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Some Sobering Realities About AdSense
Rely on it at your peril
Go60Guy




msg:3584221
 8:50 pm on Feb 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

As a moderator, I feel a little embarrassed to jump back in here, not having posted for quite some time. At one point I was ill, but I also I haven't been posting in this forum out of disquietude over my recent personal experiences with AdSense.

For a couple of years I enjoyed a steady increase in AdSense revenues and reached a point where, in spite of the usual fluctuations, my sites running AdSense saw healthy income growth. No sooner did I become a moderator for this forum, than I began to witness a fairly dramatic falloff in revenue despite increasing impressions and clicks. My eCPM began to take some big hits on a recurring basis (and, no, I haven't been smartpriced).

My experience has mirrored what a lot of those posting here have reported, as well as what I've seen on other boards and even some media coverage citing WebmasterWorld.

Since I have AdSense now on 56 of my sites, I can't attribute the decline to the fortunes of just one or two sites. Indeed, many of my sites with AdSense are seeing higher traffic. So, I've been left with no plausible explanation other than the reality that there will be unexplained fluctuations over which publishers have little, if any, control. That said, in the last few days, I've noticed that my eCPM and revenues have shown a nice jump. Whether that signifies anything, who knows?

In spite of whatever perspective I've been able to maintain, and in light of my recent experience, I've felt that I really had nothing to contribute here as I've been seeing the same dimming in my sites' performances as others have reported. Bottom line, and certainly irrationally, I've felt embarrassed in taking on a role as moderator here.

On the other hand, in thinking it through, I really do have something to contribute even though it's been repeated many times by the likes of EFV and Martinibuster. That is to reiterate the sobering reality that placing reliance on AdSense as a mainstay of your internet business model is simply unsustainable. I've operated as an affiliate since I began developing websites a number of years ago. Fortunately, I have other revenue sources, and during this AdSense dropoff I've seen other revenue streams jump in to more than fill the void.

Let me repeat. If you're new to AdSense, do not harbor the notion that you can build an income from it upon which you can rely to make a living. Whether you're new or not, you must develop other revenue models if you intend make your way in life on the internet. In short, you have to diversify.

My recent experience only solidifies that admonition. If you disagree, so be it.

Again, I apologize for my absense.

 

ronin




msg:3584917
 12:55 pm on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Really, this is nothing to worry about.
People get a bit nervous sometimes and think: "OMG, I can't rely on Adsense forever! My Adsense income might halve tomorrow!"

Well, it's true, you can't rely on adsense income - but that's not an issue anyway, since the adsense panels aren't yours - they're Google's. And it's not your concern if your Adsense income halves - it's Google's concern.

Why? Because you have other options. Google doesn't.

What is yours is your advertising estate. And your advertising estate isn't going anywhere. You've built it, you've given it value and advertisers across the web want a piece of it.

So all you have to do is rent out pieces of your estate to the highest bidder at any given time. If Adsense is the highest bidder, rent it out to Google. When Adsense is no longer the highest bidder, rent it out to the advertiser who is.

Advertising empires will rise and fall - but your advertising estate will be there for the highest bidder, whatever happens.

andrewshim




msg:3584947
 1:39 pm on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

People get a bit nervous sometimes and think: "OMG, I can't rely on Adsense forever! My Adsense income might halve tomorrow!"

Well it did. Starting Feb 19, Adsense has been serving me only half my daily egg. Me thinks my basket has been smart-priced.

DamonHD




msg:3584971
 2:08 pm on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hmm, grilled eggs... Nice.

Brown sauce and a bread roll please!

DamonHD




msg:3584974
 2:10 pm on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

(BTW, my site took a big downturn in visitors and revenue around Christmas but is now back to a semi-sensible state though no basket-management of mine. You can't let short-term fluctuations get to you IMHO.)

skweb




msg:3584983
 2:19 pm on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

I am always disappointed when people make sweeping generalizations based on their or their friends' or those from perusing forums like this. All I can say is that individuals (and my employer) like me are steadily generating five figure incomes each month through AdSense. Like any other business in the world, there are ups and downs, pricing pressure, etc. but it is a bad idea to make a generalization that people should explore other alternatives (there is nothing wrong with doing that because even we do despite doing very well with Adsense -- it is just good business) because AdSense is not good enough. In any case 99% of our income is from AdSense.

