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What to do When a Site Doesn't Earn Enough?
Is this a Dead Horse?
Ducain




msg:1447136
 1:48 am on May 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

Forgive me the cryptic title...it's just my personality.

CPC and a few honest ramblings

There, I wanted to give you an idea of what this post was about before you had to read much further. I haven't posted here much, but I read often, and I really needed to post a few of these things in a place where I knew that the members would understand.

I operate a few websites, one of which does fairly well, and I run CPM and CPC ads. Also, I constantly battle between the desire to work for myself and manage websites full-time, and the desire to have a life and not put my family through hell because of my ambitions.

That being said, I've got a few honest and open frustrations/rants/ramblings that I would like to pass on to you guys. I full expect and even welcome frank and candid feedback, because I don't have the chance to talk to webmasters locally.

It starts...

CPC. My aggravation with this whole way of thinking as it pertains to advertising is another whole topic, but I wanted to say upfront that the process (to me at least) is built for frustration, at least if you are a web publisher.

With the amount per click that I'm making now, I could no doubt be making a full time income next week if not for those pesky rules. :) Oh, and before you think I'm advocating the breaking of any company's click rules, I'm not. I've gone out of my WAY to make sure I'm well within the rules, and I guess that's what has me frustrated.

I place the CPC ads on my site, following every tip and legitimate trick I've been able to find, and they do ok, but no where near the level of clicks it would take to support my family. THEN...I notice a few other sites, and speak to a few other webmasters who own sites in my little 'community' and I find that some of those guys are openly asking people to click the ads to support the site, and others are sending emails to users asking for a click every now and again to show support.

It's flat-out wrong (according to the rules), but they're doing it, making money, while I sit back in my click-righteousness and think, "Well, at least I follow the rules." Somehow, that doesn't negate the fact that their checks are 10 times the amount of mine.

I can hear all the arguments now. They'll get theirs. Their accounts will be canceled. They..etc.

Indeed. The fact is I know I'm right, but here's my thoughts, and stuff like this has been driving me NUTS.

On the edge of the knife.

I don't have the type of personality that enjoys skirting the rules, so it's very hard for me to draw the line between being creative and being corrupt (as it comes to obeying the many rules of the clickmeisters).

I thought to myself, "What if, instead of actually asking my users to click anything, I simply make a lengthy post explaining how website ads work in general?"

The killer here is that with sites like mine (a community portal of sorts), people don't come to buy a product, or check out a service, or find info on widgetBx9. Because of this, they focus on community (the real point of the place after all), and not the ads. Part of me is very glad about this, but my pocketbook often disagrees.

My thinking was that the majority of my users don't understand how vital these ads are to our survival, how they work, and why we even place them on our pages. Surely (I thought), they would support us, take a more honest look at the ads themselves, and click every now and then, if they understood the whole picture.

Nevermind the fact that a simple mass email to my users could get me plenty of clicks (in small enough batches not to be noticed for some time perhaps), had I the desire to go that route. I don't.

Lastly (I know, sorry guys), I even sent a lengthy, but pithy email to the ad company that I use asking them about this very practice, explaining that I had no desire to bend the rules, and that surely inviting my users to take more of an interest in the content of the ads would be beneficial to both the advertisers, and to me.

The canned response I received said something along the lines of "We really cannot advise you on how to layout and administer the ads on your site, but we can say that you can change the color of the ads and [insert more canned stuff we all know here] if you want to increase the clickrate.

So now I find myself in a quandry. Do I or don't I? Where the black and where's the white? After all, making ads bold or contrasting colors could be considered incentive, because you're drawing the eye and the users' attention somewhere that it normally wouldn't go, right?

Look, although I'm adding a few grains of salt to all this, it really is bothering me, so much so that I've even talked it all over with my wife (I normally don't mention geek stuff around the table).

Part of me wants to believe that the guys making boatloads of money from CPC aren't doing so by simply placing ads on their sites and then kicking back and watching the dough roll in. I'd love to believe they are creatively skimming the edge of the rules.

I'd like to believe that, but it's probably not true.

Perhaps I've spent literally hundreds of hours developing a site that simply isn't cut out for monetization, dunno.

THANK YOU SO MUCH for reading all this, and moderators/admins please feel free to move this if I've posted it in the wrong place.

I'd love to hear your feedback folks. You have a brother that's in need of a hand. I'll just stoke up the campfire, pull up a chair, and wait for you all to join me.

