|A Web Business Perspective - AdSense|
This is not Bashing Ė its Business
| 3:34 pm on Dec 13, 2007 (gmt 0)|
I have always attempted to take a pragmatic view of all my business decisions regarding my web business. So, this thread is an attempt to bring that out of all passerbyís. Over four years ago I started placing AdSense ads on my web business. Business was good and I was making a living. AdSense was a nice revenue shot in the arm. I suspect Google was working hard to attract as many quality publishers and advertisers as they could and distributed the monies with that in mind. As time marched on, my traffic increased, and all of my revenue streams increased accordingly.
About two years ago+ my AdSense revenue was at the peak as I have experienced. Then, something happened; on about September 1, 2006 I had a dramatic drop in my payout from Google. I cannot be sure of exactly what happened, however I never recovered monetarily from the fateful day. The facts are that the monies were and are going somewhere else or every advertiser using Adwords got together and decided to stop bidding as much Ė what ever.. At that point I redistributed my ads over to YPN, stepped up efforts to bring in more direct advertisers and worked hard on increasing my other revenue streams in earnest.
Over the years, I have read many threads about individuals having some sort of traffic crash, pr zero, and other challenges with the Google algo. I have never seen a traffic crash, ban, pr drop or other problem from Google. I play by the rules and I seem to have been immune from the algo tweaks.
Now, business is good, my consulting side is completely booked up for next year (2008) and all my revenue streams are rock and rolling, except AdSense. Web site traffic is up and Iím getting more compliments than ever emailed to me from my visitors. Life is good.
Now AdSense revenue continues to slip regardless of what I do. More ads, different colors, move the ads around, I even did everything that Google employee optimizer suggested and got nothing permanent or measurable. I do agree that one should optimize, however after five plus attempts Iím ready to let that horse stay dead. So, just imagine working for a company and you are working harder than ever, more hours (page views), good attitude (playing by the rules), long hours (new content and resources) and your pay check keeps getting smaller.
Ok, Iím not complaining, Iím talking business. The current message being sent to me from my partner (Google) is that your revenue will continue to drop regardless of what you do. Now Google keeps coming out with new features to display ads in different formats, and recently they have introduced a feature with the intent of making ad changes easier for publishers. This is great Google AdSense! Thank you very much. It seems that I even have an AdSense Account Strategist and I will hook up with them see what they have to say. I would however, like to see and experience an AdSense feature or information that allows me to increase revenue permanentlyÖ Dinking around with my ads and layout is interesting, new report formats allows me to analyze in more detail, but has not improved the bottom line.
Google is a public company and appears to be well managed. I suspect they are doing exactly what most of us would do if we were at the Google helm. With all of this said, I have been gradually changing my view on what AdSense really is for most publishers. My current view is that AdSense is an entry level commission medium and other revenue streams should be developed if one chooses to stay in business.
[edited by: Edge at 3:36 pm (utc) on Dec. 13, 2007]
| 3:50 pm on Dec 13, 2007 (gmt 0)|
|Ok, Iím not complaining, Iím talking business. The current message being sent to me from my partner (Google) is that your revenue will continue to drop regardless of what you do. |
No, the message is that your referrals are worth less to Google and its advertisers than they were in the past. You could be a victim of external factors such as supply and demand, or maybe clicks from your site haven't converted well for advertisers and you've been "smartpriced" to the point where AdSense is hardly worth having on your site. There are any number of possibilities, but don't make the mistake of assuming that your own experience represents universal truth.
| 4:12 pm on Dec 13, 2007 (gmt 0)|
I think it's been pretty well established that you can't count on AdSense revenues staying the same. Sure, some people have seen an increase in revenue in the past year, but everyone I know personally that monetizes their sites through AdSense has seen a decrease in AdSense revenue. For my business, as my web sites increase in quality, AdSense revenue goes down. If EVF wants to say that my referrals are worth less, then ok. At least I'm not in the position where I have to lower the quality of my sites because I need the ad revenue.
Anyway.... back on topic.... I appreciate your bottom line approach, Edge. My Advice: Test Constantly.
My main site has a system where I can rotate ads and change them across thousands of pages instantly, through the browser. Then I can measure their effectiveness with little effort. I constantly do A/B testing to test new advertising products. For me, AdSense is still the best paying ad product, but when that changes, I will know pretty quickly.
