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How I’d Optimize PerezHilton for Advertising – Case Study

Posted By Darren Rowse 26th of July 2006 Case Studies 0 Comments

Perez1A few days back the Blogging Times reported that celebrity blog PerezHilton reached 1 million readers in a day this month.

That’s some serious traffic and would be a pretty amazing blog to monetize.

Mario Lavandeira is the blogger behind PerezHilton and by the looks of things his income streams seem to be:

  • AdSense – PerezHilton has AdSense running in multiple positions including in the banner position on most pages, between posts on the front page, between posts and comments on individual pages, under comments on individual pages and in the sidebar (although this one rarely shows). He also has an Adlink unit in the footer of the page. There’s also one AdSense unit and Adlink unit in the ‘Boardroom’ discussion forum.
  • Fastclick – rotating in one of the banner positions.
  • BlogAds – there are a number of positions you can buy BlogAds in including the Reserve A Premium position (top right hand spot) which costs $5000 per week, a second level position ($2500 per week) and a lower position ($202 per week). These seem to be converting reasonably well. Over the last few days there were ads in all positions (up to 15 in the lower ones).
  • Sponsorship – on some impressions I’m seeing a skyscraper in the left hand column for

I’m sure PerezHilton is doing reasonably well with their ads – BlogAds seem to be doing particularly well. There are however a few suggestions I’d make if I were consulting with Mario and his team. Some of these would include:

How I’d improve PerezHilton’s Advertising Performance:

  • Alternate ads – Perhaps it’s my location in the world but I’m seeing a lot of freebie AdCouncil Public Service Ads. I think these are coming from Fastclick and while PH might be a community minded blog and not mind sending traffic to the girl guides of America they are loosing potential income. Fastclick does allow publishers to set alternate ads and I’d recommend they look into setting this up.
  • Adsense-PerezBlended ads in posts – some of the AdSense ads on PH are nicely blended but others seem to ‘stick out’ a little. I’m particularly thinking of the small ads that are on individual pages below posts and below comments (see example to the right). They have a pink background despite being on a white area. I suspect these would perform better with a more blended approach (ie a white backgound in the ads to blend with the white background of the site). This could well be PH trying to be transparent and separate content from ads – but this could be done in a more subtle way in my opinion.
  • Adlinks in the footer – I was a little surprised to find the Adlink unit in the footer. While the base of a page can actually convert well (it’s amazing how many people scroll to the bottom of a page) I suspect that this unit would convert better above the fold. Perhaps a better place would be above or just below the header/banner (although there are already a lot of ads up there). Another position it would work would be above the title of posts.
  • Seeing a lot of poorly targeted AdSense ads – I’m seeing a lot of poorly targeted AdSense ads. Once again it could be that I’m in Australia but where as I’d expect to see celebrity related ads I’m largely seeing ringtone ads, blogging tools ads, wedding dress ads etc). The problem with poorly targeted ads is that readers are less likely to click them if they don’t relate to your content. There are a number of things I’d suggest PH tweak to help improve ad relevancy including using keywords more in titles of posts, linking posts titles to page title tags (this would also help ALOT with Search engine optimization), tying post titles (or keywords) into meta tags and testing out AdSense’s section targeting feature). I’d also suggest they talk to AdSense about ad relevancy. A site their size should get some personal attention and help in optimizing ads.
  • Too many AdSense Ads per page – If you look at the source code of PH’s front page you’ll see that they are actually attempting to run AdSense ads between each post on the page. This would mean that they are trying to run at least 14 AdSense units on the page. AdSense limits publishers to running 3 per page but does make exceptions for some publishers (with permission). I would encourage PH to obtain permission for more ad units per page (they have large pages so more than 3 would work for them) but I’d also encourage them to not put as many as 14 on a single page as this will decrease the value of clicks and mess with smart pricing.
  • Premium Publisher – If PH is doing 1million visitors a day I’d also encourage them to talk to AdSense about becoming a premium publisher as they’d be over the minimum requirement. Being a premium publisher allows you to negotiate your own deals including how much you earn but also special ad sizes and designs.
  • Affiliate programs – I’d be interested to see how promoting affiliate products would work on PH. Programs they could try might include Amazon books, CDs and DVDs (there’s also quite a few celebrity products like perfumes and jewelry) as well as programs like Allposters.
  • Other Ad Programs – I would suspect that PH has a lot of regular readers that have become quite blind to the ads that appear on the site. For this reason I’d encourage them to find some new advertisers to rotate through the ad positions. Perhaps they could put in some Chitika eMiniMalls for instance or could explore some other impression based ad systems.
  • Rotate Ad Design – another way of combatting ad blindness would be to rotate the AdSense ad design. AdSense allow you to choose up to four designs per ad unit to rotate automatically through. They could all still be blended but the changes in colors and design could help draw the eye more to ads and increase CTR. Also they could try rotating ads more through different positions on the blog. At present most ads are pretty static in terms of position and this wouldn’t help ad blinkdness.
  • Boardroom Forums – At present the forums have very little advertising on them. Forums can be difficult to monetize but I’d encourage them to look at putting ads closer to content (at present they are way down the bottom) and to look at blending ads more. Also impression based ads might do better in the forums (although many CPM ad networks disallow them).

