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Is anyone seeing a drop in Earning per Click?

     
6:33 pm on Oct 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Our EPC tends to be fairly stable with about a 10% variation from day to day. Broadmatching made it go up a bit for a day or two. But over the last 3 days it's dropped by about 50% from the previous norm.

I've checked all my sites and it seems none of them have been down. I've excluded factors like weekend etc as I'm comparing with similar periods in the past. It's not the end of the month, so it can't be budgets. My impressions and CTR are normal so it can't be the IE problem and/or ads not being seen by visitors. But I've "lost" a three digit sum so far as a result of this reduced EPC.

I know it's a small sample and all that but our daily clicks are in the decent three-digits - so not that small a sample.

Anybody else noticed a drop in EPC?

7:35 pm on Oct 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

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My last 2 days have seen an improvement again.. my revenue is NEVER very good (in september I made almost enough to get a check just from that month, hint hint...), but man were they bad from Sept 29-Oct 14th or so... I won't even get halfway there in October, probably, even with the improvement over the last few days.

My site gets about 700 unique visitors a day and a few hundred thousand pageviews per month, those stats are legal to post, as they have nothing to do with adsense.

I'd discuss the subject matter of my site, but I think that might break the TOS - I'm not sure?

8:19 pm on Oct 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

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We know that Europeforvisitors and Cornwall are in the travel/tourism industry. And they have good weekends :-)Bwanazulia and Robho, by any chance are you in the same industry?

Although it's not directly a travel site, nearly half of the advertising tends to be travel-related (as place names are mentioned).

Which might explain why I'm maybe beginning to see half of this effect. :-) EPC and (much more so) CPM started dropping on the 13th (later than most). Still, the 3rd and 4th were great, 5th and 6th were bad, up and down alternate days to the 13th, etc. Too early to spot a firm trend, especially as yesterday had unusually high traffic.

11:07 pm on Oct 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

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An important thing to concider is that if your referrals come from website searches, they already saw the ads on your page once. They need to move around your site a bit, come back often, and find you through other sites (news, forums, directories)... this will increase your click-through ;-)

Not that mine is anything to talk about.... or anything I can talk about...

11:15 pm on Oct 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

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An important thing to concider is that if your referrals come from website searches, they already saw the ads on your page once.

If you mean search engines, not true at all, at least not for my site and we're talking about earnings per click here, not clickthru rate.

11:56 pm on Oct 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Just finished doing the math...plotting the trends...calculating the averages...and scary how the numbers come out.

Know this is not across the board for all users but:

- slow erosion has been happening by google or advertisers over past three months on EPC (not unexpected)
- influx of users of adsense and bringing on stream major hosting services (free webhosting) has depleted ads available, resulting in higher number of PSA's being served, or not full compliment of ads being served
-movement of google to leaderboard format, in effect doubling the number of ads being served vs banners
-broad matching bringing lower cost ads up higher in the serving averages, resulting in lower EPC's
- adwords players evaluating ROI's by moving out of adsense serving, driving points 2 and 3 harder.

Sure hope I am wrong in the above, but after re-looking at the pretty colored graphs here, and matching these to some occurences, seems the explanations that fit. Some of these effects have been masked by increasing page views coming out of the summer for our site. We have also seen this more and more as we moved to leaderboards and noticed the shortage of ads being served.

The above theory fits sites that are not seeing the effect such as travel sites where advertisers have been stable (coments about same ads being served) and are the types of ads that are not served on general web hosting sites. (someone alluded to this earlier in the thread).

Google may have jumped into the deep end here, not having enough ads to serve, and inviting in some more major publishers, while increasing the number of ads being served with the introduction of leaderboards. It has always been our opinion that when the default ads percentages started getting too high the program would loose its appeal.

The adwords people are pretty smart and they will figure out how to get their ads served at lower rates when a surplus of publishing exist. Has the market in effect been saturated in 3 months? Should be interesting to see how the end of the month effects, that have been noted previously, are this month. That will reinforce our theory....or blow us out of the water. We are still hoping it is the latter.

2:08 am on Oct 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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New terms...including addition of picking alternative default ads added today:) Keep the improvements coming google!
9:15 am on Oct 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Bwanazulia and robho, thanks for your replies.

europeforvisitors, as usual your post raises at least one excellent point. There are some publishers who are building pages designed purely to derive maximum benefit from Adsense. That's not in anybody's long term interests. It is of course obvious that the more diverse your subject matter the less likely you are to be affected by seasonal factors in one industry or a sudden drop of advertisers in another. However, from other posts in this thread I feel that the EPC drop is pretty much across the board. In one or two subject areas the drop seems to be delayed by a day or two but it's still there.

