|Prediction: May 2014 will be the worst month of all time|
So, it appears as though AdSense has permanently replaced the smaller circle arrow in the text ads with the much larger square version. I've seen it consistently across all devices and I don't think I ever saw it before on smartphones. This will have huge negative consequences for publishers that are opted into text ads. I'm already seeing a huge CTR drop as a result.
Unless AdSense changes this "switch" I predict it will be every publishers worst CTR month ever, and as a result, your worst month as a publisher adjust for traffic.
Google - unbelievable.
|About 95% of my ads are the same |
Unfortunately I seem to be in the same boat with a hardcore dozen or so advertisers but generally the same 3-4 appearing all the time, certainly that cannot help however I have no idea what is appearing in the US for example.
|Do others know something that I don't? |
Don't believe so, after 11 years of doing this the last 3 years have been a downhill, bucking fiasco for me, yes bucking as in saw tooth ups and downs. Google has never, and will never, give any sensible advice, only pathetic generics like "add more ads", and then the search department simply goes berserk and takes instant black and white decisions based upon nothing and wipes out a whole swathe of perfectly good sites.
Hey SS, I have 5 blue dots for "Revenue Optimization", whoopy do!
|wa desert rat|
|Google has never, and will never, give any sensible advice, only pathetic generics like "add more ads" |
It's not just Google that gives useless advice. You can see the same thing on lots of forums. Specific advice is a rarity; helpful advice is practically nonexistent.
As far as the scorecard is concerned I recently went down two scorecard "dots" for "multiscreens" and then back up a dot; all without doing anything on my end. Not sure what sort of criteria G uses for that but useful it ain't.
Then again... I do the web site because I'm involved in the subject matter not because I suddenly decided to make money with ads. It's easy to get focused on revenue, though.
I still think that all of this will shake out. G is going through some sort of exercise designed to enhance its ability to recognize and predict click fraud involving its new acquisition. I'm convinced that the AWS "bots" were created by G itself as a month-long test of whatever system they've put into place.
|G is going through some sort of exercise designed to enhance its ability to recognize and predict click fraud involving its new acquisition. |
Well, if that's the case, then we're dealing with a double-whammy because at the same time they're doing that, they've been mucking with ad designs and that has had serious consequences for some. Franky, click-fraud is an ongoing battle they've been fighting for years. The most recent changes in ad formats happened this month and those changes have been disruptive to the status quo for many webmasters.
Not sure there's anything to be done about click fraud on the publisher side but to block ranges. Where ad styles, features and layout is concerned, there is a lot that can be done.
Where the scorecard is concerned, every time something new gets added to the scorecard, it shake up the scores. There's a delay in that reporting too. I've literally seen the score for a single page go up and down from page load to page load and then looked at the report and realized G just added another metric to the mix. I treat it like the "canary in a coal mine" (a useful warning system) but don't take it to be gospel either.
So I got the email this morning inviting me to register on the Optimizing Adsense course - thought I might learn what needs to be done to get those targeted ads back. But according to the initial assesment test, I know it all already (well I did get the very last question wrong).
Somehow have a sneaky feeling this is mostly going to list those tips they keep giving use, but we shall see.
I also got the Optimizing AdSense course email. Got all the test questions correct but feel there must be something I can learn.
I can't speak to targeting, because the ads I see on my site are most definitely not being shown to my users. So I don't know what they are seeing (except from what I can gather out of the General Categories tab and the other stats and reports)
|webcentric, no you can turn this off, using the beta Experiments (its an actual feature) |
You can then block Enhanced text ads and certain sensitive categories
Well, this feature just showed up in my account today. Namely, you can now test variations on your Ad Serving settings (including Enhanced Text Ads vs Regular, Interest-based or not and variations on blocked categories) using "experiments."
This does indeed look valuable. Tools to analyze your Adsense Ad Serving settings. Just what the doctor ordered.
noname123 mentioned this days ago but it wasn't in my account. It's worth keeping an eye open for when this does show up in your account if it hasn't already. Thanks for the heads-up noname123.
Added: I'm becoming more and more convinced that we may be coming out of the Adsense Text Ads experimentation phase we've been in for months now. Reason? Google is now committing new features related to the new formats to the Adsense interface. Developers typically wait until the front end-product is solidified before getting fancy with the administration utilities. Now that the Ad management interface is starting to see significant upgrades, it makes me believe G is now committed to the new text ad formats and is comfortable building more controls for publishers to manage them.
April earnings was 67% of March. End of March, I received a warning: LAYOUT ENCOURAGES ACCIDENTAL CLICKS from AdSense.
I run two ad units on a page 160x600 on the left and 300x250 below content. I changed the site so that I had a leader board 728x90 on top and 300x600 on the right side. I also clearly labeled each unit to say advertisement all caps.
