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CTR and eCPM down since September 2008
CTR and eCPM down since September
honestman




msg:3803229
 7:54 am on Dec 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

I have been an Adsense member for over four years and have seen remarkable consistency in terms of the income and channel data used to track income -- in fact I have never seen such consistent data in all my years of statistical data analysis.

However, beginning in September this year, I have seen CTR go down by 60% and eCPM go down by the same even as traffic grows on one of my pretty large sites (500K to 1 million visitors/month). I have looked at year over year data and spotted this trend to verify. While many websites are seasonal in some ways, this site does not deviate more than 33% in revenue from peak to valley each and every year at the exact same period of time, so this new trend leaves me baffled.

There have been no major changes to this site and the traffic continues to grow, so with the exception of this month, year over year income has increased, so I am not complaining. I am just a bit baffled as to the possible causes (which I do not doubt could be many).

Meanwhile, the website interface has stayed largely the same, with no language, file extension, domain name, or markup changes requiring redirects or the like.

Has anyone experienced this trend and what are the possible causes? Is the recession hitting others as well in this area?

Thank you for any input.

 

JS_Harris




msg:3803233
 8:28 am on Dec 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

recesssssion, let's hope it doesn't sssssuck for too much longer.

zett




msg:3803238
 8:48 am on Dec 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

have seen remarkable consistency in terms of the income and channel data used to track income -- in fact I have never seen such consistent data in all my years of statistical data analysis

We have also been tracking our Adsense data over four years, but we see very little consistency within the data set. I'd say it's almost random data. However, the fog clears up once we start to look at longer periods, e.g. 90 day/200 day moving averages. THEN data becomes quite predictable.

Anyway, I see =exactly= the same trend as you. Beginning in September, eCPM and CTR have been dropping seriously. The trend is rather scary. If it continues to drop like this, I'll be starting to =pay= Google for running ads by April/May timeframe.

Possible causes? The economy, mostly. If consumers are worried about their jobs and paying back mortgages, they change their spending behaviour. And they change their behaviour on the net (looking less for luxury goods and services, looking more for price comparison and saving potential).

It is not unrealistic to think that this behaviour change may affect ROI for campaigns on the content network, and that advertisers stop using Adwords and the content network, or seriously reducing their spendings.

I guess it will all clear up once Google reports earnings for Q4/2008. If they post another record quarter we will probably be pulling Adsense from our sites and focus on affiliate marketing programs (because then they probably have changed the payout to small publishers to increase their earnings which is not OK). Should they admit that the quarter has hurt them as well, we have at least proof for the recession hitting Google.

honestman




msg:3803336
 1:44 pm on Dec 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

Thank you very much Zett for confirming my experience, though the curves through my data in previous days/weeks/months for these years could almost be lined up and appear to be in one dimension they are so even -- but much is industry-specific and every industry has it cycles, I imagine.

I agree with the rest of your analysis, but prefer to remain cautiously optimistic in the face of the recession/depression and how one of the most successful companies handles it with regard to its primary income generator. But diversification is almost always the wisest course.

Again, it is often difficult to have the type of discussions we wish because so much is industry-specific, and at least some people are likely doing quite well during this never-ending holiday season (the "Christmas shopping season" started in October and Easter will likely start after Jan 1...) Signs of desperation, no doubt.

himalayaswater




msg:3803359
 2:15 pm on Dec 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

Same here CTR and eCPM down. It happens every year even though my traffic and page view are increased. Tried out everything :

Changed site layout
Tried out to trick user
Tried out to add ads near content
Tried out changing colors
Tried out various ad format and ad rotating
Deleted all channels
Tried 3 ad format on a single page
Tried 3 ad + 3 keyword ads format on a single page
Tried a single ad format on a single page
And all sort of tricks and nothing worked.

Finally, I gave out. Few major issues:

a) Economy lost another 533,000 jobs in Nov-08 alone. Worst month since December 1974 brings total this year to 1.9 million. See [msnbc.msn.com...] . People are scared to make purchase decision. My amazon earning are also down by 20%.

b) Too many publisher and limited advertisers. Too many crappy websites (especially in 3rd world webmasters are happy with 100 bucks). Google do not have any quality control. They accepts all sort of websites that promotes stealing, copyright issues and much more.

I can go on.. I hope you got my point.

I've already started to move to affiliate marketing. Instead of collecting .05 cents per click; I prefer not to display Adsense ad. At least that will make user happy :)

HuskyPup




msg:3803371
 2:33 pm on Dec 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

Me too...and there have been plenty of discusions here regarding all possible causes.

