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Un-diversifying my income streams made me more money
maximillianos




msg:4194670
 5:57 pm on Aug 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

I just wanted to share an interesting experiment I did recently. In the past I have always been an advocate of diversifying income streams. Don't put all your eggs in one basket I would always say. I monetized my site the same way:

- Google Adsense
- TribalFusion for CPM banners
- VibrantMedia for in-text links
- Various other affiliate product partners

This I felt was a stable way for me to maintain income in the event that one or more took a dive. I was minimizing my exposure to risk.

Well years rolled by... and I slowly watched the landscape and economy change. My traffic was steadily increasing over this time, but most of my ad revenue partners were paying out less and less:

-- Tribal started earning less and less. They also started becoming difficult to manage as I would get complaints from users weekly saying the ads were trying to download spyware on their machines.

-- Vibrant's in-text ads started earning less and less and less each month to where they were earning far less than generic CPM banners.

-- Affiliate product sales never seemed to keep pace with my growing traffic.

The only revenue stream that seem to keep pace was Adsense. The more traffic I had, the more money I was making from them.

So it hit one day. Why am I diversifying with ad networks that are paying less and less as I drive more and more traffic to their ads?

If I'm worried about Adsense going away tomorrow, well then I'll just fall back on these other networks if that day comes. But until then, I'm going to try and utilize the best paying network in the most places I can on my site.

So here is what I did:

1. Replaced all CPM banners with Adsense display ad units. Instantly saw a 50% increase in eCPM.

2. Removed in-text links. No replacement. The payout had dropped so low it just seemed to be more annoying to visitors to have those ads versus none at all. Plus I might get more clicks to my Adsense ads, which were more pleasant and relevant ads.

3. Replaced my affiliate product ads with Adsense Link units.

What was the end result? Well, my revenue stream diversification is down the tubes, but my monthly revenue is up. In all fairness, there was some other changes that took place during this trial (new Adsense layouts rolled out, etc). But before that, I was still making more money per month as a Adsense only shop than when I had been diversified with 3 -4 different ad networks.

I realized I was living in a false sense of stability by thinking that spreading my revenue sources out was the most stable and lucrative model for my business. In reality using the highest paying partner for as many channels as I can ended up being the most lucrative and stable option, since Adsense has been the most stable of the ad networks (for me) over the years.

And if Adsense goes away tomorrow, I can always fall back on the other networks. So my risk is not any different if I diversify my revenue streams or not.

This may sound like common sense to most, but I guess it took a few years for me to see it and try it out.

For those of you that fall into a similar category as me, it might be worth looking into.

 

zdgn




msg:4194703
 6:57 pm on Aug 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've also been watching similar trend, but as with all things AdSense, I thought of it as just another unverifiable factor that just plays with your metrics and your income off and on.

I had started removing other networks as an extended speed test on a few sites and gave AdSense more room with more variety (dedicated image ads, etc).

What I discovered after a while was that AdSense started rewarding the exclusivity of it being the dominant real-estate occupant. This resulted not only in improved site performance, but the incremental revenue alone was more than the combined revenue of other networks.

But then again, in the quantum physical world of AdSense, you just don't know what is what and how and when. It could all be just a fluke.

netmeg




msg:4194705
 7:00 pm on Aug 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

As long as you know the risks going in, and you aren't in danger of losing the rent, it's all good.

I'm not really worried about my AdSense going away, but it's not my only income stream, and I'm working on direct advertising for some properties. But for the long haul - yep, AdSense pays better than anything else.

Swanny007




msg:4194844
 2:44 am on Sep 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

maximillianos, you are brave.

I am in almost the exact same position. I use AdSense, TF, Vibrant, and affiliates (Amazon, etc.). I see increasing traffic, however I did see increasing revenue overall, but not necessarily the same CPM or CPC. Truth be told, I think AdSense was the only one that did increase all the time with the increased traffic...

I too feel like I need to diversify in terms of having more than one site and more than one revenue source. That's pretty much what you learn as you get into the biz, and it does make sense.

