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This 95 message thread spans 4 pages: < < 95 ( 1 2 [3] 4 > >     
Your AdSense Earnings Less in 2012 than in 2003?

 2:31 pm on Sep 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

I made more in August 2003 than I did in August 2012!

Someone posted the above statement in the August 2012 AdSense Earnings Observations [webmasterworld.com] thread. There is a lot going on in that statement. The question to think about is, what got us to the point where some are making less today than they were nine years ago? It's intellectually lazy to scoff that web publishers are making less in 2012 than in 2003 because of the economy. This is how we miss the truth, by scoffing at the obvious without looking at what's happening deep down. Number one, there are billions more ad dollars being spent in 2012 than there were in 2003. On page 7 of this report of online ad spending compiled by the Internet Advertising Bureau [iab.net](IAB), their measurements of online spending in the U.S. show that in 2003 there was just $7.27 billion spent on Internet advertising. By 2010 that figure had risen by almost 400% to $26 billion dollars. By other measures, global 2011 advertising spending grew by almost 17% over 2010. IAC had a great second quarter, whose earnings rose by 40% [hollywoodreporter.com]. Google had a great 2nd quarter, too. Google's paid clicks increased by 42% [zdnet.com]. How does that compare to your paid clicks? It's not the economy. Clearly the world has changed, but not in the way you might suppose. The world has changed to the extent that more money is being spent on online advertising today than at any other time. So what is going on?

A major problem with the AdSense program is that it is poorly promoted. Now ask yourself, how does Google benefit from an AdSense program that underperforms? Let's count the ways:

1. AdSense doesn't siphon off ad dollars from the AdWords program
Google makes more money from the AdWords program. Make no mistake, the AdSense program competes for limited advertising money with the AdWords program. A weak AdSense program keeps more money in Google's pocket.

2. AdSense is good for Google because it's bad for affiliate programs
Think about it. Why would Google create a competitor against affiliate programs but not promote it to it's advertising clients? Because the AdSense program increases advertising inventory at the expense of affiliate companies. Affiliate programs were competitors for advertising dollars that Google would rather see flow to them. But competitors compete with advertising inventory. AdSense gave Google a way to lock up advertising inventory and keep it from their competitors. By not promoting their AdSense program, whether they planned it or not, Google created a way to keep advertising inventory from their competitors while simultaneously not allowing it to compete with their more profitable AdWords inventory. That's a win-win for Google AdWords but a lose-lose for web publishers, affiliate companies, and ecommerce sites that would otherwise be advertising on pay for performance affiliate networks.

3. AdSense is good for Google because it is bad for competing search engines
For awhile the AdSense program blatantly allowed spam sites to participate in their program. Why? How did it benefit Google to host thousands of copyright infringers and article spinners in the AdSense program? One benefit is that it was bad for Yahoo and Bing. AdSense Spam flooded the index of Bing and Yahoo. There is no smoking gun where someone at Google admitted as much. But the reality is that for a time AdSense was a defacto weapon against the other search engines, a weapon that degraded the search indexes of Google's competitors.

4. Data, data, data... and more data
Mediabot, for "bandwidth saving purposes" shares data with the search index. I am not saying that Google shares AdSense information with the search department, particularly which sites are connected. But the associated data is very rich for identifying spam networks, linking patterns, etc.

When someone posts that they are earning less in 2012 than in 2003, it's easy to dismiss it that the world has changed. It's too easy. But then again it's always more difficult to take a moment to think things through, so one can't be faulted for dismissing such a statement. But if you do dismiss that statement then you'll miss out on what's really going on behind the scenes.

[edited by: martinibuster at 2:57 am (utc) on Sep 13, 2012]



 8:05 pm on Sep 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

would have had to make a purchase or made a substantial "interaction" such as filling in a form etc with the previous site(s)for them to be "re-marketing ads"


The only "interaction" needed is to visit a page that has the remarketing code snippet installed.


 8:10 pm on Sep 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

it would be interesting to hear what AdWords users think about interest based ads.

seeing as their ads can now appear on many more sites, i assume that the cost of each individual click would be less, although their overall spend would be up (because the ads are being shown that more often)

can AdWords users tell whether a click came from a targeted site or an IBA one? i suppose it makes no difference to them, because at the end of the day both kinds of user are still targeted.


 8:17 pm on Sep 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

@buckworks :)

Yep.. I was away checking and posting when you wrote that..

Eh ..just checked, apparently G have now blurred the definitions betwixt the two..re-marketing can now as term be applied to those who merely visit your site, then you can drop a cookie and stalk them..all over the GDN..