Sure, a 2 gig flash drive for Christmas is fun, but it doesn't do much for the bottom line.
| 4:28 pm on Dec 13, 2007 (gmt 0)|
|I suspect Google was working hard to attract as many quality publishers and advertisers as they could and distributed the monies with that in mind. |
Do you think Google lowered their standards for advertisers, publishers ...... or both?
| 4:51 pm on Dec 13, 2007 (gmt 0)|
|Do you think Google lowered their standards for advertisers, publishers ...... or both? |
I think they've tightened standards for advertisers somewhat (in reaction to the scourge of arbitrageurs), but the entry requirements for publishers have always been minimal. Google launched AdSense in a way that was obviously designed to achieve a dominant market share in a short amount of time (a la Amazon.com's affiliate program back in the day). Once the gates of the stadium ware thrown open to all comers, it was too late to keep the yobs from flooding in.
| 5:13 pm on Dec 13, 2007 (gmt 0)|
|and you've been "smartpriced" to the point where AdSense is hardly worth having on your site. |
Youíre assuming I don't make much from AdSense. My statements were meant to convey that all my other revenues are rising with effort but not AdSense regardless of what I do. If Google AdSense does not like me for what ever reason Ė fine. Please keep in mind that Google search loves me, my visitors seem to keep spending more and more money with me, traffic is better than ever. I really feel that GROWING AdSense revenues will continue to be challenging if not possible.
Think business - when a visitor comes to a web page they eventually leave. Now they can leave and go to my online store, go to a direct advertiserís listed on the page, click their back button, click an AdSense ad, or visit another revenue stream I have in place. The bottom line is that one should put their effort into revenue streams that will grow their business or hold even. I canít think of a single reason why I should bust my left bun to get a visitor to click on an AdSense ad for less money or business growth than to continue to build other revenues streams that ARE growing.
My business philosophy is simple; if you cannot make money at it or grow your revenues donít continue to bust your buns for what ever it is.
To clarify, with some details, AdSense is still worth the ad space, but I have other revenue streams ($$$$$$) that are more worth focusing on.
| 5:20 pm on Dec 13, 2007 (gmt 0)|
|Do you think Google lowered their standards for advertisers, publishers ...... or both? |
I think they are raising their standards for both with an eye on their revenue. Google is a publicly traded company; they should and are focusing on their revenues. I doubt increasing any publisherís revenues is a priority.
I am encouraged that they seem to changing requisites and ad mechanics to raise confidence within the advertiserís arena with regards to publishers.
| 6:46 pm on Dec 13, 2007 (gmt 0)|
As a European it's no good getting clicks paid in USD - the value of the USD has been dropping steadily for several years now and is at an all time low. What I'd really like to see is a Euro-based PPC system.
| 7:12 pm on Dec 13, 2007 (gmt 0)|
Edge, does adsense perform better for you than yahoo or microsoft text ads?
| 8:02 pm on Dec 13, 2007 (gmt 0)|
|I think they are raising their standards for both with an eye on their revenue. |
I've been with AdSense since July '03. I think they are lowering their standards with an eye on their revenue.
When a majority of active publishers have only actual competitors in the filter, that will be an indication they have increased standards on the advertiser's side of the equation.
When they stop publishing a monthly message encouraging publishers to plaster more ads on their pages, that will be an indication they have increased standards on the publisher's side.
| 8:06 pm on Dec 13, 2007 (gmt 0)|
|I really feel that GROWING AdSense revenues will continue to be challenging if not possible. |
One approach would be to put AdSense on the pages where appropriate and move on to other things. Don't spend time naming & renaming channels, analyzing stats, testing colors, etc. That way you're maximizing the amount earned per hour of work.
Is there any real evidence that all the tweaking over time has an appropriate positive effect on earnings?
| 3:02 am on Dec 14, 2007 (gmt 0)|
|One approach would be to put AdSense on the pages where appropriate and move on to other things. |
That's exactly what I do. I write a good site. Submit a google sitemap, url list to yahoo, and submit my home page to msn. Then I add content as long as I am still passionate about it. When I get bored I move on and create a new one. I don't do back links or go nuts with SEO. Mine is a 5 year plan and I figure that in that time I will have enough websites and pages out there that I "should" be able to retire (quit my day job). If not then I won't be far. I'm sure I could go medieval on one or 2 sites and constantly tweak them... but IMO all that accomplishes is sore nipples.
| 4:14 am on Dec 14, 2007 (gmt 0)|
|IMO all that accomplishes is sore nipples |
Nice. Couldn't agree with you and farmboy more on this. Sure you might need to experiment a bit at first but it doesn't take that long to figure out what works. Then you stick with it and do the important work.
| 4:16 am on Dec 14, 2007 (gmt 0)|
|When a majority of active publishers have only actual competitors in the filter, that will be an indication they have increased standards on the advertiser's side of the equation. |
And I've blown my limit on parked domains. Who has time to block competitors when you're busy blocking thieves.
| 5:09 am on Dec 14, 2007 (gmt 0)|
LOL, the way this guy (EFV) "rushes" to reply negative Adsense comments raises more questions then it answers anything.