RPM continued to decline in April and in May it was a total collapse.
Two days ago I reverted the design but only show one ad unit per page and on the side labeled with advertisement and further away from the main content.
Last two days RPM returned to that of March for new visitors and for returned visits it far exceeded March earnings. Upon further investigation, the caching for the page and the style sheet were off (I am using a CDN for the style sheet). Some users are seeing the old page with the new style sheet and the former ad units are partially covering content area (confirmed by a visitor).
I have informed an AdSense personnel explaining the unusual increase in CTR for returned visits. I will wait and see what will happen.
I don't see any arrows this morning, and text size looks smaller
I'm actually experiencing a slowdown this month as well. Strangely enough, my traffic vs. this time last year has held steady -- in fact, I'm getting significantly more referrals from Google (according to Google Analytics) than this time last year. However, my direct/none traffic has seen a decrease.
This could be from advertisers pulling back this month -- I notice eCPM is down -- so I don't think it's worth panicking just yet. I'm concerned, to be sure; I don't want to give the impression that I'm not. But (hopefully!) patience is warranted, and we'll see how things go next month.
Here is a little update for you folks.
Yesterday, I saw $xxx, my first 3-digit revenue day since April 30.
Things are getting better.
1. I went into full panic mode, when I was hit from 200 yds. away on May Day. The questions came fast and furiously.
2. The lack of visibility/ transparency caused my wild speculation about what I did wrong.
3. I now believe that G was more responsible for my demotion than I was. However, SOMETHING caused the sniper fire at me. Maybe, I will never know why.
4. The upshot was that I cleaned up a lot of stuff, which was a good thing to do.
The G dial twisting brought to mind the Buddhists, who walk by the prayer wheels, and give every one a spin. I thought of AdSense employees, walking by the analog dials, and giving every one a spin. How many can do this to my site? Ten? Hundreds? How coordinated are their actions?
I have renewed hope for my AdSense future.
However, "crunch time" is always in the back of my mind. How much pressure is on AdSense folks to maintain continuing upward revenue? Is it crunch time now? Has AdSense saturated the market to the extent that they already have most of the Ad Words buyers that they are going to get? Ever-continuing growth is not feasible IMHO. Once you have conquered the world, what's next? No more growth?
Anyway, I am going to try and continue serving my readers, in the best ways I know how. As the motto says, "... accept what I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference." No more obsessing about things beyond my control. Just keep plodding, and "let 'er ride".
I am not a religious person, so I cannot beseech the Almighty to come to my aid. But I do believe in luck. I will keep trying to nudge my luck in the good direction.
Good luck to all.
And yes, May 2014 will be the worst month of all time, until ...
Regarding OP, yes, May is setting up exactly as the worst month for myself. I'm definitely of the mindset that it has nothing to do with what I've done or haven't done. Go have a browse for yourself around the web and when you see 2 or 3 text ads at one time on the viewable part of a site, your answer for miserable results should be quite clear. I wish we could post screenshots here. Somebody just hit your site with the ugly stick and I bet you don't even know it.
|Somebody just hit your site with the ugly stick and I bet you don't even know it. |
It's fairly obvious that some webmasters only look at their websites occasionally as evidenced by complaints that pop up here days, weeks and even months after changes to text ads were made on their site, e.g. some lengthy time after the fact, someone pops in here and complains about their revenue dropping like a stone. Then days later will come a complaint like, "Crap, those arrows are ugly." Makes you wonder what some people do with their time and if they ever actually read what other people post before jumping in with their less-than-timely observations. Yup. My tolerance for the oblivious is at an all-time low.
Guys, I gotta plead ignorance on why Enhanced Text Ads would lead to lower CTR and lower earnings. It seems to me that the big, blocky arrow box and the images in the ads are drawing my eyes in more and making me notice the ads more. That's the whole idea, right?
The risk with too-well-blended ads is that readers would just pass them over. Don't we want users to notice the ads?
|Guys, I gotta plead ignorance on why Enhanced Text Ads would lead to lower CTR and lower earnings... |
...Don't we want users to notice the ads?
Well, when the arrow overpowers the message in the ad, that can't be good. Also, have you ever seen those ads with the big arrows and the words "Download Now" or "Download Here?" They scare the crap out of me because what I see is "Download some free malware here." These arrows scream "tacky!" They scream "desperation." They also scream "avoid this like the plague."
I ask why the message in the ad isn't enough to get user's attention and to that end have turned these buggers off? It's a serious step and blending ads with enhancements turned off is about as close to a kiss of death as you can imagine so, rest assured, I'm using every trick in the book (real design principles) to make sure they're not getting lost on the page. So far the results aren't any worse than when these enhancements are turned on. We'll see though over time.