Depends if SevenCubed visited a website , and then "said" website stalked him..or possibly if there was a DC ad for site A was running on a site B that he did visited, the DC cookie would allow site A to stalk him.and maybe site A's partners..

DC cookies tend IME to be a law unto themselves..Which is, IMO partially why G bought them ..( deniable responsibility )..and ubiquitousness ..omnipresence, split between them and adsense..

"the remarketing code snippet installed" = in this case "cookie dropper" ..


 8:23 pm on Sep 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

re-marketing ads are instigated by advertisers and not by google? Still it seems they affect the individual publisher sites adversely.

Yes, remarketing ads are instigated by the advertiser. We can mix and match them in a variety of ways to target different users, depending on what they did when they visited our site.

As for how they affect individual publisher sites, all I can say is that our bids for remarketing ads are the highest we have on the content network. Our actual CPC for remarketing ads is almost double our average CPC for content impressions.


 8:28 pm on Sep 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Not to repeat myself, but if I can get somebody to buy pizza in my shoe store, they must really want pizza. By the same token if I can get somebody to click a completely irrelevant ad on my site? They are really really interested and I would bet my left nut that they will buy anything or sign up for newsletter or something. They will be a very beneficial click to an advertiser. That's the only sense I can make of it.

Same with fishing. If you put on a single plain hook with no worm on it and get a trout to bite. Guess what? That was one F hungry/stupid trout. The point is you can watch 1000 trout pass that hook and none bite it. Ah, but you're after that 1 out of 1000 trout. That trout is "gold star" converting traffic in one sense. That's the trout you're after I suppose and IBAs are the vehicle to that trout. You're not paying for the trout that swim past your pathetic lure.


 8:34 pm on Sep 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Sure...if someone clicks one ( IBA or re-marketing ad ) when they are on your totally irrelevant to the ad subject site ..it is is good thing, both for the site, the advertiser ( if you "convert" and for Google) ..but as IBAs and re-marketing ads are so irrelevant to most sites that one sees them on ..and the visitor came to the site because they were looking for something "relevant" to the "searched for subject or KW(s)" or the "relevant to site" link they came in on ..

You as a publisher will display many IBAs or RMAs...but individually as a publisher, you will get few clicks on them..compared to the number of times that they are displayed on your site..Good advertiser CTR, good network aggregate CTR, crappy individual average themed content site publisher CTR..

Which , I repeat is why G will not allow publishers to opt out of displaying them..no matter how hard publishers may campaign for that..but it may be of some comfort to some, to know all the factors that go into reduced revenue despite higher visitor numbers..


 8:41 pm on Sep 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

The problem is of course that it's ours real estate that's waiting for that 1 stupid trout out of 1000 to bite the plain hook. Meanwhile the guy fishing with a real lure is catching fish every 5 minutes (Google search pages for example).

If it wasn't clear in my mind what's been going on lately, I'm convinced now. Solutions are another matter. If my sites don't fit into a productive IBA situation, I'm not sure how I can change the people who come to my site for something specific. Oh well, I welcome challenges. At least I have a bit clearer understanding thanks to this thread.


 8:43 pm on Sep 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Wow, we've really veered off the original topic, but it's still a good one.

I have said this many times and I will keep saying it - you can never really understand AdSense unless and until you get a handle on how AdWords works. And most publishers don't. But it's like driving with one eye closed. You might avoid hitting anyone, but you also might not find the best way to get to where you wanna be.

I was an AdWords advertiser for almost three years before I jumped into AdSense (and I still am an advertiser) and I absolutely believe it has informed my experiences with AdSense.

First of all, let me correct this:

netmeg's case is an exception ( as are others ) as there are not ads available due to G adwords TOS, for certain site KW subjects..so related or general IBAs will do well there, and on sites in a similar situation vis a vis KWs..

The subject matter, lack or ads, or AdSense TOS is NOT why IBA and non-topic-related ads work for me.

The reason these types of ads work for me is that I not only know my subject matter, but I know who and where and what my audience is.

There most certainly ARE ads in my niches, mostly for professional grade products (the consumer ones are against TOS) and I block them, because the people they're targeted to aren't usually the regular visitors to my sites.

I obviously can't influence when a user clicks on an ad on my site, but if I know what kind of users I have, and when they visit, and I have a fair idea of when my earnings go up, then what I *can* do is concentrate on attracting more of that traffic.

When I first started, I got really mistargeted ads too, and it took a slap year or more for Google (and me) to start learning what works on my sites. And I had to make some changes in the way I wrote for it. And I paid attention to who was using it and how they were using it. And I developed some strategies to find where else these people hung out and how to maybe bring them to the sites, get them to share it with their friends, etc. And so far anyway, it's worked.

