- Old ad layout: Three 120x600 skyscrapers placed along the the right side of the page
- New ad layout: Upgraded ad units to 160x600 wide skyscrapers and 300x250 medium rectangles, placed more inline with content
- Impact: 165% increase in AdSense revenue
In 1997, CareerPlanner.com founder Michael Robinson decided to pursue his passion of helping people discover their true career directions. He initially wanted to go into high schools and work directly with students, but decided instead to start a website so that he could keep his day job. At the time, there were no career tests online available to the general public. Today, CareerPlanner.com helps high school students, college students, and adults alike discover their optimal career paths and learn how to start careers or make career changes. To help people find their career directions, the site offers Career Interest Tests and Psychological Type (Personality Type) Tests as well as career counseling over the phone. The site offers several popular articles on career advice, job market trends, and more than 12,000 detailed job descriptions.
In 2007, Michael and CareerPlanner.com's top graphic designer decided to take a closer look at how people were using the site and realized that 2.5 million visitors per year weren't purchasing any CareerPlanner.com products -- primarily career tests and career counseling. "These visitors were clearly looking for something, but it was not anything we offered," says Michael. He and the graphic designer looked at each other and shared the same thought: Google AdSense. Today, AdSense is on over 95% of CareerPlanner.com’s pages and the site receives over 5.5 million visitors a year. The revenue from Google AdSense now helps fund CareerPlanner.com’s Research and Development efforts, IT expansion, as well as special marketing projects that they always wanted to try but could never afford.
Complementing direct product sales
One challenge for Michael was figuring out where to place AdSense ads on his site. Since CareerPlanner.com sells products and services onsite, Michael was concerned about cannibalizing his own sales. What he found, however, was that with thoughtful placement of AdSense ads, Michael was able to offer something to non-converting customers without impacting sales. “The nice thing about AdSense is that I don’t have products and services to sell to a lot of my visitors. The Google ads seem to give some of my visitors something they want,” says Michael. Now, he puts ads on all of the pages that have informational content – like job description pages and career articles. He does not place any ads on sales specific pages, including product descriptions, landing pages, and shopping cart pages. The bottom line? "Put ads where you're seeing the traffic, unless it’s a page where you're selling your own product at a higher profit margin.”
Getting more out of AdSense
Following advice from the AdSense team, Michael decided to update his AdSense ad units with the goal of increasing performance.
Instead of the three 120 x 600 skyscrapers that had been running one on top another down the right side of each page, Michael began running one 160x600 wide skyscraper on the left column, one 300 x 250 medium rectangle in the center, integrated into his content below the fold, and one 160 x 600 wide skyscraper on the right column. Michael also changed the color scheme of the ad units to match the color scheme of his webpages. Initially, Michael made these changes to 75% of his pages. Within one month, his AdSense for content revenue increased 80%. At the same time, Michael also decided to increase the width of the AdSense for search box on most pages from 80 pixels to 300 pixels. AdSense for search queries and revenue increased by 100% in that first month.
The initial revenue growth CareerPlanner.com saw in the first month inspired Michael to take the time to implement the same changes on more of his pages. Today, Michael has optimized 99% of his pages; in the midst of a major recession his AdSense for content revenue has increased by 165%.
Breaking records every month
"The best news," says Michael, "is that since we have made the optimization changes, our Google AdSense revenue has been setting new records every month."