vBulletin Ad Integration Case Study Update

November 13, 2007 Posted by Tyler Cruz
Paid Advertisement

On September 23rd, I started my vBulletin Ad Integration Case Study.

The plugin in question is called Google AdSense Postbit Integration and was released a few weeks before starting the case study. The plugin displays your AdSense banner, or anything else you wish to display, inbetween posts in the threaddisplay.php template within vBulletin. You can choose how often the banner will display (after every x posts), as well as modify some other basic options.

This case study is being conducted to see how useful this plugin is in terms of CTR.

I recommend reading my original case study post if you haven’t already done so before reading on.

I had made the following prediction before starting the case study:

"My prediction is that the CTR of this “inline ad” as I call it, will be much higher than the top sidewide banners. Well, I mean that’s rather obvious. The real question is, just how much more effective will it be? It needs to be a fair amount more effective to compensate for the more intrusiveness the position is."

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So was I correct? Let’s see!

I’ve been tracking AdSense in separate ad channels so I’ll be able to tell you exactly how the inline ads perform compared to my old ones.

Here are the AdSense results from Sept. 23rd to Nov. 11th:

MMAForums.net’s top sidewide 728×90 banner received a 0.30% CTR which is pretty low, but not too bad for a forum. The inline 468×60 case study ad, which is displayed as the second post of every page in all the threads received a 0.23% CTR.

MovieForums.org’s bottom sitewide 468×60 banner received a 0.05% CTR which is to be expected with it’s very low visibility. The top sitewide 468×90 banner received a 0.23% CTR. The inline case study banner that is displayed as the second post of every page in all the threads is a 728×90 banner for maximum visibility. However, it only received a 0.15% CTR.

WOW.

These results are the complete opposite of what I had expected. The inline ads, albeit much more visible and ‘in-your-face’, performed worse than the regular top sitewide banners.

I had assumed that these ‘inline ads’ would be much higher, around double the CTR, and so I’m curious as to why they actually perform worse.

I’ll probably be removing the plugin since it does not seem to be worth the added intrusiveness of the ads, now that I’ve learned this…

 

…However!

 

It’s not all bad news. The third site I ran Inline Ads on was PokerForums.org, however I offered this slot to private advertisers instead of using AdSense (partly due to gambling sites being against AdSense’s TOS).

As stated in my last case study post, the same day I offered this slot up for sale at $500 a month, it sold. The real question then, was if the advertiser would renew.

He did. That’s $1,000 right there that the Inline Ads have made me.

Conclusion

While my case study was limited to only two forums and run across 6-weeks, I think a rough conclusion can still be taken from my data. Obviously more case studies can be undertaken, but as far as I’m concerned, Inline Ads, as I call them, at least insofar as the Google AdSense Postbit Integration plugin creates them, appears to have a lower CTR than top sitewide ads.

Does this make the plugin useless? No.

After all, it does essentially create new real estate for your ads, which results in additional revenue which would otherwise not be created. The real question here is if you deem the lower CTR and added intrusiveness of ads on your forum to be worth the added site income.

This question will inevitably be answered differently by different people.

For myself, I created an additional $500 a month income by adding Inline Ads on my poker forum.

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Posted: November 13th, 2007 under Articles  

11 Responses to “vBulletin Ad Integration Case Study Update”

  1. That is pretty shocking. I would expect that ad to perform well also.

  2. Cpvr says:

    Well, traffic is usually what makes the ads in the postbit perform more. How much traffic are your forums receiving besides the poker one?

  3. James says:

    Great data Tyler. I’ll admit I snickered at your expectation when you posted it because I’ve ran a 728×90 leaderboard as the second post in a high traffic forum for a long time, it does only slightly better than one in the footer. Interesting that your data indicates that same thing. In fact, it’s always been my opinion that for a forum a 728×90 leaderboard at the top of the forum just under the navbar is the best paying spot on a forum (JMO, no data to really back that up).

    Something else that would be interesting. I’ve tried the VB plugin you used on two different occasions. Both times I dropped it because I felt it was costing me clicks. Both times, I saw an increase in CTR (albeit, not much) when I stopped using the plugin but added the same adspots directly to the templates. I’m lazy so I’ve not actually tracked them over time, so maybe you might think about doing that for the next few weeks. Run the same adspot only manually ad the Adsense code to your templates. I’d be very interesting in the findings compared to these.

  4. Did you try running other ad sizes than just the 728×90? I was always told that 468×60 works better than 728×90, and in my experience it seems to be true.

  5. Andrew says:

    I’ve heard the best place to put them is before the last post on the page.
    I think placing them after the first post is too early.
    I’d be interested to see some results for different placements.

    Andrew

  6. Gyutae Park says:

    I had similar results with one of my forums. It doesn’t help that the ad unit isn’t above the fold. However, you can’t really compare the inline ad to the others because it serves a different purpose. Ultimately I think it’s good to have because it prevent ad blindness. Have you tried randomly placing the ad? (not just in the 2nd position)

  7. James says:

    Let’s see, it’s probably better to list what I haven’t tried. IMO, ads in a forum below the the top 25% are a complete waste, especially ppc ads. Never seen anything do much. I tried 300×250 ads after the first post, got about the same response. I also tried randomly placing after different posts, that was even worse.

    As for the 468×60 adspot, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings none if they’d just do away with it. Everything I’ve ever read has said it’s the worst performing adspot they have. That said, it probably depends on the site.

    Now, I’ll also say this, a major factor in how well any of these do will be based on how much new traffic your forum gets. Not returning traffic but new traffic.

    Maybe I should do some of this same stuff on my forums, they’re a completely different niche than Tylers so it might be interesting indeed.

    • “468×60 adspot, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings none if they’d just do away with it. Everything I’ve ever read has said it’s the worst performing adspot they have.”

      Seriously? I have read the complete opposite. Where did you read this? Maybe I need to change some of my ads on my sites.

  8. Congrats Tyler on having the spot renew :)

    As for the case study, you have an interesting way of testing it.

    -Mike

  9. MrGPT says:

    Would’ve loved to learn your earnings on the Google ads as well :) .

PeerFly

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