For those of you who don’t already know, I run a handful of blogs and websites on which I display Google AdSense advertisements.
I should start by saying that I love the Google AdSense program. I have no shame in saying that I’m constantly trying to find ways to make money online, and offering ad space on my blogs and websites is easy. In fact, it’s basically free money. By optimizing my blogs and websites and posting relevant content, I make more than enough money via AdSense to support my web development costs.
However, I have also been a critic of the AdSense user interface. When I heard that Google was integrating AdSense stats into Analytics, I jumped at the first chance to see what I could do.
Two days ago, I added the new code for each of my sites. I waited patiently for a day to see what the stats would show. . . only to find that they didn’t show anything. My first reaction: WTF?
After a bit of digging, I found the source of the problem: I had added the code snippet in the wrong place.
Google (in yet another UI mis-step) tells you to add the code snippet at the top of the page in the tiniest text they could fit onto the page. See if you can (at first glance) find the part where Google tells you to put this code at the top of the page:
Now, imagine that you have 10, 20, or 30 sites listed. . . each with their own code snippet. Google does a poor job of making it obvious that the code needs to be at the top of the page. Yes, they say it, and I should have actually read the text carefully, but good UI design dictates that something this important be in larger text and probably bold.
If Google really wanted to go the extra mile, they could check to see if the snippet was installed correctly, just like they do with the regular Analytics snippet.
Long story short, I’ve updated my code snippets and I plan on checking the stats over the weekend.
One thing I haven’t mentioned is that for my primary domain (you don’t have to add an extra snippet for this domain) the Analytics stats don’t seem to match what AdSense has in its own portal. I’m not sure how to account for the differences (they’re small, but important), so the answer must be one of the following:
- Google AdSense stats are not accurate
- Google Analytics stats are not accurate
- None of Google’s stats are accurate
My bet is that Google AdSense has the correct stats – though I guess it’s impossible to know for sure. I base that guess on the fact that Google has clearly spent more money on the AdSense/AdWords program, and thus the stats are more likely to be tracked as accurately as possible.
I’m curious to see what experiences other AdSense provides have had with their Analytics integration. I may update this post in a few weeks when I have more data to review.