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Please list your theory, speculation, or wild idea why you think AdSense earnings were higher before than now?
Here is one theory. As I recall, there were thousands of dollars worth of AdWords coupons flooding Internet conferences. Those AdSensers who have not attended conferences several years ago won't know what I'm talking about so before you comment on this theory, hear me out. (Here is a recent example [google.com] of an AdWords promotion that would inject Google money into the system, though probably not on the same scale as in the beginning).
Every conference I went to there were thousands of dollars worth of coupons available from denominations of $250 on down (as I recall). I think there may have been $500 coupons available, too. There were so many coupons floating around that some people were selling them, exchanging them between themselves, and opening multiple AdWords accounts to take advantage of them.
Could part of the higher payouts have to do with there being less publishers in the system? Is it possible that another contributing factor in those early days of higher ECPM was the flood of AdWords coupons?
[edited by: martinibuster at 8:27 am (utc) on May 2, 2009]
1) Adblock use increasing
2) More people looking to "make money online." Not "buy online."
3) The economic problems
4) Advertisers spending less and less
5) Advertisers having more options to advertise
The first 2 are SERIOUS enough to warrant genuine worry.
Don't you just notice that the more of your users use Firefox, the less your CTR? And isn't Firefox pushing Adblock on people?
And secondly, more and more people are getting online NOT to look for things to buy, BUT looking at how to make money online.
Blame the MMO blogs for this. This is one of the reasons why Adsense is very reluctant to accept people whose sites are MMO in nature, or so I notice. They actually word it as "unacceptable site content."
Not only do the vast majority of those MMO sites are junk, but they rouse the awareness of people to the fact that they can make money online. That's the net effect.
And these people become NON CLICKERS after that.
I really wonder why few bloggers/webmasters seem to "get this."
When everyone becomes "net savvy," that is when Adsense revenue and all other PPC revenue will fly out the window.
Growing Adsense blindness:
Same site in May 2006 2.07% CTR
Same site in May 2009 0.87% CTR
same amount of international visitors, nothing changed to the site/or Adsense in those years
My experience also. Judging by the changing ads I've seen displayed in Oz on my sites over the same period I believe a reduction in ad inventory on the content network is far a bigger factor than ad blindness which no doubt is a factor as well.
I doubt ad blindness or ad blockers have simply "just occurred" in recent times.
Personally, I think the problem is a simple one... the tremendous drop in advertiser numbers and quality.
Just a few months ago, Google was reporting a big increase in its number of advertisers. Of course, it's possible--even likely--that the number has dropped since then, or that the average advertiser is spending less. But the inevitable growth in the number of pages displaying AdSense ads would have the same effect as a drop in the number of advertisers.
Let's say your widget category had 1,000 advertisers buying $1,000,000 worth of ads on 1,000,000 pages at this time last year. Today, a year later in a tight economy, your widget category and its advertisers have miraculously managed to keep 1,000 advertisers buying $1,000,000 worth of ads, but the number of pages about "widgets," "purple widgets," "widget repair," "Widget handling systems," etc. has increased from 1,000,000 pages to 1,500,000 pages (aided, in part, by computer-generated "user review" pages, directory pages, etc.). That translates into a dilution of quality ads and earnings even if advertisers' budgets are the same as they were a year ago.
My 2C (inc. VAT @15%)
Also, they could detect adsense on geocities etc.
If you're bothered by AdSense ads on GeoCities sites, you'll be happy to learn that Yahoo is closing down GeoCities later this year.
As for quality of ads, that probably varies quite a bit by industry and topic. I'm still seeing relevant ads on my site, and average EPC is comparable to what it was in the good old days of 2003 and 2004. CTR is the weak point.
It'll be interesting to see if AdSense CTR picks up over the next couple of months. My topic is seasonal, and I'm seeing a lot of last-minute activity on the affiliate side lately. People who have been deferring purchase decisions are finally deciding "It's now or never" and pulling out their wallets. Will their recent change in attitude translate into higher clickthrough rates for relevant AdSense ads? I'm hoping so, but I'm not holding my breath.
[edited by: signor_john at 5:19 pm (utc) on May 20, 2009]
so a massive increase in the number of websites showing ads doesn't necessarily mean that the ads will dry up. because advertisers don't have to pay for impressions. just actions that lead somewhere useful -- stuff that makes them money. the clicks will end up paying for themselves.