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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.

 

grigoroo




msg:3584231
 8:57 pm on Feb 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

Google giveth and Google taketh away. I have come to believe that Google's algorithms for Adsense have gotten so complicated that even they are uncertain how the changes they make are going to impact their users.

aj113




msg:3584241
 9:02 pm on Feb 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

Roseb44170




msg:3584260
 9:15 pm on Feb 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

While I know that it is logical to not depend on Adsense as one's sole source of income I just haven't been experiencing the same thing that most of the people are posting here about.

January 2008 will be my highest adsense earnings month to date and I'm about $15 dollars away from February being my highest adsense earnings month.

I will agree however that those adsense fluctuations are really something as far as my adsense earnings are concerned! With the exception of January and February 2008, my adsense earnings have seesawed to no end!

As far as Adsense alternatives go I'm not to fond of them.

wyweb




msg:3584264
 9:16 pm on Feb 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

I have come to believe that Google's algorithms for Adsense have gotten so complicated that even they are uncertain how the changes they make are going to impact their users.

Agreed. And that from time to time the innocent get caught up with the guilty. I'm using the words innocent and guilty in a very figurative sense here.

naitsirhc26




msg:3584279
 9:29 pm on Feb 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

I agree completely. Being that Adsense cut me for not converting well for them - I am now turning to more direct advertising, which I think will actually be a better solution for my site. I relied on Google for everything, then I was cut and realized that I need to put my eggs in other baskets.

King_Fisher




msg:3584300
 9:44 pm on Feb 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

Adsense is like an Mexican Jumping Bean. You never know which way it is going to go.

The random theory must fit in here some where or maybe the chaos theory..

Go60Guy good tip, never become a moderator!...KF :o)

celgins




msg:3584317
 10:02 pm on Feb 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

Moderator or not, I don't think you have to apologize for not being here... (If the moderator role requires you to be here, then I can understand it... but I don't know)

Either way, great post. Now if we could just get new Adsense users to listen!

koan




msg:3584351
 10:58 pm on Feb 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

There is indeed a shakeup going on, blame it on the economy, the introduction of low quality monster sites like myspace or youtube in the content network, or some smart pricing algorithm, but the money isn't as easy as it used to be just 1 year ago with adsense.

Not that I thought it was easy back then. It's just way harder now.

Other popular adsense forums are filled with disappointed webmasters. The mood does not feel like a "gold rush" anymore. Maybe it's a good thing.

wyweb




msg:3584359
 11:05 pm on Feb 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

Maybe it's a good thing.

It's more value for the dollar for advertisers and that's a good thing for google no matter how you look at it.

europeforvisitors




msg:3584391
 11:35 pm on Feb 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

It's more value for the dollar for advertisers and that's a good thing for google no matter how you look at it.

It's also a good thing for publishers in the long run, because without advertiser confidence, the network becomes less valuable for all parties.

koan




msg:3584404
 11:48 pm on Feb 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

Anyone has asked in the adwords forum if they noticed lower CPC for their ads in the past few months?

PS: Go60Guy, I certainly wouldn't let this bad experience stop you from participating or moderating on this forum, I don't think anyone will think any less of you, the eCPM drop doesn't seem to be related to bad quality sites or bad marketing practices. In other circumstances (meaning no special deal with Google), I'm sure even sites like the New York Times would feel the pinch.

solidcore




msg:3584453
 12:47 am on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

I went from 300$ day to 30$ day, im just getting back up to 60-70$ day cpm got down to 0.02$ from 0.20$+ :(

dibbern2




msg:3584509
 1:39 am on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Thanks, go60guy, for a such a thoughtful post.

[edited by: jatar_k at 1:06 pm (utc) on Feb. 26, 2008]

sandyweb




msg:3584611
 3:25 am on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Go60Guy, thanks for sharing.

MikeNoLastName




msg:3584618
 3:34 am on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Go60Guy, please do stay in as moderator, so we can maybe get some less (pro-G) biased opinions and moderating for a change.

BaseVinyl




msg:3584631
 3:57 am on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think I could come up with a few reasons why the OP may be seeing declines in Adsense earnings across 56 sites...or is it just me who have seen many factors that have evolved in the last few years that may play a role in decling incomes on many models?