I’m certain that there are other things PerezHilton could do to increase their Advertising revenue – but I’m sure if they started with the above that there’d be a little more cash in the kitty.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • It is arguably one of the largest blogs in the entertainment industry, but the blogger gets a lot of flack for the practices the blogger has used to grow.

    The biggest problem is that a lot of pictures are taken from forums or sites, or even emailed in, without attribution. One, it’s not a good practice and does not fare well with bloggers who get no return for their own efforts. Two, it means any blogger who then wants to use that photo feels uncomfortable not knowing how to attribute it.

  • I think this blog hasn’t reached it’s fullest potential (traffic-wise). It’s exposure here in the US is only growing, radio stations starting to plug his name and quote his posts, and most importantly he has a reality tv show on the way…

    Definately amazing.

  • Marketing at it’s best !!! How could you argue the success of this blog ?

  • Very interesting suggestions for perezhilton. I’m always curious how the problogger would monetize different sites.

  • Jon

    Darren, Where have you seen the best conversion for placing adsense your blogs.

    1. On the front page, in between posts, under the comments link

    2. On the post page before the comments and before the related posts? ( how do you add that before the related posts, are you doing it in your single.php and what part of the code?

    I have noticed that not a lot of people put adsense between their posts on their homepage, yet if people hit your homepage and dont go through to read the rest of your post and you only have adsense on the post page.. that could potentially mean a loss dont you think?

    I would be interested in knowing what plugins your using darren to insert adsense into your posts themselves or are you hard coding that?

  • I would like to see what Perez thinks about these ideas.

    You just gave him a free consultaion which is surely worth at least a few hundred dollars.

    I read this almost every day.

    I noticed that he also includes product placement in his blog posts for free schwag (clothing).

  • I also noticed that his blog background shows a wallpaper of Sidekick 3 :)

  • Darren, what would you think about placing Text Link Ads on this type of site? They pay pretty well for some of my small sites, although it does seem to depend upon the niche.

  • Jon – where is the best position? Well it varies a lot from blog to blog but some good spots are between posts on the front page, at the top of individual posts in content, directly under content…. basically as close to content as you can get.

    Bank Locator – I think this is worth more than a few hundred dollars to them. If they put it in place with their million readers a day it’d be worth tens of thousands of dollars I’d suspect.

    Darren – TLA would do pretty well. The link value calculator says they could be worth over $500 per month per link depending upon how many links they sold and where they positioned them.

  • Darren excellent site with excellent information. You’re not doing so bad yourself, 4000 hits a day is great.

    You have a more targeted audience than Paris Hilton. Besides, how many ads is a 15 year old going to click on anyway. On second thought 1 million hits a day is a lot.

    I anxiously await getting 100 hits in 1 day.

  • Bruce

    I’ve started using Right Media instead of Fastclick and it has been able to monetize my international traffic pretty well. Perez should check that out. That being said, Adsense is certainly a less intrusive format compared to visual ads on a blog.

  • It is a nasty design. Cluttery. A better design and with your tips I bet they would increase their earnings 3 – 4 fold minimum.

  • 1 million hit is a superb thing for any blog. I get 250+ hits these days and when I get 500+ hits any day, I get so happy.

  • I would be very interested to know what the scoop is on using images. There are a ton of celebrity blogs out there…and you never know where the pictures originally came from. I’m guessing a lot of celebrity bloggers just blog and hope they don’t get sued?

  • Darren, regarding “Forums can be difficult to monetize”, in fact I found them much easier to monetize if well placed (see google’s heatmap which you posted). For me personally the good results with adsense on my forums (x6 compared to the rest of my sites) were the main reason to keep them up as they were eating bandwidth.

    In fact I plan to invest in more forums to see how I can create extra income there.

  • chip

    You guys crack me up. He’s the best at what he does and obviously doesn’t need any unsolicited advice. Pick a site that could use help… this guy is on top of his game. Yea his colors are off and the site us cluttered at times, but he knows his audience and he is killing it. Your points are valid but they don’t apply here. He’s #1 and he knows exactly what he’s doing. I could comment on changes to google’s site or how youtube could improve their views, but why? They’re #1 and they don’t need my help. Mario (a.k.a. Perez) doesn’t need an armchair quarterback – he needs someone with a very large truck who can help him deliver daily mounds of $$ to the bank.

  • sarah

    Chip, this article and the responses were written two years ago. The Perez site you see now is not the same one that was there when this article was written.