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December 2007: Google Adsense income way down

Why is my Adsense down by 80%?

     
11:46 am on Dec 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I have a website and my income has reduced from around 50 USD per day (June '07) right down to less that 10 USD per day.

I would appreciate any help anyone can provide as I am at a loss as to what to do. The site is 4 years old and Adsense has served me well to date.

Look forward to any comments or suggestions.

[edited by: jatar_k at 12:27 pm (utc) on Dec. 22, 2007]
[edit reason] no urls thanks [/edit]

9:40 pm on Dec 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

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bumpski, Umm you make a very interesting point about the link clicks not being counted. That could be an explanation to why some have had drastic drops to some extend. I for one had the link and title text in different colors from my menu. And the notion that the text area being no clickable was the corpate of my drastic declined I still can't accept it, but if the link is being disregarded, either because of a bug or adsense doing, can explain more why there is such a decline. Because I can see people clicking on the link to go to the ad site too as well as the title.

Real good point Thanks

1:18 am on Dec 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

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What a load of garbage some of you spout.

First of all, $50 per day to $10 per day is hardly insignificant. Though it's also typical of adsense.

Atomic, you don't understand where husky pups figures come from? I'm sure you could hazard a guess. As the OP daily figure was $50 and now it's $10, there's roughly 30 days in a month..

Martinibuster, it just seems you're using this thread as an opportunity to gloat about your adsense income. $40 to somebody earning $1,000 a day wouldn't be noticeable you're right there. However a direct comparison would be an 80% drop of the $1,000 down to $200.

3:45 am on Dec 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Mobilemaverick, Martinibuster wasn't gloating, and nobody is suggesting that a drop from $50 a day to $10 a day isn't significant for the person who's experiencing the drop. However, just because a decline of $50 to $10 is painful for the victim doesn't mean it's statistically meaningful or can be projected across the entire spectrum of AdSense publishers.

As I said before, some publishers are hurting, some are making hay, and some aren't experiencing much if any change. AdSense is like the stock market, real-estate investing, or writing books: On any given day, there will be winners and losers; and over the long run, some people will prosper while others go broke.

7:57 am on Dec 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

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a decline of $50 to $10 is painful for the victim doesn't mean it's statistically meaningful

It may be statistically meaningful for the poster, if he had a small standard deviation previously for his earnings for an extended period of time.

10:53 pm on Jan 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

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For those who think the decreases in earnings is not statistically significant, take our situation under consideration.

One website that we run receives millions of pageviews on a monthly basis and until October Adsense has been a good source of revenue (it pays two individual's full time salaries).

Over the last several months, monthly traffic increased by 9%, while income decreased by 18%, and eCPM decreased by 24%. CTR, after the new clickable areas were introduced, decreased by 14%.

Before you weigh this as just an anomaly, consider last year, where over the same timespan monthly traffic DECREASED by 11%, while income increased by 24%, eCPM increased by 34% and CTR remained unchanged (it was like this all through 2006 and up until the fall of 2007). Positive growth was experienced for years and we've continued to tweak our adsense to work with the growing needs of our site. Since the Fall, no matter what we've done, Adsense has continued to slip.

If anything the trend suggests income will continue to spiral south. Although we have an account with an Adsense rep, the individual never provides any real answers when it comes to earnings and just beats around the bush. To think that publishers are integral elements of Google's business model but can't be kept in the loop is frustrating and makes us feel like we owe our existence to Google, and not the other way around (which is the reality).

Something is happening that publishers are not allowed to know and plenty of our bottom lines are being affected. I have never in my years of working with Adsense experienced such a rapid decline in revenues (18% decline for us is a big deal) whilst experiencing an increase in quality traffic.

For what its worth...

[edited by: CentennialEmpire at 10:53 pm (utc) on Jan. 2, 2008]

11:00 pm on Jan 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

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For those who think the decreases in earnings is not statistically significant

The decreases may be statistically significant for those who are affected. They aren't statistically significant for those who aren't are affected. Do they have any general statistical significance? There's no way of knowing, because the statistical sample is limited to those who post complaints or counterreports on this forum.

It's certainly possible that "something has changed," but that doesn't mean things have changed across the board. Maybe Google is favoring certain types of content at the expense of others, publishers of a certain size at the expense of others, etc., etc. We just don't know. The only thing we do know is that different publishers are reporting different results--as always.

