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I run an academic network for college students to communicate at particular universities and we run Google Adsense. The site pulls in a decent amount for a side project but our CTR is horrible <0.2% and our RPM is equally low.

The problem lies in the fact that Google pegs us as an education site (which we are) but shows our users ads for U of Phoenix, Devry U and other for-profit universities. All of our users are students of the more higher-caliber institutions and therefore have no use for these ads. I've known about this problem for some time but I don't know what to do to show more relevant ads instead (i.e. Spring Break, school apparel, poker, sports, etc). What would be the best way to change this?

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Ryan I don't think you'll find a larger ad network to join. You should filter those ads out in AdSense. More information on filtering ads here http://support.google.com/adsense/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=180609

Also you can choose to display ads which are paying higher than what Google may be showing. So if you have a private advertiser or you are part of another network I believe you can tell Google if their ad's aren't going to pay a certain amount to display ads from your other networks.

You should look into signing up as an affiliate for websites such as snorgtees which does a lot of advertising on college related websites. This is just one example http://www.snorgtees.com/affiliates there are plenty of other related sites which have affiliate programs. Either their own in house system or they may be part of Google Affiliate Network, CJ.com or others.

You can also sign up with Amazon associates and pick products to display on your site and earn commissions on any sale of any product on Amazon.com once a visitor clicks thru your links.

Keep AdSense, take the time to filter out UoP, Full Sail, Devry and the other big name advertisers. Try affiliate marketing along side AdSense. One last suggestion is if spring break is something you want to monetize on. Check out the affiliate programs from Expedia and other travel websites, you can probably display ads for all inclusive trips to popular destinations like Cabo, Daytona Beach etc.

Section targeting: https://support.google.com/adsense/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=23168&ctx=cb&src=cb&cbid=-qqh7yi9yntbe&cbrank=1

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Thanks for the thoughtful post. We've tried filtering ads (though tedious) and that has helped some. We've also tried affilate programs (textbooks, school apparel) but those yielded next to nothing. Also flirted with other networks but Google is far and away the best. I just really wish Google would let you adjust your 'category' but I'm sure they have good reasons for not doing that. I might look into 'Section targeting' some more but I still don't think that will help much for us the way our site's constructed. Oh well thanks again! –  Ryan Grush Dec 9 '12 at 6:54
    
@RyanGrush you're welcome. I couldn't find the help section in AdSense which discussed replacing adsense with higher paying ads from other networks it was a feature Google built in to allow you to run other ads if Google's weren't going to pay as much. If your site is a blog or forum type you may considering having writers write about topics that would possibly display better ads at least on those pages. Spring break reviews, Top 10 spring break destinations etc. Also look in Analytics to see what your top content is, then test ad placements and types on those pages. –  Anagio Dec 9 '12 at 6:59
    
the site is a social network of sorts and so there's very little controlled content, more the user-generated type. Even then most of it is about the material they're studying, which is probably not going to be a good match for an ad they would be likely to click on. We're offering our ads on the self-service ad portal site - isocket.com, but have only had a few bites there. Good tip on Analytics, I'll give that a shot. –  Ryan Grush Dec 9 '12 at 7:06
    
Another self serve ad network is buysellads.com which is very popular. –  Anagio Dec 9 '12 at 8:02
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