I am also very "industry-specific" and our B&M side is still doing well, at the moment, however I do know of hundreds of companies within our widget sector in China alone that have already closed and many throughout Brazil, Europe and North America that are in serious, serious trouble.

Unfortunately it is probably going to get a lot worse before it gets any better however what that means precisely for AdSense is debatable:

1. Lower EPC due to fewer advertisers?

2. Higher EPC due to more competition for business?

3. Lower CTR due to lack of money?

4. Higher CTR due to bargain offers?

5. A myriad of other things?

I have no idea other than we'll know by this time next year!

Lame_Wolf




msg:3803386
 2:53 pm on Dec 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

Tried out to trick user

That's one way of losing your account.

indias next no1




msg:3803401
 3:05 pm on Dec 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

as i already mentioned in a thread, my ecpm and ctr is down from november.

ctr down by 40 % and the ecpm down by 50% , can't able to find any reason and worried

zett




msg:3803405
 3:10 pm on Dec 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

honestman:

Had a more detailed look at our data set.

For 36+ months, the CTR value was consistently hovering around the long-term average +/- 20 percent, due to a certain seasonality of our niche. While this indicates not a perfect data set, it still was fairly predictable.

In September, the CTR value was close to the low end of the frame, so I did not think much about it. At that point in time, it could have been "just another bad month".

In October and November 2008, the CTR value dropped to -35% compared to the 40 month average.

In December 2008 (so far), the CTR value dropped even further from the long-term average, now close to -50%.

For eCPM we're seeing a similar pattern.

This is not good. Not good at all.

himalayaswater




msg:3803412
 3:17 pm on Dec 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

That's one way of losing your account.

Without breaking in Google ToS. Like adding 350x250 ad block between title and content. This is what most blogger do (my site is not a blog).. but, this made matter worse as people started to click ad accidentally. It was not moral as well... so I moved back ad to original position i.e. end of the content. And, yes it was suggested by Google itself ;) One fine afternoon they called me and told me this can increase income. Bull#*$!. Google rep has no idea about my audience.

farmboy




msg:3803416
 3:20 pm on Dec 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

honestman,

There are a number of possible reasons AdSense earnings (and overall stats) may change. This is probably not a comprehensive list:

1. Depending on your niche, the time of year or season

2. Depending on your niche, current news, events, trends, fads, etc.

3. Economy or "recession" may impact the habits of "ad clickers" and/or impact the budgets and advertising practices of advertisers. Again, depends on niche

4. Competitors - online or off

5. Use of the filter - filtering URL's that probably shouldn't be filtered out and/or not filtering URL's that probably should be filtered out

6. Google errors

7. Copyright violations - someone may have copied your content and they are now earning revenue you should be earning. Persist in hunting and killing these pirates.

8. Content out of date, in error, poorly organized, etc. Also related to sudden lack of trust in your site for some reason

9. Changes in search engine listings/rankings for your site

There are probably a few others I missed.

FarmBoy

zett




msg:3803528
 5:02 pm on Dec 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

Another interesting data point is the amount of ads per ad block.

You see, our layouts have not changed since summer 2006. The content has been updated, but the majority of ad views are being generated by two ad sizes that can carry up to four ads. We are tracking not only the revenue, but also the number of ad blocks and the number of individual ads.

This lets you also calculate "average individual ads per ad block", just to understand how well the ad blocks are being used by Google. Are there many ads, or are many block showing just one or two ad blocks?

For us, this value has been decresing since May 2008. We have been for more than a year very close to 4 ads per ad block, which we think is a good value. Google made good use of the real estate. But since May, this value is dropping. Month after month. We're now looking at 3.5 ads per ad block on average.

My take? Advertisers are pulling out, either just out of the content network, or out of Adwords. Google does not have a full enough ad inventory that can be distributed among all publishers (especially with the number of publishers probably still rising).

Of course, one could defend Google by arguing that it may be smarter to display less ads per ad block - but our metrics (revenue, CTR, eCPM) do not support this statement. Less variety means less revenue, for us.

