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apples and oranges

Google Doubleclick for Publishers – Granular Choice

We’ve already discussed how Google has become a powerhouse for delivering advertising content online with their AdSense program. If that were their only advertising platform they would still be one of the dominant suppliers of advertising online. The Google Doubleclick for Publishers platform cements their position. Why are there two platforms from the same company? Which one is better to use? What’s the difference between the them?

What’s the Difference?

The differences between the two platforms isn’t readily apparent. Both platforms allow advertisers to sell ads and publishers to place ad inventory on their websites. Both platforms offer some filtering capabilities of the advertisements they show, have reporting options, and access to a wide set of advertisers. The biggest differences between them have to do with how these ads are placed and how they can be granularly controlled.

Granular Control

This granularity kicks in for a few key areas. First, publishers are able to make their inventory of ad units available in several different ways; branded, semitransparent, or anonymous. This allows publishers with a big name to attract more advertisers and command a higher rate while smaller publishers can remain anonymous and still have access to a large pool of advertisers. Next, the publisher has significantly expanded filtering ability allowing them to block specific advertisers, ad technologies, and cookie usage. In addition, rules can be created for block filtering and opt-in filtering for even more granular controls. Also, publishers are able to expand on the reporting that they receive from Doubleclick. While AdSense has some standard reports available, Doubleclick users are able to “create queries based on publisher-defined parameters.”

Do You Need Google Doubleclick for Publishers?

The Doubleclick platform allows a publisher to really take control of the advertising they are presenting to their audiences but not without a lot of complexity. We recommend that you contact a professional to assist you with your advertising decision-making to make sure that Doubleclick for Publishers is the right tool for you. Google has a dedicated page explaining the differences between AdSense and Doubleclick for Publishers in detail. This resource has some additional links that can help you become better acquainted with the offering.

AdChoices – What’s It All About?

You may have noticed a triangular icon in the corner of advertisements on your favorite news or blog site. This triangle is the AdChoices icon and it’s a trademark of the Digital Advertising Alliance. The AdChoices initiative is a way for advertisers to feed ads that are more relevant to their viewers interests.

The Digital Advertising Alliance is made up of several constituent organizations; the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the American Advertising Federation, the Association of National Advertisers, the Better Business Bureau, the Data and Marketing Association, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, and the Network Advertising Initiative. This consortium of trade groups works to self-regulate consumer issues such as the AdChoices project.

The concept of the AdChoices tool is to allow users to have more input in the advertisements that are being shown to them. If the ad network that the site you are on is making use of the AdChoices icon then you can click that icon to block and give feedback about the ad in question. One of the biggest users of the AdChoices tool is Google. Not every Google Ad is served with these options but those that are tailor the content to the user. Google has implemented a “mute this ad” feature that displays a small “x” next to the AdChoices icon. This muting feature will allow you to self-select out of a particular ad campaign and can also let you navigate to your Google ad settings page (for the account you’re logged in with) where you can define your areas of interest, modify your profile, or disable interests based ads (more on this in a moment).

While this seems like a great thing, empowering users to see fewer irrelevant ads and letting them change these settings as their desires change, AdChoices raises some serious questions about privacy. As mentioned above, you can disable interests based ads and some people do because this data is collected and stored by Google. Many people feel this is a privacy issue and don’t want any extra information known about them. To help combat any abuses of this data collection two of the organizations; the Better Business Bureau and the Data and Marketing Association are charged with making sure the advertisers in the space are complying with regulations and that complaints made to them are addressed and advertisers held accountable.

This tool should be seen as part of your advertising strategy. As publishers, we’ve seen how it’s in your best interest to follow the desires of your users. As is the case with ad blocking software, you have users who are making a request of you. If you follow their wishes, you can turn what is mostly interruption marketing into a sales funnel for your advertisers. The AdChoice tool is part of the LEAN standards proposed by the IAB that we’ve previously written about. If your ad network offers AdChoices as an option you may want to consider using it.

