This question gets asked a lot, and the answer is almost always “It depends”.
Let’s be honest, most websites that enjoy any sort of traffic have some form of advertising placed on them. If you have the resources, time or talent to create your own custom advertising solution that is probably the way to go. But AdSense can be a good alternative if used effectively and, as with any advertising, the only major drawback is the potential ‘commercialized’ look of a site that runs ads.
Google’s AdSense is one of the easiest ad programs to use, so it’s great for everyone. They place very relevant text or image ads onto your site immediately…and it’s free to use. However, just sticking the ads on your site and leaving them won’t bring in much revenue.
To make running AdSense worthwhile you’ll have to do a bit of optimizing. Placement is important, you’ll want to put the ads somewhere people will see them and click on them, but be careful not to make them too intrusive or your user’s will block them. AdSense offers a pretty good variety of styles, colors and sizes to use, so be sure to test out a few and see which looks the best and fits in with your site’s overall design well.
AdSense automatically does the targeting of your ads…but you’ll want to make a few changes here as well. The more relevant the ads are to your site’s content the more likely people are to click on them – making you more money. They offer section targeting, which is a way to specify certain sections of your site that you would like to emphasize or downplay when it comes to matching content up with ad topics. You can also filter out ads from certain domains with the Competitive Ad Filter. For example, if you don’t want ads from a rival showing up on your site, or you notice a site that keeps advertising completely off topic, just enter in their domain to the filter list.
So, yes, AdSense is worth running if you are realistic about the levels of extra cash you can make and if you take the time to create ads that fit in stylistically with your current site design.
For more info, or to get started and try it out head to the Google Adsense page.