Enough with the smoke and mirrors already. The writing is on the wall. Adsense is dyeing for most publishers....it will keep on paying less and less and less regardless of what most publishers do.
THE ONLY CHANCE at reversing this cycle is to vote with your feet. Remove the code from your pages (now! today!) if it doesnít pay well!
[edited by: Web_speed at 5:32 am (utc) on Dec. 14, 2007]
| 5:13 am on Dec 14, 2007 (gmt 0)|
|THE ONLY CHANCE at reversing this cycle is to vote with your feet. Remove the code from your pages if it doesnít pay well! |
Good idea! I'm right behind you guys.
| 6:30 am on Dec 14, 2007 (gmt 0)|
Me, too. The minute AdSense dyes for me, I'll take this old red, yellow, or green head somewhere else.
| 6:47 am on Dec 14, 2007 (gmt 0)|
Unless you'll get fired first ;)
[edited by: Web_speed at 7:11 am (utc) on Dec. 14, 2007]
| 7:38 am on Dec 14, 2007 (gmt 0)|
|Unless you'll get fired first ;) |
LOL! I don't agree with that assumption but I thought it was still pretty funny.
| 9:17 am on Dec 14, 2007 (gmt 0)|
I'm inclined to agree with Edge. Other advertising types we use simultaneously have stayed proportional or gone up. We've seen the same steady decline after some unusual reporting incidents and if it's not an Adsense bug then I have another theory.
To me it looks more like Adsense has finally been around long enough that the spammers, MFAs and even ordinary advertisers have simply gotten smarter and better at playing the system. MFA advertisers know at least one way that they can get a good amount of cheap cheap advertising at the publishers' expense by [snip] and since it is a critical part of their algorithm G is powerless to stop them. Eventually they may realize (probably too late) that the first step to fixing it is to give publishers more info and ALLOW publishers (who are willing and ready) to police it for them. The second step is to allow publishers to specify a minimum acceptable PPC in the code of each ad unit.
[edited by: MikeNoLastName at 9:23 am (utc) on Dec. 14, 2007]
| 10:37 pm on Dec 14, 2007 (gmt 0)|
I also think that by having very little standards to accepting any publishers out there, even on free blog services, Google has diluted the earning power of existing, quality publishers. I think one should at least have their own domain name to put up ads. If you add MFA advertisers getting smarter with the system and stealing good business away from honest publishers, the general pressure on earnings, which wasn't there 3-4 years ago, is downward. One scalable solution is indeed to give publishers more control over bad advertisers, one not so scalable solution would also be to increase bans on low quality publishers.
| 10:58 pm on Dec 14, 2007 (gmt 0)|
[quote]Adsense is dyeing for most publishers....it will keep on paying less and less and less regardless of what most publishers do.[/quote}
I don't think that's true. It might seem that way because people are more likely to complain when revenue is declining, and less likely to complain when revenue is increasing.
| 11:03 pm on Dec 14, 2007 (gmt 0)|
I just want to say thank you for your clear, insightful, and well written post. It confirms many of my own suspicions and has caused me to rethink everything.
| 11:16 pm on Dec 14, 2007 (gmt 0)|
|the general pressure on earnings, which wasn't there 3-4 years ago, is downward. |
When AdSense was introduced, pricing was artificially high, because advertisers had to opt out of the content network. Advertisers quickly got savvy, and less than a year later, Google introduced "smart pricing" to create a better alignment of price and value. More recently, Google introduced separate bidding for the search and content networks. All of these changes were good for advertisers, and they've obviously worked well for Google, too, because AdSense revenues continue to grow every quarter.
What hasn't been good for existing publishers is the sheer growth in the content network and ad units. As another member once asked, "How many publishers haven't added pages [or ad units, in many cases]?" If the total numbers of publishers, pages, and ad units are growing faster than advertisers' expenditures, the pie is going to get sliced into smaller pieces.
On the bright side, advertiser tools such as placement reports and unlimited domain filtering are welcome innovations for publishers whose traffic converts for advertisers.