Just for kicks, and because AdBrite has such cute branding, I decided to check out its advertising network. I’ve been using Google AdSense for awhile (and just got my first $100 check from it last month, woo hoo) but I’m open to alternatives, especially if they stand a chance of making me a little dough.
So I set up a test: Using a PHP script, I’ve rotated AdSense and AdBrite banners on tinywords and SMS 411 for the past few weeks. Each time a page is served, my script randomly chooses an ad, so the distribution is even, giving me the ability to do straightforward A/B tests.
The results are clear: Over the same period, and on the same sites, AdSense is generating 3 times the revenue that AdBrite is. The reason is clear, when you look at the ads the two systems serve: AdSense ads are highly relevant to the adjacent content, whereas AdBrite’s ads seem to have been targeted by a drunken monkey with a heavy interest in pushing credit card debt-reduction schemes.
But there’s a much bigger reason AdSense has my business right now: Reporting. AdSense lets me examine a huge amount of detail on how my various ads are performing, enabling me to fine-tune ad colors, placements, and other aspects on the fly. I can compare performance on various domains, between different color ads (using custom channels), and between ads and Google product referrals.
With AdBrite, I can’t do any of that. Annoyingly, AdBrite’s traffic and clickthrough reports are on one page, and the earning reports are on another, separate page. AdBrite doesn’t give me an easy way to check performance by CPM (I have to do my own calculations) and I can’t easily check, say, the last week’s or the last month’s results.
The only advantage AdBrite offers is that I can use it to sell spots directly on my site, and I can set my own price for these ads. So if I thought I could regularly convince someone to pay $30 a week for a banner ad on tinywords, I would use AdBrite. But for my tiny sites (and I suspect for most “long tail” publishers) network ads — those that are placed on my site by a computer, not a human — are really the only option.
In this case, AdSense wins hands down. It delivers better-targeted ads, generates more money, and gives me much more data about how my sites are working. And thanks, Google, for the C-note.