Don't Worry About Optimizing Ad Placement

ad placement testing
First let me say that testing your ad placements, ad formats and appearance is very important. Whether you're using AdSense or some other CPC program, using CPM or affiliate network, the benefits you get from optimizing and testing can be great.

So why would I tell you not to worry about it? Because there might be better things you can do to increase your ad revenue. This is primarily geared towards new sites or sites with not much traffic.

Instead, I'll give you some advice on the main things you need to be concerned about with AdSense Optimization, and optimizing banner ads and more importantly, the things you should be doing instead.

Build Your Traffic First

First thing you want to do is focus on building a great site with content people will want to come back to. You should also focus on making sure your site is reasonably SEO friendly, build good back links and use other normal methods to promote your site. The key to making money with online advertising is to get a lot of good traffic. No traffic generators. Just as many real, interested people as you can. The more genuine people that find you, the better the site's content quality, the greater the likelihood that they will link back to you. Just like in the real world, word of mouth, or maybe word of blog referrals are very valuable.

Testing is great, but once you have the basics, most other optimizations will only result in a small gain. A 5% increase when you're making $10/day (50 cents: about a postage stamp) is less significant than a 5% increase when you're making $100/day ($5: a quick lunch). Testing also takes time and without enough impressions to get meaningful results, it's pointless.

Only spend a couple of hours one day a week, or month analyzing your stats and make notes. Everything varies so don't be alarmed if some days are better than others.

The more you use your site, the more others use your site, the better position you'll be in to make changes that will improve your users' experience, which should help increase traffic. The more traffic, the more ad revenue. So first focus on building good traffic!

Basic AdSense Optimizations

Follow these basic principles to optimize your AdSense ad placements and you're on your way to better results.
At least one link unit and one ad unit above the fold
When people come to a new site for the first time, they will scan around the page a bit to find out what it's all about. After they start scrolling, they're usually involved in the content and their eyes may not wander as much.
Ads within content do very well
An ad within your content area is more likely to be seen and read. You should try to float an ad in your blog post or other site content.
Ads on the Sidebars should blend in with the sidebars
Most people set up their sidebars so that they have a complementary or sometimes contrasting color or theme to the main content area. If you do that, your ads should blend in with the surrounding area. If your side bar is red, your ads' background should be red. If your sidebars are the same color as your main content area (white), then try a complementary color that is used someplace else on your site.
Use Link Units
From my experience, AdSense Link Units can help get clicks from people that are ad blind. You should put link units near other similar links and try and have them match as much as possible. You don't get paid when someone clicks on a link unit, only when they click on a subsequent ad. So, even if people accidentally click on them, it's not going to take money away from an advertiser unfairly. 
Place an Ad at the end of an Article or Post
Ads below the fold don't have as high a CTR, but they tend to do well. When your visitor is done reading, they have the option of clicking on an ad. If the ad is well targeted, the chances of the click converting are greater.

Affiliate Banners

You need to start with some good advertisers. Find some other sites in your niche and see what affiliates they are using. Sign up for the same or similar affiliate programs. Also, it's better to use more but smaller ads than one big ad that rotates between different advertisers. You want as many impressions as you can but don't go overboard with too many banners.
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