11:52 pm on Jan 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

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You're right, but what's happening in our case is a good gauge on what may be happening across the board. When you have a large site fully optimized for Adsense through direct guidance from an Adsense account rep, a multi-month slip in earnings and eCPM is nothing to take lightly. Smaller publishers may be seeing unchanged or growing earnings but through my experiences sites that earn below $100 a month are very volatile. Even sites earning $500 a month are able to buck actual trends that the big publishers may be experiencing.

Big publishers attract advertisers with larger pockets and that's what Google wants, hence Google providing large sites with representatives and marketing said sites directly to advertisers. So the theory that Google would disregard one niche to pursue another, while hoping to maintain good relations with the disregarded large publisher at the same time, would be an irresponsible business act and I highly, highly doubt such is the case.

Our particular niche, for what its worth, has global appeal and is a massive money-maker and headline-maker on a national and global level. Furthermore the flow of money from advertisers in our niche is on the up-swing, not on a downswing so the theory of advertisers pulling out or not wanting to invest in online advertising doesn't make sense.

What we may be experiencing is an over-zealous smart pricing algorithm that vastly decreases the value of a click based on the expectations of a publisher. We first heard about this earlier in 2007 where Google was experimenting with new methods of ensuring advertisers receive value for a click and not just a visit. Since the "value" is shrouded in secrecy and publishers can only guestimate what it is, what could be developing is a quiet shift to pay-for-action advertising from pay-for-click. We'll certainly receive income from a click, but it won't be nearly as high as a click followed by a particular action whereas before the entire value of an ad would be paid through only a click.

[edited by: CentennialEmpire at 12:08 am (utc) on Jan. 3, 2008]

12:31 am on Jan 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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...and to add to the above, ever wondered why Google insists publishers should sign up with Google Analytics? The real driver behind the push for Analytics is to track users once they arrive through an Adsense click. Google can now follow the actions of a click with precision whereas before it would lose contact with a click once the user entered the advertisers site.

If a user clicks through and meanders about without converting to an income earner for the advertiser, the value of a click will be drastically slashed for the publisher who generated the click.

That's just my theory, but it seems plausible, doesn't it?

[edited by: CentennialEmpire at 12:33 am (utc) on Jan. 3, 2008]

2:53 am on Jan 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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and to add to the above, ever wondered why Google insists publishers should sign up with Google Analytics?

Some weeks, maybe months back I mentioned in another thread an undisclosed theory I had.

I then deleted all Analytics from one site.

Guess what? While one swallow does not make a summer.....

2:55 am on Jan 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Oh, if the numbers continue to keep improving back to 2006 levels I'll remove analytics from everything.

All a question of plusses and minuses.

4:38 am on Jan 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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what's happening in our case is a good gauge on what may be happening across the board.

For the sake of argument, let's assume you are correct. And let's take the small publishers out of the mix... say, less than $1000 a month. Lets also take out publishers who have simply increased their traffic through better serps, links, etc. and have better earnings thruogh an expanded audience.

Now, what's the explanation for those here who are experiencing increases -or maintaining old levels- in epc, ctr, and the resulting increase in business?

It seems to me we have to return to the idea that some sort of AS targeting mechanism is at work; it could be markets, click tracks, or -and this makes no sense- a random selection. Some sites get hit, and some get passed? I personnally have trouble believing that.

Or could it be that totally outside factors have combined to create a perfect storm for a portion of those here? Like real storms, there is one blowing somewhere every minute, every day, resulting in the always present mix of some who are up, and some who are down.

And that AdSense, instead of being the cause, is only the yardstick by which the outside factors are revealed.


9:03 am on Jan 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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or -and this makes no sense- a random selection. Some sites get hit, and some get passed?

It does make a lot of sense.

First, hitting publishers randomly throws up enough fog to make any discussion about the reasons useless, just because there is no rational reason for the changes (it's random). That's great, because this makes Google's black box even more intransparent.

Second, if we assume that even bigger publishers are next to nothing in the Adsense universe, a random selection of victims across the board (or in certain target groups) helps them to understand the reactions. If we reduce eCPM by 50%, how many publishers jump ship? And what if we just reduce eCPM by 20%? Did we get feedback from those hit? What kind of feedback was it? Really, you need just a large sample of randomly selected candidates to get very valid statements. Given the PhD background of Google, I think they are quite experienced with this kind of statistics.

10:24 am on Jan 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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are you talking about the very same company that is unable to fix a simple reports display bug for 2 weeks?

I'm nowadays inching towards it all being out of control code randompricing getting tweaked empirically every now and then, at least till they show some maturity and reliability again.

12:05 pm on Jan 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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are you talking about the very same company that is unable to fix a simple reports display bug for 2 weeks?

