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

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3584219 posted 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.

 

martinibuster

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3584219 posted 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.

Edge

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3584219 posted 4:07 pm 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, 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.

I agree with all that has been said, but my instincts tell me that nobody knows the whole and accurate facts except Google accountants and executives. I have not seen evidence that Google communicates that well with anybody nor do I think they want to.

[edited by: Edge at 4:08 pm (utc) on Feb. 27, 2008]

tabish

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3584219 posted 4:10 pm on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Thnx for your honest post.. it was looking like google is paying these mods. to praise about them. I can see there are some honest guys also.

Atleast this post make people to think twice about launching 500 sites just for adsense.

Thanx

europeforvisitors



 
Msg#: 3584219 posted 4:56 pm on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Thnx for your honest post.. it was looking like google is paying these mods. to praise about them. I can see there are some honest guys also.

That's the kind of remark that you can afford to make if you're anonymous, I guess. (Cowards tend to do their name-calling behind untraceable pseudonyms.)

Atleast this post make people to think twice about launching 500 sites just for adsense.

One can only hope so, for the sake of the Web.

farmboy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member farmboy us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3584219 posted 5:14 pm on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

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.

That's higher than the $0.10 to $1.00 eCPM figures you originally posted and seems to be more realistic than the original figures.

The mean is low for the group of sites and the vast majority of bloggers.

It wouldn't surprise me if a group of bloggers are individually experiencing a very low eCPM. Unless a blog is

(1) Focused on a topic that can be monetized with AdSense

and

(2) Consistently posts about that topic only

blogs can have a hard time with AdSense.

FarmBoy

jomaxx

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jomaxx us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3584219 posted 5:39 pm on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Another point: The mean earnings may not be that useful a statistic. There are probably lots of individuals here who represent the equivalent traffic of 100 of those bloggers you're talking about.

What I'm saying is that mean traffic levels and the mean gross earnings of AdSense account holders are ALSO no doubt very low, but that doesn't say anything meaningful about AdSense.

europeforvisitors



 
Msg#: 3584219 posted 6:27 pm on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

What I'm saying is that mean traffic levels and the mean gross earnings of AdSense account holders are ALSO no doubt very low, but that doesn't say anything meaningful about AdSense.

Exactly, because there's a pyramid in most businesses, and the majority of people are at the bottom. That's true whether you're talking about AdSense publishers, Commission Junction affiliates, newspaper publishers, novelists, actors, or landlords.

martinibuster

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3584219 posted 8:26 pm on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

>>>it was looking like google is paying these mods. to praise about them.

heh. That's me in there not praising Google.
[webmasterworld.com...]

But of course it's just to cover up the checks Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft send me once a month. ;)

Jane_Doe

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jane_doe us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3584219 posted 2:32 am on Feb 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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.

Do you think your business model of having so many different sites may have played a role in your Adsense earnings decrease? Maybe if you just focused on a few sites and got great links and content for those few sites things would improve.

[edited by: Jane_Doe at 2:33 am (utc) on Feb. 28, 2008]

tabish

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3584219 posted 10:55 am on Feb 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

That's the kind of remark that you can afford to make if you're anonymous, I guess. (Cowards tend to do their name-calling behind untraceable pseudonyms)

I dont think my remark was any bad about Google or Webmaster world. I have been honest in my adsense publishing and I am honest in my Reply.

On the other hand, I really can't thank enough google for giving us opportunity to earn something from our sites, because in "Bad" old days we were not able to even afford our hosting expences.

Regards

ronin

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3584219 posted 12:36 pm on Feb 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

in "Bad" old days we were not able to even afford our hosting expences.

You don't speak for all of us. Let's not propagate a myth that Google is the saviour of self-published sites.

europeforvisitors



 
Msg#: 3584219 posted 2:44 pm on Feb 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

Let's not propagate a myth that Google is the saviour of self-published sites.

There's no doubt that AdSense has been the economic savior of many self-published sites. And AdSense has provided additional revenue for sites that existed (and were earning income) before AdSense came along.

gibbergibber

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3584219 posted 2:53 pm on Feb 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

-- Sobering words indeed. Is it worth trying an alternative to Adsense? --

The problem is that if you're a small business in Europe (and I'm guessing most of the world) there is no alternative. Google are the only people who provide pay-per-click advertising to smaller sites worldwide.

Yes, people talk about affiliate links, but in my experience affiliate links fail to generate even a fraction of what Adsense does, even when they're customised to suit the theme of the page's content.

