Using Channels to Track AdSense Effectiveness On a vBulletin Community

  1. [Zoints]WildChild
    Using Channels to Track AdSense Effectiveness On a vBulletin Community

    Most community owners use Google's AdSense to both generate some revenue towards server costs and to make some profit. The placement and color-scheme of these ads are critical to gaining a high Click-Through rate and generating income.

    One of the features of AdSense is that of Channels. Channels allow you to group some of the AdSense codes you have placed on your site and then see the statistics of how your channel is performing. This article will focus on creating channels that will generate statistics on the placement of your ads - are your ads being clicked near the bottom of your page, or top? Are members clicking your ads more, or are guests? Is the archive generating more clicks than your actual community? With the recommendations in this article, you will be able to easily tell, and then tweak your AdSense placement based on the results you see to maximize profit.

    This article will cover a broad range of topics, so that even the beginning community owner can start putting AdSense on their community in the most effective manner. If you are already familiar with AdSense and/or already have an existing AdSense account, you can skip some of these steps accordingly.

    STEP ONE: Signing Up For AdSense

    1. Go to the Google AdSense Sign-Up site. You can follow my referral link here.

    2. Click on "Click Here to Apply"
    [​IMG]

    3. Fill in the the application with correct and valid details. Most users will want to select an "Individual Account." Also remember to input your community's main URL: www.yoursite.com

    4. Now you must wait for an approval e-mail from Google, making sure your site is in agreement with their TOS.

    5. Once your site is approved, navigate to www.google.com/adsense and input the e-mail and password you chose in Step 3.
    [​IMG]


    STEP TWO: Forming Your Ads and Placing Them On Your Community

    Note: Again, some of you already have AdSense placed on your community and need only place them into channels. For those who are creating ads for the first time or want to place them differently on the site, the following ad set-ups are only a suggestion, but have been researched as effective. You may follow these same steps for your own set-up.

    We'll be placing Ads on the following locations of your community:

    a) Archive
    b) ArchiveLinks
    c) Footer
    d) HeaderGuests
    e) HeaderMembers
    f) Postbit

    1. Within www.google.com/adsense, click on the AdSense for Content tab
    [​IMG]

    2. Scroll down to Channel Area
    [​IMG]

    3. Click on "Manage channels..."

    4. Under Manage Custom Channels input the following fields and then click "Create New Channel."

    a) Archive
    b) ArchiveLinks
    c) Footer
    d) HeaderGuests
    e) HeaderMembers
    f) Postbit


    When completed it should look like this:

    [​IMG]

    5. We now have to create an Ad for each of the 6 Channels we formed. These are the type of Ads we are going to use for each channel:

    336x280 "Large Rectangle" for the [highlight]Archive[/highlight]
    468x60 "Banner" Text Only for the [highlight]ArchiveLinks[/highlight]
    728x90 "Leaderboard" for [highlight]Footer[/highlight]
    728x90 "Leaderboard" for [highlight]HeaderGuests[/highlight]
    468x60 "Banner" for [highlight]HeaderMembers[/highlight]
    336x280 "Large Rectangle" for the [highlight]PostBit[/highlight]

    Go to AdSense for Content Tab and then Click on > Ad layout code:
    [​IMG]

    So now, create the appropriate ad type as mentioned above, and then place them in their respective channel. I'll guide you through the "Archive" one

    6.

    a) Ad Unit: My Default Account Settings (text and image ads - which is what I want)

    b) Ad Layout: 336 x 280 Rectangle

    c) Color Layout: Custom > White

    Since the archive has a white background, you'll probably want to use make a custom color pallete that will blend in well. Here is how to do so:
    1) Click on "Manage Color Palletes..."
    2) Choose an Pallete as a Starting Point
    3) For Border Select White (#FFFFFF) and do the same for Background.
    4) You may want to use these codes as well:
    i) Title:#0000FF
    ii) Text: #000000
    iii) URL: #008000
    5) Name your Pallete: "White" under "New Pallete name"
    6) Click "Save and Get Code"
    [​IMG]
    My image looks a little different because I already had the White color-scheme saved

    Using the same methodology you can also chose a color scheme that matches with your main site where the ads will be displayed, I've named mine "RAM."

    7. You may place an alternate URL to display ads for when Google displays PSA's on your community (when there is insufficient content for it to form a true ad)

    8. Under Channel Select > Archive (and if you were doing this for the Footer of your community, you'd choose the Footer channel, if for your Postbit, you'd choose that channel and so on). This is the key step for this article.

    9. Check if your site is using frames

    10. Now you have a code to place on your community! Move on to the next step.

    This is what your Ad Layout page should look like if you are making the Archive Code.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    You will have to repeat these 10 steps each time you make a code for a different area of your site. Remember to select the right options (different ad types for different areas of your site, different color schemes, DIFFERENT channels...)