So what is the secret?

Do no evil. Make life beautiful for your reader and the money will follow.

Edge




msg:3585040
 3:07 pm on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

skweb,

I sincerely hope the best for you and your AdSense success. In my life and profession I have been laid off twice from companies due to economic slowdown. These layoffs had nothing to do with my performance, long hours, and hard work, the money and business simply was not there to continue to pay me. Over the years (26 total career years) I have become cynical of single source income. In my business and web site I have diversified my revenue sources with this in mind. AdSense has been good to me and regardless of the current revenue slow down is still good to me.

Diversifying my revenue sources has been hard work, but well worth it. If Google AdSense or any of my revenue sources completely went away tomorrow I would continue my life style and would not suffer a catastrophic financial meltdown.

I would strongly suggest that you and everybody reading this to continue your AdSense efforts and search for alternative and diverse revenue sources to ensure that you never have to endure a single income source failure.

Signed,
Been there, done that, and it sucks.

djc8080




msg:3585106
 4:10 pm on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

dibbern2 replied:
The statement about eCPM seems way,way out of whack. I'd multiply it by at least 10X, more likely 30x, or even higher. Especially for the upper end of the range.

If you're getting higher eCPM, it is not inconsistent with our findings. If AdSense has optimized your topic, you probably will earn higher eCPMs.

I'm hoping to learn the experiences of other webmasters.

BTW, I agree that you should diversify income, portfolios, ad networks, life styles. If webmasters can gain higher eCPM's, the task would be simpler.

europeforvisitors




msg:3585168
 5:08 pm on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

If you're getting higher eCPM, it is not inconsistent with our findings. If AdSense has optimized your topic, you probably will earn higher eCPMs.

I don't think it has anything to do with whether "AdSense has optimized your topic." It's more likely to be related to whether your topic attracts advertisers, how well your traffic converts (or is expected to convert), and supply and demand for keywords. And if you've got an eCPM that's measured in pennies or dimes, AdSense clearly isn't a good match for your site or your audience.

jomaxx




msg:3585212
 5:44 pm on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

eCPM ranges from $0.10 to $1.00. Mean is probably $0.25.

I know nil about what blogs in particular earn. But if you're suggesting that 25 cents CPM represents some kind of typical earning for AdSense across all sites, that is seriously incorrect. It's hard to quantify something like this of course, but as previously suggested that number is probably 10X too low.

the variance, change from month to month, is very high

CAN be very high. The variance I see is very low, regardless of whether your timeframe is day to day, month to month, or year to year. Obviously a lot of this has to do with the number of daily ad impressions a given site generates.

Jon_King




msg:3585223
 5:54 pm on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Besides the "supply and demand for keywords" argument, basic P&L reviews generally include supplier cost reduction. Along this line ... Testing of quality vs. price will indicate the the best mix of customer ROI to publisher payout.

The above is code for buy-low and sell-high. Google is always testing how low they can pay for the highest quality sites. I would too.

[edited by: Jon_King at 6:00 pm (utc) on Feb. 26, 2008]

alwaysthinking




msg:3585225
 5:55 pm on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Google’s paid-search data shows sponsored clicks were down 7% in January over December and flat year over year.

barrons [blogs.barrons.com]

[edited by: jatar_k at 7:09 pm (utc) on Feb. 26, 2008]

europeforvisitors




msg:3585230
 5:59 pm on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Google is balancing how low they can pay for the highest quality sites. I would too.

If you're correct, they've apparently decided without prompting that they need to pay more for some sites, to judge from EPC trends.

That's a pretty farfetched scenario, though. It makes a lot more sense for them to focus on delivering value to advertisers, a.k.a. making sure that the price of a click is in line with what the advertiser gets out of that click (which is why "smart pricing" was invented).