LOL.

Right, Hobbs, you are right. Probably they are closer to your description than to mine. ;-)

1:01 pm on Jan 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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CentennialEmpire I swear you sound exactly like us, we also have a very large account and our rep did the exact same thing that yours did when we got hit.

Increase clicks, increase traffic, ad cpa it just doesnt matter. Nothing we do effects our account in a positive way.

"I fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts"

Like many others here we have been pushed hard to add analytics and I think you would have to be nuts to give Google even more detailed information about us without us getting anything back.

When you have a 7 figure a year account drop by 49% overnight and your rep says everythings fine and your not being smartpriced somethings not right with the information flow.

2:29 pm on Jan 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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When you have a 7 figure a year account drop by 49% overnight and your rep says everythings fine

Nah, drall, I guess you are reading too much into this, really. I think it is related to supply and demand, or maybe other factors, like major advertisers dropping out. I guess everything is fine over at the Plex.

(You can take a joke, can't you?) ;-)

4:23 pm on Jan 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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If you've been earning a seven-figure income from AdSense, and that income has dropped 49% overnight, but your AdSense rep tells you everything is okay, isn't it possible (even likely) that everything is okay from Google's point of view, and that Google is sending you a message?
4:47 pm on Jan 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Drall, that's exactly what I'm talking about. The drop was instantaneous and there was no logical explanation.

Europeforvisitors, Google's account reps never state anything is happening that could affect earnings. Either they're mute if you ask them, or they give you an answer that beats around the bush (fact is they probably don't know, for if they knew word would get out on the Internet sooner or later).

4:52 pm on Jan 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Actually EFV it is our business that was earning a 7 figure income, not myself.

Also our rep has told us that our traffic is great and our advertiser metrics are great so exactly what message is Google trying to send when our rep there says our stats are just great for advertisers?

How are we to diagnose what is wrong when your rep says your traffic rocks and advertisers are fighting each other for our adspace and Google is asking you if you want to be a case study a few months earlier?

The only message we can conclude is that this is the max google feels we are worth per cpm.

I agree with you Cent, Google reps probably do not know what is really effecting earnings on accounts. Maybe those decisions are made a higher level.

[edited by: drall at 5:05 pm (utc) on Jan. 3, 2008]

5:03 pm on Jan 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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How are we to diagnose what is wrong when your rep says your traffic rocks and advertisers are fighting each other for our adspace?

If advertisers are fighting each other for your ad space, why not sell them the AdSense space, now that AdSense isn't performing well on the site? (Your situation sounds a lot different from that of a tiny publisher who has no viable alternatives to AdSense.)

5:09 pm on Jan 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I'm in much the same boat as drall and CentennialEmpire. Our experience has been that our large site has remained pretty consistent over the years except when Google pulls their levers.

The thing I keep seeing is a reduction in CTR. We experienced this over a month before the click-area change, and there were many reports of lower CTR before the click-area change. To me, this is the best indicator we have of what has been going on since CTR affects everything else... CPM and $$. We went from roughly a 6.5% CTR to 4.5%... accounting for a 30% drop in income.

So what affects CTR on a large site with varried subject matter and millions of visitors per month?

5:10 pm on Jan 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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You are right EFV, we are the "in the middle" crowd. Big enough to turn down VC funding but to small to deal with thousands of advertisers directly without a substantial expansion of staff.

Thats why adsense has been such a great solution, google manages our adverts/fill/billing and they get a large cut for there work but that just isnt the case anymore.

Blah time to expand..

6:06 pm on Jan 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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So what affects CTR on a large site with varried subject matter and millions of visitors per month?

Yep. Excellent question.

I don't have a million visitors per month (just about 50,000 on my largest site), but I saw a reduction in CTR in the first week of September '07, which I could not explain. I started a thread here that received some mixed responses:

[webmasterworld.com...]

Now, as more time has passed, the trend has stabilized and has become more clear to me: since beginning of September, my click tracker has been reporting more clicks than Google, week after week after week. Most of the weeks Google just stays within the 5% range (i.e. ignoring up to 5% of the clicks), but other weeks they really shoot at it: e.g. 7%, 15%, 13%, 17%, 10% deviation from the click tracker.

Add to this the fact that the click tracker was previously slightly underreporting (by about 5 to 10%) compared to the Google figures, you see how easy it is to reduce the click volume by 25% (8% underreporting before plus 17% invalid clicks now). Twentyfive percent! Whoa!