OutdoorWebcams




msg:3803598
 6:25 pm on Dec 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

My take? Advertisers are pulling out, either just out of the content network, or out of Adwords. Google does not have a full enough ad inventory that can be distributed among all publishers (especially with the number of publishers probably still rising).
(Emphasis mine)

On ad blocks not completely filled I have (on my sites, may be different elsewhere) those up/down arrows and can cycle through (almost always) four extra 'ad pages', completely filled with well targeted ads. That means there are at least 18 or 19 suitable ads in the inventory for that specific ad block - even at the end of the day, when each advertiser's budget should be used up (in Google's eyes).

Doesn't your theory imply that Google is holding back ads for not 'wasting' clicks for the sake of better distribution of ads across all publishers - at the risk of leaving money on the table? I can't imagine that...

(But I would really like to know why Google isn't filling ad blocks properly)

honestman




msg:3803607
 6:36 pm on Dec 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

Zett. Your data jives with mine. This month has been abysmal.

Farmboy: Given the limited info I offered, your ideas are good (but most don't apply to my particular situation) and I have checked almost all of them out, but am always open to new ideas.

Thank you both.

Hope this turns around.

StoutFiles




msg:3803609
 6:37 pm on Dec 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

In September, the CTR value was close to the low end of the frame, so I did not think much about it. At that point in time, it could have been "just another bad month".

In October and November 2008, the CTR value dropped to -35% compared to the 40 month average.

In December 2008 (so far), the CTR value dropped even further from the long-term average, now close to -50%.

For eCPM we're seeing a similar pattern.

This is not good. Not good at all.

The economy has been horrible. Naturally this will affect Adsense. This isn't a baffling mystery; this is the reason.

For people worried about Adsense holding back ads, I suggest implenting an ad rotator using multiple companies to achieve maximum revenue.

zett




msg:3803650
 7:16 pm on Dec 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

this is the reason

I will believe this once Google have published their Q4 earnings report in January. If they post another record quarter, things have gone wrong, somehow, somewhere.

wackybrit




msg:3803850
 11:56 pm on Dec 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

I've had about an 80% drop in eCPM from September to November/December despite similar impressions and almost the same CTR. So.. that's 80% drop in Adsense earnings for me :)

signor_john




msg:3803926
 2:12 am on Dec 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

My CTR and eCPM have been down, too. It's possible that Google has tweaked its definition of a "valid click," but I'd guess that the economy is the main culprit. I've seen a fairly significant drop in affiliate bookings since the global economic panic hit in September. (Display ads are going strong, but they don't depend on clickthroughs to generate revenue.)

On the brighter side, my average earnings per click are very high--the highest they've been in years--which suggests that AdSense should return to being a more productive cash cow when the economy improves and readers are more willing to spend money.

annej




msg:3804013
 5:07 am on Dec 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

I've used AdSense since shortly after it started.

My pay per click dropped gradually since late spring. It is now about half what is was a year ago. But my visitors kept clicking at the same rate.

After the economy tanked in Sept even my click rate is down.

It's as if at first businesses were not willing to bid as high on ads or perhaps not using AdWords at all. I think our economy problems have been coming for a while.

Now people aren't clicking much but I don't know if it's because people aren't interested in buying or because the ads aren't targeted as well. Maybe both.

I can't see there is much that can be done about it.

signor_john




msg:3804334
 3:56 pm on Dec 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

I will believe this once Google have published their Q4 earnings report in January. If they post another record quarter, things have gone wrong, somehow, somewhere.

Not necessarily, for a couple of reasons:

- The publishers who post here are a very small sample, and not a random sample at that. What's more, anyone who's ever run a support or mutual-support forum knows that unhappy people post more than happy people do.

- If the number of publishers and pages has grown faster than the number of advertisers and click dollars, the average earnings per publisher are going to be lower than they were in the past. It's like anything else: Let's say you've got a soup kitchen, and your clientele doubles. You'll now require twice the amount of soup to give each client the same-size portion that you were handing out before. If you can increase your soup production by only 25 or 50 per cent, the clients aren't going to be as well-fed as they were before their 100-percent population increase.

I'm not too happy about the reduction in CTR that I've seen lately, and I have no way of knowing for certain whether it has been caused by seasonal factors (this is always my slowest time of year), the economy (a good guess), an adjustment in Google's click-counting method (always a possibility), or all three. The cloud does have a silver lining, though: My average EPC is waaaaay up over the same period last year and is back to levels that I haven't seen since 2003 and early 2004, before Google introduced smart pricing and separate bidding for the search and content networks. This suggests that advertisers--or at least some advertisers--are eager or even desperate for clicks, and they're willing to pay whatever it takes to get leads.

zett




msg:3804404
 4:59 pm on Dec 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

Not necessarily

You can defend/explain as much as you like.

