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the basic reality is this: No one knows how Google makes its decisions regarding Adsense. This means we don't know what the split is with publishers, what constitutes a violation of the TOS, or what the average price per click is. Not to mention that the TOS prohibits partners from discussing their earnings (which is why I think Fred might be in hot water....). In short, working with Adsense is a "trust us" proposition, one that Boing Boing is not willing to make. (Though I do make it, here on Searchblog, at least for now. For more on my own experience, read this.)
Where are these updated tools? I could sure use 'em!
bands site (Boing Boing)
Boing Boing ain't no band site. It's where you see half of slashdot's non-geek articles two to four days before they are on slashdot ;)
It's one of the top five sites I visit a few times daily and their traffic is through the roof - no wonder Google is soliciting them. But their readers are too savvy for adsense, it will never work there.
"the basic reality is this: No one knows how Google makes its decisions regarding Adsense..."
The bottom-line reality is Google provides information on effective CPM and total revenues, which are all that a publisher needs to decide whether using AdSense is worthwhile. If the revenues aren't up to snuff, it's easy enough to say "Google, you're fired."
The bottom-line reality is Google provides information on effective CPM and total revenues
The question here is what does Google make from the adsesne. You may make 5K a month and think that's great. How would you feel if Google was making 10K on your 5K, how about 25K on your 5K, or even 50K or 100K on your 5K. It's about transparency, or lack of it.
I don't care of Google is transparent or opaque, so long as I'm doing well from the program.
And for what it's worth, here are two reasons why I don't think Google is making 20 times from my site than I am:
--if they were, I'd be hearing from advertisers wanting to advertise direct, looking to save money on Google.
--based on the public filings Google does, people on these boards have pretty conclusively figured that Google must be returning more money to publishers than it keeps. Specific percentages could vary, of course.
"He also reminded me that Adsense has updated tools which allow publishers to specify keywords for ads they might wish to attract, as well as ads they might want to avoid. So Boing Boing might use keywords like "music," "gaming," or "technology" to attract advertisements in those categories. And we can create negative keywords like "mortgage" to get rid of those offers."
You don't really want to know the cut. What you want to know is that there's competitive forces driving the ad servers to offer incentives - a sweeter deal - to the publishers to 'do business with them'. What you want to know is that you are deriving the highest return for your services.
You won't know that until there's actually competition amongst similarly situated ad servers. Even then you won't know the percentage. You'll simply know that you're making more money.
What I keep waiting to see is the Yellowpages firms and the big other media/ad houses (the ones that buy/sell advertising for radio, tv, magazines, etc.) step forward with their own version of advertising feeds for online publishers. You don't need to be a search engine to aggregate advertisers and offer them online publishing services. For all the money, creative talent and brains the advertising industry has I would have thought one or more of the big players would have stepped forward by now.
Also, let us not forget search feeds cranked out by Hoovers, Thomson, Dow Jones, etc. Right now they 'feed through' Google, et. al. Don't you think sooner or later they'll figure out the benefits of direct link feeds (not simple affiliate links) to the publishers? Not just "Find what you want at Hoovers" but actual H client's site links with description feeds. (If this exists I haven't seen it yet, but given how these industries have aggregated the business data it's a wonder that they've been asleep at the wheel for so long. Note to business data aggregators: Create direct to publisher link feeds. Oh . . . You're actually working on that? What have you been waiting for?)
Oh, the possibilities now that companies are waking up to the reality that they've been letting another company eat their lunch. Evolve or go extinct. Shed the dependency or die. Google is just a firm kick in the backside, not a death blow, to many other 'we promote your company' players who I expect to weigh in soon with new models.
Having said that, I'll add this:
As publishers, we need to get over the idea that we have a business relationship with advertisers. We don't. We have a business relationship with Google. Just as we wouldn't expect Google to tell advertisers what it pays us, we shouldn't expect Google to tell us what advertisers are paying to Google.
You don't really want to know the cut.
Yes I do.
Call me picky, but I can't think of any other business relationship where I would let the other partner take all the money, not tell me how much it was, give me a cut and just say "Trust me, that's fair".
Google get away with it because the Adsense earning potential today is so much greater than anywhere else.
Today. But tomorrow?
Transparency and openness are significant factors when deciding on long-term business partners and relationships, at least for me. Adsense currently scores zero in that column.
This idea that people are 'owed an explanation' is a giant delusion. When you charge a client for services do you first ask them to file financial statements? No? Why not? You might be undercharging them. Insist on transparency to be fair. Do your clients insist on you providing a profit P&L statement before paying your bill? They should! You might be making too much money and they should pay less.
There's some massive delusion going on here to which the remedy is simple: If you know a better deal then go for it. Otherwise, this business about G not sharing revenue information is just so much petulant whining. If you want the inside scoop on whether the revenue share is fair and equitable then start your own Google.
The root of this problem issue lies in the idea that what is happening is 'revenue sharing'. "Well, gee, if it's sharing then I want to see how big the pie is to know if my slice is right."
What if G simply agreed to pay you $.01 a click? Would that make you happier?
Be happy they agree to share, whatever the allocation is. There's nothing to say that they have to.
Your real frustration is the lack of alternatives. Be careful what you wish for. The outcome of 'more outlets' might just be 1) dilution of bidding, taking prices down; and, 2) greater selectivity in who gets in.