The problem seems to be that affiliate links don't credit you for simply sending advertisers traffic, whereas Adsense does.

europeforvisitors



 
Msg#: 3584219 posted 3:24 pm on Feb 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

Yes, people talk about affiliate links, but in my experience affiliate links fail to generate even a fraction of what Adsense does, even when they're customised to suit the theme of the page's content.

Depends on the topic, the audience, and the affiliate program. It does take trial and error to figure out what programs (if any) work on your site.

The problem seems to be that affiliate links don't credit you for simply sending advertisers traffic, whereas Adsense does.

I think you've just confirirmed the need to have traffic that converts for advertisers--at least with direct-response advertising like AdSense (CPC) or affiliate links (CPA).

swa66

WebmasterWorld Senior Member swa66 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3584219 posted 4:53 pm on Feb 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

As for diversifying income sources. I've divided my main site in regions. The probability a given ad source is inserted in the page depends on the area of the site.
  • An area that has book reviews e.g. has a high probably to show amazon ads, and they convert and have higher click-throughs than Adsense.
  • E.g. the front page has a higher probability for Adsense as it brings in more money and generates few clicks for amazon (but they do convert, there are just less of them that get clicked).
  • The forum doesn't work well for anything that needs clicks, so I've sold impressions in direct deals that mainly seeks to promote a brand name. The excess hits are filled with Adsense, but there are very few clicks even if adsense manages to match the content rather well.

    I believe the increased diversity also helps avoiding banner blindness.

    I've tried other affiliate programs, but my visitors seem not to like them all that much.
    I've about a 50% in Adsense, a 35% from Amazon and about 15% from direct deals.

  • europeforvisitors



     
    Msg#: 3584219 posted 6:26 pm on Feb 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

    As for diversifying income sources

    Having a diverse audience and earnings in multiple currencies can be helpful, too. That's been my experience.

    gibbergibber

    10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3584219 posted 11:28 pm on Feb 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

    --Depends on the topic, the audience, and the affiliate program. It does take trial and error to figure out what programs (if any) work on your site.--

    Yes, I know, but I've spent over five years doing the trial and error and never come close to achieving Adsense income from affiliate links.

    For me, for my sites, affiliate links just don't work as well as CPC.

    --I think you've just confirirmed the need to have traffic that converts for advertisers--at least with direct-response advertising like AdSense (CPC) or affiliate links (CPA). --

    I appreciate advertisers want customers, but a lot of customers don't buy on their first visit. If they don't buy on the first visit, in the vast majority of affiliate programs I get zero payment, and the advertiser has gained a potential lead for free.

    If I send someone to an advertiser's site, and they like what they see there, and then they go back again later and buy something, I get absolutely no benefit from that.

    There has to be some kind of longer term tracking process for affiliate links to benefit both advertiser and publisher, so that if a lead turns into a customer the person who generated the original lead benefits from it.

    I know some affiliate programmes do this, but most are just straight "10% of all purchases on that visit" or something along those lines.

    minnapple

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3584219 posted 1:59 am on Mar 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Most of my time is spent on the otherside, working with clients paying for advertising.

    Sales are down, and they trimming costs that do not convert up to their highest expectations.

    It is very easy for them to go into their adwords account and turn off content site advertising.

    andrewshim

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3584219 posted 6:20 am on Mar 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Sales are down, and they trimming costs that do not convert up to their highest expectations.

    It is very easy for them to go into their adwords account and turn off content site advertising.

    agree. so assuming advertisers cut the pipelines to Google's pocket, it's just as easy for Google to turn the knob on publishers' earnings percentage. I know. I know. I'm making unverified assumptions. I don't care how Google cooks them eggs, but I want my fair share.

    europeforvisitors



     
    Msg#: 3584219 posted 7:10 am on Mar 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

    agree. so assuming advertisers cut the pipelines to Google's pocket, it's just as easy for Google to turn the knob on publishers' earnings percentage.

    Are you suggesting that Google has turned the knob up? After all, a number of publishers have reported increases in earnings per click--substantial increases, in some cases. Of course, the explanation in such cases could be a lot simpler: namely, that cost-conscious advertisers in some niches are moving dollars into AdSense from less productive direct-response media. (In at least some cases, Adsense ROI is likely to be improving noticeably as a result of Google's new, stricter definition of a valid click.)