Recently I've been thinking of trying to get away from Google's products to due trust / privacy issues but the reality is they are the best paying program out there (AdSense) and I can't ignore that. Vibrant actually pays decent for me, but the rest are a very small percentage of my total monthly earnings.

I've been with AdSense since the beginning; June 2003, they have always been the highest paying program, maybe I should just give in already like you did. If AdSense went away or banned me, there are alternatives, but the bottom line is I'd lose probably at least 50% of my monthly income. I better bank some of that money now LOL.

Frankly it's a pain to manage direct advertisers and affiliate programs as a one-man operation. I have noticed that with Vibrant they have a ton of Javascript code and many files loading which can't help my site speed…. hmm…..

Yeah, I'm going to give it a try to and go AdSense-only on a smaller site or two in September and see what happens…. good idea, maximillianos.

HuskyPup




msg:4194953
 11:11 am on Sep 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

you are brave.


Well, I'm in the same club by necessity!

Quite simply I have tried all the ones I am allowed to, bear in mind I'm in the UK and Chitika was the best of the others, yet AdSense is easily the best because they are global and it is the de facto advertising platform for my industry.

I have actively promoted AdWords to direct advertising enquiries and, like Swanny007, it is a total pain in the butt to try and cope and manage with those enquiries.

There is another advantage for me in doing that in that I do not have one or two totally dominant advertisers blowing out all the others.

If it all falls apart, most unlikely, then I do have a direct advertising plan in place however I really would prefer not to have to go down that route.

For the moment we have a good, symbiotic relationship:-)

alika




msg:4194972
 12:36 pm on Sep 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

Done exactly the same thing.

Used to have several banner ad networks, affiliate programs, own direct ad sales, and text link advertising

In one ad spot -- medium rectangle above the fold in the right column -- we used to serve all these ad networks in that prime spot. If we have direct advertisers, then they exclusively take over. If none, then the banner ad networks rotate on that spot.

We removed everything and left only Adsense. Lo and behold, with only Adsense on that spot, that spot has earned for us multiple times than what we used to earn with the banner ad networks. We now have to turn down our previous advertisers who want exclusive run on that spot, as we found that Adsense still gives us higher income.

Better yet, our overall eCPM has increased. Thereby increasing our Adsense income even more

Now we keep getting emails from BurstMedia, one of those we rotated in that spot before, why traffic we send to them has significant decreased. Well, we realized that by putting Adsense alone in that spot nets us a thousand percent better than the total amount I get from BurstMedia.

Diversifying income source is good. But optimizing your ad space is even better.

For us, we've come to realize that "diversifying income source" should not mean applying to all advertising alternatives out there. But rather, thinking of different ways -- not advertising -- to earn more from the web.

Now, we just need to give our optimum spots to the advertising program that earns us the most, and today that is Adsense. Fear shouldn't rule our site monetization strategy.

ecmedia




msg:4195200
 7:06 pm on Sep 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

Over and over publishers have reported that AdSense is the best and by including ads from others you might only be cluttering your page and giving options to visitors to click on ads that pay next to nothing. It is best to stick to a clean design with just a few ads.

Elsmarc




msg:4195265
 8:39 pm on Sep 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

I started with AdSense in Dec 2003 as my only advertising source. Prior to that my sites were hobbies (tech sites). I was going to shut them down because it was beginning to cost too much and was taking up a lot of my time. I was talked out of closing them down by a fellow who insisted that advertising wouldn't hurt (I was *really* anti-advertisement). He told me about AdSense. I signed on and have been a very happy camper ever since. Over the years I did try a couple of things like Yahoo, but AdSense was the only performer. I never tried VibrantMedia for in-text links because they're totally annoying. The next thing I knew companies started contacting me about advertising on my sites. These days I have AdSense but have company ads in a sidebar and headers with AdSense, and since I have a limited number of ad slots (I don't want to overload my visitors with ads) I have several companies on a waiting list for advertising slots. I have several advertisers who have had ads running for over 3 years now. One company just renewed their slot for a year, and another one did for 6 months. I sell 'presence' advertising only - no click counts or such on my end, and I host their graphic on my server without scripts so adblock and such do not stop the ads. Animated ads are limited to 5 cycles so as to not annoy people who spend time on the sites.

