Contextual Network War Starts With a Blog

Google has launched a blog explaining the ins and outs of its AdSense program to publishers.

The outreach effort comes as Google faces its first direct competition from another mass-reach contextual ad network, Yahoo’s Publisher Network (YPN), along with pressure from many publishers to make AdSense’s workings more transparent.

“Inside Adsense” resides at adsense.blogspot.com. It promises to offer optimization tips and feature descriptions to prospective and existing publishers in the AdSense network. Its tagline is simple: “A look inside Google AdSense.”

The blog promises to produce up to three posts a week by a variety of “engineers, product managers, product marketing managers, and operations staff” on the AdSense team. Google’s AdWords program has had its own blog since May.

“Google is still a pretty small place, so when we heard that our AdWords friends had put together an Inside AdWords blog, it got our competitive juices flowing!” explains the blog’s first post. “It also made us think about all of the information we’d love to share with our publishers – and there’s quite a bit of it, from site optimization tips, to product feature descriptions, to ideas on getting more out of AdSense.”

It may be those competitive juices are flowing in more than one direction.

The launch of Yahoo’s contextual ad network earlier this month marked the dawn of what many expect to be an extended rivalry between the two companies. YPN is AdSense’s first direct challenge, and the competition may force Google to open up about its program and engage in more aggressive marketing and retention efforts with bloggers and other small Web publishers.

The advantage will go to whichever company can produce the highest effective CPMs for publishers.

Google declined to comment on whether competitive motives were at play in the blog launch.

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