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Increasing Revenue By Removing AdSense from Poorly Performing Pages

Higher CTR = Higher eCPM = Higher EPC

     
7:44 pm on Jul 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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My assumption - AdSense rewards high performance.

Two years ago, I removed poorly performing pages, and I noticed a much higher EPC. I believe that this resulted from the much improved CTR, after I created a large graph of CTR vs. EPC over several months.

Last week I decided it was again about time to "cull" my AdSense ads from pages that were performing poorly. So I had to determine what the criteria was for removal (switching the ads to another PPC provider).

I went with this -
1. Remove all AdSense from pages that had a CTR of less than 1% over a 1 month period.

2. Remove all AdSense from pages that had a eCPM of less than $3 over a 1 month period.

Question - What would YOUR criteria be for removing AdSense on poorly performing pages?

I am about to tighten up even further. Maybe 2% CTR and $5 eCPM.

What do you think?
.
.

7:51 pm on July 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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How did this impact your overall earnings?

What % of improvement did you see?

7:56 pm on July 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I think you are probably right.

I have a high CTR and ECPM so the ones that I would remove would be higher than yours is showing.

For low traffic pages that get a CTR of less than 8% I'd remove those and for low traffic pages that get an ECPM of less than $12.00 I'd remove them.

I've actually been thinking about this for awhile. Some of these sites get very little in the way of visitors so I think if I remove AdSense from them until the visitors increase, I may be better off over all.

You really also have to look at these versus your higher paying pages and see if the money earned from the low CTR and low ECPM pages will be less than what you gain from removing them.

8:04 pm on July 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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It's only been 2 days, so I think that it is a little too early to draw conclusions. Especially since I have noticed in the past, that when I make a profound change that DEFINITELY affects my revenue instantly, it simply doesn't show for several days - some kind of "AdSense reporting delay", or somesuch. It seems to have something to do with AdSense thinking, "Is it real? Should we acknowledge it? Yeah, it's OK. We'll report it now."

Wolflover - Wow. Your theoretical "cutoff numbers" are much higher than mine. Just the kind of feedback I was looking for.

And where exactly is the ideal cutoff point? Where does lost revenue from the poorly performing pages become greater than the extra EPC gained by increasing overall CTR? THAT is the question. I'm sure it varies for everybody, but I think that everyone can gain by carefully experimenting.

[edited by: Sally_Stitts at 8:09 pm (utc) on July 8, 2009]

8:07 pm on July 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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My assumption - AdSense rewards high performance.

Maybe, but I suspect that Google's definition of "high performance" has more to do with conversion rates than with clickthrough rates. (Which is why Google invented "smart pricing.")

8:13 pm on July 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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signor_john - Absolutely.
But for purposes of this discussion, let's assume that the conversion rates are equal.
8:22 pm on July 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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When you remove pages you actually have fewer inventory pages, fewer impressions, therefore AdSense would in fact be theoretically running higher priced ads first to try to cash in on the best payouts.

For low traffic pages that get a CTR of less than 8% I'd remove those and for low traffic pages that get an ECPM of less than $12.00 I'd remove them.

Are you kidding?

I'd be out of business cutting pages on those parameters and I'm pulling some serious coin out of AdSense.

Are you making many thousands per month with that strategy?

8:28 pm on July 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Sally,

Unfortunately, GG AdSense is a black box. Changes that you have made may or may not be easy to understand since GG often makes changes without announcing what they are and how you may be affected.

The scientific method of testing is made on an understood system and typically only a single element or characteristic change is made. I have made changes to my website with interesting results only to read mass postings from others that an apparent drastic algo (or other) change has occurred. Ultimately, this blackbox change nulls my observations and conclusions.

I recommend you focus your experiments on what you can fully see and control.

8:31 pm on July 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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incrediBILL, I am not making many thousands but a couple thousand a month.