The rare exception could be caused by one or two factors. In the absence of detailed stats from Adsense it's possible that bid prices for one or two keywords on a site have suddenly rocketed while all the others have fallen. That could show up no change in EPC. Bwanazulia's case is a good example. In theory if beer/bar ads are suddenly paying a lot more but keywords for all his other sites have dropped his EPC could remain neutral even though beer/bar contributes just 2% of his traffic.

Sharper, no problem about the error. I see what you mean now - As Visi wasted no time summarising: You were getting your two cents in :-) I did suspect that it may have been a typo but it does make more sense now.

freitasm, with any new programme there would be a lot of changes initially. To be fair to Adsense before they came along you didn't think you could make even how much you make now. Of course certainty would be a nice thing. I'd like constant earnings. I'd also like constant TOS and not have to read a new one every month :-) But that's the price you pay.

<edit - just to remove inadvertent spaces that crept in>

[edited by: Macro at 10:16 am (utc) on Oct. 17, 2003]

10:08 am on Oct 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Have been studying my numbers a little closer now. My AdSense revenues have been on a downward slide since joining in July. I now have AdSense installed on about 3X the number of pages it was installed on in July, and revenue generation is only about 1/2 what it was in July.

Basically, I've been adding Adsense to more pages to try to return falling revenues to the initial level but I haven't been able to keep up.

I recently added AdSense to one more site to try to make up for losses that are starting to show following the broad search term rollout, but the revenues were so poor I removed the AdSense after a four day trial. Tried another site starting yesterday and revenues are also very poor, so will remove it tomorrow if there's no improvement.

Is the party over? Even a few days ago I didn't think so, but then e-commerce is so unstable everything can change overnight.

2:03 pm on Oct 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Our site is in the small business/home business category. We currently have 8000+ pages mostly articles averaging from 800-1400 words. Only about half of those pages currently have Adsense leaderboards installed, and we're still working on adding it to the rest of our pages.

I still am trying to figure out why earnings and epc are declining; when click throughs are constant and impressions are going up. The site has a variety of sub-topics, from starting a business, work-at-home, e-commerce, financing, marketing, business planning, etc. where Adword advertisers abound. As far as I can tell, our site does not show PSAs and the leaderboards constantly have 4 ads. Ads are always targeted ads -- so we are discounting the theory that there is a decreasing number of advertisers (in our category at least).

I am just keeping my figures crossed that our earnings for this month would at least equal that of last month's. Since June to September, our Adsense earnings grew at an average of 140% per month. I hope that I won't see a negative growth rate for this month.

2:15 pm on Oct 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I still am trying to figure out why earnings and epc are declining

I still think it's Goggle dropping the payouts. If it was ratio of ads to publishers/pages available ...that could deteriorate over time. Most posts here are from webmasters who've had a clear drop, all around the same time.

3:32 pm on Oct 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Most posts here are from webmasters who've had a clear drop, all around the same time.

Some publishers have mentioned "broad keyword matching" as a likely culprit. IMHO, that's more likely than a change in payout rates.

Speaking of payout rates, none of us has any idea how Google calculates payouts. As I've suggested before, Google's formula may be a lot more complex than the usual 50-50 or 60-40 split. It could take any number of factors into account, beginning with how much revenue an account is generating. Just as some affiliate programs pay higher commissions to big producers, Google might pay a larger share to publishers who generate more revenue.

Who knows? If Google wanted to encourage "the next wave of Web content generation" (or whatever Sergey Brin's phrase was in the recent interview that was mentioned here), it could even skew the formula so that certain types of sites or ads would receive a higher percentage than others. For example, a page with both the keyword "phentermine" and a shopping cart or affiliate link might receive a lower percentage than a page with no blatantly commercial keywords and no obvious e-commerce component. I'm not saying that's happening now (I don't think it is), but it certainly could happen if Google felt that it was in its own long-term interests to influence the direction of the Web. As Sergey Brin also said in his interview--and I'm paraphrasing here--a search engine can't deliver results if there's no information to search.

3:42 pm on Oct 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Speaking of payout rates, none of us has any idea how Google calculates payouts.