BTW atladsenser...I think that's an excellent question. Not saying I have the definitive answer but it's the kind of question that needs to be asked.
Seeing a new version of the "square" arrows text ads where the corners are rounded making it much more visually appealing. Hope they stick with this version. Maybe, just maybe, they actually borrowed a UX person from another department? Nah - I'm probably giving them too much credit.
@avalon37 -- Testing (again) 1, 2, 3...
Can't see 'em because I have enhancements turned off but it sounds promising.
There's a ton of new stuff rolling out this month where Adsense is concerned along with some real-time adjustments. Who knows, maybe G got the "Ugly as Sin" memo or maybe it was the "Where did the money go?" memo.
If they're smart, maybe eventually we'll get a "Pick your arrow style" choice in the Ad Setup utility. Now wouldn't that be a concept? Even better if there's a way to opt into some enhancements and disregard others. Fantasies, we all have 'em I suppose. ;)
|Seeing a new version of the "square" arrows text ads where the corners are rounded making it much more visually appealing. |
Question 1: Are you seeing this style with a particular font setting?
Question 2: Maybe this should be question one. Are you still seeing them?
Anyone else seeing this style?
Google has already revealed why so many partner sites are having big declines in revenue.
The company's 2013 annual report shows that it is simply shrinking the partner network and holding onto more revenue for its own sites.
According to its annual report, revenue for Google-controlled sites climbed 19% in 2012 and 20% in 2013.
Revenue for partner sites, which has paced Google sites for many years, went from a 20% growth in 2012 to only 5% in 2013.
Google is just keeping more and more of the best revenue for its own sites and less for the rest of us. Premium publishers will continue to get preferential treatment.
Even worse, the most recent quarterly report shows FLAT year over year revenue for partners and a 22% increase for its own sites.
If you haven't been hit yet, you will be.
WOW. Just ... wow.
Possibly the best post in this thread.
It pretty much sums up what has been going on, in a nutshell.
And provides deep insight.
Reality as a factor. Pretty chilling.
|oogle is just keeping more and more of the best revenue for its own sites and less for the rest of us. Premium publishers will continue to get preferential treatment. |
How does Google "keep more and more of the best revenue"? If a user clicks an ad on a Google-owned page, Google gets the revenue. If the user ignores the ads and clicks on an organic result, Google loses that potential ad click. There's no way Google can "keep that revenue" for itself.
Maybe what you're trying to say is that Google has more ads than it used to, and more people are clicking those ads? Or that advertisers are increasingly choosing Google properties over the "content network"?
IMHO, the problem with the "content network" is that it is and always has been a lowest-common-denominator network. Increasingly, it's also becoming a remnant-ad network. (I checked my AdSense account settings just now, and it listed 1,391 ad networks. That's a whole lot of filler ads.)
[edited by: EditorialGuy at 10:38 pm (utc) on May 16, 2014]
More ad slots on Google pages plus the growth in traffic on those pages = increased revenue. Is there anyone or any "thing" that can compete with what Google has in-house (outside of social media) where traffic is concerned. The majority of traffic that touches most websites was first touched by Google (or some other SE) or by social media and there is where the real advertising money is being made. I agree with EG. We are the dogs at the foot of the table, eating scraps and have been for some time.
Still, the masters see value in having a dog at the table. We're helping to ensure there's enough places to show even the junkiest of ads. Google is investing an incredible amount right now to upgrade Adsense and even to educate publishers in the process. It's frustrating as hell but at the same time, you have to recognize that G see's value in Adsense and doesn't look at all like it's ready to abandon it. On the contrary. This looks like a serious strategy for scrap disposal but I'm also wondering how many scraps you can take away from your pet publisher before she goes looking for another table to sit under. And the question remains, "how long will it be before Google invents the garbage disposal and decides it no longer needs a dog at the table, period?"
|We are the dogs at the foot of the table, eating scraps and have been for some time. |
The concept of the AdSense network has always been to provide Google with a second chance at searchers who click on organic results instead of on Google ads. So if we're "dogs at the foot of the table," there's nothing new about that: It was as true in 2003 as it is 11 years later. So what's changed? Several things:
1) More ads on Google properties. (Don't like it? Tough. There's no law or ethical requirement that says Google can't milk its own ad space for what it's worth.)
2) Too much AdSense inventory (including billions of pages on millions of crappy sites that were designed as vehicles for AdSense ads).
3) A changed advertising marketplace, where automated media buying has driven rates downward--and not just on mom-and-pop sites. (Does anyone else here remember when AOL's official "rate card" featured CPMs of $65 or more?) Ad-supported publishing is now a low-margin, high-margin business in most cases. Someday, we'll remember the AdSense of 2003 the way some people remember the heyday of affiliate marketing and home-based mail-order businesses.
