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Losing Adsense Battle
shredtone




msg:3322954
 8:21 pm on Apr 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hi, I've been an adsense publisher for about a year now. I was making pretty good money. I run a video site, so my traffic isn't very targeted but my stats have been pretty steady so I know what range they should be in.

Like a lot of people in February my ecpm went in the toilet. Probably dropped 50% or more. Anyways rather then complain about it and accuse Google of being greedy I just tried to compensate for it by driving more traffic and improving my CTR. I was able to improve my CTR by 25% and things were a little better for 2 months.

Then April hits. I don't know what the hell happened but my CTR dropped from around a steady 2% to about 1.5% for a week and now for the past 2 or 3 weeks I've been stuck at 0.6%! I have never had a CTR this low even in the very beginning of my site a year ago.

How can things suddenly fall right off the map like that?! I didn't change a thing. The only thing I can think of is that this happened around the same time that Google changed the look of their ads. It's either that or they are serving me different ads.

I have double the traffic I used to get, and after the first ecpm drop in Feb and with my huge CTR drop in April my ecpm is down about 80%!

I am an honest adsense publisher, no tricks and I play by the rules but I really feel that adsense is just pushing me to the point where I am just going to have to dump it for something else. I am almost ready to give up on them.

Anyone else see similar problems?

 

Hobbs




msg:3322999
 8:59 pm on Apr 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hi shredtone,
I did for a while but now I am out of the bottle neck and performing at pre 2007 levels.

1- What rough amount of traffic are we talking about?
for this fluctuation is normal for small sites.

2- Start observing who your advertisers are if you can, then you will know for certain if there are targeting changes.

3- Are you blocking in the competitive ads filter?
>> Experiment without blocking/ then with few sites blocked

4- The ctr change could be one of 2 things:
a) Google is serving less targeted ads suddenly
b) Many if your visitors are repeat visitors and simply get ad blindness. >> Experiment with changing colors and blending

5- The double traffic could also mean you are getting less valuable kind of traffic in Google's eyes

6- Did you try monitoring performance via channels
>> Sometimes removing ads from less performing channels pushes your earnings on the longer run

7- Did you try reducing the number of ads per page, or even the size of a single ad unit from leaderboard to banner for example >> experiment.

Scurramunga




msg:3323374
 3:09 am on Apr 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

I spent the best part of last year trying to improve my website by introducing new unique content, more products etc. Yet I found that as soon as December came along my epc started to take a dive. January started to recover slightly but that didn't last long because as soon as Feb arrived everything continued to slide.
April by far has been the wost month so far. During April I decided that things couldn't get much worst so I took Google's 'optimzation' tip as advice and removed my mfa list for a week. Guess what? I also saw the lowest ecpm in my seventeen or so months with Adsense. I even tried adding a couple of new blocks, but quickly removed them when it was apparent that my overall income continued to fall.

Like you I am an honest publisher and although I do like to compare notes, I would rather try out new ideas than accuse Google of being greedy. However I am at a point where I have run out of ideas and could be spending my time more productively be keeping away from Adsense.

[edited by: Scurramunga at 3:13 am (utc) on April 27, 2007]

shredtone




msg:3323386
 3:44 am on Apr 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hi thanks for answering.

I get about 75,000 - 100,000 uniques a month and probably around 750,000 page views. I have taken some things into consideration that you mentioned like different traffic sources and repeat visitors. I am sure that could account for part of it but like I said my stats do fluctuate but they have always been within a margin for a long time.

I got a boost of traffic today from a site I am familiar with so it was good to see as this traffic is pretty predictable and i have the same result. Much lower CTR than usual. I think it's a combination of some different extra traffic but also more on the different styled Google ads plus the ads they are serving. It's really hard to tell because like I said my sites ads were never totally targeted anyway because topics varied a lot. I look at the ads and they seem similar but a few are definitely way off.

Google has a tendency to pick up on one page topic and pitch ads on that topic to other non related pages. For example I had a video on religion and after that all my pages were getting tons of Christian and religious ads that of course would totally bomb on a mostly entertainment site. I think is is probably because since it's a video site some pages don't have a lot of written content so it defaults to these ads if it can't find something suitable right away.