Looking at it purely from a business point of view, Google could (even should) reduce payouts from time to time on selected accounts, and track whether that resulted in the reduction of impressions (removal of ad code from pages).

Then repeat, until the number of impressions available to serve is in line with ad inventory.

In other words, reduce payout whenever there are too many publishers chasing too few ads. Quite normal in the ad network business, just better hidden in Adsense.

4:05 pm on Oct 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Looking at it purely from a business point of view, Google could (even should) reduce payouts from time to time on selected accounts, and track whether that resulted in the reduction of impressions (removal of ad code from pages).

Two problems with that.

1. That is not effective as a measurement tool. Reduced payouts will not result in immediate removal of pages. It may be weeks/months before those pages were removed and other factors could have played a part.

2. Publishers don't know which pages the payouts were reduced on so they don't know which pages to remove.

4:46 pm on Oct 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Few things I can think of. First off Google dropped the percentage per click. Secondly it is possible that the top payout guys turned off the option to display AdSense sites.

Would they get people all excited about it then just change it to a really low ppc?

4:51 pm on Oct 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Quite normal in the ad network business, just better hidden in Adsense.

I am currently part of 3 ad networks, and changing payouts is DEFINITELY NOT the norm. Flycast reduced payouts before they disappeared from the online ad business. Burst has not changed their payouts for the last 3-4 years as far as I can remember. I also can't remember Fastclick changing their payouts.

Can you give an example of ad networks where changing payouts is the norm?

4:55 pm on Oct 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I have seen a decline of about 20% in revenue with a 5-10% increase in traffice over the past 10 days.
5:37 pm on Oct 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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My EPC has been declining I reported earlier it was increasing but that was only temporary, I seem to get some good days, some spikes but overall the trend is down for this month at least. I am serving more impressions, but as long as it does not go beneath a tenth of a dollar i will be content, it is heading that way though....
8:00 pm on Oct 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Can you give an example of ad networks where changing payouts is the norm?

Agreed it may not always be the percentage that is being altered (although there is rarely any way to check this), but the effect of reducing effective CPM (too few ads, too many publishers) is the same.

When I used Burst (stopped several years ago) the filler ads were paying lower and lower.

Eads reduced their payment per click, can't remember the figures (1997ish).

Switchboard (affilate clicks, but similar) went from 5c to 1c after a few months, made a big difference to my income at the time.

Fastclick started with a ratecard RON CPM for plain banners of $5, now it's $1.

Google paid out for searches (was it 5c or 1c?), then reduced it to zero...

8:11 pm on Oct 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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The carrot to snare someone will always be bigger than the carrot needed to maintain his loyalty. Affiliate networks - and the general business world - push the limits to see how small they can make the carrots. It's called maximising their own income :-). That's one of the main goals of business (and the only goal for some).
8:32 pm on Oct 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Ok. My definition of payouts was different. I was thinking of the revenue share between the ad network and the publisher (e.g. 50-50 split; 60-40 split). This is fairly constant.

Your definition, however, is different. The payouts you are talking about -- e.g. Fastclicks' banner ads going from $5 to $1 -- is simply supply and demand. And sure it will be different. It fluctuates all the time, and it depends on a huge number of factors -- e.g. economy, state of online ad market, ability of the sales staff to get a good deal, etc. Same with Adsense but with different factors -- e.g. number of advertisers bidding on the keyword, max price advertisers are willing to shell out for a keyword, etc. Taken in this context, you will really say that "payouts" will vary every day.

But I don't think your definition of payouts (the price rate of the keywords) is the one affecting Adsense revenues. I am an Adwords advertiser too, and the keywords that appear in my site remain the same as before, if not a bit more expensive now. I see no drop in the price of the keywords for my site

Like some here, I suspect the revenue share has changed.

10:26 pm on Oct 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Like some here, I suspect the revenue share has changed.

I don't disagree with this. Although it took till the 13th for me, there's now a visible decline in EPC and CPM: my first run of 4 consecutive days below the long-term average since early September. Seven-day average is the lowest since that time also.

But as a business it's Google's job to see what the market will stand - the same as the affiliate schemes I mentioned reducing payouts and keeping most affiliates through inertia.