I have a high CTR and high ECPM. I base this on what people on here report all the time. I always see people talking about 1-2% CTR. I don't have the traffic to make any kind of money at 1-2% CTR. I assume the people that make good money on AdSense with 1-2% CTR must have TONS of traffic.

All my traffic is organic, I don't advertise or use AdWords. I used to use AdWords years ago, but all it did was cost me money and mostly negative ROI. So, I don't do any ads.

My niche has a higher ECPM and CTR because my visitors are looking to BUY, not just look for information. My information sites make me some money, but he bulk of it comes from sites people visit looking to buy products.

I wish I could increase my traffic, then perhaps I could make more money. I was hoping to make 50% more than I do right now, but am still trying to figure out HOW to get more traffic withOUT paying for ads.

I guess that is what we are all looking for but some of you are extremely successful with that.

8:32 pm on July 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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A few short months ago, I was frequently getting a 10-20 (CTR-eCPM). I would check daily to see if I was getting my "10-20".

I feel these numbers are unrealistic for me now, in the current environment. Now, I feel I must try to get the numbers up, as best I can, to slow the downward trend. Removing the "dogs" from the equation is one way to help prevent a much greater plunge.

Edge - I couldn't agree more. I have experienced the same. I have thought I was "hot stuff", only to see the cause was something else entirely. And of course, just the opposite, as well, when things went south. Ha-ha. I am afraid though, that "fully see and control" ain't never gonna happen.

[edited by: Sally_Stitts at 8:37 pm (utc) on July 8, 2009]

8:40 pm on July 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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i agree with edge. it's getting too hard to gauge what has an effect and what doesn't because the stat reporting is too inconsistant. you can have a period of perfectly stable earnings interrupted by one day that is so off it's silly. we expect things to go up and down, but sometimes they are so silly that it has to be something at google's end.

it's alright people saying it probably averages out over the month, or you'll get a click dump the next day or whatever, and that may be so, but it doesn't help you out when you're trying to test something.

the only thing that you can do is test something over a longer period, which is a pain in the butt. testing anything for less than a week is a waste of time.

and also... whilst i'm having a moan... what is the point of google allowing us to change fonts when the fonts don't stick? you might think that arial is getting you more money, but when you look at the ads on your site some of them will invariably be displayed in verdana, or whatever. and you can't tell from your stats which font got clicked, or how many times the user saw each font.

and the same with this new font sizes thing they gave us as well. the thing doesn't stick. it makes testing a waste of time.

and another factor... (last one)... big blocks seem to be appearing unfilled more and more these days. it's like google hasn't got enough ads to fill them up. i have 160x600 blocks that used to show 5 ads now showing anything as low as one -- and leaving the rest of the ad blank.
if you happen to be testing fonts, or colours, and google starts filling those blocks with just one ad, then i'm guessing that that will have a greater effect on the clickthrough rate than what you're trying to test. but you have no way of knowing that from the stats.
you might think that your font was rubbish, when in actual fact it's because 30% of the ads are half empty.

8:45 pm on July 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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All my code is in SSI files. I'd find it impractical to implement.
8:48 pm on July 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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londrum - I concur 100%.
I set my fonts to the desired Verdana, and over and over again I see those gawdawful teensie Times fonts on EVERY first serving of the ads.

This is DEFINITELY one of those cases where I make a GOOD, SUBSTANTIAL change, and my stats go straight south, because of the actions of AdSense. Testing anything anymore is problematic. AdSense assumes that ANYTHING they do, is superior to our judgment. I don't believe this.

[edited by: Sally_Stitts at 8:51 pm (utc) on July 8, 2009]

10:25 pm on July 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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If any of you compete with me, please remove AdSense from any page getting less than a 30% CTR and/or an eCPM of less than $100.00, hmmm, wait.... make that an eCPM of less than $250.00, ok?

This less is more idea can work in some situations, but I suspect it's tough to manage and I'm not sure CTR and/or eCPM are the best criteria to use when shooting what to remove.