    Lexur

    5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3584219 posted 7:39 am on Mar 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Do not forget that the recent downfall of dollar makes european advertisers have more money to spend or have cheaper CPC.
    Fot those working in euro's zone, is the same income (more dollars, equal euros) but for those working in dollar's zone it's simply more money.

    andrewshim

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3584219 posted 9:16 am on Mar 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Are you suggesting that Google has turned the knob up?

    Just saying it's a understandable if it's happening or it probably has been happening for a while. If your supplier squeezes you, you have 2 options : take a deep breath and absorb it, or pass on the costs by squeezing your customer.

    In my own offline food business it's been happening for years. Costs have gone up and we've tightened our belts, absorbing whatever we can. But this year (after five years of absorbing costs), we've decided to turn the knob and pass on part of the costs to customers ie. increasing our fees.

    janethuggard

    5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3584219 posted 1:42 pm on Mar 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

    I've been with Adsense for over three years. Comparing the same 31 day month, each of the past three years, my ecpm has been $20, $15 and $10 with an average of $13 over the entire time I have been with with Adsense. This is for my account as a whole. I have one site, a large one that has has an ecpm of over $20, historically.

    My earnings are outstanding this past Feb over Feb 2007, best ever.

    I know there are at least a half dozen contributing factors as to why I am doing so well, most having to do with the changes I have made recently.

    Recently a WW member asked me to look at his website to see why his earnings had become so pathetic. When I did look, without any input from him at all, I could see several reasons why he was doing so poorly. When I asked him some questions to better give me an idea of a full report I might offer him, he backed off. It is just as well. I do not have time to help others with such an extensive project.

    I am not in the business of helping people omptimze their earnigss. So, please don't email me asking me to help. My own plate is full, so I will not respond.

    What I am going to say, is that after looking at that publisher's site, and seeing his blindness to his problem, it might be a good idea for those who are being crushed under the weight of poor earnings, to have somebody who has been in the business as I have for over a dozen years, and with Adsense for 3-4 years to look at your site and give some honest critique of where you might be going wrong. I don't know if anyone is offering this paid service or not. If not, by the looks of the forum, it would be good to start up something.

    On the Adwords side of the table people are earning doing ad writing for advertisers. What this side of the table needs, obviously, is some input from savvy ad design and layout experts who can spend more time evaluating a site design for ad effectivness, that the Adsense team are unwilling to spend on mom and pop publishers.

    While many have implied if not come right and blamed 'ad blindness' for the decline, perhaps it is the blindness of the publisher instead that is really to blame. I can document my own and the other mentioned ww user as proof that is the case for two publishers.

    I now have about 40 websites. Many of them are not a good fit for Adsense, and realizing that more recently, I pulled the Adsense ads from those sites that were not performing well and replaced them with cpm ads from another partner that performs much better. While I do not make as much money from the cpm ads on those sites, pulling them from my Adsense site has helped increase my Adsense earnings over all. I am sure it is one of the numerous reasons my earnings have increased, thanks to my agressive channeling of my ad blocks on my #1 site.

    But, I have also seen, when I took an objective look, that my ad placements on my main site were not the best. When I changed them, Voila! I have heard others say they changed their ad design and layouts to this and that, and nothing worked. This does not mean that through those changes, they hit the CORRECT maximized design layout.

    Now, IF Google would offer me 400 channels so I could more agressively channel one of my larger sites that is now under only one channel, as that is all I have left, I could have optimized my account even more. That site has the highest ecpm of all my sites, but it is not my top earner.

    Here is an example of how one change can make all the difference in the world. I was earning X amount of dollars on search on one particular site. It was not bad, but half of what I had earned three years ago. I took an objective look two months ago at why I had this huge drop.

    When I really looked at the page design, it came right out and slapped me in the face. While I had not really changed the layout of my pages over the years, I had made one, tiny, itsy, bitsy little change that seemed insignificant to me. Yet, because of the promixity to my search box, it crashed my earnings from search.

    A couple weeks ago, I changed things back, and sure enough within a day, down went the search earnings again. I was just stunned. Really, it was a no brainer. I just never saw it. But, it is surprising, how often the most insignificant things we do in page design can have such a big impact on our visitors.

    Publisher blindness, there is the root of all evil. Focus your energy on your failures and correcting them. Time spent blaming Google, the economy, the weak US dollar, the visitors, your competitors, blogs and social networks is time wasted.

    If you are too weak to hunker down and win against the ill winds of success, maybe this business is not for you. Not everyone is cut out to run their own business and suceed long term. Don't take it personal, just move on and quit beating yourself up.