 

jomaxx




msg:1447137
 2:04 am on May 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

You cannot allow yourself to be drawn into believing that AdSense exists for users to support your site, to reward it for existing. It exists for advertisers to reach customers, and you're lucky enough to be a middleman in this process.

There's no need to beg for clicks like your friends. Whether they get their comeuppance or not, YOU'RE right and they're wrong. Anyway I learned long ago that begging is not a successful strategy. People just ignore that nonsense.

Just put the ads in a place where users have to deal with them in some way, where they have to actually scan the ads to see if there's anything important there or not. That way, if there's an ad for something they're interested in, they'll see it and maybe click. Do not surround your ads with bright, flashing, op-art borders, because it will take approximately 1 pageview for people to train themselves never to look in that space again.

ann




msg:1447138
 2:09 am on May 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

quite frankly I can tell you I know a few who "are kicked back" without breaking the rules and one that is above and beyond the so called club. Pure white hat all the way with numerous sites about various subjects.

You would be better served to work on getting more traffic, not getting banned.

Try going global with a few articles or an area on your site that will interest others not just your "community".

Please make the safer choice and for goodness sake diversify, don't depend JUST on Google.

Ann

Ducain




msg:1447139
 2:37 am on May 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

You cannot allow yourself to be drawn into believing that AdSense exists for users to support your site, to reward it for existing. It exists for advertisers to reach customers, and you're lucky enough to be a middleman in this process.

Just playing the devil's advocate here, I wonder how many truly believe that? Are we as publishers just lucky to be invited to the party? Surely, adsense (and other programs like it) don't exist to help my site exist, and quite honestly they really don't exist to help advertisers reach customers. At the most basic level the program exists to make Google/Yahoo/MSN money - period. In order for Google to make this money, they have needs (advertisers and publishers), without which the program does nothing. The advertisers use the program to make money, but in order to make that money, they need publishers to distribute the ad content to their users. Though it may not be a popular opinion (partially because of abusive publishers), I believe that publishers are every bit as integral to the process as the advertisers are.

K, wrapping up here, but I just wanted to say thanks for the input, and I hope to get even more.

JH

Sobriquet




msg:1447140
 3:39 am on May 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

BUT.... why do we ask for clicks at all?

If we are getting traffic, clicks DO follow and a good CTR is possible with a good design strategy ...

The issue is to generate a flood of NORMAL traffic to your site, and CLICKS FOLLOW.

If you have the right kinda traffic, I have not understood why would someone ask for click and show(off) hisself as a begger?

dibbern2




msg:1447141
 3:53 am on May 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

I full expect and even welcome frank and candid feedback, because I don't have the chance to talk to webmasters locally.

You took 13 paragraphs and subtitles to say:
1. You have a website that doesn't do very well with advertising programs.

2. You want to break whatever rules there are for programs like AS, but you'd like to do it without being blatent about it. You would like to apply a relative scale where your actions are not so bad as someone else's.

3. You would like our support and encouragement, based on your assumption that those here with successful sites must be breaking the rules, and at least a little crooked.

Is this an accurate read of your complaint?

moTi




msg:1447142
 4:18 am on May 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

At the most basic level the program exists to make Google/Yahoo/MSN money - period.

no money for google/yahoo/msn without advertiser satisfaction!

I believe that publishers are every bit as integral to the process as the advertisers are.

nope. content network is a nice big plus in advertising space - but without publishers, google would still earn billions. that is why we publishers should care about a clean content network. because it's our business future. feel lucky to be part of the network. there are millions of webmasters out there longing for some bucks who are willing to sell ad space for ridiculous low amounts. in the current environment of marginal competition, google has few incentive to keep every little moaning publisher on board. it simply doesn't pay off. of course, one can speculate, that in the future there will be a shortage of ad space evolving and big companies will have to court every single small provider of ad space. but so far, in the absence of alternatives for many of us, it's an advertiser market.

there is an increasing number of selfish opinions in the recent time towards adsense. i guess they haven't a clue about marketing issues..
it's not about you! self-orientation doesn't get you any further. it's about satisfying the needs of your bread-earners. drive high quality traffic to your sites through good user experience. then deliver valuable clicks to the advertisers and cash in your money.

martinibuster




msg:1447143
 4:55 am on May 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

with sites like mine (a community portal of sorts), people don't come to buy a product, or check out a service, or find info on widgetBx9.

