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I have stopped tweaking, I have stopped calculating.
I only make content, day after day after day...
humblebeginnings




msg:3035313
 1:34 pm on Aug 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

This is a bit of a long post. If you just want to read the punch line, just go to the last few lines of text...

When I was reading this post [webmasterworld.com...]
of Optirex, I realized I am always sort of puzzled by the stability and the detail of the numbers he provides us. If I have a friday with only 70% instead of 85-90% of my Monday to Thursday page impression average, I wouldn't even notice it.

At the same time I realized I am also puzzled by all the fascinating tweaking experiments done by for example Ann, David_UK and Hobbs.

It appears to be there is a rather large category of Adsense publishers who invest a lot time in the circular process of "tweaking and calculating".

An interesting example of this, is Ann's smart pricing experiment at [webmasterworld.com...] The pattern with these kind of experiments is always the same. The OP has a theory on how to increase CTR, ECPM and/or earnings by changing ad format, ad color, ad placement, channel settings, etcetera. People tweak their Adsense accounts and/or websites accordingly and then they observe or calculate changes, if any. If there actually are any positive changes, the tweaking is refined and new observations and calculations are made. This process will be repeated until there is some kind of optimum result.

During my first year with Adsense I have done my part of tweaking. But my problem was and is, that it is very hard for me to draw conclusions from the results, my page impressions are way to volatile.

I have no idea what days are my best days and how they compare to other days. I just don't collect that kind of data. I used to think weekends are slow but some of my best days this year were saturdays and sundays. When my page impressions are 70% of the previous day, that's business as usual. The next day my pages impressions might be 150%. I have no idea what my average CTR or ECPM is. All I see is it goes up and down and I can´t discover any logic in it.

When I started with Adsense, I thought the volatility was caused by my relatively low numbers. Back then I had about a 100 page impressions a day. Today it's a bit (;-)) more, but the volatility remained.

The problem is that most of the tweaking experiments are of little use to me. There is no way for me to measure the results. Therefore I decided earlier this year to sort of ignore my day-to-day stats a bit (only check about every 15 minutes), forget about tweaking my web pages, improving CTR whilst beating the smart pricing algo etcetera, and just concentrate on what I like the most and what I think will bring me more cash. And that is making new content, writing new articles, publising new pictures, starting entirely new websites, day after day after day.

All I am interested in Adsense-wise is making more cash.
And since I stopped tweaking, calculating and trying to beat algo´s and stuff, and instead concentrated on making more content, I managed to make more money every month.

 

argv1900




msg:3035321
 1:57 pm on Aug 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

Great post!

Hobbs




msg:3035324
 2:02 pm on Aug 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hi HB,
Agree that there is a point beyond which, optimization becomes futile (diminishing returns)
I am talking here about:
1) Ad position tests
2) Ad text and background and border tests (blending)

But when there is a new ad size, format or product (e.g. referrals) you have to give it a full optimization cycle for it to reach its full potential.

As for changes, here is what I wrote in another thread:

Uncharacteristic jumps make it impossible to attribute the performance to any reason, even with very good historical data, it is impossible to be certain beyond doubt that any parameter change is due to any one factor

Yes it is difficult to be 100% positive about the results of your test with so many gears turning at the same time, but one thing you have to master and exclude from the uncertainties is your own site statistics and visitors behavior.

This is your "goods", what you are selling to advertisers and what makes you the money. If an advertiser contacts you today for an ad, he will want to know more than 70 to 150% estimate on impressions, getting in sync with your own site will make the other AdSense uncertainties a little easier.

But true, lower traffic sites do tend to fluctuate more than high traffic sites, if I had one of those, I'd make it a higher priority than AdSense and optimization to grow my traffic to a more decent predictable level, and yes, build content and get links and the works.

OptiRex




msg:3035334
 2:29 pm on Aug 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

Great post HB however I feel you are personally giving me credit for effort when it is not really due.

It appears to be there is a rather large category of Adsense publishers who invest a lot time in the circular process of "tweaking and calculating".

I am very fortunate, one of the fortunate whom has never had a difficulty with mathematics. I can usually see things immediately, trends jump off the paper (screen these days), figures, algos, coding etc are great fun for me, it is easy and for those less fortunate in understanding this I don't mind assisting if they are willing to learn.

Obviously it takes me very little mental time to process this data and, if I deem it significant, to post my observations here, simply to assist others who may be concerned about posting strange metrics simply because they do not have enough AdSense history data to compare against or that they may not comprehend what they are seeing.

Maybe this helps reassure them?

