banners) on your page and each one will show different ads. This makes implementation trouble-free and really requires no maintenance.
- There are so many ad formats you will find something that fits your site.
- Google uses a PPC model so all you have to worry about is placing your ads in such a way to entice your readers to click on them. There's no need to worry about whether the person buys something or refers someone else, etc.
- The wizards make creating ads easy.
- The reporting is excellent.
- There is no bartering with Google about how much you'd like to charge for each space you place their ads. You take what Google gives you.
- Some find their program policy to be too restrictive. Until recently you could not use context sensitive ads from other networks on the same page as Google ads - that changed in January 2007, I believe.
- You can only use 3 ad units, 1 link unit, and 2 referral units on a page. This may not seem like much of restriction, but I ran into an issue lately where I wanted a wide and short link unit at the top of the page and a more standard in the sidebar - it wouldn't work (which is actually one of the reasons I started looking at other affiliate options). If you have too many ad units or link units the extra ones will not display, usually leaving a big gaping hole in its place.
- Because it uses PPC the revenue per conversion is much less than a traditional affiliate program where you make commission percentages off sales, future sales, your referral's referrals, etc.
I remember reading somewhere in my Adsense sign up that I can't provide specifics about the number of clicks or the amount of money made from the program. Remember that TheBestWebStuff blog that I am using as my testbed gets very low traffic (about 10 unique users per day). Over the last three months I average only a handful of clicks a week and the money I've made over that entire period would buy me a meal at a fast-food restaurant. This will serve as my baseline in testing other ad affiliates. As a comparison, though, this site gets about 10-20x more traffic and though I have much fewer ads displayed here my Adsense revenue per month would basically pay for this site's hosting on a shared plan from GoDaddy, DiscountASP, or WebHost4Life.
Rating: 5 Stars
My experience is limited at this point so while I'll give Google's Adsense 5-stars now I reserve the right to change it at a later date once I have reviewed more affiliate networks.
This is the first in a series of posts in which I review various affiliate networks and services.