AdSense is an advertisement application run by Google. Website owners can enroll in this program to enable text, image, and more recently, video advertisements on their websites. These advertisements are administered by Google and generate revenue on either a per-click or per-impression basis. Google beta tested a cost-per-action service, but discontinued it in October 2008 in favor of a DoubleClick offering (also owned by Google).
Google uses its Internet search technology to serve advertisements based on website content, the user's geographical location, and other factors. Those wanting to advertise with Google's targeted advertisement system may enroll through AdWords. AdSense has become a popular method of placing advertising on a website because the advertisements are less intrusive than most banners, and the content of the advertisements is often relevant to the website.
Many websites use AdSense to monetize their content. AdSense has been particularly important for delivering advertising revenue to small websites that do not have the resources for developing advertising sales programs and sales people. To fill a website with advertisements that are relevant to the topics discussed, webmasters implement a brief script on the websites' pages. Websites that are content-rich have been very successful with this advertising program, as noted in a number of publisher case studies on the AdSense website.
Some webmasters invest significant effort into maximizing their own AdSense income. They do this in three ways:
1. They use a wide range of traffic-generating techniques, including but not limited to online advertising.
2. They build valuable content on their websites that attracts AdSense advertisements, which pay out the most when they are clicked.
3. They use text content on their websites that encourages visitors to click on advertisements. Note that Google prohibits webmasters from using phrases like "Click on my AdSense ads" to increase click rates. The phrases accepted are "Sponsored Links" and "Advertisements".
The source of all AdSense income is the AdWords program, which in turn has a complex pricing model based on a Vickrey second price auction. AdSense commands an advertiser to submit a sealed bid (i.e., a bid not observable by competitors). Additionally, for any given click received, advertisers only pay one bid increment above the second-highest bid.