Web advertising with Google AdSense


  1. Introduction
  2. Signing up your web site
  3. E-Advertising
  4. Matching advertisers to publishers
  5. How Many Ads?

    See Also

  6. Google AdWords
  7. Mobile Phone Ads
  8. Other Information Technology
  9. Home


My First Cheque from Google

My First Cheque from Google

Google's AdSense allows small web content providers to earn revenue from advertising on their web sites. This is a brief overview of how to put Google AdSense ads on your web pages. Web advertising can be used to support small not-for-profit web sites, such as On Line Opinion "Australia's free Internet journal of social and political opinion", as well commercial web sites.

Signing up your web site

Google provides an online sign up for their service:


Google's advertising broker accepts advertising and then places it with suitable web sites. The broker is paid by the advertiser and then shares some of the payment with you, the web site publisher. This process is automated, with the advertiser providing describing the type of web sites they would like to advertise on and this then being matched with suitable sites (using information about the geographic region and suitable keywords).

The price of the advertisement is determined by auctioning keywords on your web site (such as "travel and "Paris"). The popularity of your web site to the reader and its relevance to the advertiser determines how much you get.

Matching advertisers to publishers

Advertisers select the region they want to advertise in and the language. They then create a headline, brief text description (up to 95 characters total) and the URI of the advertisers web site. The aim of the advertiser is to have readers click on the URI and be forwarded to the advertiser's web site.


The advertiser specifies keywords (or phrases). These will be matched with keywords on web pages to place the advertisement on. The assumption is that readers who are interested in web pages featuring those keywords will be interested in the advertisements featuring them.

It helps to keep each of your web pages to one topic and make sure that words about that topic feature in the web address, the title and the body of the article. As an example many of my technical travelogues are about journeys to computer conferenes. This confuses the advertising system as it doesn't know if the web page is about travel or about technology. It would be better to do two web pages: one about the travel and the other about the computer event. This may also help the reader.

Cost per "click"

Unlike print advertising, the Google advertiser is charged not for the advertisement appearing, but for the reader "clicking" on the link in the advertisement and to have their web browser display the advertiser's web page.

The reader can only click on one advertiser, so you don't need to have your entire web page taken up with advertisements. Also remember that readers come to your page to read the content, not just click on ads, so make sure there is good content. Most readers will find your page using a search engine, so it is the text on the page which is important, not the graphics or formatting. My web site was exceeding the download limit set by my web hosting provider. Most of the bytes downloaded were from images, not text. So I reduced the size of images from around VGA size of 640 x 480 pixels to QQQVGA size of 80 x 60 pixels. This reduced the downloads by a third, without making the web site any less popular.

Also keep in mind that Google has automated software to check for you inflating the statistics by clicking on your own web pages (called "click fraud"), so keep to the rules or you may be excluded from the AdSense program.

Inserting Advertisements on Web Pages

Unlike print advertising, as the web site provider (publisher) you do not directly select the individual advertisements for display. The words in your web site are analyzed by the broker's system to determine the keywords for the page. These keywords are then matched with the advertiser's keywords and advertisements selected (along with region and language).

As the publisher you do have control over on which web pages and where they appear. This is done by inserting a small segment of code (such as Javascript) into the web page's HTML at the point the advertisement is to appear. This requests the advertisements from the broker's system. If you are using web creation software you paste the Google code into it once and then have the code automtically inserted into appropirate pages.

Example: Indian Pacific

As an example, I added two advertisement blocks to the web travelogue "Indian Pacific: Sydney to Perth by Train". For the larger advertisement on the top right of the page, the broker's system inserted advertisements for "The Indian Pacific Train", "Perth save up to 65%", "Indian Pacific" and "Blue Mountains Web". Clearly these are being matched on the phrases "Indian Pacific" and "Blue Mountains".

Screen shot showing a large advertisement

Screen shot showing a large advertisement, from Indian Pacific: Sydney to Perth by Train, Tom Worthington, 1995, URL: http://www.tomw.net.au/travel/ip.htm

For the small block at the bottom, the advertisements were for "Indian Pacific", "Mudgee New South Wales" and "Bus Tour Blue Mountains". It should be noted that the words "Mudgee" and "Bus Tour" do not occur in the web page and have been provided by the advertiser.

The larger block at the top of the page achieved a click through rate of 8.5%. That is for every 1000 people who viewed the web page, 85 clicked on one of the links. The smaller block at the bottom of the page only achieved 2.8% in the same period.

How Many Ads?

While it would be attempting to make the advertisements the most prominent part of your page, this can be annoying for the reader. After experimenting with different locations, I have decided on a 160x600 pixel column on the top right side of the page. This is prominent enough to get noticed without being annoying. By using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) for my web layout, I arrange for the ads to appear after the text of the page. Many web pages have the ads appear first. There can be some seconds delay before Google sends the ads and the reader is left looking at just a page full of ads in the interim. This might increase your click though rate, but will annoy the reader. Also I have the ads move down below the text, if the screen is not wide enough to display them comfortably.

Google allow you to have up to three ad units on one web page. But in a month long test with 26,000 page impressions, I found 94% of the revenue came from the first ad unit, 5% from the second and the remaining 1% from the third. Having three ad units takes twice as long to download, annoying your readers. So I am going to just use one ad unit on new pages.

Themed ad units

Google has an option of displaying themed ad units. These contain the same advertisements as regular ad units, but contain background images celebrating events such as Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve. Google attempts to be culturally sensitive by displaying themes according to the Internet address (IP address) of the viewer. As an example, Thanksgiving may be displayed only to USA viewers, but New Year's Eve world wide.

Google also provide "AdSense for search", which lets people do Google searches.

You receive payment from clicks on the search pages. But in my month long test there were only 16 queries and no click-through to the ads. I will continue to provide the search as a service to readers, but not expect revenue from it.

Getting Paid

An important part of the Google AdSense process is getting paid. When your earnings reach a specific amount (currently US $50), Google will send by paper mail a Personal Identification Number (PIN). This is entered into your Google account to confirm they have the right postal address for you. Payment can be by paper check (in many local currencies or US dollars). More convinent is Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), with payment directly deposited in your bank account, in the local currency.

For EFT, after entering your bank account details Google deposits a small test amount into the bank account. You then enter that amount into the Google system to verify the EFT is working and this will then be used in place of paper cheques.


Google also provides referrals to allow your readers to download Firefox with a Google button bar. Google also previously had referrals for the AdSense service itself. In the month there were no Firefox downloads and only 5 referrals to Google AdSense. Google only pay for the AdSense referrals they reach a threshold and none of these have. Google is discontinuing referrals for the AdSense product in Australia, as of the end of January 2008.

Google Firefox Toolbar Button

Web advertising with Google AdWords

Keep in mind that you can also advertise your web site via the Google AdWords service. This can be used by non-profit, as wel as for-profit, organisations. An advertising campaign can cost a few tens of dollars.