So I’ve been hanging out at LinkedIn, among other fancy social places, and their revenue model, if you haven’t checked yet, is based on placing AdSense on their pages, among other stuff. Every webmaster who ever dealt with AdSense knows that getting AdSense to display targeted ads related to the contents of the page is not rocket science – you just have to get a few things right and there ya go. However, sometimes it is not the best way of monetizing your traffic.
It struck me that the ads displayed, say, on my contacts page, albeit perfectly targeted to fit the contents of that page, are not targeted at all to get ME to click them. Me being an SEO, most of my contacts on LinkedIn are SEOs – no surprise here. The word “SEO” alone is mentioned like 4 times on that page, in my contacts’ headlines. And besides that, there’s also “Search Engine Optimization”, “Online Marketing”, “Search and Marketing”, “Online Advertising” and the like. You get the picture. Only keyword stuffed pages of evil spammers get more targeted than that. So, Google Mediabot, being the smart little lad he is, serves up ads for “SEO firm”, “Web Promotion”, etc. that’s all fine from the algorithmic point of view, but keep in mind I am an SEO myself! – What’s the chance of me clicking on those ads? – Right, very close to 0, unless I am researching my potential competition or something.
This sort of keyword targeted page with an AdSense ad would work perfectly well if that page was publicly accessible and thus available through search engines. The way LinkedIn is set up, I am the only person who can view that page. Well, and my SEO contacts too – which doesn’t make it any better. What would be a better scenario for LinkedIn to monetize their traffic? – have some ads that would target the interests of the people viewing the page. Serve those ads based on the data you have about those people. Just a quick simple example: if a person says in their profile he’s an SEO – serve him ads for SEO-related tools, seminars, books, whatever. That would be so much more likely to convert. Google AdSense does not allow that kind of targeting nowadays – so why not use something that’s at your disposal anyway (user data) and monetize it properly? Sure, just sticking AdSense code on a page is much easier – but with some thought and analysis, the results could be so much better than that.