Then there will simply be a whole new round of grievances and a longing for the old days of G.
If you know a better deal then go for it
And that - in the long term - is the problem for Adsense.
Building a sustainable long term business involves building working partnerships, loyalty and trust.
It means building a network of publishers who won't jump ship the moment someone else offers them a little more cash.
My personal belief is that Google's lack of openness and transparency is short-sighted and will hurt them badly in the long term.
Am I wrong?
"Perhaps. Time will tell. Always does"
Furthermore, the checks arrive just about when they are supposed to without me nagging which them puts them ahead of about 70% of my other customers.
Yeah, I think it is a bit of a problem that they only pay me what they think is fair, and they don't even tell me how they arrived at their concept of fair. However, since I have no long-term contract with them, I can simply choose to stop selling to their account at anytime.
I have a lot of issues with Google - them paying me money every month is not one of them.
Company B: Not transparent. Average click: $.15
Choose A if the virtue of transparency is more important.
Again, the potential resolution of the issue of "Am I getting my fair share" is greater competition for publisher ad slots, not disclosure. Competition may mean more favorable terms for publishers.
Then again, it may not. The very fact that there is a "frustrating" lack of competition means that the assumptions are untested, and therefore the assumed benefits of competition in this space may be erroneous. What are the odds that once there is a greater array of ad feeds that advertisers will attempt to bid down what they have to pay G for clicks?
Demanding to know the specific profit Google is making by reselling your ad space is as silly as asking a bookstore what their costs were for the book you just bought or demanding the manager of a restaurant come to the table and tell you the total cost of your dinner's ingredients.
Per sale profit disclosure doesn't exist in any industry, what makes this arena different?
Added: I type slow, my points well covered by figment88 and Webwork. :)
Normally there is either a fixed rate agreed in advance (more common in the offline world) or a fixed share of revenues agreed in advance (more common in the online world).
Like others, I stick with AdSense because it's the best. But their obsessive secrecy about the criteria they use to charge advertisers and pay publishers is going to be a problem for them eventually.
Company A: Open and transparent. Average click: $.03
Company B: Not transparent. Average click: $.15
I would say it's more like $0.07/$0.15, but yes webwork, you have the valid point.
As valeyard already noted, when the gap becomes narrow most people will choose more control in their hands.
The biggest problem I see right now is lack of control.
More traffic does not necessarily means more earnings.
The publishers simply have no clue how to improve their earnings.
At least that's the way my 80 year old father (and his peers) have consistently expressed the thought, sometimes offering to cut my nose off when I pressed him for information he felt I needn't have access to. ;0)
Whatever makes you all happy is fine by me. I simply suspect that when the great day of many options arrives it won't necessarily make anyone any more happy or richer either, or maybe we'll all have more information and we'll all be poorer for the increased competition that lead some to make greater disclosure.
[edited by: Webwork at 12:20 am (utc) on Mar. 5, 2005]
John Battle has made $500 for his charity which he, reading correctly, was not really expecting to.
How many others have been reaping rewards from their sites thanks to Adsense's far too easy registration system and now are complaining because others are abusing it?
Yes, I'm on other threads posing questions and scenarios simply because I need to know whether others are experiencing similar situations. What's wrong with that?
When you are in a traditional affiliate relationship you know the selling price of the widget, and your commision for selling it.
The "reality" is we are all now living in a trading environment with actual "reality". When the advertiser decides that they do not want to pay any more we have to live with that. It's the ground rules of the marketplace.
This advertising scenario is breaking grounds that would never have been believed if it had been suggested only 5-6 years ago.
Consider this carefully.
We now have advertisers who are not only in charge of their marketing budgets, well they ought to be, they also can actually see their ROI (Return On Investment).
They can see whether or not their ads are providing positive or negative results and if they are not working for them, well, guess what? They stop the ads.
At the moment, as much grief I am giving Adsense, I still feel that for the vast majority of web publishers it is the best deal simply because it is so simple to be a "member publisher".
And at the end of the day, if you're not happy, remove it.
Demanding to know the specific profit Google is making by reselling your ad space is as silly as asking a bookstore what their costs were for the book you just bought...
Umm... the costs for that book were 60% of the cover price, and not paid until the book sold. Bookstores work on a consignment basis.
If you see the cover price "reduced by 30%" that usually comes out of the bookstore's cut, unless the publisher is pushing a promotional offer, in which case, it reverts to the 60/40 split.
If the book is unsold, the cover is ripped off and shipped back to the publisher to prove it was unsold, the body of the book being destroyed (or, quite often, taken home by one of the bookstore employees.)
The formula is highly regimented, and standardized across the industry.
The only reason I point this out, is because that is likely the type of environment we'll end up with in a few years with advertiser publishing. The split ratio will standardize, which will provide a level cost playing field.
What will end up seperating the advertising aggregators is their ability to do two things:
Attract quality, targeted advertisers.
Attract quality, targeted, publishers.
Google's automated "Targeted Shotgun" approach is working great for now, but I'm not banking on it for long term viability. Sooner or later, it will become a bottom feeder technology. Quality publishers will go to better agencies that will allow the publishers to simply say "My site is about (topic) - please feed me ads relevant to that topic."
When someone starts doing that well, then the advertisers win, the publishers win, and Google Adsense becomes, as I already said, a bottom feeder technology.