9.1. Ad Performance
When you log into AdSense from the AdSense home page at https://www.google.com/adsense/ (after your account is up and running and you have ads on your site), the first thing you'll see is the Reports Overview window, with the current day's earnings displayed, as shown in Figure 9-1.
Click the top channels link shown in Figure 9-1 to see the statistics for your top-performing channels (Figure 9-2).
When you click the Advanced Reports-Ad Performance link (Figure 9-1) or the view all AdSense for content channels link (Figure 9-2), the Advanced Reports window opens, as shown in Figure 9-3. This is used to monitor your performance in the AdSense Content program.
Figure 9-1. When you open AdSense, you'll see your page impressions, clicks, and earnings for the current day
Figure 9-2. The top channels display lets you see at a glance which of your channels are performing
It's quite appropriate that the Ad Performance statistics should be the first thing you see in the AdSense application, because as an AdSense publisher, you need to keep a close watch on these statistics. This chapter goes into the details of slicing and dicing the information you can get from the Report screen, but let's start with the mile-high view first.
The most important statistic for you to pay attention to is the Page CTR (or Page click-through rate). This statistic measures what percentage of ads are clicked. Page CTR should be in the 0.5% to 2% range (meaning from 1 to 4 of every 200 ads are clicked). As you'll see when you learn about the AdWords program in Chapter 10, a 2% CTR is a home run; it's more normal to expect something slightly below 1%.
Figure 9-3. You can see at a glance how many times your pages have been displayed (page impressions) and how many people have clicked on the Google ads on your pages
If your CTR is consistently below 0.5% for more than a day or two, meaning that fewer than 1 in 200 ads are clicked, then you need to take remedial actionfast! Your traffic is going to waste.
Most likely, the problem is that Google is not able to accurately serve relevant ads on your pages, because you haven't written the pages to make clear the most important content they contain (see Chapter 3 for information about how to fix this). Try tweaking your pages to emphasize their significant content areas. In addition, try changing the position on your page of the AdSense ad units, the kind of ad units, and the graphic schemes used in these ad units (see Chapter 8 for information about changing ad units and their palettes). Carefully monitor the Reports tab to see which of these measures improves your CTR.
9.1.1. Running Reports
The Ad Performance interface is designed to generate reports. To generate a report, pick your date range, select page or unit impressions, choose aggregate versus channel data (and select your channels), and click Display Report.
184.108.40.206. Choosing a date range
You can choose any data range you'd like, by date, from the inception of your AdSense account to the current point in time, all using the interface shown in Figure 9-4; or you can choose one of the preset time spans that Google always has available.
Figure 9-4. You can choose a preset time span or a date range
The preset time spans are:
220.127.116.11. Page or unit impressions
Google lets you put up to three AdSense ad units, plus one link unit, on a single page; accordingly, you can display impressions (the number of times something is displayed) by either page or unit, using the drop-down list shown in Figure 9-5.
Figure 9-5. Individual ad unit impressions are likely to be a higher number than page impressions, because you can have more than one ad unit per page
It's easy to be tempted to throw four AdSense units (three ad units and one link unit) up on each of your pages, but try to resist this temptation. Experienced webmasters generally find that CTR goes down as pages become too loaded with ads, even AdSense ads.
18.104.22.168. Aggregate versus channel data
You can choose to display AdSense data for your entire account by selecting the Aggregate data radio button shown in Figure 9-6.
Figure 9-6. If you display data by channel, you can choose from URL channels or from Custom channels
Alternatively, you can select Channel data to show as many or as few channels as you'd like.
When you are showing data by Channel, you can use the Group data by radio buttons to display statistics organized by date, channel, or grouped using both.
A famous aphorism says, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics," meaning you can support any statement, and sound authoritative, so long as you quote statistics. Fortunately, the statistics shown in an AdSense Ad Performance report are simple enough that they are hard to misinterpret, but you should be clear about the terminology used.
Each report will show you daily statistics (each of these is a column in the AdSense report, as shown in Figure 9-7):
Figure 9-7. You should monitor your earnings for trends and inconsistencies (such as the relatively poor result shown on Thursday of the week in this figure)
9.1.3. Downloading a CSV File
You can download the data in your AdSense report by clicking the Download CSV file link (shown in the upper right of Figure 9-7). The file is a plain text file formatted with comma-separated values, and it can be opened in a spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel (shown in Figure 9-8) for further analysis.