For more about how the AdChoices tool affects you as a user, visit the Your AdChoices site.

Getting Started with Adsense

Google.

This is the first thing we think of when the word search is mentioned. Their dedication to cataloguing, ranking, and displaying websites to users performing searches makes them a dominant force online. They have used their position as the top search engine to become a leader in the field of online advertising. Their most prominent advertising vehicle is called AdSense.

Getting started with AdSense is easy. All you need is a Google account, a website, a phone number, and postal address. But as with all things technical, the ease of getting started belies a depth and complexity to the service. Once you’ve signed up for AdSense you make your website ad spaces available by pasting ad code on your site. This is where AdSanity can help. With AdSanity, you can control the placement of your ad units on your site. Advertisers compete by bidding on ad spaces in a real-time auction. The highest bidder will show on your site. You are compensated when one of your visitors clicks on an ad being displayed on your site.

AdSense ads are smart too. The system matches the ads that are displaying to the content on your site. This is an automated process, but you can also take a deeper dive and exert some control over the ads that display on your site. You can block individual advertisers, a competitor for example, or entire categories of ads. Controlling the ads you show can have some financial ramifications as well. Not all ads are paid at the same rate since it’s a bidding process. Throttle the ads shown too much and you may find your share of the revenue dwindling.

The success of your AdSense account and the money you make from it are going to be impacted by the number of page views and unique visitors you get to the site. The more viewers you have, the more likely an advertisement will be clicked. Google offers some special assistance to sites that are passing the 300,000 monthly page view milestone.

Once you have your website configured to make use of AdSense and you start to see a revenue stream it may be time to expand your involvement or fine tune your campaign. Google has a listing of partners that can help take you to the next level. Like WordPress itself, the more you want to do with AdSense, the more you’re going to want to seek professional assistance.

So, getting started with AdSense is easy. If you’re already an AdSanity user you might want to start an account today and see if you can monetize the work you’ve put into your website with AdSense. You can even download the mobile app for tracking your AdSense account while you’re on the go. If you want to learn more about AdSense, Google has a plethora of information.

IAB Standards – The Future of Advertising Online

Founded in 1996, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) develops technical standards and best practices for the digital industry. In the same way the W3C lays out standards for web development, the IAB lays out standards for digital advertising. These standards are put into practice by the over 650 media and technology companies that make up the IAB’s membership. These members account for about 86% of the online advertising in the United States.

There are several standards and best practices that are particularly relevant to users of AdSanity. The first is the Ad Units standards. The current version of AdSanity uses specifications originally laid out by the IAB standards. With the proliferation of mobile and tablet devices as well as the continued strong numbers of desktop and laptop devices these formerly fixed sizes have to become more adaptable. One of the ways that this adaptation is being achieved is through flexible sizes. Similar to how responsive web sites adapt to your various devices, flexible sizes allow for ads to adapt to a variety of devices.

In addition to the ad units there is a new standard that the IAB has introduced called LEAN. LEAN stands for lightweight, encrypted, AdChoice supported, and non-invasive advertising. The overall goals are about keeping your ads optimized and user-friendly. Most ad networks are leveraging HTML5 to keep their designs flexible and small in size (See HTML5 Ads – New Gold Standard). LEAN makes a lot of new recommendations on how to handle everything from auto-playing audio, video ad behaviors, pop-up usage, and many other aspects that can impact a user’s experience on a website.

One of the important parts of LEAN is the support of AdChoice. AdChoice is a technology supported by the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) of which the IAB is a member. It allows users to have a voice in the type of advertisements they are shown. The idea is to make the advertising that you are exposed to more relevant to you and the products and services you are interested in.

If you’d like to learn more about IAB standards visit their website – www.iab.com. You can read more about the upcoming Ad Standards. Finally you can read more about AdChoices and the DAA here.

