Before you begin optimizing your pages, it’s important to have channels in place so you can track the effectiveness of any changes you make. But what’s the difference between URL channels and custom channels -- and when should you choose one or the other? Let’s look at the benefits of each, and which type of channel is appropriate for which situations.

URL Channels

URL channels provide an effective way to track your ad performance on different sections of your site or on different domains. Since you don’t need to change your code at all, they're easy to use. If for example you have a blog about cars and another one about boats, you can create a URL channel for each one. Then, when you optimize, you can use your channel reports to determine how your changes affected the success of the ads on each blog.

Custom Channels

Custom channels are great for pages with multiple ad units, since you can use them to track different ad units on the same page. To implement them, you’ll need to generate new channel-specific ad code. Let’s say you have a page with two ad units – one on the left side and one on the right. You can create a custom channel for each one, giving them distinct names such as ‘Left_Ad’ and ‘Right_Ad’. After you’ve regenerated the ad code for each ad unit and pasted it back into your HTML source, you can view reports for each ad unit separately. You’ll be able to see which ad unit performs better, and whether a change like removing the borders affects your earnings.

If you’d like more details about using channels, there's a lot of useful information in our Optimizing with Channels guide. We hope that setting up channels will make it much easier to see the results of your optimization efforts right away.