I just would have thought that Google would have figured out by now what works and what doesn't on my site and clue in that the most recent ads are not working.

FattyB




msg:3323878
 2:21 pm on Apr 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

Shredtone,

We have had our lowest month (April) for over a year. Our CTR is fine and traffic is higher than ever but revenue from Adsense is way down. Been dropping since December.

That is on about 4 million adsense impressions per month, so a fairly big sample.

I am speaking to a couple of alternative nertworks at the moment for our text ads, including Adsonar.

But I suspect it will hard for any of them to match adsense. However, I am willing to give them a go and that is something I would not have done 6 months ago. Since adsnese revenue has not grown with our traffic and banner revenue it has become a smaller % of the site's overlal revenue and so less important.

They do have some new tricks up their sleeve coming soon though I think.

farmboy




msg:3323904
 2:45 pm on Apr 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

Don't forget there is a lot of visitor intelligence to be gained by using AdSense.

See which topics/ads interest your visitors. Then, instead of just earning income off that interest via AdSense, implement other strategies to earn income off that interest and/or implement a strategy to earn more AdSense income off those interests.

I've started in this direction and really like the results so far. Plus, for every egg I take out of the AdSense basket and put in another basket, the better I sleep at night.

I'm going forward with the assumption that AdSense is going to become less and less of a viable income source for me over time. Every decision I make is based on that assumption.

If I'm wrong, that's great, I can easily add the code back to pages.

FarmBoy

HBird




msg:3324372
 10:31 pm on Apr 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

FarmBoy - How do you tell which ads and topics your users are interested in? Do you just have very specific channels, or is there a trick?

sailorjwd




msg:3324403
 10:54 pm on Apr 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

If you ctr is dropping in can only be because your visitors aren't clicking. All things having not changed there are only two reasons for visitors not to click - the ads don't interest them or they are blind to ads. I suspect it is the ads.

Are you getting site targeted by some crapy ads? That happened to me and my ctr took a nose dive. If so then block them.

Try blocking a few of the less interesting ads - at least this will change which ads are seen.

Scurramunga




msg:3324459
 12:23 am on Apr 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

If you ctr is dropping in can only be because your visitors aren't clicking. All things having not changed there are only two reasons for visitors not to click - the ads don't interest them or they are blind to ads. I suspect it is the ads.

Having seen a decline in ctr without a noticable change in ad quality I wonder if Google has redefined the parameters for valid clicks.

shredtone




msg:3324613
 4:29 am on Apr 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

Well after running adsense since last year , I have a pretty good idea of what CTR is normal and what the highs and lows are like. It has been consistently in the same range for a long time. Now in April it suddenly drops 50-60%.

I am sure I could probably account 20% of that due to a new stream of visitors that I have been getting that I already know has a low CTR but what about the other 40%? I didn't change a thing and can only guess that Google is serving ads that my visitors are just not interested in. It's hard to pin down because my site is not a niche and covers a lot of topics so the ads have always varied. That being said it is hard to determine how different the ads are.

I do have some site targeted ads but these are few compared to contextual so I don't think that is the reason. I only made this post because the drop was so drastic and was just curious if anyone else noticed anything. I find it interesting though that this seem to happen exactly at the same time they switched the look of the ads.

mattg3




msg:3324787
 12:45 pm on Apr 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

Our CTR dropped too miracously since the time you described. Very odd. Part of it is that our pages per visitors have increased by 20%. Also our return rate increased by 20%. Google is very odd.

europeforvisitors




msg:3324800
 1:15 pm on Apr 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

Having seen a decline in ctr without a noticable change in ad quality I wonder if Google has redefined the parameters for valid clicks.

Could be. Seasonal factors could be at work, too. My own site's CTR has been on a modest upward trend, probably because this is the time of year when lookers turn into bookers.

nomis5




msg:3324895
 5:03 pm on Apr 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

In my experience of February onwards, one of my sites has gone down dramatically, another has gone up dramataically and one has stayed the same. Overall, between those three, earnings have improved. for the last 3 months. The site that has gone down is .com, the other two are .co.uk. The site that has gone down is aimed at the games market the other two sites are mainstream everyday activities. The site that has gone up is an authority in it's field in the UK and rightly so. The site that has stayed the same is in a large market and is not an authority by any means but it presents the information in a very detailed way which takes a lot of my effort. The site that has gone down, is in a large market, is not doing anything which is different to a hundred other sites. The market it is in has three or four "authority" sites and they have swallowed the market for everyone else as far as I can judge.