Sure I've done a bit of tweaking etc in the past however I rapidly found the optimum ad postions way before the heat map ever existed, and I can't imagine how much time and effort over the years, way before Google even existed, was spent experimenting with titlebars, meta tags and everything else on a page.

I view every page on every site as contributing to the overall success process with each page construction, AdSense placement, image optimisation, obviously the overall directory construction and every element for a successful site.

It is not necessary to have millions of page impressions per month to earn a substantial income from AdSense however it is necessary to have well-performing and relevant pages for one's subject and frequent monitoring of the metrics ought to inform most whether or not one is doing that correctly or not.

Overall I really do enjoy what I do with AdSense and web sites, if I were not earning a substantial amount from my bricks and mortar business I could easily find myself doing this full time...what do you mean you didn't know I did this part time? :-)))

Today's tweak? Update the index page!

andrewshim




msg:3035363
 2:58 pm on Aug 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

yep... good post!

All I am interested in Adsense-wise is making more cash.
And since I stopped tweaking, calculating and trying to beat algo´s and stuff, and instead concentrated on making more content, I managed to make more money every month.

... and it's because I want more from Adsense that I get a case of itchy fingers every now and then and the urge to tweak just overwhelms me!

I DO watch my stats, plot my monthly earnings and CTR, eCPM graph, only because it gives me a sense of accomplishment and encouragement to see how low I was and how high I am (comparitively) now.

And finally, yes... I enjoy reading Hobbs, Opti and Ann's posts because I learn a lot from them, although I must admit they seem to be driving souped up Lamborghinis compared to my old clunker... and talk knowledge that I can only hope to understand soon (they say humility is good for the soul).

Hobbs




msg:3035367
 3:03 pm on Aug 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

they seem to be driving souped up Lamborghinis

I must have been in the toilet when Google handed out those

OptiRex




msg:3035395
 3:42 pm on Aug 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

they seem to be driving souped up Lamborghinis

Sorry, I insisted on the Aston Martin Vanquish S when they tried to deliver the Murciélago Roadster last Xmas!

Just that tad more practical:-)

it gives me a sense of accomplishment and encouragement to see how low I was and how high I am (comparitively) now.

Then you go and kick your backside all around the garden and wonder why the hell you hadn't done "THAT" improvement before.

ken_b




msg:3035431
 4:17 pm on Aug 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

I haven't stopped tweaking, and won't as long as there are new things to tweak, or new approaches to old things as far as Adsense goes.

But that doesn't take much time and isn't a constant process by far, occasional would be a better way to describe the level of effort involved.

My personal perception is that Adsense can be as much or as little work as you want it to be, and the more work one does on it the less they sometimes make.

I'm more of the set it and forget for the most part kind of guy.

In fact most of the changes I make to my Adsense stuff happen when I want to use the Adsense space for some other purpose, then I need to putz around choosing another spot and style for adsense. That's about it.

The most consistent work I do on my site is keeping time sensitive pages updated. I've got about 60 of those pages, and that takes a few hours a week because I do it all by hand.

Other new stuff on the site happens when I get around to it, if I do.

Jane_Doe




msg:3035435
 4:22 pm on Aug 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

It all comes down to what is a good use of your time. You can see from some of the posts in the Adsense forum that for some of the people moving their Adsense ads around constantly and tweaking their filters daily is going to be about as productive as rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

djulien




msg:3035539
 6:37 pm on Aug 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

For me, performance tracking of the ads seemed to result in some great small-term gains. The biggest long-term gain of all was increased traffic.

I took a hiatus for a couple of months from my moderately sized site, somewhat discouraged from the initially lackluster earnings.

I was really surprised when the remainder of my pages were indexed and I was still seeing gains month over month, without any kind of tweaking on my part due to hits on daily pages and articles.

david_uk




msg:3035583
 7:41 pm on Aug 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

Actually, I agree with most of what you have said. I've said it myself in some previous posts. Once you find a layout that works, stick with it. You can spend a lot of time making many experiments simoultaneously and not know what does, and doesn't work.

At the same time I realized I am also puzzled by all the fascinating tweaking experiments done by for example Ann, David_UK and Hobbs.

For the record, I wouldn't say I spend a lot of time tweaking:) My layout has been the same for best part of two years. In recent months I've made just the one major change to the deployment of adsense. That coincided pretty much with changing from tables to css layout. Yes, I tried Ann's experiment for a few days and have threatened to dump adlinks unless they stop filling the page with all the crappy ads that don't pay. But I don't think that could be regarded in any way as excessive.

andrewshim




msg:3035680
 10:36 pm on Aug 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

about as productive as rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

you know... MAYBE if someone had gone and move all the deck chairs to one side of the ship and MAYBE if everyone had to laze on that side, MAYBE the ship would have tilted more to that side and MAYBE missed that iceberg. We will never know.

