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Tuesday, May 9, 2006

First month of the UU Blogs ad campaign.

Thanks to the generosity of several donors, I've had enough funding to run a month-long ad campaign using Google AdWords to promote UU blogs. (Give me a U! Give me a U! Give me a B! etc.) There's enough funding to go another week or so, and if you'd like to contribute to keep the campaign rolling even longer, find that "Make a Donation" button over in the sidebar and toss some money in the till. You'll be helping bring more readers to all the fine blogs listed here. I launched the campaign April 5, explained what I was up to on April 8, and offered an interim report on the 19th, for those of you who'd like to follow the full history. I've been impressed with the results, so here's my one-month report on how the campaign has gone and what I've learned:

The summary, followed by a lot more detail: In the course of the campaign, I generated 128 clicks from 82,290 ad impressions at an average $0.44 per click and a clickthrough rate of 0.16 percent. Although I wasn't able comprehensively to track how many of these visitors clicked over to one of the blogs I'm promoting, in the last two weeks I monitored how ad-generated visitors behaved by looking at individual visits using SiteMeter's "out click" feature — and it looked like approximately 10 to 20 percent of the visitors did click on another UU blog. I'd be very interested to hear from other UU bloggers whether they noticed an uptick in traffic in the last month.

I gradually increased the daily budget for the campaign as donations came in — and as the minimum bids for the keywords I selected started rising from $0.10 to as much as $1.00. In the last two weeks of the campaign, I had raised the daily cap to $3 a day, generating an average of 6 clicks a day. (What I was really aiming for was a budget that allowed the campaign to run into the evening before the number of clicks maxed out the daily budget. On most days, the ads were still running as late as 8 or 9 p.m. on the east coast.) Being able to set a daily expense limit is one of my favorite things about AdWords.

Where did the ads show up? At first, I only had them show up on Google Search results pages. If someone was looking for "unitarian," "universalist," "universalism," "unitarian universalist," or "unitarian universalism," they'd get one of my ads over on the side. I picked the keywords because they seemed the most likely search words for someone who was just getting acquainted with Unitarian Universalism and who might be most intrigued to read the personal voices of the bloggers. (They're also keywords that don't bring any of the blogs up high.)

I very briefly tried a site-targeted campaign as well to run a text ad on Beliefnet's introduction to Unitarian Universalism page. I stopped this campaign after only two days because it was too expensive for the results I was getting: On site-specific ads, you pay not by click but by impressions — and in the two days my Beliefnet ad was running, it showed 3,665 times but generated only one click.

I hit paydirt when I let the ads run on the Google AdSense content network, though. The network includes all the sites that run Google ads, including sites like AOL,, most newspapers, lots of online forums, and blogs. With content-network ads, though, you have no idea where they're running or how Google decides that your keywords are relevant to the content of the page. You can exclude sites from showing the ads, and I did exclude the handful of UU blogs that host Google ads (including Philocrites) since it's kind of silly to pay for an ad promoting UU blogs on a UU blog!

The content-network ads generated 80 percent of the ad impressions and 50 percent of the clicks. I was especially pleased to see that the ads were showing up at Beliefnet much more inexpensively through the content network than through site-targeting. Through Google searches, 25 percent of the visitors who clicked the ad were searching for "unitarian universalist"; 11 percent for "unitarian"; 7 percent for "unitarian universalism"; and 2 percent each for "universalist" and "universalism."

The average ad-generated visitors stuck around long enough to see at least 2 pages on the site. They came from at least 28 different states (I limited the campaign to the United States). I was able to identify several of the content-partner sites whose visitors clicked on over, including Amazon,, and a variety of Christian sites (including at least two dedicated to debunking Unitarian Universalism).

Let me know if you have questions. And please do think about contributing to the campaign! Thanks to all the donors who helped make this first month of advertising possible.

Copyright © 2006 by Philocrites | Posted 9 May 2006 at 8:18 AM

Previous: Second annual UU bloggers picnic, May 13.
Next: Thursday diversion: Fictional Unitarian Universalists.





May 9, 2006 03:31 PM | Permalink for this comment

My hits are way down, but they really haven't recovered from my giving up snark for lent.

Paypal doesn't like me, but I will try to remember to bug theCSO to come over and send you a few more days worth.


Patrick McLaughlin:

May 10, 2006 12:57 AM | Permalink for this comment

Done. That ought to pay for a few more days.


May 10, 2006 06:19 PM | Permalink for this comment

My hits are up, but i dunno if it's due to the wonderful work of Phil - or if more folks want to learn more about the history of Southern universalism! I did hear that my blog helped get information for a funeral.......

(of course my hits being up, would probably not be anywhere close to what the Chalice Chick lost.....)

Dan Harper:

May 11, 2006 01:00 AM | Permalink for this comment

Thanks for doing this, Philocrites. I'll give you my donation at the blogger's picnic on Saturday.

On my site, I'm seeing a slow continuing upward trend in both hits and unique visitors, but unless I'm missing something it doesn't seem to correlate to the ad campaign. (Oddly, a big chunk of my new traffic seems to be generated by a page on developmental psychology that's been sitting on my site for a couple of years with almost no hits -- go figure.)

David Neubert:

May 11, 2006 01:45 PM | Permalink for this comment

Do your ad sense revenue make more than you spent on ads?

p.s. I like your blog.


May 11, 2006 02:13 PM | Permalink for this comment

David Neubert asks if the ads running here at Philocrites bring in enough to cover the expense of buying ads elsewhere. I wish! (I'm not exactly writing about the world's most lucrative industry.)

My ad revenues cover the expense of paying for the domain name and site hosting. My AdSense revenues would not even cover one AdWords click a day.

Rebecca Scott:

May 13, 2006 09:25 AM | Permalink for this comment

It's a nifty idea and I'm all in favour of innovation. I've tossed some change in your tip jar. I think that the UU blogs are a much more personal way to learn about Unitarian Universalism.

Dan Harper:

May 18, 2006 10:46 AM | Permalink for this comment

A sudden rise in referrals from 21 referrals to my blog so far this month, up from low single digits last month. So donate to the ad campaign! Like most ad campaigns, it looks like it's going to take some time to generate results.

Chris, let us know how much more money you need. Twenty bucks covers a week, right?

Joseph Santos-Lyons:

May 20, 2006 12:58 AM | Permalink for this comment

i wonder if this is worth setting up for young adult and campus minsitry, perhaps you could advise us?


May 20, 2006 12:47 PM | Permalink for this comment

Thanks to new donors, we'll be running through the General Assembly in June. Thanks, everyone!


June 12, 2006 10:45 PM | Permalink for this comment

I'm putting the ad campaign on hiatus for a few weeks at least because I'm too busy at the moment to track its progress. There is still some money in the till, so we'll have at least a few weeks of advertising when I resume the campaign later this summer.

Since my last report, we generated 180 visits at approximately $0.54 a click, which is really quite cool.

As always, I'm deeply grateful to readers who have contributed to the upkeep of this site and to the marketing campaign promoting UU blogs. If you'd like to donate some money, click the "Make a Donation" button over in the sidebar. Thank you very much!

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