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1) Sudden appearance of site targeted ads. These ads are untargeted (hence cheap) and exist mostly to promote a brand or get that odd click. Around 9th November (the day QS came to content), I experienced a sudden increase of CPM ads. I suggest to have a look at that.
2) Sudden appearance of MFA type ads. Especially if you are running a high-traffic high-quality site, people very soon get tired of "Top8" style sites. They learn from their disappointments (caused by clicking on promising ads but disappointing landing pages) and refrain from clicking on ads.
3) Seasonal influence. Obviously. Selling plastic Santas in April does not work too good. But then again, it's typically not a sudden fall, but more of a gentle rise and fall. Have a look at the 31-day average CTR, averaging out the day-to-day swings. What does it say?
4) Repeat visitors. They seem to be a strong reason for dropping CTR. They are interested in your site (again and again) and not in clicking away from your site. It's lovely, because your overall popularity and traffic rises, but your CTR goes slowly down. You should always have the right mix of old vs. new visitors.
Recently, say since a couple of week, I've been "invaded" of really premium advertisers : Microsoft, Oracle, SAS, Bea. I thought it was a good thing, but now I think may be these advertisers are too much high quality and they are paying cents even if they're on top spots. What do you think?
May be, I see like 3 advertisers consistenly showing in my site.
eCPM been dropping at the same time:
Yes, perfectly proportional. People just stop clicking the ads.
Since this past Sunday, I've seen a consistant and unexplainable decrease in CTR as well. Sadly my CTR is nowhere near your numbers, but what I have has decreased about 25%... with normal to high traffic and only a slight decline in eCPM. CPC is at an all time high, however, so there is xome compensation!
My ad pool appears normal and there has been no influx of MFAs or off-target ads. Just seems like the algo got a little more picky as to what type of clicks it is allowing after last Saturdays' "maintenance".
I get a good amount of non-US/UK traffic and it is during those periods of the day when that traffic is active that the clicks seem to have become leaner.
I'm not saying it's QS, as it could be many things. A spot of testing might be worth trying however.
[edited by: FortySomething at 10:50 pm (utc) on Nov. 16, 2006]
My site is small and my earnings are probably not even a fraction of most of the folks here, but for what it's worth :
Traffic up 10% from last month
CTR increase of roughly 45%.
eCPM down 30%
EPC down 30%
Earnings (to this date) also down proportionately 30%.
Getting lots of affiliate / low paying ads now on the homepage.
It's really a roller coaster ride this Adsense... just when you think you're on an uptrend, it goes and turns the chart upside down.
Good thing direct advertisements are picking up.
joined:May 5, 2005
those "premium" advertisers could actually be in a better position to game the adwords system than companies with a much smaller advertising budget... ebay being the classic example of that.