IBA ads are NOT the same as remarketing (also called retargeting) Unfortunately Google put that loaded gun into a bunch of advertisers hands without properly teaching them how to use it (can you say impression caps? I knew you could) which is why I'm occasionally stalked around the internet by a giant glazed donut. Properly done, it actually does work.

If you want to successfully advertise on AdWords, you have to know who your audience is. I'm reasonably sure that the most successful people on AdSense also need to know who and where their audience is; maybe even more than they need to know the subject matter. At least, that's my experience with it.

AdSense is really easy - you can just set-it-and-forget-it. But then you get set-it-and-forget-it earnings too. And you have to find the balance between putting too much effort into something you can't control and no effort at all. But if you can find the balance - that's the sweet spot.


 8:47 pm on Sep 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

MrSavage if I were to give you one piece of advice it would be to learn AdWords. If you don't want to run your own campaigns, then just go take all the online learning materials and the practice quizzes.

Seriously. Here's the link.



 8:49 pm on Sep 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

As a very small amateur advertiser the Adwords user interface is far to clunky to use and it puts me off using it.

Also as the internet gets bigger there are less advertiser to be spread around.

And Adwords clicks are just too high for the ROI.

My product really needs banner ads.


 8:56 pm on Sep 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

They will be a very beneficial click to an advertiser. That's the only sense I can make of it.

Yes. YES.

if I can get somebody to buy pizza in my shoe store, they must really want pizza

To keep the analogy balanced, the only people who get told about pizza to within your shoe store would be those whom you already knew liked pizza, and thought might be getting hungry. You're not just randomly telling all comers that they ought to order pizza.

The point is you can watch 1000 trout pass that hook and none bite it.

Again, keep the analogy balanced; the hook isn't being put in front of every trout who swims past, but only to those who are believed to be getting hungry. Plus, it's not just a bare hook, we advertisers do everything we know how to present attractively!

[edited by: buckworks at 9:03 pm (utc) on Sep 4, 2012]


 8:56 pm on Sep 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Well you don't have to actually run campaigns to learn how it works, but it helps.

It's also true that AdSense is not necessarily the best match for everyone's website and everyone's psyche.


 8:57 pm on Sep 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

The subject matter, lack or ads, or AdSense TOS is NOT why IBA and non-topic-related ads work for me.

There most certainly ARE ads in my niches, mostly for professional grade products (the consumer ones are against TOS) and I block them, because the people they're targeted to aren't usually the regular visitors to my sites.

I've never seen any ads for any of those KWs on search SERPS..since G began ( consumer grade or Pro ) and when I look at adwords TOS..( in English ) to my "reading", it won't allow ads on them..they fall into a "no" category, like guns and alcohol..

The reason these types of ads work for me is that I not only know my subject matter, but I know who and where and what my audience is.

but , yes the most important part is down to you understanding your particular visitor segment..:)

Sorry, I'm cooking dinner ( in another room ) at the same time this thread is running, and so posting out of "sync"


 9:02 pm on Sep 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

It's all in how you word them, Leo. There are plenty of ads - those are practically the only ones I block.

Also a side benefit to knowing what your best traffic is and going out to get more of it is that when Google does its monthly claw-back you may find you get to keep a lot more of your earnings.


 9:04 pm on Sep 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

My logic is undeniable...


 10:28 pm on Sep 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Now I'm going to tell you why you don't see IBA in the search ads.

Because Google doesn't need to show them there.

Search ads are basically easy - I as an advertiser plug in a list of keywords and the amount I want to bid, and if all the other pieces align, when someone types one of my keywords into the Google search box, my ad appears. Easy peasy. If I know what I'm doing, my CTR is fairly high and these ads convert pretty well because I'm hitting someone with my ad exactly when they're looking for what I got.

Display ads are bid completely differently. There is no one-to-one keyword match. I'm not bidding on a match type to a list of keywords, I'm basically bidding on a theme. CTR on display ads tends to be WAY lower, because you're not necessarily showing your ad to someone at the exact moment they're looking for it, you're hoping it catches their eyeballs while they're browsing the web; quite possibly looking for something else entirely. It's a bit of a needle in a haystack. So I create my display campaign and I name my ad group and toss in just a handful of keywords to represent the 'theme' I'm going for, and I have to trust Google to figure out where to show the ads. Typically you get a lot lower CTR and conversion on Display until you run some campaigns, figure out which sites work for you, then you can isolate them out to their own campaign and bid more because the ROI is with those higher converting sites.