Here's my advice: Get off your butt :)

  • Get off your butt and create a classifieds section
  • Get off your butt and create way to have users generate content that REVIEWS products or services
  • It sounds as if you're not pulling in enough NEW visitors from search traffic, as your traffic is composed of repeat visitors. New visitors, especially those researching a product (hint, start mentioning products or services) click on ads, not freeloading community members. So get off your butt and optimize your portal so that it starts ranking for terms on the search engines

My thinking was that the majority of my users don't understand how vital these ads are to our survival...

I agree with the previous post that stated that you should get it out of your mind that AdSense exists to support your site. If you can't optimize your site to attract transient visitors, if you can't create a classifieds or review section, then spin off a sister site that does, and feed your freeloader traffic over to the new site with links etc. and gradually work on something that DOES make money, but above all, get off your butt.

There's no need to put your family through financial insecurities. Keep your job. Work nights on your sites. Your wife may have to watch Gilmore Girls or South Park alone some nights while you're working on your empire, but that's the sacrifice she and you might have to make in order to improve your financial situation and personal freedom.

If you can't make your portal produce, then start a new project that will. Get off your butt. ;)

david_uk




msg:1447144
 6:24 am on May 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

Google doesn't depend on the content network. It could drop the lot of us tomorrow and concentrate solely on showing ads on it's search pages.

Google still needs content to index, but it doesn't need publishers as such. We could all be out on the streets with our begging bowls if the winds changed direction at the Googleplex.

Diversify, and don't depend on Adsense.

So your website isn't making what you want. You and many others. The whole saga reminds me of those TV shows that follow people through buying and selling houses. The vendor always expects whoever buys their old house to pay 400,000 for a crummy two bed terraced in some unfashionable out of the way location as that's what they need to buy their new flashy 4 bed pad bed in town. No concept of the fact that their old house is only worth what the buyers want to pay.

It's the same for all of us - advertisers are only willing to pay us (via Google) what they think our sites are worth to them. If that's not enough for you, then you have to monetise it in additional ways, or get a better day job.

Not breaking the rules is a no-brainer. It's not worth it. Yes, some do seem to get away with it but not forever. I have reported people for having "Click on the Google ads to raise me money", and Google have mostly dealt with them. Simlarly, if they are sending out emails soliciting clicks there may well be some adsenser out there who will use that email to report them to Google.

Don't worry about what they are doing - concentrate on your own site and making it something that visitors want to see because it's worth their while visiting.

Ducain




msg:1447145
 12:42 pm on May 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

Just trying to respond a little:

Dibbern- no. You might want to read again mate. If I had wanted to break the rules any time in the last 2 1/2 years, I could have easily done so. That kind of response seems a little snotty and disrepectful. Not cool.

Others - I'm interested in the 'Google doesn't need publishers at all/ we're just along for the ride' argument. I have to admit to being a little surprised by it, but I'm interested, and I'll put some more thought into that. Still, please remember that there's a difference in me saying that publishers are important, and me saying that WE have a right to demand whatever from Google/Yahoo/MSN.

Overall, this was a good thread. Sometimes, you just need to vent and get a little reality check, and that's why I posted this.

Thanks to everyone who answered thoughtfully and respectfully. I'm actually very glad to hear this kind of response from you guys.

chance1376




msg:1447146
 1:49 pm on May 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

I run a community site of widget collectors that gets a good bit of traffic for the niche but adsense doesnt do so nearly as well as some here. Adsense does fills up a space that would normally be empty on the site and makes some money but by no means is the biggest income of the site. Our biggest income is from member donations. We added a paypal button and our members know its not cheap to keep the site running. Then that is followed up by direct ad sales to widget dealers and widget artist. So if you have a community the income can be found you just need to see what works for you. Like Martin said try classifieds for a fee or maybe a premiem membership that gives your users some extra features for an annual ammount. One thing we are doing this year is putting together a magazine to give out at the biggest collectors get together. The magazine will be freely distibuted but paid for by advertisering. The site will make a little money from it this year but next year after everyone sees the quality of it I expect we can ask a better price for the advertising.
So find other ways to bring in the money and just consider adsense icing on the cake. Don't stop trying to improve your adsense income by any means but consider other options and you might find one that will be your bread and butter with a little extra pop from AS.

Publisher




msg:1447147
 2:09 pm on May 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

There are a couple emotions involved here...

One is your frustration...it can be extremely frustrating, but so can a lot of other worthwhile things.

The other emotion is fear....if you disregard the TOS, how easy is it to live with the fear that your site (and your source of income) can be banned at any time. It's easy to "not get caught" for the short term, but in the long run, they're gonna getcha.

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