So - I have AdSense and ads placed directly by companies. AdSense does make up about 2/3rds of my revenue. It would hurt me if AdSense went away, but it wouldn't totally devastate me. Some of it I could make up by putting company direct ads in their place.

maximillianos




msg:4195616
 3:32 pm on Sep 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

Now we keep getting emails from BurstMedia, one of those we rotated in that spot before, why traffic we send to them has significant decreased. Well, we realized that by putting Adsense alone in that spot nets us a thousand percent better than the total amount I get from BurstMedia.


Exactly. We also ran Burst for a while, and Tribal. Both seemed to do OK, but when we switched over to replacing them with Adsense display ads (image only) those exact same ad slots doubled their eCPM.

From a site management perspective it has been much easier to control and monitor ads from one partner instead of 4 or 5.

Plus when a user reports a problem with an ad, we know where it came from now. Before we had to try and pin point if it was Tribal, Vibrant or Google causing the problem.

Getting one big check from G makes me feel a little unstable, but the size of the checks are making the sting less painful... =)

nomis5




msg:4195815
 10:24 pm on Sep 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've been playing the game for seven years or so now and these are my findings:

1. In general Adsense pays the best.

2. One or two affiliate schemes with individual companies pay well, well, well above Adsense. Keep trying to find the one that works for you - financially they are goldmines.

3. I ignore the Adbrite, Vibrant etc schemes.I've done most of them and they produce from low to almost zero earnings.

Edge




msg:4195879
 1:48 am on Sep 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

I don't know but I think if your going to put all your eggs in the AdSense basket - be ready for when and if the relationship sours.

I plan to contiune to diversify my revenue streams every creative way I can.

maximillianos




msg:4195892
 3:00 am on Sep 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

One last point about using multiple ad networks. You have more hands in your site's stats and data.

We found out Vibrant was #*$!ing our data to Quantcast. They were actually embedding a Quantcast script in their JavaScript. We asked them to remove it and they did after a few requests. But we no longer trusted them after that.

andrewshim




msg:4195913
 5:13 am on Sep 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

2. Removed in-text links. No replacement. The payout had dropped so low it just seemed to be more annoying to visitors to have those ads versus none at all. Plus I might get more clicks to my Adsense ads, which were more pleasant and relevant ads.


Well, the one in-text ad network I'm with now is paying soooooooo low that I'm just keeping them on until I reach the next payment threshold. Then it's goodbye to 2 cents for 3 clicks!

I wonder why Adsense doesn't create in-text ads?

alika




msg:4196028
 12:34 pm on Sep 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

I don't know but I think if your going to put all your eggs in the AdSense basket - be ready for when and if the relationship sours.


Yes we are. Just that diversifying for us no longer means applying to every ad network out there

We've learned the lesson that diversifying by using all other ad networks have cannibalized the full potential of what we could earn from Adsense.

Lexur




msg:4196447
 10:39 am on Sep 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

I don't know but I think if your going to put all your eggs in the AdSense basket - be ready for when and if the relationship sours.


Yes, I am ready for.

If you've kept the difference in the last seven years between Adsense and other networks and broad-affliate schemes to the bank, you should have at least one year to rethink your business and rebuild your income.

rpking




msg:4197112
 11:22 am on Sep 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

Interesting thread - I recently asked [webmasterworld.com] if there were any genuine alternatives to Adsense, but by the sounds of this thread the answer is no.

All the experience above seems to indicate that any attempt to reduce reliance on Google results in a significant drop in revenue, such is their dominance.

Hence, their monopoly position means we need to be too reliant on them not kicking us out of Adsense for any reason... which is a big risk. I for one can't wait for another big player to introduce a serious competitor to Adsense.

