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What is AdSense Direct?


If you logged into your Google AdSense account recently, you probably saw the above message pop up. It’s an alert telling you that you can start using Google AdSense Direct.

Should you? Eh, why not right? You only live once. 🙂

So I clicked Start now.

I expected something big to happen but… they just dropped me to My ads and added a new menu option in the left, Direct campaigns.

So… what did I “start,” if anything at all?

What I did was something a little subtle, I only turned on AdSense Direct (I actually don’t know if I turned it on or if it was always on and it’s too late now to see!).

AdSense Direct doesn’t do anything, it simply enables you to sell existing Adsense ad blocks using Google’s processing infrastructure.

What Exactly is Google Adsense Direct?

You run a few Adsense blocks on your site, what if you could sell those ad locations directly to advertisers for a flat rate? If you’ve always wanted to do that, then Google Adsense Direct will let you and take a 15% commission.

Right now, you can’t sell a percentage of ads (such as 50% of impressions) and you can’t sell it on a CPM basis. A little limiting but it’s new.

Google also doesn’t sell anything on your behalf, it merely handles the technical (and financial) aspects of swapping out the Adsense block with the image and link your advertiser provides.

Finally, Google pays on a monthly basis as part of the Adsense payment.

Setting Up an Ad

It’s simple. Click on Direct campaigns and then the New Direct campaign button, you’ll see this form:

The fields are straightforward though there are two catches:

  • Ad unit: Hopefully you named your ad units in a way that makes it easy to identify because that’s how you tell Adsense which block gets swapped out for the ad.
  • Dates: Must be 5 days from today, which will require some coordinating with the advertisers especially if they are a big brand with a somewhat slower payment process.

Once done, click Save and get link and a popup will display a link you can send to your advertiser.

How the Advertisers Buys

This is what an Advertiser will see when they click on that link:

When they click Buy now – they’ll see a popup to pay with Google Wallet. I won’t go into that particular process but the summary is that the advertiser will pay Google and Google will pay you 85%.

A current deal breaker: There’s no approval mechanism. You have to trust that your advertiser uploads the image and link you agreed to. (they’re working on this though)

Does This Seem Complicated?

That’s because it is a little complicated. It is, however, less complicated than selling an ad directly and having to install the ad yourself (if that’s difficult for you).

If you’ve wanted to sell advertising spots but aren’t comfortable with the technical aspects, this might be a good answer. If you don’t like collecting the payment, this might be a good answer.

If you are using Google DFP or are already selling ads directly, with no issues with technology or payment, Direct doesn’t do anything special for you.

Was This All A Waste of Time?

Not entirely… there is one interesting nugget in the help files and it relates to their recommended price: “Our research shows that ads that are sold directly typically command a price two and half times higher than that of standard contextually-targeted ads. To calculate our recommended price we take the average daily earnings for the ad unit / site combination that you’ve selected for your campaign and multiply it by 2.5.”

If you’ve ever wanted to know how much to charge for display ads, this is a good start — 2.5X more than what Adsense is giving you.

Finally this is just the start of AdSense Direct. I suspect in the future there will be some sort of self-service/approval mechanism in place (something that does what BuySellAds does today) so that advertisers can buy direct and you can approve. This way you don’t necessarily have to sell everything yourself.

I’m eager to see the next version.

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In 2005, I founded a personal finance blog ( that became successful enough that I quit my career as a software developer in the defense industry. It is my goal to share everything I learned so that you can do the same - build an online business that let's you pursue your passion.

7 responses to “What is AdSense Direct?”

  1. I saw the same thing this morning and was wondering what it was. I went through and then got disappointed. What is the point Google? Why would I pay you when there are many plugins that can schedule an ad spot?

    • Jim says:

      I’m not sure why someone would use it today but I could see, in a few months with a lot more features, it being useful sometime in the future. It’d be nice to have a scheduler and approval system in place so now you can just have someone go to your advertisement page, buy an ad, and have little interaction with you (outside of approving it).

  2. Michael says:

    So I’m still responsible for finding the advertiser? If so, then I’m not sure why I’d give Google a 15% cut. If they turned this in to a marketplace where they paired up advertisers with publishers then I could see the attraction.

    • Jim says:

      Yes, and you have to set up the link in the system to send to them. It’s awkward as it is right now.

    • Ryan says:

      This is more or less a simplified version of using DFP, primarily aimed at smaller sites. That said, it seems like a first iteration. My guess is a marketplace will develop in time (if the response for this service is good). If not, it will quietly go away and people will go back to uploading their own ads, or graduating to DFP.

  3. terry says:

    Hello Jim

    thank you for your emails very good reading now about this ad sence by Google I would like to know how I can stop have these ads from popping up and get rid of them

    Thanks Terry

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