Jon_King




msg:3585240
 6:04 pm on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

>>Google is balancing how low they can pay for the highest quality sites. I would too.

This does not imply paying more will not yield higher profit also.

buckworks




msg:3585253
 6:18 pm on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

more sense for them to focus on delivering value to advertisers

Yes. Value for advertisers is what drives the whole thing.

if someone's Adwords ads are generating enough new business to put some profit in their pocket, they'll continue to advertise with Adwords. if not, they'll look for other options.

It really is as simple as that.

ddogg




msg:3585260
 6:26 pm on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

*cough* myspace

nomis5




msg:3585340
 7:38 pm on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Affiliate schemes? Is there an affiliate scheme that earns (for themselves) anything approaching Google's income from Adsense?

I haven't heard of one. And that's the crux for me, aside from the fact that affiliate schemes don't work on my site. If it was possible to remove a lot of those Google eggs from the basket and replace them with affiliate eggs, there would be a whole pile of multi-billion affiliate scheme companies on the market. I can't find any with an income even approaching that which Adsense earns for Google. And there is a clear reason for that.

farmboy




msg:3585359
 7:49 pm on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

eCPM ranges from $0.10 to $1.00. Mean is probably $0.25

In simple terms, that's saying for every 1,000 impressions you earn from 10 cents to $1.00 total. And with 10,000 impressions you'd earn only somewhere between $1.00 and $10.00

If that's what you meant to write, I agree with others that that seems very low.

Now if you meant to say 10 cents to $1.00 per click, I'd say that's more in line with reality - at least from my experience.

FarmBoy

europeforvisitors




msg:3585372
 7:54 pm on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Affiliate schemes? Is there an affiliate scheme that earns (for themselves) anything approaching Google's income from Adsense?

What does that have to do with the topic of this thread? As a publisher, I care about what I earn, not in the income of Google or an affiliate program--and as a publisher, I've found that affiliate programs can pay extremely well if they're a good fit for the publisher's site and audience.

Getting back to the topic of "sobering realities about AdSense," it's worth repeating something that has been mentioned here before: Audience quality matters. Too many so-called "publishers" have the mistaken notion that all content and traffic are equal, and that any Tom, Dick, or Harry should be able to earn money on the Web just by slapping ad code onto a bunch of pages. In reality, both the medium and advertisers are becoming more professional, and the shakeout rate is likely to grow in the years ahead. Most offline businesses fail; why should Web businesses be any different?

koan




msg:3585400
 8:34 pm on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

In light of today's bad news regarding Google revenue decline with its pay per click program, I think it is safe to say that there is indeed economical troubles that is affecting adsense publishers, as we have been talking for the past months.

Of course some are more affected than others, but I hope the standard reply to some webmaster's woes "some are up some are down, nothing different, we can't draw any conclusions from anecdotal evidence" will finally be laid to rest.

europeforvisitors




msg:3585415
 8:49 pm on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Of course some are more affected than others, but I hope the standard reply to some webmaster's woes "some are up some are down, nothing different, we can't draw any conclusions from anecdotal evidence" will finally be laid to rest.

Are you suggesting that some publishers aren't up while others are down, or that some publishers aren't down while others are up?

Fact is, there will always be winners and losers. That's the way it is every quarter, whether the economy is growing, shrinking, or staying the same.

[edited by: europeforvisitors at 9:44 pm (utc) on Feb. 26, 2008]

simplo




msg:3585421
 8:55 pm on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Google is hit and miss and what makes them do so well is their simple, no-brain system. Paste code and get money. Sure other revenue streams may get you more money but you also have to put more work into them. So if you're lazy and haven't experienced the pleasure of being kicked in the sack by Google then carry on in your happy friendly Google world until you do and realize that having more than one basket of eggs is a good thing.

koan




msg:3585428
 8:58 pm on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

EFV, I'm suggesting that the recent wave of webmasters complaints in the past months is *not* anecdotal and that the situation is not "as usual". We finally have evidence that even Google is affected by the current economy (or user blindness, who knows).

