Google Referral Ads

Google's Referral Ads 2.0 are live now, and they're an interesting variation on the usual ads. 

They're presented almost exactly like traditional AdSense ads, but the ads that shown up are picked by the webmaster, either explicitly, or by keyword or category. 

Although the Recipes site has been up for a while now, Google was doing a terrible job of picking ads to run on the recipe pages.  Most of the ads were related to online backups tools or PDF conversion tools, which makes me think that the "" domain was confusing it. Time to take matters into my own hands.

I created a new referral ad banner, dropped the entire "Food" category into it, and replaced the ad code on the bottom of the recipe page (one of these) with the referral code.  It looks exactly like a regular banner with text ads in it, but you can tell it's a Referral ad because of the "Referral Ads by Google" text at the bottom right.

All the ads are now "on topic".  This could actually end up being a bad thing, because part of what Google does is figure out what ads run best on what pages, and it might be that people looking for Currant Tea Scones would be better served by ads for, say, fine linens, than ads for cook books.  Google's regular AdSense algorithm might figure this out, but I've essentially overridden most of this algorithm by saying "only include ads in the Food category".

I created a little screencast of the Referrals ad configuration UI using Adobe Captivate.  Have a look.

Ultimately this is an experiment to see if referral ads work. I'll let you know how it goes.