10:58 pm on July 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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What's the point of removing an ad, except to reduce income? Is there any way that income can be increased by removing ads? That doesn't seem logical, unless there's a smart pricing penalty for low CTR.

I would look for the reason for low CTR. Some examples:
1) Is it due to incorrect ad targetting?
2) Is the low-CTR page acting as a gateway page that leads visitors to other, better-performing pages on your site? If so then I would just leave it as-is.
3) Are visitors going somewhere else? I found that happening on one of my pages by viewing Analytics statistics.

In any case, if you can fnd the reason for low CTR then you might be able to make changes to improve it.

1:25 am on July 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

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@Sally Which PPC provider are you using who provides that kind of CPM?

tim222> What's the point of removing an ad, except to reduce income?

Sally is not just removing the ads, she is switching the ads to a different PPC provider.

I just think my time is better spent in enhancing the site with more content and adding more value to existing content, but then what do I know.

2:13 am on July 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

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My assumption - AdSense rewards high performance.

----------------------------

That doesn't seem logical, unless there's a smart pricing penalty for low CTR.

I had a site of about 500 pages and about a year ago I removed AdSense from every page that was consistently getting a 1% or less AdSense CTR. Today, my AdSense earnings from the site are about the same as they were a year ago. I'm just earning that amount from less ads on the site.

I replaced the removed AdSense ads with another PPC program. The overall result is my income from the site has doubled in the past year.

-------------

As I've written before, whenever I send out an edition of my email newsletter which results in a surge in good targeted traffic to my site, I see the EPC suddenly increase, as if Google is rewarding me. If I don't send out another issue for a couple of weeks, the EPC starts to drop.

FarmBoy

4:38 am on July 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

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That doesn't seem logical, unless there's a smart pricing penalty for low CTR.

You stated it differently, but yes, that is exactly what I believe. There IS a smart-pricing penalty for low CTR. Make the graph yourself, with your own data. CTR on the x-axis, and EPC on the y-axis. Averaging the data points gives me a 45 degree straight line. "Directly proportional" is what I concluded. And pretty darned linear.

My "other" PPC provider has been YPN. I can't crack 1% CTR with them, but that is not the point. The point is that the poorly performing pages are not dragging my AdSense stats down. YPN has become just a "bit-bucket" over time. I have learned not to expect ANY money from them (except a few cents here and there). I am too jaded to try any more "AdSense Alternatives". I don't think there are any, after trying most of the top suggestions.

As far as trying to raise the CTR - that is what I spend many hours doing monthly. However, there is one thing I noticed a long time ago. After doing all the SEO stuff to every page, I noticed that certain pages don't go below 10% CTR, NO MATTER WHAT I do, and there are certain pages that can't attain a 4% CTR, NO MATTER WHAT I do. There is a CTR factor which exists, that is unfathomable. Yes, you can come up with many theories why this is so, but then you eventually burn-out, and just accept it. The CTR just stays the same, month after month. That's when I work on other pages.

I just think my time is better spent in enhancing the site with more content and adding more value to existing content ...
Yup. Me too. Do what you can, then work on the next thing. Much better than spending an inordinate amount of time trying for 1% more CTR, on a "low-CTR" type page.

[edited by: Sally_Stitts at 5:01 am (utc) on July 9, 2009]

6:02 am on July 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I just think my time is better spent in enhancing the site with more content and adding more value to existing content, but then what do I know.

A couple of years ago I spent a week tweaking existing content and it tripled the traffic.

It's amazing how much can be easily overlooked until you start looking at it from different angles.

10:30 am on July 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

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CTR on the x-axis, and EPC on the y-axis. Averaging the data points gives me a 45 degree straight line. "Directly proportional" is what I concluded.

Are you sure you didn't have eCPM on the y-axis?
12:54 pm on July 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

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There IS a smart-pricing penalty for low CTR.

In what form is the penalty handed out? Lower EPC?

Is there also a smart-pricing penalty for low conversions? In what form is that penalty handed out?