Isn't this the sort of "moderator" post that is making some people on other boards question the viabilty and usefullness of Webmasterworld?

[edited by: BaseVinyl at 3:58 am (utc) on Feb. 26, 2008]

Go60Guy




msg:3584638
 4:14 am on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Go60Guy, please do stay in as moderator, so we can maybe get some less (pro-G) biased opinions and moderating for a change.

Thanks much for your support.

I do hope no one construes my earlier post as adopting either an Anti-Google or Pro-Google stance. I see AdSense as simply being what AdSense is at any given time. What's obvious, in my case, is that my sites running it fit their modeling better at times and worse at times. I can't explain it, although I see endless attempts to do so in this forum, and I don't think we're ever the wiser for it. Some Adsensers have seen much better performance than my sites in these last months. More power to them.

In the years I've been hanging out at WebmasterWorld, I've seen thread after thread decrying a downturn in income, conversions or whatever. Almost invariably in these threads someone pipes up reporting no falloff or a nice boost. That's the inherent nature of operating websites for revenue generation.

Again, please don't attribute bias of any kind to me.

djc8080




msg:3584643
 4:25 am on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm new to webmaster world, not new to webmastering. I bring AI (artificial intelligence) and econometrics methods to fellow webmasters.

I've noticed substantial concern here, among blog affiliates, and major publishers who use AdSense that:

- eCPM ranges from $0.10 to $1.00. Mean is probably $0.25.
- the variance, change from month to month, is very high.
- For optimized pages, eCPM can be higher. Google is primarily motivated to optimize higher-paying keywords for their search pages. Remember that they retain 100% of search results, less than 30% for affiliate pages.
- There is no magic to Google's optimization. It's a massive AI system of rules. Where rules exist for high paying keywords, they optimize. Where no rules exist, the result is what most webmasters see. Google staffers constantly tweek rules to optimize the best keywords.
- AI gets complex when millions of rules conflict. Adding CPM to CPC optimization can confuse even my fellow MIT alums working at Google.

Does this match what you're observing?

celgins




msg:3584650
 4:33 am on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

AI gets complex when millions of rules conflict. Adding CPM to CPC optimization can confuse even my fellow MIT alums working at Google.

Very interesting... and seems to support the theory that the system is a growing, learning, intelligence-gathering entity that gets prodded by Googlers from time to time.

ken_b




msg:3584651
 4:36 am on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

djc8080; First, Welcome to WW and the AdSense Forum.

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

Those seem like kind of low numbers.

AI gets complex when millions of rules conflict. Adding CPM to CPC optimization can confuse even my fellow MIT alums working at Google.

Toss in a little CPA action for kicks.

Go60Guy




msg:3584654
 4:50 am on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Yes, djc808, a warm welcome to WebmasterWorld.

Why am I not surprised that it would all be confusing at times to a cadre of MIT grads at the plex?

[edited by: Go60Guy at 5:36 am (utc) on Feb. 26, 2008]

koan




msg:3584677
 5:25 am on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

I bring AI (artificial intelligence) and econometrics methods to fellow webmasters.

See, that's why I like this site.

andrewshim




msg:3584709
 6:43 am on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

That is to reiterate the sobering reality that placing reliance on AdSense as a mainstay of your internet business model is simply unsustainable.

my ol pals here from a couple of years ago will grill me for saying this but :

Don't put all your eggs in one basket!

jomaxx




msg:3584735
 7:41 am on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

OTOH, Mark Twain said:
Put all your eggs in the one basket, and WATCH THAT BASKET.

My advice to anyone would be to not follow one-size-fits-all advice. There's nothing wrong or unsustainable about relying on AdSense in principle; it's just that you need a fallback position in case it doesn't work out.

dibbern2




msg:3584743
 7:59 am on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

Welcome to the group.

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.

On how much of a sample of those here, blog affiliates, and major publishers who use AdSense are you basing your assumption? I take it that you are not using the anecdotal stories to be found here and there, for while they are true by themselves, they in no way represent a cross section.

Hobbs




msg:3584787
 9:06 am on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

There we go with the eggs and baskets again!