Now for the reasons: I don't know. I believe Google has massively changed the way clicks are being counted and rolled this "feature" out in September. As Google keeps us in the dark on major metrics (e.g. value/origin/target of each click), we do not know exactly which clicks are seen as invalid.

However, I have looked specifically at the days where the deviation was significant and compared these to the days without deviation. *Bingo* The days with a high number of ignored clicks had one thing in common: they all showed multiple clicks from (let's call them) "exotic" countries, e.g. Hungary, Czech Republic, Malta, Israel, Morocco, Lithuania. On days where Google's count was identical with the click-tracker's count, most or all of the clicks were coming from "classical" countries in the western world, e.g. USA, UK, Germany, Canada, The Netherlands. So I guess that Google has created a whitelist of countries where they count clicks. All other clicks are simply ignored.

As I have a couple of sites attracting a global audience, my hopes for a good year 2008 (read: earnings recovery) are somewhat limited.

6:45 pm on Jan 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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So I guess that Google has created a whitelist of countries where they count clicks. All other clicks are simply ignored.

Since people in those "exotic countries" spend lots of real money (I can vouch for that myself), it's unlikely that Google would discount clicks from such countries. Google might discount certain clicks, based on what it knows about certain IP addresses, conversion patterns, etc. If that's happening, and if your click tracker is accurate, it may simply mean that the specific clicks you were getting from Hungary, Morocco, or other "exotic countries" (the Czech Republic is "exotic"?) just happened to fit the "unwanted clicks" profile.

7:40 pm on Jan 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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EFV,

don't get me wrong - I feel that the people in these countries are in no way "exotic". I chose that word just in lack of a better word.

I am well aware of the fact that people in these countries are able to spend money (even more so, when they are connected to the Internet and and interested in specific widgets). As I said, I do appreciate visitors (and customers to my affiliate sales) from all countries.

Then again, the small sample I have been analyzing in detail (three days of "unwanted" clicks, and three "normal" days) suggests that Google has changed the way they count clicks, apparently based on the origin of the click.

8:01 pm on Jan 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Yes, that would make sense, zett.

Now with the added tracking Google Analytics provides Google, both through the publisher and through the advertiser, you've all of a sudden got a system where Google can narrow down with absolutely precision on clicks its advertisers "want" to pay for. If a click doesn't lead to a particular action from a particular individual (judged by IP range, time of day, etc), the publisher gets paid a tiny amount or nothing at all.

New research has shown that individuals are responsive to well designed ads even if they don't click on them. The research claimed test subjects remembered ads and considered their products or services whether or not they originally clicked on actual ads.

The research suggests this phenomenon is actually more prevalent than online advertisers first expected (or wanted to admit) but it also shouldn't come as a surprise. Why? Think billboards, television and radio ads that require absolutely no response from an individual other than remembering the image or the message. On the Internet, the classic point of view is "no click, no buck," and nobody seems to contest this. The savvy advertisers are well aware of this and exert their pressure to not only have free exposure for their advertisements if users don't click, but are now beginning to strictly define the expectations of a click.

8:33 pm on Jan 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Zett, clicks from non-Western countries are not being ignored, although it stands to reason that the country of origin would be part of the algorithm they use to determine whether clicks are invalid, or need to be set aside for closer scrutiny. I think you're extrapolating too much from a sample that's too small and too varied.
1:01 am on Jan 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Zett, might be onto something. It could be due to low to no geotargeted inventory for the countries zett termed exotic. The ads they see would therefore not be as well targeted, resulting in either lower ctr, and/or clicks that aren't worth as much because of conversion issues- for instance, the landing pages aren't targeted to support a Czech or Israeli consumer. Sounds plausible.
1:53 am on Jan 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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On the Internet, the classic point of view is "no click, no buck," and nobody seems to contest this. The savvy advertisers are well aware of this and exert their pressure to not only have free exposure for their advertisements if users don't click, but are now beginning to strictly define the expectations of a click.

The rep firm that I use sells a lot of display ads (millions of impressions per month on various sites), and nearly all are "branding" ads. "No click, no buck" may be a traditional pattern in the direct-response (a.k.a. CPC) world, but CPC is just one segment--and not the fastest-growing segment--of the Internet advertising market. Indeed, that may be one of the challenges faced by AdSense publishers: In some sectors, the big accounts are more interested in CPM display-advertising campaigns than in CPC "search ads."

3:48 am on Jan 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I'd certainly hope CPC isn't the fastest growing, but it's certainly the biggest right now, isn't it, or have branding campaigns overtaken CPC campaigns?
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