Lexur




msg:4197119
 11:34 am on Sep 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

The "Alternatives to Adsense" is a recurring thread from the day Adsense came to the world: [google.es ]

Broadway




msg:4197394
 3:20 am on Sep 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

Here in 2010 I find myself relying on Adsense for the vast majority of my website income. I agree that other programs really don't earn enough for you to bother with.

I will also say that for years I've intended to return to selling ad space directly to advertisers, but with the estimation that Adsense pays publishers about 75% of what the advertiser pays (right?), selling ad space directly hardly seems worth it when I could spend that same time developing more content (and not dealing with the hassels of catering to advertisers).

snickles121




msg:4197433
 3:38 am on Sep 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

The only other program that might be useful for a backup is the msn publisher, but Ive applied for the beta account before and never heard nothing back.

maximillianos




msg:4198486
 12:55 pm on Sep 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

Just wanted to add another perspective on diversifying income streams. You can look at it differently.

In one way using multiple ad networks for your ad revenue stream is really NOT diversifying income streams. You still only have one income stream... ad revenue.

True diversifying would be to have ad revenue, subscription revenue, newsletter ad revenue, product sales revenue, etc.

This type of revenue diversification provides true stability. So I am more convinced my decision to consolidate my ad networks was the right decision to maximize my revenue for that particular income stream.

super70s




msg:4199024
 3:40 am on Sep 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've been with ValueClick since 2001 (actually it was "FastClick" back then and ValueClick bought them out), and I remain with them mostly I guess for "old times sake." I did demote them to 468 x 60 banners at the bottom of my pages after AdSense got cranked up, but it's still been a reliable (if modest) income stream and I'm not sure AdSense would necessarily take up the slack if I dumped all of ValueClick's ads for Adsense in that location.

I have to say though that ValueClick has developed one of the most obnoxious, bloated control panels of any affiliate program I've ever seen and I never go to their site anymore, I just gladly accept the deposits every month.

maximillianos




msg:4199335
 2:23 pm on Sep 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

Good point super70s. I think if you have an ad slot that is not very visible (ie - bottom of a page) you might do better with a pure CPM network versus Google, since G does like to see clicks.

Chrispcritters




msg:4203514
 11:41 pm on Sep 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've found a few networks that generate rev with low eCPM flux and put them into Google Ad Manager, with AdSense being server when they think AdSense will out perform the networks. Seems to be working for me. Mind you, I've not turned off the ad networks for an extended period of time to see if it results in an increase in revenue.

alika




msg:4203604
 10:38 am on Sep 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

ad slot that is not very visible (ie - bottom of a page)


Then wait till Valueclick contacts you to say that your ads should be shown above the fold. We removed them after they sent us an email that our wide skys are below the fold - and they should be above the fold.

They're crappy and income is so low that we're not putting them above the fold. So we just removed them. That started the ball running with us in terms of taking ads that don't pay that much

fom2001uk




msg:4233678
 5:15 pm on Nov 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Doesn't all this depend on what niche you're in and what kind of products or services you're selling?

I'm considering setting up a site aimed at memorabillia. I'd have thought that affiliate sales would be better than Adsense. But reading this thread has got me thinking again.

nomis5




msg:4233746
 7:22 pm on Nov 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Recent experience has changed my mind somewhat.

One other alternative I tried about a month ago has produced significant income with no drop in Adsense income (and no, it most definitely is not Adbrite). I'm not going to name them because I'll begin to sound like an advert for them, especially after I posted a recent string naming and eventually (with some reluctance) praising them.

But they are out there as ad-ons to Adsense, and I was a definite disbeliever!

BillyS




msg:4233915
 4:10 am on Nov 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

If I'm worried about Adsense going away tomorrow, well then I'll just fall back on these other networks if that day comes. But until then, I'm going to try and utilize the best paying network in the most places I can on my site.

Agree, this is my intention too.

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