TopCat’s Experience and Thoughts on Adsense Referrals 2.0

Google announced Adsense Referrals 2.0 three days ago. I am now writing about it three days later because I want to talk about my experience with it, rather than just repeat what Google said.

Not all Adsense publishers will see Referrals 2.0 right away. Once your Adsense account is upgraded (Google is upgrading accounts as we speak), you’ll be able to tap into the greatly expanded Referrals inventory. As we know, previously only Google products were on the Referrals inventory list.

Unlike Adsense for Content, where publishers don’t have much control over who advertise on their site, Adsense Referrals 2.0 gives publishers a lot of control. Using a shopping cart methodology, publishers can select a single ad, pick up to 10 ads, or select a group of ads based on category or keyword for each ad unit and put them in a shopping cart. At the end, publishers will get the appropriate Adsense code for that shopping card and use it to display ads on their websites. Publishers can view the ads by targeted area and language.

On the reporting side of things, publishers can view reports at the individual vendor level. I find this particularly useful, as it allows me to zoom in on which vendors convert well, and which ones do not. This is very different from Adsense for Content, where publishers have no way of knowing which ads were the most popular with the visitors.

One feature that I wish Adsense Referrals can add is the ability to save shopping carts. Right now, I have no way of knowing what categories/keywords/group of ads I selected for each ad display, unless I write them down manually each time. This is clearly inconvenient for the publishers.

This definitely pits Google in direct competition with CPA firms such as Commission Junction. It will be interesting to see how current Commission Junction advertisers react to this. My guess is that some of these advertisers might start to experiment with Adsense Referrals (if they haven’t already), and they’ll make the call based on which network yields a better ROI.