IBA is simply that last method on steroids. It's a way to try to get a better CTR out of what's already a low CTR proposition. If a site gets a 100 users in ten minutes, and one of them has done something previously to make Google think that he might be interested in what I have, they're gonna try to show my ad to that guy, because he's ever so slightly more likely to click and convert.

That's all there is to it. IBA ads don't show on Search because they're not as targeted as search, but they're more targeted than plain old Display.


 11:01 pm on Sep 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

So..in other words, when G are are paying all the bandwidth and back-end processing charges ..SERPS..they, Google ( and advertisers ) want "precision"..so as not to waste their ( Google's ) money..it is on their, ( Google's ) dime to serve SERPS..

When it is the publishers sites who are paying 99% of the bandwidth and the back-end processing charges..they, Google, ( and advertisers ), are happy to go with
hoping it catches their eyeballs while they're browsing the web
a needle in a haystack
..after all it isn't the their, Google's, ( and advertisers ) dime paying the hosting..only a very small call to their ( Google's ) ad servers..

 11:13 pm on Sep 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

IBA ads don't show on Search because they're not as targeted as search...

When someone is on a site about recipes and they keep seeing ads about camping equipment, the idea is that the person interested in recipes is also interested in camping. Now let's imagine that the person on the recipe site got there via Google. Weren't they interested in camping equipment not more than two minutes ago when they were on Google searching for recipes?

What changed? It begs the question: Why is it good to show those on advertiser sites but not so good to show them on Google?


 11:22 pm on Sep 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

What changed? It begs the question: Why is it good to show those on advertiser sites but not so good to show them on Google?

Could it be that if someone got an ad for "belly fat" or "camping equipment" when they were searching for recipes ..and had put "recipes" or "cake recipes" into the search box on SERPS..they might say "Google SERPS are crap"*..;)

And worse still say it to all their friends, via "social media" or on prime time TV ;)

So they don't allow IBA and RMA on SERPS..

OK..so .. if they, the searcher, put "chocolate fudge cake recipes" into the search box Google might be able to serve "belly fat" ads as a PSA ;)

* But they don't mind making publishers sites look like crap*, cos there will always be another batch of publishers along to feed the machine.. or ehow..or youtube..

[edited by: Leosghost at 11:26 pm (utc) on Sep 4, 2012]


 11:25 pm on Sep 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

What changed? It begs the question: Why is it good to show those on advertiser sites but not so good to show them on Google?

Cause the straight one-to-one keyword ads convert better? Mine do, anyway.


 11:28 pm on Sep 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Why is it good to show those on advertiser sites but not so good to show them on Google?

Primarily because users who are in the midst of an active search have a different mindset than when they see an ad in the context of visiting and reading web pages. The response patterns on search are significantly different than content.

It's worth noting that while Google SERPs don't get IBAs, other properties such as YouTube, do.


 12:23 pm on Sep 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

I would like to chip in here.
We have "Adsense for Search" on our site which are local directories. We have this on our search result pages and we can pass on custom values to google adsense code.

Our CTR for "Adsense for Search" is almost 3-4 times (sometimes even more) of CTR of our normal "Adsense Ads".

Also our Revenue is more than 2-3 times for "Adsense for Search" than "Normal Adsense Ads".

So all in all what we can understand from our sites that "Adsense for Search" gives us much better results in terms of CTR and Revenue than normal "Adsense Ads" on our site.

So I would like to support an argument here that Google SERPs must be getting much better results in terms of clicks and revenue than to clicks and revenues on Adsense Publishers Site.

But again ofcourse not every site is Search based and most of the sites are having articles or different sort of information and cant show "Adsense for Search" ads on their site.

And No we are not premium publisher with millions of views. Google approached us for showing "Adsense for Search" ads on our site and we acceepted to show them on our Search Pages.



 2:51 pm on Sep 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'd say it boils down to more competition. As a simplified example: If there were 10 sites in your niche in 2003, they would typically divide up the traffic between them. In 2012, there could be 50 or more competitors in your niche and Google now appears to magically cycle them all to give equal share, which assuming traffic stayed pretty much the same or even increased, would amount to a net loss for everyone. All depends on your niche.


 3:43 pm on Sep 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

Answering the thread title: YES, I'm earning less on 2012 compared to 2003.
In TOTAL I'm making almost the same, but in the past I only had ONE website with adsense. Now I nave several brick and mortar sites running adsense that made fair money until june/ag 2012.
  • I build only clean sites, only original text and original pictures, no spam, etc... you know I follow every fair, honest rule
  • Every article is well researched before going live
  • I have WAY MORE traffic than any past day
  • I still have great reading impact

In general my network is more strong than ever and two sites are now being considered authority sites. Still the earnings are going down and down. I'm now being constantly asked for permissions to use my content on books, digital guides and nwo apps.