Guys, keep an eye on the hen, your traffic and site and worry less about baskets, in the carnage we often forget what we are selling in the first place, traffic. Blue traffic, red traffic, traffic that coverts, green traffic, orange traffic.. (from dusk till dawn), is a matter of personality, style and talent.

As for affiliates, I really wish people would come out from under the mattress and really share their success stories in detail in ways that could benefit others. Statements like test many affiliate networks, find your niche related products, learn to write copy that converts... Is assuming the web is a shopping basket, and downplaying the land mines and snake oil n'th tier affiliate cr@p out there, and you know deep inside that the web is not, most webmasters are information not selling oriented, and will most likely end up giving away for free millions of impressions and clicks before giving up. AdSense was made for those, it pays well to the average Jo, and the majority are average Jaws :-). Just advising others to diversify is coming really short of helping others, stop handing out vague directions to fishing rod shops and either give a fishing rod or a fish.

If AdSense stumbles or falls those with traffic will still monetize one way or the other, the lucky ones that I like to call affiliate prophets, were destined to make more money from affiliate networks than AdSense anyway, it takes a sales and an analysis mentality, they start off on topics and copy that converts, not everyone got that, in short, unless anyone here is willing to come out with full details on how to convert your regular average webmaster into a successful salesman, talking of baskets and eggs is just showing off even if you really mean well.

europeforvisitors




msg:3584805
 9:47 am on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hobbs, an information site can be successful with affiliate programs if:

- The program(s) match the site's topic(s);

- The available programs are legitimate and well-managed (something that can be learned only through trial and error);

- Readers are interested in what the affiliate partners have to sell.

Beyond that, there isn't much that one can say here, since:

- This is the AdSense forum, not a forum about affiliate marketing; and...

- The moderators tend to wield their electronic X-Acto knives when members start talking about specifics.

I will mention that, in at least one site owner's experience (gotta watch those specifics), not every page on an information site has to be related to affiliate topics for the site to prosper from affiliate sales. For example, a site might have fewer than 1% of its pages devoted to affiliate sales in any way, shape, or form, but those 1% of the pages can be quite productive if the other 99% of the pages are attracting an audience that will be interested in what the handful of affiliate-related pages have to offer.

Getting back to the topic of AdSense, we often hear unhappy AdSense publishers say that they're sticking with AdSense (even if they're earning only a penny a click) because nothing else pays as well. For such publishers, the sobering reality (to borrow a phrase from the subject line of this thread) is one that they're unwilling to acknowledge: namely, that their audiences aren't looking to buy things. AdSense, like affiliate programs, is a direct-response vehicle that works best when it reaches buyers or hot prospects. Let's say you've got an audience of young people who are interested in social networking when they come to your site. Those young social networkers might be candidates for awareness-building ads (mobile phones, Red Bull, MP3 players, or skateboard fashions), but they probably aren't great candidates for pay-per-click AdSense ads, because aren't researching how to spend their money when they visit your site. That's the harsh truth, and if AdSense isn't performing well on your site, it may be because AdSense isn't the right tool for your revenue toolkit.

andrewshim




msg:3584818
 10:06 am on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

talking of baskets and eggs is just showing off even if you really mean well.

Not showing off Hobbs... in fact, other than a few ad networks, I pretty much suck at other means of monetizing my traffic. I believe like many thousands of other website owners, I just don't have the time, skills or knowledge to make a full-time income online.

I'm speaking in general when I talk about eggs and baskets ie. making sure money comes in from not only Adsense and websites, but from offline investments, passive or residual income from business partnerships and maybe running your own small business. Sorry if I offended anyone by talking about my eggs. ;)

In any case, when I wrote that comment, I asked myself "How long do you think before Hobbs jumps on the eggs and basket (in big bold red) comment" and grills me ;)

Hobbs




msg:3584833
 10:29 am on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

lol not you Andrew, I'm just trying to provoke out some inside goodies for the frustrated average Jo that already knows the need to diversify, understandably successful affiliates rarely depart with such knowledge and stick to generalities, and even if they do, by the time you've read hundreds of threads in the affiliate forum you'll find yourself stuffed with more uncertainty, for sure dipping toe in water full of sharks is educational, tell us something we don't know for a change!

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