March 05, 2007

Managing Ads

I'm sure that you know that I have some Google Adsense ads on this site. I don't use them too much here because I don't want them to be too obtrusive, but I figure if the couple of dollars that they provide a month will pay for this site's hosting then I'm at least not losing money. Google says that I cannot tell you to click on them, but I will say that when I visit the sites of other bloggers and I see an ad that looks like something I might be interested in I will click through.

In building the WhatIWantMost site, though, I have made liberal use of several types of advertising as you can see from the screenshot below:

 

In addition to the ads that you can see in the screenshot, the site makes use of a lot of other advertising opportunities as well: Amazon affiliation, Ebay affiliation, Shopping.com affiliation (later), and I think that is it for now. However, there are other advertising channels that I'd like to consider like direct sponsors and other affiliates like JobBurner. I've learned over the last few weeks that there is only so much screen real estate available and if I don't want to turn the site into a giant billboard, which I do not, I'm going to have to invest some time into coming up with some alternatives. For the www.asp.net site we use a tool called BanManPro and while it works well I don't want to invest that kind of money just yet.

Rather than add more ad placements to the site to support the additional opportunities, I'd like to have something in place that would rotate displaying Adsense ads and other ads in the small number of placements that I've already defined.

To accomplish this goal I could take a couple of different approaches: invest in BanManPro or a similar tool, write some controls that would do it for the WIWM site, build my own ad system or possibly take some hybrid approach. It would be nice if I could come up with a way to just drop some javascript in place similar to how Google Adsense works. I've already indicated that I can't afford an expensive solution right now so unless I find a much cheaper solution than BanManPro then that option is not going to work. I think the simplest solution for the WIWM most site would be to just build a couple of user controls that could display the various ads randomly or using some weighted approach. However, doing so would end up creating a solution that worked for just that site. It wouldn't work for this site - for instance perhaps I'd like to randomly display ads for the WIWM site or JobBurner on this site in place of my Adsense ads. I'd end up having to copy a bunch of code to get it working in both places.

I think that my first pass at a solution will be to create a server control, maybe similar to the AdRotator control (or perhaps even using and extending the AdRotator control) that gets its configuration from an XML file. This would allow it to be portable and usable on any of my sites. This first step wouldn't allow for centralized management, but it would be a decent first step. The natural extension would be to then build a service that the controls could use that would allow centralized management and reporting. Alternately the service could support drop-in javascript references to it in addition to the distributed controls (which would probably just generate the javascript references anyway). The benefit of using the controls would be that on a per site (or per instance) basis you could choose to use the service or display your own Adsense or other ads in rotation with ads from the service.

We used to have a pretty good home-built ASP banner ad system that I used on previous incarnations of this site and the DiggerSolutions site that included some good management, tracking and reporting. I wonder if I can't just take a pass at converting that.

I'll have to do some more research in this arena to make sure that I don't build something that already exists. Hmmm, the BanManPro system is starting to sound better :)

UPDATED - 3/6 5:08 PM: It looks like Jeremy Schoemaker, a popular blogger, created something like I was describing with his ShoeMoney Advertising Network. It basically just serves as a passthrough to aggregate your different ad networks to provide ad rotation, a simple implementation interface and centralized management.
 

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  1.  avatar Leo Nelson says:

    I was looking at similar advertising solutions too. Unfortunately, other than BanManPro I haven't seen any good .NET based ad solutions.

    If you're looking for a PHP solution, Openads does a decent job ( http://www.openads.org/ )

  2.  avatar says:

    Leo, thanks for the info. I haven't looked for any other solutions yet. I haven't seen the OpenAds site or PHP solution either. It looks like they have some interesting stuff on their site. I will keep that in mind and check out their PHP solution. I'm not averse to playing with PHP from time to time :)

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  1. Following my last post where I questioned the value of building an ad engine for my own purposes, I began

  2. No, I'm not starting another project and I'm not starting another blog series. First I had a problem/question/idea

  3. In a post a few days ago I posed a rhetorical question as to whether I could get ads in my RSS feeds

  4. In a post a few days ago I posed a rhetorical question as to whether I could get ads in my RSS feeds

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