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Over the last 2 weeks, site traffic has been up and then averaged out at about 6000 unique per day, page impressions obviously in line with those figures...however...the eCPM has totally gone through the floor to the extent that I've dropped to below half of what I was making 2 weeks earlier.
I have no idea what's causing this - I've tried everything I can think of, alternated the look of the ads, opened them up to advertisers etc, but still the figures are dropping daily...
Any ideas/guidance ?
You have been Smart Priced.
A lot more data is needed before reaching a conclusion. ;)
Is your previous eCPM double digit or single digit?
Is your current eCPM double digit or single digit?
site traffic has been up
By how much? Typically lower traffic can show abnormally higher eCPM, usually because they are for high eCPM keyword phrases or pages. A bump in traffic can indicate a broader class of phrases, less targeted, therefor less competition (less likely to convert) and thus lower bids.
Valuable traffic: What kind of widget do I need?
Lesser valuable traffic: How do I improve a widget?
Even lesser valuable traffic: DIY cheap widget?
Least valuable traffic: Pictures of widget
There are more nuances. Set up channels for different sections of your site. If it's a small site set up channels for every page. Correlate EARNINGS per section/page with what your traffic logs say.
This is why I say, we need more data before reaching a conclusion. Can a sudden decline of $4.00 eCPM to $2.00 eCPM be described as Smart Pricing? NO.
[edited by: martinibuster at 7:54 am (utc) on Sep. 12, 2008]
Also, the ecpm of about 0.40 you mention is low and although the percentage drop is high, such a low ecpm may well quite normally be liable to such drops. I'm not sure of the stats about that though. But if, for example your ecpm was $10.00, a drop of $0.30 would hardly be noticeable. Just a thought.
Then, maybe an adsense representative will contact you and ask what's the problem ;)
An eCPM drop of fifty cents to ten cents is not smart pricing. It's a minor fluctuation.
MB, that's 80%, hardly minor.
As koan said, forums can be notoriously low-paying however this drop has coincided with the World Cup qualifiers.
Have you had a substantial increase in page impressions from visitors?
I've had a gradual and meciless decline of eCPM for the last 18 months myself. As a result, I now make about three times less from 1,000 page impressions than before. Part of this is due to lower CTR, different structure of traffic, part--due to some economic dynamics. That's why I don't believe it will ever fully recover, and work on some alternatives.
Your situation is different than mine. It was a sudden drop, so just as suddenly it may go up. I think it very likely that your eCPM may be back soon. If it isn't, you gotta start worrying!
...site traffic has been up and then averaged out at about 6000 unique per day, page impressions obviously in line with those figures...however...the eCPM has totally gone through the floor...
Traffic up. eCPM down. Maybe it's just an illustration that AdSense isn't as scalable as desired.
Cheer up. Lots of people would like to have the "problem" of thinking, "I have more traffic now how do I make more money with this traffic?" AdSense isn't the only way to make money with a website.
As koan said, forums can be notoriously low-paying...
Even among forums, there could be some that do well and some that do poorly. To follow in the footsteps of Martinbuster's widget examples, we could say:
Most valuable traffic: A forum about obtaining tickets to widgetball matches, or about accommodations near stadiums. (Why? Because the participants are looking for ways to spend their money.)
Least valuable traffic: A forum devoted to general discussions about matches, players, etc. (Why? Because the participants just want to talk about widgetball.)
Because the participants just want to talk about widgetball
Precisely, that's why I was querying whether there has indeed been an increase in page impressions considering the World Cup has started its first qualification matches plus the soccer season has really just "kicked off" fully.
On my forum - I get say 9000 unique visitors per day, and about 150K + impressions in that day....up until late Aug - earnings (dont laugh, but it's an income for us !) were on average about $30-$40 per day...I made a change (just realised - details to follow), and from that point on, earnings really plummeted to around $8 - $10 per day...
So, the million dollar question - what did I change ?
The only thing that's changed, is the [Forum SEO] software I use on my site - previously, my sitemap was pumping about 400K + URL's to google, I then experienced a blip on my server where the process got itself in a knot and I had to kill it each time, I reduced the bloat sent to google in the sitemap, dropping all posts on my forum and only indexing thread titles and forums - result, a drop to 21K submitted URL's to google....and a happier server....
This ^ has all just dawned on me this afternoon as it's been irking me so much ! I don't know how [Forum SEO] works, but I assume, that the number of URL's sent to google for indexing, and subsequent traffic (and by default, adsense clicks) ARE related...
So, I've just resubmitted a FULL sitemap to see if that indeed clears the issue...leastways, it bloody well better do !
Anyway - sorry for the rant of sorts - but I really am keen to get to the bottom of this...I realise $30-$40 per day aint much, but on a site that has no products to sell and a biggish server bill per month, Adsense revenue is very much appreciated !
[edited by: martinibuster at 10:38 pm (utc) on Sep. 12, 2008]
[edit reason] Removed specifics. [/edit]
When I go to a forum, I'm there to participate in discussions, not to click on ads. But if I do click on an ad that caught my eye, it would probably be at a ratio of 200 page views (or more) to one click.
In other words, whatever forum I'm at would be generating 200 (Adsense) impressions before I click one time. I'd expect this to contribute to a very low eCPM.
I realise $30-$40 per day aint much
You've said it twice, I don't know why you are so apologetic, this is a very decent figure if the site is your hobby and not your job. Most hobbies actually waste your money, this one can make car payments, I wouldn't be so modest and I'm sure your other half appreciate that sports in the house actually bring some bacon instead of just passing time ;)
The confusing thing though is you said in your first post that traffic increased while your eCPM dropped... so your last one about sitemaps causing a drop of google traffic to explain your revenue drop contradicts that.
As for the low CTR of a forum site, like I and others said, your average viewer may read 5-10-20 pages per visit, a lot more than your average informational site, which lowers the overall CTR. Add to this that forum visitors may indeed not be so inclined to click ads that often and that you have a lot of regulars oblivious to ads, and a CTR of 1% (or less) is not unheard of. However, if you can find a decent CPM ad provider... they should be able to provide advertising with a minimum eCPM of about $1.00. So forums do have low CTR, but do you know of many other, simple ways to have a site with 10 000 pages and that much traffic? That's a lot of freely generated content by volunteers.
As mentioned before - the very nature of forums are such that they're difficult to make money from; for one thing, people come there to discuss, not to click on ads, and if you get repeat visitors, they become ad-blind.
Somethings you could try would include removing all but one ad and one set of ad links - but make them PROMINENT. When you look at the ads on a page, the top most one is the most lucrative, did you know that? So that by the time you get down to the ads in the footer, you're talking pennies, if that.
Experiment with different placements and sizes to reduce ad blindness. If people get accustomed to seeing the ads in the same place every time, they're going to also get used to letting their eyes skip over them.
Consider creating sections of your site that might appeal to people who want to buy things. They can be static pages generated by you yourself, or new sub-forums for your users. Who is coming to your site? People who play soccer? Find some affiliate programs for sports gear, review (or solicit users to review) equipment. People who watch soccer? Open up a section on soccer videos, team memorabilia - I dunno, I don't follow soccer. But if I were running a forum, I'd do some research and find out. Because people who are interested in soccer MUST be buying things, and you need to figure out what they buy, and find a way to offer that stuff on your site.
I don't know your site, it could be a perfectly wonderful soccer site, very helpful, useful and fun to the people who frequent it. But as long as it's strictly geared towards information and not commerce, it's not going to be a big money maker.