Sort of like we will never know what can or can't happen if we don't tweak! I tweaked to find the optimum placement for my ads, and when I found it, I stopped tweaking... until something crops up that makes me think... MAYBE...

JinxBoy




msg:3035691
 10:51 pm on Aug 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm with andrew ^^

No seriously.... I think most of us spend more time generating content than tweaking adsense code. We would be absolute idiots not to do so... But: the tweaking is more interesting to discuss on a forum, since it's something that we all care about....

I couldn't care less about Ann's blue widget, or Andrews free widget site :p ^^

ann




msg:3035755
 1:43 am on Aug 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

How dare you malign my blue widgets! They are cute and cuddly and give you a warm fuzzy feeling when you touch them... I Never would have thought to see such sweet things put down! Oh boo hoo anyway.

Hey where is my fancy Lamborghini? I missed out on that gift. I drive a little old pea green Toyota....did I say old? It is a 1996 and wouldn't part with for the world.

Yep, tweaking is fun but sometimes I let it take the place of good hard work, have a site planned but I guess I have been putting it off...decisions, decisions, decisions.

Ann

icedowl




msg:3035808
 3:57 am on Aug 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

Well, unless a Lamborghini has 4-wheel drive I wouldn't have any interest in one. I need my 4WD!

Ann, your Toyota is 3 years newer than mine. I wouldn't part with mine either, except for a newer Toyota. The Sequoia looks mighty nice but odds are there will be something even nicer by the time I have to get a new one.

I too have a new website in the midst of development. Lots of work yet to do, but the framework is shaping up nicely.

ann




msg:3035822
 4:38 am on Aug 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

Right Icedowl,
No, new cars don't thrill me but good running, low maintenance ones do. :) Just bought new seat covers, Walmart specials, but nice. Dark blue w/light blue butterfly accent in left corner.

Now, where were we. A long night of researching my subject....boring...may trash it for a different idea. Quit tweaking for awhile. :)

Ann

andrewshim




msg:3035830
 5:16 am on Aug 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

How dare you malign my blue widgets! They are cute and cuddly and give you a warm fuzzy feeling when you touch them...

ooooh Ann... the way you talk about blue widgets!There ARE other things that are warm and cuddlly and give you a warm fuzzy feeling when you touch them...

shame on the rest of you... if you thought of....

I was talking about my cat Ginger. She likes Lamborghini's too... and she loves it when I tweak behind her ears. Now if only Adsense would respond as predictably as my cat. Then I'd just tweak my ads behind the ears and get lots and lots of purrs.... I mean clicks...

Green_Grass




msg:3035847
 5:49 am on Aug 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think adSense likes stability. Once you have tweaked and found the optimum placements and best CTR, I feel it is best to leave the pages alone. Revenue seems to go up over time. Every time, I tweak, I lose for atleast 5-6 days before things start to improve slowly.

david_uk




msg:3036060
 7:33 am on Aug 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

Half reading the thread, as I'm half asleep.....

Ann - you needn't worry about your fluffy blue widgets. Apparently they are on a luxury cruise busily re-arranging deck chairs having the time of their lives.

Seriously though, I can just see us Brits actually re-arranging deck chairs on a ship in the north Atlantic just to catch the sun no matter how cold it is. I've been on a beach in Cornwall building a sand castle wearing an overcoat 'cuz it was cold. We had to build the sandcastle because it was June. The fact it was freezing didn't come into it. It's a British thing.....

I have no idea what days are my best days and how they compare to other days.

For me that one is quite simple. Site traffic is highest during the week, and lowest at weekends and holidays. The Adsense earnings roughly follows that trend.

I have no idea what my average CTR or ECPM is. All I see is it goes up and down and I can´t discover any logic in it.

But surely when you log into your stats you see this at the bottom of the page and have some idea of what is good going, and what is rotten? I know that most of the time it's simply a matter of ignoring the stats as they will recover / go back down again in short order, but most of us have some idea of what constitutes an average. Especially as you could use your monthly payments as average?

humblebeginnings




msg:3036064
 8:09 am on Aug 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

I really tend to ignore ECPM and CTR, I just look at the cash.
And as long as I want more cash, I will make more content.
But since you asked for it, I looked at my CTR and ECPM and I think they are rather well compared to what I have seen in other posts;-) But since they are so volatile it makes no sense to study them in detail. And more, my CTR and ECPM are a mix of numbers coming from 6 websites. I never took time to look at the CTR and ECPM per site. I just look at the earnings per channel, so I know what makes cash and what doesn't. But if you ask me if my CTR/ECPM is 10% higher or lower than last month or last year, I really have no idea...

