Customising Ads to Your Visitors

I accidentally posted this yesterday, so here it is again on the right day ๐Ÿ™‚

This is one of those idea sharing, make it up expand it as you go along posts. One of my main forms of revenue generation is the displaying of ads, however some ads work better with different types of visitors so this post is about how you can maximise your revenue without alienating readers due to excessive ads.

I was chatting with Matthew of Gadget Venue recently about site monetization. He doesn’t display that many ads at the moment as he is concentrating more on building traffic and regular visitors rather than revenue. However you can get the best of both worlds by promoting your different site elements depending on what you know about the visitor.

The first thing you need to decide is what you want from the visit, examples being:

  • More newsletter or RSS subscribers
  • Increase page views per visitor
  • More CPC revenue
  • More affiliate commission revenue
  • Interaction from visitors

In the ideal world you want to increase all of these but by targeting different visitors with different goals can help optimise your site.

Okay so what do I mean by different visitors? You actually know a fair bit about a visitor when they view your site, like where they came from, the GEO location (via an IP lookup service), browser details, OS info, screen resolution, etc. We’ll look at a few of these bits of visitor info and see how we can optimize our site for both our and the visitors benefit.

Traffic Source

Organic (Search Engines)
Organic traffic is great, it’s free and monetizes well. With organic traffic I like to push my feed and also have Adsense and other CPC ads in prominent positions. Scott did a great post (ages ago) on how to increase your traffic by 300%, this is the sort of traffic that you can leverage.

Social Site Traffic
Social site can send huge peaks of traffic, places like Digg, Stumble Upon, Fark, etc. A lot of these users have a severe dislike of ads (and oftem commercialism in general it seems) and they are probably the worst ad clickers so by not displaying ads to this source your visitors have a better experience (in their opinion) and you lose minimal revenue. You also increase the chance of them digging of “whatevering” you post which will result in more traffic and revenue in the long term.

Other Blogs
In each niche there are a few authority blogs, getting links and traffic from them is great. The referrals that you get this way you know are blog readers in your niche, so you want to promote something to make them regular readers of your blog as well.

Visitors from Popular Feed Readers
I promote my feeds a lot, however when a visitor comes in from the feed there’s not a lot of point in promoting the feed to them so they are already subscribed. So you could take the mercenary route of blasting ads at them encourage them to comment. One thing I’ve not tried yet but could be worth a go is thanking them for subscribing to our feed and then encouraging them to leave a comment.

Physical Location
This isn’t something I do but should. You may have a great affiliate program for your US traffic but if only 60% of your traffic is from the US then you’re effectively promoting a zero change sale product to 40% of your audience, which is kind of dumb and it would be much more beneficial to use Adsense or some other global revenue stream in the prominent position. If you know if a good geo location script or database please let us know in the comments for a follow up post.

Browser Info
I’ve mentioned before how I promote FireFox to visitors using Internet Explorer, I do prefer FF but if I wasn’t being paid to promote it I probably wouldn’t. This may a bit of an over generalistion but IMO none Internet Explorer users are going to be more tech savvy (they choose to download and install something else) so will have a better chance of knowing about RSS so promote the feed in that case and an email newsletter otherwise.

A high screen resolution often equates to a more expensive machine so a more affluent visitor so target your products accordingly.

Pages on Your Site

As well as looking at where your visitors are coming from you can also base your advertising on what they are looking at. For example I display more ads on older pages, primarily Chitika Linx it’s an ad unit that I find works well but think could annoy regular visitors so only using it on older posts means I can increase revenue without risking upsetting my readers.


Not all visitors are created equal and by giving different visitors an experience that suits them suits you too. I’ve not gone into the technical details on how to do any of the above but it generally ain’t that complicated and will do a follow-up post if the interest is there. Quite a few points in this post I only thought of when writing it and haven’t tried yet so if gives you inspiration or you have differ ideas please feel free to share.

About Al Carlton

Al quit the 9 to 5 rat race in January of 2007, before then he was a software engineer and systems architect of financial system. Nowadays Al spends the days running his various businesses and experimenting with different ideas and opportunities.
Al can be found on twitter at AlCarlton.


  1. I’d be really interested in a geo location script/service, I’ve not actually looked for one, but it would be great to add to some of my sites for targetting the affiliate ads.

    • should sort you out there with serving ads based on geoIP. You need to download and install a geoIP database. The first is free which doesnt drill down too close to citys but does do states and countries and more then ample I think for displaying ads based on what country the user comes from. The other is not free and is more in depth. The first (free one) should be suficient.

      I havent used openads on wordpress but have on a vBulletin forum and integration is simple. It runs seperate from your site. I put it in a /ads/ folder, installed it (it creates a MySQL database or you can just add the tables to your current wordpress DB. You then upload banners, create zones such as (250 x 250 in post) and tag a lot of banners to it. Each banner can then display according to rules such as by country. To implement it on to your site I believe you just need a tag such as and your good to go.

      Impressions are also tracked.


      This is the free IP database that can work with openads.

    • I forgot to add 1 thing about openads. You can specify keywords so that you can do contextual type ads. You might have 30 of the same auctionads banners uploaded, but each one will have a keyword and then it would display the most appropriate auctionad for the content on the page. It’s one way of making those types of ads more targetted but might not be the best way.

  2. I’ve got a site that gets a lot of online flash gamers. I’ve more or less maxed out my AdSense income from it I believe – but I’d like to explore other monetization opportunities.

  3. I wrote a tutorial about geo targeting using php, the DB costs $50.

  4. Another gem ๐Ÿ™‚ never ceases to amaze me how you continue to push the envelope ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. is a great tool to make sure your site is visible and presentable in all browsers and screen sizes. I believe it is a much under-performed area of site maintenance. We can get hung up on what traffic and neglect the overall accessibility and presentation. The service is UK based ๐Ÿ™‚ and offers 30 day trial, for most blogs this is sufficient.

  6. Great post Al.

    I really think for traffic from digg/stumble upon is great. But whats even better is from google.

    I need to get some links for it though. Organic links have been comming but very slowly :S

  7. With a little bit of programming in PHP or ASP.Net, this can be done for site pages as well. By parsing the keywords out of the URL referrer for organic searches, it would’nt be too difficult to add some intelligence to a page go create a more targeted appearance to a visitor

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