    STEP THREE: Where to Put the Generated Code

    The generated AdSense code appears at the bottom of the Ad Layout code page in a gray box. Simply click the gray box once, and copy it. You will paste it to the following areas of your site:

    Admin Control Panel -> Style Name: Edit Template > ...

    Footer - footer template. Put
    Code:
    <center>[highlight]PASTE FOOTER ADSENSE CODE HERE[/highlight]</center>
    HeaderGuests & HeaderMembers - navbar template. Put
    Code:
    <if condition="$show[guest]"><center>[highlight]PASTE HEADERGUESTS ADSENSE CODE HERE[/highlight]</center><else /><center>[highlight]PASTE HEADERMEMBERS ADSENSE CODE HERE[/highlight]</center></if>
    Postbit - postbit or postbit_legacy (whichever you are using). Find the following part in your post bit and put the AdSense code where indicated
    Code:
    <tr valign="top">
    	<td class="alt2" width="175">&nbsp;</td>
    	<td class="alt1"><div>
    		[highlight]PASTE POSTBIT ADSENSE CODE HERE[/highlight]
    	</div></td>
    </tr>
    <tr>
    	<td class="alt2">&nbsp;</td>
    	<td class="alt1" align="$stylevar[right]">&nbsp;</td>
    </tr>
    and put the following (so members don't see Ads after your posts) at the bottom of your page:
    Code:
    <!-- Google Adsense in postbit for guests only --> 
    <if condition="$show['spacer']">$spacer_open<div style="padding:0px 0px $stylevar[cellpadding]px 0px"></if>
    <table class="tborder" cellpadding="$stylevar[cellpadding]" cellspacing="0" border="0" width="100%" align="center">
    <tr>
    	<td class="thead" style="font-weight:normal" colspan="2">&nbsp;</td>
    </tr>
    <tr valign="top">
    	<td class="alt2" width="175">&nbsp;</td>
    	<td class="alt1"><div>
    		[highlight]PASTE POSTBIT ADSENSE CODE HERE[/highlight]
    	</div></td>
    </tr>
    <tr>
    	<td class="alt2">&nbsp;</td>
    	<td class="alt1" align="$stylevar[right]">&nbsp;</td>
    </tr>
    </table>
    
    <if condition="$show['spacer']"></div>$spacer_close</if>
    <!-- / Google Adsense in postbit for guests only --> 
    </if>
    For Archive and Archive Adlink you must edit a PHP file.

    a) Go to your community's FTP > public_html > archive > index.php.

    b) Save the index.php to your desktop and open up a php editor to edit it. You could also rename it to index.txt and use a text editor to do the following changes:

    Under:

    Code:
    // ********************************************************************************************
    // display thread
    
    if ($do == 'thread')
    
    Put in:

    vBulletin 3.5.3 and under:
    echo <<<AdSense
    <[highlight]paste adsense code here[/highlight]>
    AdSense;

    vBulletin 3.5.4 and up:
    $output .= <<<AdSense
    <[highlight]paste adsense code here[/highlight]>
    AdSense;

    At the bottom of the index.php put in the respective code between:

    Code:
    // ********************************************************************************************
    // display error
    if ($do == 'error')
    {
    	echo print_archive_navigation(array());
    
    	echo "<p class=\"largefont\">$vbphrase[view_full_version]: <a href=\"" . $vbulletin->options['bburl'] . '/' . $vbulletin->options['forumhome'] . '.php">' . $vbulletin->options['bbtitle'] . "</a></p>\n";
    
    	echo "<div id=\"content\">\n";
    	echo $error_message;
    	echo "</div>\n";
    }
    
    ($hook = vBulletinHook::fetch_hook('archive_complete')) ? eval($hook) : false;
    and
    Code:
    <div id=\"copyright\">$vbphrase[vbulletin_copyright]</div>
    </div>
    </body>
    </html>";
    if (defined('NOSHUTDOWNFUNC'))
    {
        exec_shut_down();
    }  
    STEP FOUR: More Details & Checking Your Stats

    Remember you can also create different color ads as forementioned and put them in the different styles. Still place them in their respective channels so you can track progress. For example, this is what my Footer looks like in one style:

    [​IMG]

    and in another:

    [​IMG]

    Log-in to google.com/adsense to see how your Ads are performing. Here is a snippet from my log, after clicking the top channels drop down menu under Reports:

    [​IMG]
    (Under AdSense TOS, I had to remove my earnings from the image)

    If my community wasn't so new, I would see that I need to rework on my Ad Schemes for the Archive and ArchiveAdLinks as there are very few clicks. But my Report tells me my Header gets me the most clicks, and most of them come from Guests. If you have the desire, you can even create channels for different styles for even more detailed information.

    This is the power of the Channels and is a great way to improve your earnings, by letting you see which placements will give you the best click-throughs.

    Have fun with this knowledge, and good luck with your community! :)

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