Londrum: i've done better every year as well (doubled it every year), but only because i've managed to increase my traffic. if i look at my CTR and eCPM they are all massively down. so you have to constantly pull in more and more visitors to get anywhere.

I'm there too regarding traffic but the earnings are going to somewhere else. I'm now getting more complicated email questions and turning those into new content.

Lame_Wolf: People, esp in the UK, do not have the money to spend like they did back then.
True, and Europe in general are not doing so well, I agree. The problem is the general marketing and advertising ecosystem is showing more investment and earnings, but not us.

MrSavage: I'm doing worse in 2012 than in 2011. Let's say that much? Instead of moving upward year after year, I'm moving back significantly.

I'm there.

What I don't understand is why my sites are performing better in all areas, I have MORE sites, genuine, not MFAs, the amount of traffic is pretty but the earnings are almost the same as when I had only one site running adsense... One of my sites has even more traffic than the official regional site for "widgets" and I get more questions, readers, emails, etc than them...

I don't get it.


 7:00 pm on Sep 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have a site that has been running adsense since about 2003 when it brought in a couple of thousand per month, and now is lucky to bring in a couple of hundred. But we started running our own in house ad program, and we are back up to over a thousand and we are about to remove the last adsense unit from the site. We've already done this on another site. The main problem is adsense just doesn't perform as well as our direct sales ads.


 8:11 pm on Sep 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

you can never really understand AdSense unless and until you get a handle on how AdWords works

If there is a "secret" that is not mentioned enough then netmeg has said it again, and not for the first time. I don't go on about it because it may well be the key to high earnings

Unlike netmeg I do earn my living entirely from my network of websites and have done so for many years. Believe me, the quote above could just change your fortunes if you are willing to invest the time and effort.


 11:55 pm on Sep 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

Believe me, the quote above could just change your fortunes if you are willing to invest the time and effort

I don't entirely agree from my own perspective. On balance I have no complaints on CTR, I have no complaints on EPC, which only leaves Google Zoo traffic and even armed with a divining rod embedded in AdWords, that isn't going to change.


 12:35 am on Sep 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

Search has definitely changed over the years. Many organic listings are now getting pushed beneath the fold. Also, visitors have become blind to ads, which is a challenge for any webmaster trying to monetize their website with supplemental ads. But people should not discount the impact the economy has on consumers. Less people with money to spend has modified the consumer's behavior.


 8:14 am on Sep 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

My top years were 2005-2006, after that it only went downhill. A site that made over $150 a day at its peak is now making just $10 on a good day. Traffic is way down, but not nearly as hard as earning, and the economic boom under which AdSense flourished has been gone for years.

AdSense CPC is much lower than it used to be, and just like other posters here I've noticed that ad relevance has gone down the drain. When AdSense just came out I was amazed by how relevant the ads were, but behavioral targeting and other factors increasingly changed that. Possibly users are also becoming blind to text ads, and I think that as people get web savvier, they increasingly turn to ad blockers.

The web has also changed a lot over the last decade, new things come and go and browsing habits change. Competition is increasing, not only from big content but also from Google itself. More and more Google domains are dominating the SERPs and one of the things they've pushed hard the past year is Google+. As a content website you're pretty much forced to make an account if you don't want to end up with a disadvantage versus other sites (the whole authorship thing), and especially for localised results I'm increasingly seeing Google+ company pages (created by Google itself).

I hope to get back on the right track, otherwise I'll need to get a day job.


 2:02 pm on Sep 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

My August earnings are less than half of what I earned in August last year, mainly due to a loss of half my Google traffic.
But EPC and CTR have also fallen considerably making it a double whammy.
My earnings peaked around 2010 after rising gradually since 2003, but are now a bit less than 2003.

I don't see IBAs as much of a factor on ECPM - they were only 5% of my contextual impressions last year (but 10% this year - mainly due to falling EPC I imagine).
CPM and third-party ads are less than 2% of contextual impressions so that would probably mean that re-marketing ads are not an influence on EPC in my case.

I would agree that factors affecting EPC/ECPM in the past few years could be, as others have mentioned:
1) more publishers competing,
2) advertisers bidding smarter or dropping out because of economic reasons,
3) ad blindness (including ad blocking, to a small extent).


 2:17 pm on Sep 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

I make more now, though the sites that make the most and least money are totally different than they were in 2003.

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