Realize the benefits of Web advertising with Google's AdSense

Making money from a Web site is never easy, but Google makes it as effortless as possible with its AdSense program. Discover how simple it is to sign up for the program, and then sit back and let Google handle payment collection and distribution.

Web-based advertising via banner ads and such has yet to grow into the vast revenue stream as envisioned in the early days of the Web. While larger sites do make money from online advertising, it is often harder for smaller sites to realize the benefits. Google's AdSense levels the playing field by allowing sites of all sizes to earn money via relevant advertising. Let's take a closer look at the AdSense program and explore how you may use it on your site.

What is it?

The key feature of AdSense is the minimum amount of time it takes to insert advertising on your site. It allows you to earn advertising revenue from each site page. Relevant ads based on the site's content are delivered to a site as text or images. You can take it a step further by adding a Google search field to deliver related ads based upon search criteria. It is a very flexible solution that allows you to easily incorporate ads on your site, and it is very easy to get started with the program.

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Getting started

Google makes it easy to get up and running with AdSense via an online application. During the sign up process, you specify a business or personal account. Google defines a personal account for personal users, as well as businesses with less than 20 employees. The online application is submitted with approval notification sent via e-mail.

During initial sign up, you must agree with policies that outline what is permitted under the program. An interesting stipulation is that ads may not be placed on pages without content, which is a common practice these days. Also, you must agree to the following guidelines in the application:

  • I agree that I will not click on the Google ads I'm serving through AdSense.
  • I will not place ads on sites that include incentives to click on ads.
  • I agree that I can receive checks made out to the payee name I have listed above.
  • I will not place ads on sites that include pornographic content.
  • I certify that I have read the AdSense Program Policies.

The key aspect of the AdSense program is getting paid, so let's learn how that works.

Show me the money

The Google ads displayed on your site pages use two cost structures (for advertisers): cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-1,000-impressions (CPM). The AdSense program displays only CPC ads. This means that advertisers pay either when users click on ads, or when the advertiser's ad is shown on a site. Using this model, you will receive a portion of the amount paid for either activity on your site. The minimum payment amount is $100, so you won't get paid until you have at least that much money in your account. Once you sign up, you'll have access to online reports to track account activity.

Making it work

When you have an active AdSense account, you can log onto the AdSense site and select the AdSense Setup tab. You may utilize an ad unit (an image- or text-based ad) or a link unit (a group of links to relevant topics).

When working with text or image ads, you can select horizontal, vertical, or square orientation with various formats. In addition, you select the color for the ad along with page placement and layout. Once you make your selections, Google will present you with the code for placing ads on your site. You can copy and paste the code in the appropriate location or locations within your site. For example, the code in Listing A was generated for a small rectangle ad.

A quick review of the JavaScript reveals the height and width specifications for the ad along with color settings. You can change the height and width settings, but the ads are designed for the generated settings so they may not be presented clearly if you make changes. The key component of the JavaScript is the google_ad_client variable; this specifies who gets paid for clicks on the ad. This is the id for your AdSense account. The second JavaScript block (show_ads.js) is the crux of the code; it loads the ad code from the Google server.

Another product within the program is AdSense for Search. It allows you to place a Google search field on your site that presents search results with Google ads, which may earn you money from user clicks. You may choose a regular Google search or a search of your site. Once again, the code for the search is generated within the AdSense management pages. Listing B contains the code that was generated for a Google search.

A few mouse clicks along with the copy and paste of code and your site is realizing the rewards of advertising placement. While it is a simple product to utilize, it offers various options as well.

Other options

Along with easy ad and search placement on your pages, the AdSense program provides some control over what is placed on your site. For instance, you can ensure competitor ads don't appear and filters block certain ad types. You may also review ads as well as choose default ads for your site.


AdSense's reporting capabilities are one of the program's best features. You can easily track what works and what doesn't using the program on your site. The reports are too much to cover in detail, but once you sign up and begin using the program, you'll appreciate their power.

Enhance your site and increase your revenue

Developing banner ads or any other types of site advertisements can be time-consuming. In addition, recruiting advertisers and handling payment options present problems. Google provides the answer for sites big and small with its AdSense program, which makes it easy to place ads and search options on your site with minimal effort. Collecting revenue from the program is simple as well, so everything is handled without much effort on your end.

Tony Patton began his professional career as an application developer earning Java, VB, Lotus, and XML certifications to bolster his knowledge.

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By Tony Patton

Tony Patton has worn many hats over his 15+ years in the IT industry while witnessing many technologies come and go. He currently focuses on .NET and Web Development while trying to grasp the many facets of supporting such technologies in a productio...