Kanoodle BrightAds - Review
Kanoodle BrightAds is another contextual very similar to AdSense. Kanoodle actually pioneered the contextual ad space, according to their COO, Doug Perlson. Of course first doesn't always mean the best. I gave their setup a try for a couple of days.
After signing up, I checked out their system and noticed the web site I applied with was not yet approved. I found it interesting that each domain was scrutinized, and that spoke volumes to me about their quality standards. I added my other testing domains, and they were all approved in less than a day. I also emailed Doug Perlson about their new "cookie drop" program that he had mentioned at the New Orleans conference. He replied and told me they were rolling out the beta as he typed, and would immediately approve me for this product. Nice succinct reply, and he set me right up.
Once logged in, their site is simple to understand and use. I clicked on "Your Ads" tab to grab my ad code. On the overview, you can run BrightAds Content ads, which I will be focusing on here, as well as BrightAds RSS, BrightAds Pops, and BrightAds Cookies. Moving on to the Content ads, there are a few different sizes available:
- 3 Ad Tower (120x600)
- 3 Ad Tower (160x600)
- Single Ad (240x90)
- Single Ad Banner (468x60)
- 2 Ad Leaderboard (728x90)
- 2 Ad Box (300x250)
- Single Ad, Title & URL only (125x125)
- 2 Ad Jumbo Leaderboard (754x90)
- 5 Ad Box (600x400)
- 5 Ad Pop Under (500x500)
- 5 Ad Pop Under (600x400)
- 6 Ad Pop Under (720x300)
Interesting that they have pop unders listed on the Content section instead of the BrightAds pops section. As a pop up hater myself, I won't be commenting on them here at all. No offense, and if you were reading this hoping for popup info, I apologize. Sorta.
So I picked my ad size, and setup my custom ad colors, which was very similar setup to adsense color customization. I ran with it on 3 domains.
Full Day of Testing
I ran the ads for about a day, giving Kanoodle ample time to figure out contextual relevance. Being a stats hound, I logged in and checked them out first thing. CTR was at 1.36%. Wow, that was pretty bad, I was expecting much better. I clicked around the sites, checking the ad relevance out, and I started to see the problem. On the first pageview of every domain, the ad was totally untargeted. For some reason it was depending on a cookie to be set to get the relevance right.
I contacted Doug to see if this was the norm or a tech problem. He got back to me and stated they had found a bug and would have it fixed shortly. And they did. So, ads started being more targeted on the first pageview, but they still weren't that close. For example, a software site ran an ad for "$299 Dell Desktop" throughout. The ad was somewhat related, but not laser focused like I was used to with AdSense. The other sites were similar with category type relevance, but not page or even site specific relevance. I ran them for one more day.
These testing sites have tightly focused content, on which AdSense and even YPN do well. However, BrightAds did not do so well, as my visitors come looking for something very specific. General category type ads are usually not going to get their attention. That said, this relevance could work fine for huge sites with a larger category topic and/or general interest type user base. While discussing this with Doug in email, he told me that their taxonomy had 600 topics, but was planned to expand to 7500 in a few weeks. I look forward to checking this product out again when I hear from him on the upgrade.
At the end of the second day, my ctr was still very weak at a bit over 1%. EPC was decent, I just couldn't generate the clicks on these ads. Part of the problem was a bug that they immediately sorted out, but CTR didn't really improve that much. On laser-focused sites, you will find better performance with AdSense or YPN. General interest or sites that cover a wide range of topics may be worth a trial run.
BrightAds Cookies - Cookie Drop Program
I found this product very intriguing, it is a behavioral targeting offering. Basically you just paste some JS code on your site, and earn from visitors clicking on ads on other sites after they leave yours. They give you a small cut, 5% of the CPC, for helping them better target their ads. So if a visitor at your Rolex watch site later hits MSN (who also run BrightAds), Kanoodle may serve a Rolex ad up as part of their behavioral targeting. You get your cut by having set the cookie first. An interesting way to earn, no doubt. You only earn pennies a click, but they can add up on busier sites. If you have a high traffic site, you might want to see if this will produce a few extra bucks.
Verdict - Worth a Look
Kanoodle's offerings didn't work well with my test sites. However, they simply weren't the best fit for what I was working with. If your site works well with generally targeted ads, you may want to give Kanoodle BrightAds a look.