"some are up, some are down", although true, is a rather useless statement in light of this. It is just a discussion nullifier.

jhood




msg:3585430
 9:01 pm on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Publishing has always been a tough business. It's expensive to put out a good product, new competitors are constantly emerging from nowhere, readers are fickle, production costs are always rising, employees are a pain and the people you write about tend to sue you.

When you look at it that way, Google looks a lot better than the rest of the landscape.

jomaxx




msg:3585437
 9:03 pm on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

koan, today's "bad news" was that clicks were more or less unchanged in January as compared with the same period last year. That's according to Comscore. Apparently Hitwise measured clicks over the same period to be higher. Either way, this is just one more data point and won't be putting anything to rest.

europeforvisitors




msg:3585477
 9:48 pm on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

"some are up, some are down", although true, is a rather useless statement in light of this. It is just a discussion nullifier.

Useless? Only to those who insist on panicking instead of looking at their own numbers.

If you're hurting, the sky is falling. If you're doing well, the sky is the limit. And if you're sensible, you'll use AdSense as one (but not the only) source of revenue, assuming that it's a good fit for your site and audience.

djc8080




msg:3585682
 1:02 am on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

In simple terms, that's saying for every 1,000 impressions you earn from 10 cents to $1.00 total. And with 10,000 impressions you'd earn only somewhere between $1.00 and $10.00

If that's what you meant to write, I agree with others that that seems very low.

Now if you meant to say 10 cents to $1.00 per click, I'd say that's more in line with reality - at least from my experience.

Thanks for the clarification. Your latter metric is CPC, not eCPM.

Just to confirm, members are saying that eCPM range of $1.00 to $10.00 is common from AdSense. We don't know the mean.

Thanks in advance for all the inputs.

jomaxx




msg:3585793
 3:19 am on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Of course we don't know what the mean CPM is, but it sure ain't 25 cents. That would be close to the floor of what you could earn, not the mean.

dibbern2




msg:3585800
 3:45 am on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

members are saying that eCPM range of $1.00 to $10.00 is common from AdSense

Members of what, pray tell?

We realize you are new to this group, and we don't want to seem unfriendly. But, posting such misleading information about AS metrics is irresponsible. You imply that your opinion is backed by fact, but fail to establish the bonafides of those facts.

It's not a problem to more seasoned AS publishers --they know better -- but it could be very misleading to newer site owners who are investigating wether AS is a good business proposition.

Just for the record, I believe eCPM's far above $10.00 are not uncommon, nor are they the exception outside of a reasonable norm. But then , I don't truly know any more than you or anyone else not working on the AS team at Google.

I'm not flaming you, and really do hope you will become a valuable part of this group.

djc8080




msg:3585822
 4:37 am on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

I've conducted a survey with two blogging groups that have over one thousand members. I'm managing a dozen websites. A few sites have higher eCPM's. Their subject matter matches hot keywords at AS. The mean is low for the group of sites and the vast majority of bloggers.

I understand the concern for the AS Terms of Service. Thus, I'm only asking for ranges to help all members. Sorry to intrude the group.

koan




msg:3585830
 4:45 am on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

djc8080, I think the sample of webmasters here may not represent your true average web site owner out there in the world. This site seems to gather a lot of very knowledgeable people who could probably be considered at the top of the pyramid.

martinibuster




msg:3585862
 5:41 am on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

>>>We finally have evidence that even Google is affected by

Not saying you're wrong. Just something to consider:

  • The numbers in the articles about Googles slowdown do not match up with the numbers webmasters are noting on WebmasterWorld. For instance, in this article about a Google slowdown [sfgate.com], they quote a comscore measurement of a drop of .3% in ad clicks from January this year to last year. That is definitely not the slowdown webmasters are talking about on WebmasterWorld.

>>>Whether you're new or not, you must develop other revenue models if you intend make your way in life on the internet. In short, you have to diversify.

Definitely, I absolutely agree.

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