Optimizing Instablogs

Instablogs is a blog network that publishes more than 200 posts a day on 136 blogs spanning 16 niche channels, including luxury gadgets blog Bornrich and technology blog Gizmowatch. With 200+ bloggers blogging from all over the world, Instablogs has around 2 million unique visitors per month.

Instablogs co-founder Ankit Maheshwari tells us that AdSense works well with each blog's unique content. “Since our blogs are very niche-oriented, it’s tough for us to sell our inventory directly to advertisers on blogs with less than 30,000 page views per month,” he says. “AdSense’s high CPC offering and huge advertiser database can help monetize the page views on any site irrespective of its size.”

Recently Ankit began to experiment with AdSense optimization. Although he was doubtful of the results, he tried a few minor tweaks on his site, such as opting in to displaying image ads and adding link units to the top of his pages. He also used information from his custom channels to determine the ad unit with the highest CTR on his pages – he then placed this ad unit first in the HTML source of each page. After a week of testing these changes, Ankit found that revenue nearly doubled. While AdSense revenue used to comprise 15% of the company’s advertising revenue, since optimizing it's increased to 25%.

Despite the success of his first optimization, Ankit has found that there isn’t one standard layout or ad format that is optimal for all of his pages. He says, “We’ve seen in many blogs that a few ad types perform better in different sections. For example, the large rectangle performs 70% better on the permalink pages of our Tattoo blog, while skyscrapers perform best on all other pages. At the same time, banner ads have performed really well on our Parenting blog.”

Today, Ankit continues to make small changes and frequently tests new layouts based on his custom channel data. He feels that “custom channels are not only a useful feature, but also the most important feature in the entire AdSense program for publishers.”

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