Segmenting traffic is the process of setting up your ad units and custom channels so that you can explicitly see your different traffic sources. To help you understand your traffic via segmentation, we’ve set out the steps that you'll need to take below. Whether you're new to the AdSense world, or you're a long-time publisher, these insights are highly beneficial. To get started, you'll need to have access to an analytics tool (like Google Analytics), as well as a broad understanding of what channels can do for you in your AdSense account. Setting up granular traffic segmentation will allow you to see what your traffic sources are and how they're performing in respect to one another at any given time. There are two major benefits to having this additional data for your AdSense account:
- Better understanding of your traffic sources and users
- You'll be able to see and understand which traffic sources are driving the best ad performance for your site.
- Using this data, you can determine how users are reaching your site, and whether you can optimise your traffic sources.
- Prevention against invalid traffic
- Proactively monitor how your traffic sources are performing, so that you can make educated decisions and stop working with sources that appear to be sending bad traffic.
- Identify anomalies in the data to understand how different sources are performing, and what actions you should take to ensure that you're staying compliant with the AdSense programme policies.
We recommend a two-step approach. You'll need to use an analytics tool, custom channels and URL channels. The first step is to highlight a portion of your traffic to review. The second step is seeing the data behind the traffic. It’s important to do both of these steps to make sure that you have the complete picture of your traffic sources and site performance.
Step one: Use channels to highlight a portion of your traffic to review
Within your AdSense account, you have two types of channel to use:
- Use custom channels for specific ad units. Custom channels allow you to see how one particular group of ad units is doing in relation to another. Unlike the built-in reports (ad units, ad sizes, etc.), you can create these groupings yourself. Tracking various ad units with unique channels will help you quickly isolate any particular ad unit that you need to pay attention to.
Here are some example breakdowns for custom channels:
- Ad placement
- Above the fold
- Below the fold
- In-line with content
- Right of the content
- Ad size
- Traffic referral sources (See step two below for instructions on the correct setup)
- Google Search
- Google+ Page
- Social media networks
- Other search engines
- Site section
- Home page
- Ad placement
- Place different portions of your AdSense traffic within a URL channel. Use URL channels to segment how your ads are doing on different parts of your sites.
Step two: Use analytics to see data about your traffic
Having analytics on your site is a very important aspect of operating your site. With Google Analytics, for example, you can dig deeper into the specific traffic sources of your site. As part of your account setup, make sure that you break out these traffic sources so that you can do reporting on them. It's especially important to segment your traffic when you add a new traffic source, so that you can monitor how this new source is doing, and even do some A/B testing with sources across different pages.
- Create custom URLs to segment by the different sources. Use the URL builder to create specific URLs to use for each of your different campaigns. For example, you could create unique URLs for your newsletter, social media postings, etc.
- Instead of placing your main URL (e.g. example.com) in your newsletter or Google+ Page, use the custom URL created for that specific source. This will allow you to have much better reporting on these specific campaigns. You can then cross reference your analytics data with your AdSense data from the URL channels on those unique campaign URLs, and then see how the respective sources are performing.
Using Advanced Segments in Google Analytics, you can look at the types of users coming to your site and how they're affecting your AdSense ad performance by linking your AdSense account to Analytics. If you find that one of your traffic sources is sending you a lot of traffic but it's not quite your desired user base, then you can make appropriate changes.
What to look for, and what actions to take
Now that you're able to see your segmented traffic, what are the sort of things that you should look for?
- Abnormal spikes in
- Visited pages
- Outliers compared to other aspects in your reporting.
There are several actions that you can take if you do notice some of these unexpected behaviours:
- Talk with your traffic source so that you can understand where their users are coming from.
- Discontinue working with traffic sources that are unable to send users that fit your target audience.
- Self-report your findings to our team.
In addition to uncovering unexpected behaviour, you can also use this data to optimise your site performance. If you notice that a particular traffic source is consistently performing better than other sources, you may want to spend more time or money, and ramp up even more traffic from that source.