I don't think AdSense is going anywhere. It not only gives Google a second chance to reach surfers that click on a link off one of their serp pages, it also gives them a chance at a click on a publishers site from a visitor that arrived there from some other source like Bing or Yahoo or some other referring site.
I don't know about other sites, but on my site those "other referring sites" account for a fair share of my traffic, and always have.
Someone smarter than I can figure out how many clicks originate from that traffic.
I also don't think it's all AdSenses fault that incomes are going down for some publishers, including me. But that's probably a different thread.
Editorial Guy, Google controls how and where its ads are distributed.
As an Adwords customer, I can tell you that if a local realtor is willing to pay $5 a click, and an online poker site is only willing to pay 5 cents a click, Google will run that realtor ad on a Google-owned site if it needs to increase the company's profit, revenue and stock price.
When Google profit comes under pressure, like it has been lately, the percentage of higher paying ads will shift to Google.
Webcentric, maybe Google is trying hard to keep too many partners from giving up on Google in order to maintain a certain level of ad inventory. It's probably more smoke and mirrors than real substance.
Smoke and Mirrors? Anything is possible (not to mention probable).
EditorialGuy, you put it in a nutshell I think. The environment is changing as are the strategies for winning but the goal of the game is probably exactly the same as it ever was...meaning to say, it's about managing the overflow of ad inventory and getting second, third and even more chances. Follow the visitor whether she's on the SERPS or any other site for that matter. All roads lead back to the Google bank account. Collect the data wherever she goes to better put it to use on the hub pages of the Internet e.g. anything owned by Google.
Don't forget that your site isn't just an advertising platform for Adsense ads. It's a data-collection point for Google. Google is learning from our traffic and it's putting that information to use on its own properties. This may be the biggest reason of all for the growing disparity in the income streams.
...and, hopefully your site is also a great place to visit and perhaps find something useful or entertaining. Least we forget what the web should really be about.
|...and, hopefully your site is also a great place to visit and perhaps find something useful or entertaining. Least we forget what the web should really be about. |
Yep, and if you've got the right topic and audience, you might even be able to make money from it. (Affiliate sales have always generated a lot more revenue on our site than AdSense ads have done: not because we're affiliate marketers, which we aren't, but because carefully-chosen affiliate partners add value to our editorial content--not just for us, but also for our readers.)
Also, not everyone is suffering. The ones who are tend to speak up more. The ones who aren't are busy doing their own thing.
|Also, not everyone is suffering. |
Tiers. Lucky ones. People who chose wisely in what niche they chose.
But in reality you have to look at what types of comments are being made now and then compare that to what types of posts were being made a few years ago. Obviously the positive to negative ratio has changed legitimately. That is because it's the reality for more people. It's not fake and to suggest that everything is lovely is not accurate.
All you can do is compare. To suggest the whiners (like me) are NOT indicative of the reality? The saying has been around forever. If there is smoke, there is fire. If you see a place like this full of bad experiences compared to 5 years ago then OBVIOUSLY something is happening for the negative.
The way I see it, there will always be happy campers. It's far better to make a work environment really crappy and have people leave or take early retirement than to hand out pink slips to 50% of your employees. If you're a massive corporation, that might just affect public perception. The smart way is to just let it die a natural death and meanwhile keep certain tiers alive and well to counter the negativity.
I always come here because to me this is (was) the best place to measure where things are at. If it's negative, there must be something to it. If I'm the only one bickering, then obviously it's more to do with me than the Google.
Obviously what doesn't make sense is the facelift aspects of Adsense. The transparency, the online help workshops, the email support, etc. If I really wanted to be cynical I would suggest it counters what I see in the "live" ad testing which has trashed my earnings. It's like getting a hug and a punch to the stomach at the same time. It's confusing and it makes no sense. In my opinion the punch to the gut is more the reality of it. Oh, but then the argument will be it's not the ads, it's my site or my traffic source. Yes, I know how the thinking goes.
May is going to be as bad a April for myself. Obviously I'm not alone on that and really that is what this discussion is for or about. A comparison of where each of us is at and possible explanations. The situation is obvious to me.
The less reliance on publishers like me means tinkering with SERPS is now possible. Those become less important because sites like mine are less and less necessary. Traffic doesn't need to get fed to my sites like it once did. There is something much better, it just took a while for it to manifest. Meanwhile the Google owned properties have expanded and the middle man is just that. A pain and a leak in revenues streams. I get and understand being replaced and why.
And yes there will always be certain tiers out there singing praises and that there is nothing mysterious about anything and it's all good. I want to be that person so I won't give up either. However I see all this for what it is. It's all good until Siri, Cortana and Now are able to provide your information on their pages, and thus cutting out the hassle of the middle man.