OptiRex




msg:3036304
 4:23 pm on Aug 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

Well, unless a Lamborghini has 4-wheel drive I wouldn't have any interest in one.

You've never seen it? The LM001 was a prototype in 1981 however they produced 301 LM002's...monster machine.

They made those 1986-93 plus there is always a 4WD Murciélago!

plumsauce




msg:3036315
 4:38 pm on Aug 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

my cat Ginger

aha! so you're the one who keeps registering the name on all the web mails sites!

sadly, *my* ginger is in an urn now.

icedowl




msg:3036322
 4:53 pm on Aug 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

You've never seen it? The LM001 was a prototype in 1981 however they produced 301 LM002's...monster machine.

I just went and found pictures of them. Actually, I hadn't seen those 4WD models that only their mother could love (read: Ugly!). The usual sports car couldn't handle the deep snows around this neck of the woods, looks like they'd get high centered with about an inch of the white stuff on the roads.

Now I'm getting back to work on my sites...

celgins




msg:3036336
 5:06 pm on Aug 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

I really tend to ignore ECPM and CTR... But if you ask me if my CTR/ECPM is 10% higher or lower than last month or last year, I really have no idea...

Similarly, my eCPM and CTR are usually higher than most numbers I see posted. But I don't pay attention to them. While part of my college degree was in Mathematics, only one number catches my attention!

I stopped tweaking and calculating over 3 months ago.

danimal




msg:3036495
 8:03 pm on Aug 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>>only one number catches my attention!<<<

epc?

the problem with ignoring stats is that it can affect your earnings negatively... for instance, the epc on my best page design took a permanent drop several months ago, after a year of steady earnings.

so people who create content without monitoring page design stats could be shooting themselves in the foot... google has made some huge changes to the way adsense works this year, and it's altered all of the trends that i saw last year.

look at the volatility and unpredictability of day-to-day numbers... even comparing days of the week, as recommended by adsense support, yields little useable info, at least in my sectors.

europeforvisitors




msg:3036508
 8:23 pm on Aug 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>>only one number catches my attention!<<<

epc?

"Earnings" is the number that matters most, unless you were lucky enough to be born a trust-fund baby.

vite_rts




msg:3036533
 9:02 pm on Aug 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hey Humble,

might i ask, do you sell anything on your sites, or do you use only adsense,

danimal




msg:3036582
 10:28 pm on Aug 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>>"Earnings" is the number that matters most<<<

it matters the most to people who don't understand that the definition of epc is indeed earnings... per click ;-)

ronburk




msg:3036591
 10:40 pm on Aug 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

Focusing on content is great, but it makes little sense to avoid picking the low-hanging fruit of periodic tweaking.

  • Testing ad color/position/size. Of course, when your traffic increases significantly in size or source, then you need to retest. This takes little time or effort if you selected website tools that make it easy to roll in the necessary changes.
  • Tracking where the money comes from. Most publishers whose content covers much breadth are going to see a Zipf distribution of EPC versus content topic. Knowing that Topic A typically gets you no more than $.03/click and Topic B often gets you more than $1/click gives you the intelligence needed to focus your efforts. That might take the form of writing more on Topic A, or replacing AdSense ads on Topic B pages with in-house ads pointing to Topic A pages, or focusing more on topics related to Topic A, or... whatever else you can think of.
  • Revisiting 0-income or low income pages. You've done the work to create the content and get it indexed, there may be tweak that makes that effort pay for itself. That could be a little extra SEO to get it from page 3 to page 2 of the SERPs, or adding a relevant keyword that you maybe didn't even know was relevant when you wrote that content, or cross-linking to the page from some other relevant page or...

I'm guessing most visitors here spend too small a percentage of their time creating content, but I can't see ever abandoning a modest amount of tweaking and calculating, so you can best direct your future efforts and best leverage your past efforts.

elfred




msg:3036635
 11:18 pm on Aug 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

I tweaked to find the optimum placement for my ads, and when I found it, I stopped tweaking... until something crops up that makes me think... MAYBE...

I fully agree. One day I redesigned my website and, all of a sudden, earnings skyrocketed. I think that a major redesing should be done after one or two years.

This 31 message thread spans 2 pages: 31 ( [1] 2 > >
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