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Why is AdSense Less Successful on Forums?



4:38 am on Sep 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Are any of you having luck with Adsense on forums? I run Invision Power Board, and my CTR is incredibly low. I get more forum visitors than website visitors, but my website generates MUCH more clicks.

I've tried putting ads almost everywhere. I've experimented for over a year now. My site gets multiple clicks about everyday, my forums gets one click about every 3 days.

If you're successful with forum ads, care to share your secrets? I'm sure a lot of us would benefit from it :).


3:34 am on Sep 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

On the other hand, the ads on a guitar site are probably pretty good.

Good in that they are pretty much on target about guitars, but they could be broader. It would help if I could suggest to Google how the market could naturally be extended past the obvious.

And, I get a lot of the "FREE GUITAR" ads. I used to block them, but not any more. I make more when I empty my filters.


7:29 am on Sep 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member vincevincevince is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

adsence getting lost among the toys on the forum is correct

That's a very important point which needs reiteration. Cutting back a forum to the bare minimum, and then cutting out even more does wonders for CTR, and I'd argue benefits community building as well.

Why would you want to tell someone 'Guest posting is not allowed in this forum' when you could be exposing them to your ads instead?

The other problem is Smart Pricing
Figuring out a way to only show ads on focused threads is very important. It might be a manual thing you do as a moderator (i.e. check a box for 'show ads in this thread'), or you might do a keyword density analysis against a list of worthwhile keywords for your topic.


9:03 am on Sep 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Personally I never had problems with the adsense being on topic. Only when users add a single line then adsense goes a bit berzerk, but for the rest it sticks to the content pretty well.

My site is about indie music with the odd synths, sampler questions included. So far all goes smooth and people actually never compmained (except a few die hard anti advert guys).


12:21 pm on Sep 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Success is all in how you define it. If you are expecting CTR and eCPM to match the numbers for static content pages viewed mostly by first-time visitors, you are likely to be disappointed. If you view forum Adsense as one of a variety of ways to monetize the forum, you may be more satisfied with the results.

Community sites generate much higher pageviews per visit than most static content sites, and typically have a much higher percent of returning traffic. These will depress your CTR numbers, but that doesn't mean the site can't be profitable.

The other challenge you face is how much advertising you want to throw at your members. Sure, you can put big, ugly ad blocks in the middle of the thread, but do you really want to? Members will accept the fact that the community operator needs to cover costs and won't object to seeing ads on the page, but if the ads impact the user experience they may be too much.

If your community Adsense revenue isn't meeting your expectations, I'd worry less about boosting the CTR and more about building the community. More members, more posting activity, more referrals, more guests... these are the indicators of a successful community, and your ad revenue will rise along with them.


12:54 pm on Sep 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member


Perfect. I really like the way you posted last. I have a very successful and fast-growing forum with 2,500 members and I do pretty well actually. My CTR is not very high because of the number of impressions is very high, but it does do better than ANY part of my sites. I think that is BS that forums have low CTR. I think it depends on how you do things compared to who your visitors are.


2:42 pm on Sep 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I can suggest optimise your forum to try and get every page of it included well in Goog / Yhoo and then see traffic improving along with CTR as new first time visitors inho are more likely to click?


3:01 pm on Sep 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Excellent point, dmoz24. Strong organic search traffic will increase your CTR, not to mention build your community by bringing in new members.


3:43 pm on Sep 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I very much like the idea of removing the Adsense banner and replacing it with links that lead to my other sites that make more money.

That might work extremely well. I might actually try this in a few days...


4:02 pm on Sep 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

For a couple years I've been using a technique originally suggested by trillianjedi in a post a long time ago, and I'm satisfied that it's an improvement over a simple ad placement. So in rogerd's parlance, this meets my criteria for success.

The idea is that logged in users are repeat visitors, so don't dilute the impressions pool by showing them ads on every page load.

So the ad is shown conditionally. If you are not logged in, you get an ad 100% of the time. If you are, you get one every N pageloads. Adjust N to suit your needs based on running with these ads in a separate channel.

You'll have to manipulate your templates and understand the exact variable your forum uses to test the "logged in-ness" of a user, so there's not a cut-and-paste formula for this.

Applying this techniques has boosted my forum CTR to a level I'd consider far above a typically cited forum figure. I believe (but can't substantiate) that it's improving my smart pricing parameters by avoiding a lot of wasted impressions (viewed by forum regulars).


5:31 pm on Sep 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

What other ad types can I use to replace adsense in a forum? Other CPM based ad solutions (Tribal, Byrst) do not accept forums. Any ideas?


7:36 pm on Sep 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Consider some targeted affiliate ads as one alternative to Adsense. And, of course, if you have other areas on your site that you would like to drive traffic to, then mix in some ads for them. I'm convinced that variety is your friend - rather than diluting Adsense revenue, mixing in a variety of other interesting ads will improve your Adsense results.


3:10 am on Sep 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I never really looked at the Adsense performance of our forum until I read this. Our average CTR on the forum is about 3% of the CTR on our main site. This is ridiculous! I am going to design a banner ad to send people to targeted pages of our main site.


5:29 am on Sep 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

hi i don't think forums are for adsense, visitors come in to know what's goin on new in the internet field. so i suggest instead of using adsense in your forum try to put in more useful content in your forum and use your adsense for your own sites



8:06 am on Sep 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Nicky, I do not agree, better do these things:

- strip your forum down to the strict necessary
- alternate colours in your adsense spots
- use the adsense code to define what content should be scanned
- and create traffic (a stripped down forum does not cost much in traffic, I get my hosting costs back in a few hours)
- more members will create a moral viral effect creating again more members and readers.


8:02 pm on Sep 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I think everyone's hints are good, if you REALLY want to go adsense on your forum.

I have a forum that for some time has recieved about half as many impressions daily as the main site, which isnt bad. But I've noticed adsense never does well on any forum I use, no matter what I try.

How about thinking outside the box - get some companies to pay for some banner or other advertising on your forum. You'll make more even if you charge a monthly fee for the banner.

I know a user who has a very succesful forum by utilizing third party ads on his site instead of PPC advertising.

You'll have to look around for those companies to advertise on your site, though. dont sign up for one of those affiliate programs off some site; look around in your industry for prominent websites that you can see could use some traffic.


11:54 am on Sep 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Is there a flaw in keyword targeting on the AdSense side? For instance, is AdSense using search query keywords to show ads forumwide, resulting in irrelevant ads?

I generally find this is the case on my forums, the ads are often completely irrelivant. I get ads for other forum software, hosting companies, and general generic web ads, rarely are they specific to the content of my forum pages.


6:10 pm on Sep 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I doubt irrelevant ads are the cause of the problem. I, like many others, receive relevant ads; although, I receive a much smaller CTR.


11:11 am on Sep 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

For me adsense on the forums hurts me more than it helps me, it's not so much the lack of clicks, its the added impressions bringing the ctr down and thus paying less overall.

If you want to make money off your forum you might not want to run the same advertising you do on your main site.


10:04 pm on Sep 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I think it really depends on what market your forum is in.

I am in a niche "travel" sector and last year Adsense alone brought me $1866*.**, and this is with $0 advertising costs.

Works great for me!

And before I get the flood of PM's asking what the site is, I will not say.

This 49 message thread spans 2 pages: 49

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