Google will be much more credible when their numbers reflect the economical crisis that is happening. Posting another record quarter will raise more doubts about the revenue share than ever.

Many of the pro webmasters gathered here seem to be in the "lower CTR, lower eCPM" camp. Even if this is a small sample, I tend to believe that it is quite representative. Here you will find small, medium, and large sites running Adsense.

I would be very surprised if only a disappointed mob would show up here. No, I do not see that.

Also, I do not believe that we are seeing an exponential growth in publisher figures. Any large site of significance that wants to monetize ad real estate is running Adsense already. Or had been running Adsense and quit the program. I do not see big sites with zillions of page views suddenly turning over to Adsense. (Unless Adsense silently made the application for the program easier, which in return means to let the MFA crowd in again.)

Anyway, it's hard to sell "you're doing poor, because the economy is bad" to publishers when at the same time you're saying "we're doing very well, despite the economy".

signor_john




msg:3804443
 5:49 pm on Dec 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

Google will be much more credible when their numbers reflect the economical crisis that is happening. Posting another record quarter will raise more doubts about the revenue share than ever.

"Would," not "will." It's a bit early to be discussing Google's 4Q 2008 earnings report, since the numbers won't be known until January.

As for doubts about the revenue share, I can see why people whose EPCs have fallen might be paranoid (especially if they've tuned out bad news about the economy), but some publishers have been reporting record- or near-record earnings per click.

ganeshcp




msg:3804451
 6:06 pm on Dec 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

Very well said Zett.

leapforward




msg:3806325
 7:22 pm on Dec 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

I prefer not to look at ad revenue in eCPM terms. I look at revenue per visit, CPC and conversion rate (clicks per visitor). eCPM and CTR are based upon page views. Some users view one page, others view 20. If they both click on an ad, the impact on eCPM and CTR is vastly different, but the revenue is the same.

I run multiple ad networks (4-5) on each page, so I have to aggregate the revenue and clicks to produce overall CPC, Conversion Rate and revenue per visitor.

While AdSense has been dropping, my other ad networks have been rising to make up the difference. The net effect is a steady (+/- 5%) CPC, revenue per visitor and conversion rate, even though AdSense eCPM and CTR have dropping on a month to month basis for the past few months.

signor_john




msg:3806326
 7:28 pm on Dec 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

While AdSense has been dropping, my other ad networks have been rising to make up the difference.

Same here. AdSense is mostly pay-per-click, while my display ads are sold on a CPM basis, and targeted display ads from large corporations are more about brand-building than about immediate gratification in an economy where consumers may be delaying purchases.

Addendum: This thread [webmasterworld.com] cites an article that may be worth reading if you're concerned about falling eCPM.

zett




msg:3806329
 7:34 pm on Dec 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

I prefer not to look at ad revenue in eCPM terms. I look at revenue per visit, CPC and conversion rate (clicks per visitor).

Yep. I have been monitoring these metrics for years.

Except for a slight increase in EPC, all other metrics have dropped significantly, when comparing year on year. Having said that, I should add that 'revenue per visit' appeared as the most solid metric until the financial meltdown set in.

Our sites, folks, our sites!

Richie0x




msg:3810070
 4:24 am on Dec 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

My CTR is now down 50% on December 2007.

gethan




msg:3810289
 10:20 am on Dec 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

Top 2000 quantcast site - 2+ million visitors - adsense revenue down to 65% of same period sept (record month) - purely content/community site - not selling anything.

Ecpm - down to 70% of Dec 2007 levels.
CTR - down to 0.45% from 0.5% Dec 2007 (90%)

It is the economy - and due to falling revenues - I've stopped all advertising on adwords.

I believe that online advertising will one area that is hardest hit in the recession - it is very easy to stop, and there are no obligations to continue on even a day to day basis, and due to the algorithms Google uses if one big advertiser pulls out - pricing for the remaining advertisers is automatically lowered.

annej




msg:3811055
 6:55 am on Dec 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

I was inclined to just leave the ads up as earning a little is better than earning nothing. But now I'm seeing more poorly targeted ads and sometimes inappropriate ads.

indias next no1




msg:3811084
 8:30 am on Dec 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

AS i said earlier, my ecpm and ctr is down. not yet recovered from november 13th.

i am also seeing some unrelated ads.

This 44 message thread spans 2 pages: 44 ( [1] 2 > >
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