Low CPC’s from Adsense – Is going to a CPM worth it? My test with Burst Media (Part 2)

If you haven’t read Part I, you might want to do so now and then head back here (it’s no fun jumping into the middle of a story). After just over a day with Burst, I’m starting to get a bit of an idea as to where things are going. I’ll bring you through things the way I went through them.

Setting up the ads:

This wasn’t painful, but the control panel offered by Burst isn’t completely intuitive. I wasn’t quite sure exactly what I had to do, and what else I should do. Regardless, it turns out there are 2 main parts to configure when setting up ads – Adexec/Adselect (to determine which ads to run for each banner type), and Adcode/Sourcecode.

In the Adexec/Adselect area, it’s generally accepted that the best thing to do is select all the ads, regardless of the CPM or CPC rate (yes there are a few CPC advertisers). Now some ads also show pop-unders which some may not want, although they usually pay more. For those running ad-chains, it might be a good idea to deselect some of the lower-paying ads as well. If you’re not running a chain though, you’ll usually make the most by running them all. You have to do this for every banner size you wish to run.

At the very bottom of the Adexec/Adselect area is a section called “Burst Default Campaigns”. By default, “Survey Banner” and “BURST! Media” are listed. These two default campaigns pay absolutely nothing. So why are they there? Well there’s something called a “fill rate”, which is the amount of times a paying banner is shown, which is typically never 100%. So if your fill rate happens to be 50%, half the time a paying banner from the top section will be shown, and the other half of the time a “Default Campaign” banner will be run. Of the 2 default campaigns, the better one to run is usually the Survey Banner, since every survey completed counts towards the 200 required to have “statistically reliable” numbers. The potential advantages of having that 200 are beyond the scope of this article though Just know that it’s better than the “BURST! Media” campaign which offers 0 benefits as far as I can tell. As it turns out, you can add your own “Default Campaigns” from other ad services, but more about that later.

Adcode/Sourcecode is where you get the actual source to stick in your web page(s). It’s pretty basic if you’ve done anything like this before. The only thing I wished was that they were a little more specific. For example, some of the banners say that they must appear within the 1st or 2nd scroll of the screen when viewed at 800×600 resolution. I wasn’t sure whether they meant it had to start within those scrolls, or be fully shown within those scrolls. What they really should do to reduce any sort of confusion is have a link to an “example” page which shows all their ads in an “ok” position, and another page which shows their ads in “illegal” or “incorrect” positions (showing a small description of why). Doing some searching through some FAQ’s brought me to specifics about where ads must be placed, but having all the information on the page where you actually create the ads would have been ideal.

Another area in which clarification would have been nice would have been to mention whether you were permitted to run other ads alongside their own. Granted, it’s not in an advertiser’s best interests to encourage running other advertising, but it’s an option frequently pursued by publishers, and spelling it out that “You may run other forms of text and/or banner advertising as long as it adheres to the following conditions…” is something that should be done not only by Burst, but by other companies as well. After all, it’s easier to curb this before it happens then to end up sending warning e-mails to someone who unknowingly isn’t following the Terms of Service (or having individuals leave the service because they’re not sure if they can run another preferred source of advertising alongside).

With the code in place on the web pages (and the low-paying Adsense ads removed), I took a look at the site. Unfortunately, I was getting the Burst Default Campaigns (surveys) for a few hours before the paying ads began to show up. It seems it takes a little time before the real ads begin to get served.


The first day:

I was a little disappointed to find that despite having all the ads selecting (including the ones serving “pop-unders”), I was only getting approximately 25% for a fill-rate. With this low fill rate, I was getting a little bit less than what the Adsense ads were giving me on average. During this time, I did a little reading about “ad-chaining”, and found a way to potentially increase my revenue.


Ad-chaining – what it’s all about:

Typically, ad-chaining works like this… None of the CPM providers seem to really offer a 100% fill-rate. What you can do though is set things up so that when AdProvider A doesn’t have any paying ads to display, it redirects to display ads from AdProvider B. And when it gets to the point where AdProvider B has no ads to display, ads are then shown from AdProvider C.

To set this up in Burst, you go to AdExec/PersonalCampaign. In most cases, you then set up an “HTML Web Page URL” which points to an HTML file (which you must make and upload to your site) with only the next ad provider’s source code in the file. You then save it. You must do this for each ad size you wish to use to display alternate ads.

Then… you wait for your new “ad” to show up in AdExec/AdSelect. For me, this took about 1 or 2 hours. Eventually, it shows up in the “Default Campaigns” section at the bottom (once for each banner size you selected when setting up your Personal Campaigns). All you need to do is select it, assign it a weighting (higher means it’s shown more often), and then set up the frequency cap. You can assign a CPM if you want it to “compete” with your other ads, but for most people it’s best to leave that part at 0. Then you save your settings and move on to the next banner size, and then the next. Once you’re done, you wait a little more, and eventually those will be shown when your non-paying ads are shown.


I chose to set up a few Default Campaigns. Since Burst is my first CPM ad-provider (and I didn’t have other CPM advertisers to chain to), I set up separate Chitika, eBay, and Amazon links.

Now again, it’s time to wait and see. If the fill rate increases, or if some of the new Default Ad links I’ve set up perform, then this will have been a success. If not, then I’ll either have to look at signing up with another CPM program, or take a really close look at whether to keep Burst or head back to Adsense.


Check back soon for Part III where I’ll hopefully have some final answers.