    This is a war. You have to continually fight to win. My last battle to save my earnings is by no means the first, nor will it be the last. Back in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2004 I nearly gave up and walked away from the web. I am still here because each of those times when things got turned upside down, I looked to myself for help, and not others.

    In 2001, I didn't sleep 10 hours the week my earnings crashed and that was LONG before Adsense. I wouldn't talk to anyone, kept myself locked in my office, barely ate or drank. I focused all my enerygy on my business problems and how I might resolve them. Nobody waved their magic wand for me. A week later, I emerged from my office, announced to my family I had saved the business and we were going to be fine... and not so oddly enough, our earnings skyrocketed with the changes I made.

    Things change quickly on the web, and you have to be flexible enough to change with them. This coming recession is going to test thousands of businesses on the web, and many will fall because the owners didn't have the 'right stuff'. You can make up your mind right now, today, that you will not be one of them. I know I have.

    I have only one motto in business. Failure is not an option. That is what I tell my family each time I face huge obstacles on the web. Failure it not an option. I don't just say it, I believe it.

    Either hunker down, or walk away. Don't let yourself suffer. It's not healthy.

    europeforvisitors



     
    Msg#: 3584219 posted 3:23 pm on Mar 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

    If your supplier squeezes you, you have 2 options : take a deep breath and absorb it, or pass on the costs by squeezing your customer.

    First of all, we aren't Google's customers. Advertisers are Google's customers.

    Second, you missed what I was saying in my post. Some publishers are reporting higher earnings per click. Again, are you suggesting that Google is reacting to an economic slowdown by paying out more per click? That wouldn't make a lot of sense--unless, of course, Google was adjusting its payout percentage for each publisher based on audience and the likelihood of conversion, a.k.a. lead quality (which would be a variation on smart pricing).

    andrewshim

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3584219 posted 3:39 pm on Mar 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Again, are you suggesting that Google is reacting to an economic slowdown by paying out more per click?

    not saying that. When I wrote "turn up the knob" I meant the knob that determines THEIR (Google's) cut and I believe they have many knobs. In any case EFV, thanks.

    europeforvisitors



     
    Msg#: 3584219 posted 3:49 pm on Mar 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

    I don't think Google has any knobs. Knobs are sooooooo 20th Century. :-)

    koan

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3584219 posted 6:59 pm on Mar 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Thanks for your inspiring post janethuggard.

    netchicken1

    5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3584219 posted 7:34 pm on Mar 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

    The elephant in the room in this thread is the complete absence of discussing the TYPE of site that people run.

    Surely to really see what google is doing you need to see if they are targeting specific types such as mfa, 'make money', affiliate etc type sites.

    Without that informtion there really is not much readers can do to raise the topic above that of a pity party.

    In the google adsense forum (in Groups) there seems to be a new wave of banned sites emerging. Google seems to be trying to clean up its act, and increase the quality of the advertising sites in its program.

    Could the declining income be related to the type of site people are runnng?

    For example we know that "make money online" type sites are deliberatly targetted with low payment adverts.

    This is a factor of what google considers to be 'quality'.

    How do we know here that the sites mentioned by posters are not just similar sites?

    Edge

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3584219 posted 1:16 am on Mar 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

    EFV,

    You are not reading andrewshim ORIGINAL post correctly, their words are “turn the knob on publishers' earnings percentage” NOT “turned the knob up”.

    “turn the knob on publishers' is meant to imply that Google might have changed the percentage payout. Obviously, in Google’s favor.

    And before you post how wrong this is, I and everybody else are well aware that you don’t believe Google could do such a thing to us publishers.

    [edited by: Edge at 1:21 am (utc) on Mar. 2, 2008]

    Atomic

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3584219 posted 1:34 am on Mar 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Great post Jane. Thank you.

    europeforvisitors



     
    Msg#: 3584219 posted 3:20 am on Mar 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Edge, I did read andrewshim's post correctly. I was merely pointing out the folly of making sweeping assumptions based on individual experience. Fact is, some publishers are reporting substantial increases in EPC (e.g., 63% for February, 2008 compared to February, 2007), so from the perspective of a publisher who's seeing an increase, any imaginary " payout knob" is obviously being turned up, not down.

    In reality, if there are any "knobs" being turned by Google, they probably relate to things like conversion rates, type of content, etc. rather than overall percentage payout. That scenario (along with supply and demand within any given niche) fits what we're seeing a lot better than a simple-minded "Google is cutting the payout" hypothesis does. See netchicken1's post #3588933, which ought to be posted here once a week in boldface type.

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