FarmBoy

1:35 pm on July 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

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If Google is sane, CTR plays no role in SmartPricing.
3:00 pm on July 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Great topic Sally. This issue is obvious to me, and I can predictably reproduce test results which support your theory.

If you've ever had a page on your site which is Digg'ed or Fark'ed, you'll see a high amount of low-performing traffic on that one page. The surprising thing is that your overall AdSense CPM will also decrease, making your revenue go down. To me this proves that low-performing ads on one page can affect CPM on all pages. i.e. more ads and more ad impressions can mean less income, and fewer ads can mean more income. I've seen it happen dozens of times.

For me, once a month I remove AdSense from all my pages with more than 100 impressions and a CPM of less than 50 cents. It's not hard to replace AdSense with a competing ad product which pays more than that, so there's really not much risk.

I started doing this at the end of March. My CPM had eroded to ridiculously low levels, but now it's double what it was in March, which is inline with what I've been earning before this recession started. Basically I've removed AdSense from 20% of my pages, CPM has doubled, revenue is up about 35%.

I have a theory that much of the complaining we hear about declining AdSense revenue is a result of people wanting to increase revenue so they put AdSense on addtional pages which aren't as well suited for ads. The increase in lower paying ads makes their account pay even less, so they put up even more ads. This results in a 'CPM death spiral' and then we read complaints of CPM cratering.

3:05 pm on July 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I've never paid much attention either way, and I don't really want to beat my head against the wall for the few pennies AdSense tosses out. But what I do know is that CTR makes a difference in AdWords. CTR makes a difference in organics. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that it also makes a difference in AdSense.
3:09 pm on July 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

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But what I do know is that CTR makes a difference in AdWords.

Does a higher CTR in AdWords lead to a higher, or lower CPC?

3:26 pm on July 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Does a higher CTR in AdWords lead to a higher, or lower CPC?

CTR is more to do with your ad position in adwords, but will indirectly affect your CPC. It could be higher or lower, but generally speaking a higher CTR will allow more clicks for less money than the same number of clicks with a lower CTR.

Back to Adsense, I have always believed that a link exists between CTR and conversion rate, but as others mentioned above, smart pricing is logically more likely to relate to conversion, or in the absence of data for a specific site, expected conversion.

4:46 pm on July 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

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But what I do know is that CTR makes a difference in AdWords.

Obviously. The higher the CTR, the more money the ad makes for Google. That's a nobrainer.

But on the AdSense side (publisher), judging CTR "perormance" is difficult. Compare those two sites:

1) Site A: CTR of 0.4% but 90% of the clicks convert.
2) Site B: CTR of 50% but only 1% of the clicks convert.

Site A is what a publisher calls poor performing, but for advertisers it should be Site B that is considered poor performing (very poor return of investment). Hence, Site B should be SmartPriced down.

The bottom line, low CTR does not mean low ROI (and high CTR does not mean high ROI).

9:13 pm on July 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

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If Google is sane, CTR plays no role in SmartPricing.

I remember reading something official from Google saying CTR played no role with smart pricing or EPC values. Google wants max exposure for their ads, since it doesn't cost the advertiser anything unless someones actually clicks, they don't penalize pages based on that. Makes sense. You have to look at the total revenue, not eCPM. I'd take $20/day with a $1 eCPM over $10/day with a $10 eCPM.

9:44 pm on July 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I remember reading something official from Google saying CTR played no role with smart pricing or EPC values.

Is this what you saw?

[adsense.blogspot.com...]

"Clickthrough rate doesn't affect advertiser return on investment (ROI)... Don't remove the AdSense code from your site just because it has a lower CTR - it may be one of your best converting sites. "

9:54 pm on July 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I remember reading something official from Google saying CTR played no role with smart pricing or EPC values.

So how do you explain one page getting Digg'ed lowering overall income for the entire site? I've seen this have a significant effect on overall revenue every time it's happened.

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