5:06 am on Oct 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Glad to find this thread. My partner and I had some wild ideas about what could be causing this. I'm probably down 20%. Sorry for the "me to" post, but "me too".
3:59 pm on Oct 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

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FWIW,

I am seeing huge swings in EPC this month. So much so that my usual "seasonal trends" (ie low weekends, high weekdays) is going by the way side with earnings during the week that differ by upto 3x. Compared to this I had a really nice looking and predictable pattern last month and the month before.

4:49 pm on Oct 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Whenever I make changes to a large number of pages, no matter how minor, the number of generic ads and PSA's I receive go up, and the EPC goes down. This seems to have improved - I used to receive a lot more PSA's following a change, whereas now I appear to receive more of the generic ads and a smaller number of PSA's. However, it unquestionably affects earnings.

If you are making periodic changes to your site, or just updated the AdSense code to include an alternative ad link, I think you can expect that the change will affect your earnings.

8:42 am on Oct 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Was building up nicely during the previous months, but this month has been pretty awful - around 1/2 of the usual amount. Blah....
9:15 am on Oct 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

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>>I've checked all my sites and it seems none of them have been down. I've excluded factors like weekend etc as I'm comparing with similar periods in the past. It's not the end of the month, so it can't be budgets. My impressions and CTR are normal so it can't be the IE problem and/or ads not being seen by visitors. But I've "lost" a three digit sum so far as a result of this reduced EPC. <<

I go back to Macro's first post in this thread..

...pause for thought and the way the human psyche works. Bad news is news, good news is not news. The fact that Statton Island ferries made millions of journeys without anything untoward happening never became news, it becomes news when one slams into a pier and there are casualtites.

In the case of this thread it is inevitable that those that have had a fall in EPC will post, those that have not had a fall are less likely to post, and are particularly unlikely to give the extra information that "blue widgets" are doing extremely well.

One can draw the conclusion that some AdSense publishers have suffered a fall in EPC, but it is vary difficult to see how widespread it is. Those that have seen a fall may be in the same sector, and influenced by the same advertisers bids.

I think we can draw the conclusion that there has not been an overall move by Google to cut the percentage share going to publishers, otherwise we wouold all have seen the same thing.

9:45 am on Oct 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

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One can draw the conclusion that some AdSense publishers have suffered a fall in EPC

For a large program like Adsense it is ALWAYS the case that there will be one or two publishers suffering a fall at any given time, even if others are experiencing an upturn.

The ferry hasn't hit the pier. It's much less newsworthy - it carried 50% less passengers than it did last month. See? No headlines.

...but a lot of people saying they notice the ferry is not running to the capacities it was before. Even one or two who initially noticed no fall later came back to say Yes, the pattern of reduced EPC is emerging now.

Some of us are convinced that there was a major change earlier this month that has affected EPC badly, even some of us who are in multiple sectors. For those whose EPC hasn't been affected - or aren't seeing the effect so far - it may be worth keeping an open mind. The postings here suggest it's not a I-made-one-cent-less-in-the-last-hour-than-the-previous-hour type of issue.

<edit reason: typo>

[edited by: Macro at 10:05 am (utc) on Oct. 19, 2003]

9:53 am on Oct 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

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In the case of this thread it is inevitable that those that have had a fall in EPC will post, those that have not had a fall are less likely to post

Otherwise known as 'self-selection' - a regular problem with any survey which allows people to choose whether or not to respond. The result is a skewed sample that provides misleading conclusions.

Like Cornwall I can't agree that there is evidence for Google cutting our percentage. In fact, rather than experiencing a reduction in EPC, I'm up about 20% over a range of pages carrying a lot of different ads.

11:59 am on Oct 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I don't bother with statistics, but scanning my reports from late June to the present I can see that:

* The click-throughs and earnings increased all through July as I put AdSense on more pages--and, of course, they were new and presumably intriguing to my readers. (Mine is a content site. Any affiliate and AdSense earnings are welcome but not essential. I would maintain the site even if it got no revenue.)

* August was the stand-out month for number of impressions, click-throughs, ratio, and payout.

* September showed an almost identical number of impressions. The click-throughs and ratio both dropped, and so of course did the payout.

* October so far seems to be tracking very close to the September experience (identical ratio of click-throughs to impressions). By the end of the month, if nothing changes, I think that the total impressions and the payout will also be the same.

2:22 pm on Oct 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

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My Earning per click has gone down 40-50 %. Before what we used to get on 3000 page views a day we get half of that on 4000 page views. :(
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