HTML5 Ads – The New Gold Standard

The advertisements you’re seeing online today are more and more likely to be built with HTML5 as opposed to any other technology. There’s been a paradigm shift to HTML5 for ad distribution. The roots of this change lie in a few key historical decisions and with several benefits of the HTML5 specification.

First, some history. Flash used to be the technology of choice for providing advertisements. You could take all of your assets and wrap them up in one SWF package for distribution. However, playing a Flash ad did require the extra overhead of requiring a browser plugin. In addition, the packaged files could be a fairly sizeable chunk of code.

While both of these are minor considerations, the release of the first iPhone in 2007 had major ramifications. Apple never supported Flash on their mobile devices. Android devices, released a year later, continued this trend of Flash abandonment. With such a large percentage of today’s web usage occurring on mobile or tablet devices, Google has followed suit and is now going a step further. As of June 30, 2016, Google has stopped accepting Flash ads, and by January of 2017 Google will stop displaying previously uploaded Flash ads.

While this sounds like technology giants in the advertising space pushing their own agendas, there are some real world reasons for the change. One of the major benefits of HTML5 ads is device independence. Since HTML5 is supported on all modern browsers by default, no plugins are necessary to view the content. Additionally, HTML5 ads can be built with the responsive web in mind. This means, no matter what device you’re using you can be served a version of the ad that’s right for your screen.

Another big benefit to HTML5 is the use of live text. Since you’re using the basic structure of the web in a smaller package, your text is searchable, translatable and allows for the use of web fonts to style the type. Using HTML5 means that text can wrap as needed, giving it the flexibility to display regardless of the device size or shape.

As far as we can tell, HTML5 ads are the way to go for the foreseeable future. If you want to know more, the IAB has a great primer on building HTML5 ads that meet their guidelines. One last comment on the HTML5 specification, since we’re basing our ads on a technology that advances over time, we should have a great path to the future. As the specification updates, our ads can update along with it.

Can AdSanity Override AdBlocker?

We get this question often. We do preface this post by saying that we strongly urge that all web developers and administrators respect the wishes and preferences of their users. That said, we also understand that there are edge cases where this may need to be done and is done for the benefit of the user and the user experience.

Generally ad blocker us looking for any reference to the word “ad.” We use this in developing AdSanity with the classes of elements for styling purposes. But, luckily with AdSanity you can create custom display templates within your own theme to override the default AdSanity templates.

Take the files ad.php and single-ads.php from the /theme-templates directory in the AdSanity plugin and duplicate them into your theme’s directory. Once those files have been duplicated into your theme, AdSanity will now use those templates instead for display. You may change those templates to your liking. Future upgrades of AdSanity will not override your custom changes. But do be aware that if you change class names, AdSanity’s default styling will no longer apply to the output.

Is AdSanity Responsive?

AdSanity ships with default styles in place. However, your theme’s styles will override AdSanity’s default styles. We do include general and specific handles on all the AdSanity elements so that custom styling can be used to alter the display of the ads to your specific needs. Ultimately your theme’s style will govern how AdSanity’s ads are displayed and whether or not those behaviors are responsive.

Is it possible to swap ads for mobile devices?

Yes! AdSanity ships with default styles in place. However, your theme’s styles will override AdSanity’s default styles. We do include general and specific handles on all the AdSanity elements so that custom styling can be used to alter the display of the ads to your specific needs. Ultimately your theme’s style will govern how AdSanity’s ads are displayed and whether or not those behaviors are responsive. To be able to show different content for different screen sizes, one could make use of media queries to hide show ads as necessary.

Forum is Back!

The forum was down for a bit over the holidays, but it’s back up now. Sorry for any inconvenience that may have caused. Now we are getting back to work to finish up version 1.1 which is quite close to release. We were a bit ambitious about how far we reached for this version. For future releases we are planning for smaller steps and a more frequent release cycles. Hope everyone had a great holiday season. And here’s to a solid 2013!