Success story with Google AdSense 1


Founded in 1996, OSTG (Open Source Technology Group) started out as the tech network Its mission was to provide unbiased content, community and commerce for an audience of Linux and open source users and developers. Over time, grew by adding the community-centric sites and to its technology group, and to its e-commerce division. Since VA Software Corp. acquired OSTG in early 2000 and introduced and, OSTG’s network of sites has become even more widely visited among the worldwide Linux and open source communities... is among OSTG’s most successful Internet properties, with roughly 25 million unique visitors each month – a number that grows about 20 percent each year. SourceForge hosts more than 140,000 projects, and offers a centralized resource for managing projects, issues, communications and software code. "Given the broad appeal of SourceForge, we are always looking for ways to capitalize on each page and give users content and products to match their needs," says OSTG’s Vice President and General Manager of, Mike Rudolph.

"Link units are relevant, potentially interesting to the user, and don’t stick out as ads. They help users get to the content they’re looking for and help advertisers get their information out there."

Mike Rudolph
Vice President and General Manager, OSTG

In 2005, OSTG decided to try link units, a text advertising product available to Google AdSense publishers. Each link unit displays a list of topics relevant to the content of the page it is running on. When visitors click on a topic, they go to a page displaying several text advertisements highly relevant to their chosen topic.

Although link units began producing results right away, OSTG realized there was a way to maximize the benefits even more. The OSTG and team began to think about how to leverage Google’s expansive worldwide advertising network to better serve international users. Through Google’s geographical targeting, they knew they could maximize the relevant topics and ads delivered to customers in specific regions.

OSTG therefore began serving link units specifically to its international traffic, replacing U.S. targeted ad campaigns, on the homepage. This approach made sense: 80 percent of visitors to come from outside the United States, from places as diverse as Brazil, Europe, Australia and Asia. "We needed to target German ads to German visitors, instead of sending out a generic ad that probably wouldn’t appeal to someone outside the U.S.," explains Rudolph. "We needed to improve the user experience and generate revenues from international traffic, and realized that more precisely geo-targeting link units was a great way to achieve both aims."

Rudolph notes that "the process of using link units was very simple and straightforward. The implementation took little time, and right away a relevant mix of international topics started to appear."


OSTG was immediately pleased with the results from using link units, because they provided a way to earn incremental income from international traffic and improve the user experience. Over a two-month period, link units added more than 20 percent to overall AFC revenue, without any additional real estate being allotted to advertising. "Because international users make up 80 percent of our traffic on SourceForge, they are a top priority for us," says Rudolph. "Geographic targeting through link units helped us overcome the challenge of reaching these users with useful ad content."

Link units and AdSense also complement OSTG’s own ad sales efforts, says Rudolph. "There is a long tail of advertisers Google serves that we will never scale to reach. With AdSense, we can tap these advertisers in a turnkey way that is phenomenal," he notes.

Rudolph says he’s impressed with the quality of ads and the way they mesh with site content, and appreciates the fact that link units are clean and unobtrusive. "Link units are relevant, potentially interesting to the user, and don’t stick out as ads," says Rudolph. "They help users get to the content they’re looking for and help advertisers get their information out there. Trying to do what Google does with AdSense and link units would be a bad decision on any media company’s part. We could never do it with the same level of quality as Google does."

from OSTG (SourceForge)

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