Is that useful for anyone? My conclusion is that Google Adsense is ranking sites now and giving the good ads to sites which it perceives are authorities or doing something different to the main stream. The "also ran" sites are plumetting because Google perceives them to be neither authorities nor doing anything differently.

Any comments?

mattg3




msg:3325198
 5:51 am on Apr 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

Any comments?

One usually forgets the Google self fulfilling prophecy. What makes you an authority, if you have the right information like others is simply your Google SERP placement. Google is in total control of its market.

trannack




msg:3325226
 7:30 am on Apr 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

Re your problem with getting a plethora of ads that are specific to on pages content appearing on all pages. I've also had this problem. Try putting negative keywords in your meta tags - after a couple of days you may notice the ads are gone, and you are getting more targetted ads.

Genuine1




msg:3325267
 9:14 am on Apr 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

>>>One usually forgets the Google self fulfilling prophecy. What makes you an authority, if you have the right information like others is simply your Google SERP placement. Google is in total control of its market.

If you really ARE an authority site then its the other way around. You dont even need google. People find you and link to you from forums / other etc.

If your site really is good then that bunch of growing incoming links means high PR and google will inex the site well up in the serps.

If not then your site maybe isnt the authority you think it is.

EG you said "if you have the right information like others is simply your Google SERP placement"

But why would google want to index just another "me too"?
The right information - *like others* is the problem.

Your site needs to offer something unique and better than the countless mee too sites to get people naturally linking and subsequent good serps. If you cant do that then you will fail just like all the thousands of book writers that never sell more than a handfull. To be a best seller takes more!

[edited by: Genuine1 at 9:23 am (utc) on April 29, 2007]

europeforvisitors




msg:3325370
 2:17 pm on Apr 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

"if you have the right information like others is simply your Google SERP placement"

Information is raw material. How it's edited and published (or packaged and presented) is just as important.

Example:

Any number of guidebooks can tell you how to visit the Statue of Liberty in New York. So can any number of Web sites. Some do it better than others do, however, and each has its own approach. One might focus on history, another might have cross-section illustrations of the statue, another might provide short-and-sweet visitor information with photos and a map, etc. The packaging and presentation are the "added value" that determine what people--and how many people--choose your guidebook or Web site over others. If you've just written one of a zillion bland, boring, unoriginal 300-word "articles" based on facts that you've cribbed from Wikipedia or a guidebook, few people will link to it, and it's unlikely to get respect from Google.

nomis5




msg:3325582
 8:11 pm on Apr 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

Well said Genuine1. If a site is an "authority" Google can ignore it and traffic will still come its way from other sources. But in my experience Google don't ignore authority sites, it's not in their interest. They may concentrate too much attention on them but they do not ignore them. So Google may be in control of some aspects of the search market but simple economics mean they have to be be practical.

europeforvisitors




msg:3325599
 8:29 pm on Apr 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

My conclusion is that Google Adsense is ranking sites now and giving the good ads to sites which it perceives are authorities or doing something different to the main stream. The "also ran" sites are plumetting because Google perceives them to be neither authorities nor doing anything differently.

It wouldn't be unreasonable for Google to skew better-paying ads for a given keyphrase toward "authority sites," since this could (a) encourage advertisers to bid more for ads, and (b) encourage the creation of better-quality content (thereby improving the Web and providing better fodder for Google Search).

However, Google has never said anything about doing this, as far as I know, and if Google did take this approach, wouldn't it make sense to publicize it?

Also, it won't be necessary for Google to do this kind of skewing after site-targeted contextual ads emerge from beta. When site-targeted contexual ads go public, advertisers will be able to take control into their own hands, and Google will be able to sit back while advertisers provide a "quality incentive" to publishers through site targeting.

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