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Under-Performing Countries



10:28 am on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

I know I've sort of broached this subject before however it's becoming very evident with the Performance > Countries charts in the new interface, that some countries just "do not seem to click." My worst are:


It's interesting that three are from the same region, I always said I was not going to block low-performing countries since I had to "Get the company message out there" yet these three countries are not contributing to company growth whatsoever therefore I may have to re-think this.

Poland we do good business and get a lot of enquiries, no problem.

Brazil is one of my widget trade's major suppliers plus we have representation there but Belgium, what gives with Belgium?

Supposedly the HQ of the European Union and doing what it always does, taking the money and not giving anything back. That would be interesting banning one of my nearest neighbours!

Anyone else with similar or surprising metrics?


10:50 am on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member piatkow is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Maybe those countries simply don't have suitable inventory for your site.


11:31 am on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

suitable inventory

Hmmm...that's a plausible reason however bearing in mind where Belgium is situated I do fine with The Netherlands, France, Luxembourg and Germany so I just did a test using Google.be and...you seem to be right, now that's interesting.

Insofar as the Far East is concerned using local Googles:

Malaysia - Absolutely nothing in local SERPs
Philippines - Absolutely nothing in local SERPs
Singapore - Very few ads in local SERPs

Considering this region is a massive worldwide importer of my widgets I find this quite strange...back to the drawing board!


11:55 am on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Similar results here. Our pages are all in English and we find that 95% of our income comes from English-speaking countries though they only account for 50% of our traffic. Most of our non-English visitors are from affluent European countries, often with a CTR under 0.6% and CPC less than 0.03

I have no experience of Adwords, but I would assume that this is because non-English advertisers are only bidding on local language keywords which brings down the bid price and reduces the ad inventory for our pages in these countries.

Can't adwords automatically translate keywords?


12:37 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

Can't adwords automatically translate keywords?

They can certainly do something, I'm not sure what it is however I have several keyword.eu domain sites and more often than not the ads are always in German when first viewing even though there is not word of German on the sites!


2:04 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Even if they could automatically translate (and I honestly don't know; all my stuff is English only) I wouldn't want to bet my paycheck that the translation is either accurate or relevant.


3:15 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

In late April (after studying the available 4 week of data - and years of 'gut feeling') I reduced the number of countries being shown Adsense ads on my site down from a daily average of 179 countries down to just 17 of the best converting/traffic countries (mainly English speaking countries or English as a dominant second language - and no Belgium did not make the cut).

Reasons For This: I just cannot see Adsense having the inventory for so many countries, especially in the developing nations - the market needs time to mature. Also not one of my direct advertisers ever asks to target more than 5 or 6 countries at most - i.e. not one brand has ever asked for global ad impressions when given the choice to target individual countries. These countries are the English speaking nations, targeted by my website, so I am not sure how Adsense ads could ever really benefit readers outside of this narrow targeted country and language range using contextual advertisements. Note: that is NOT to say my website information will not benefit people outside of the English speaking nations ...

Previous CTR data seems to bare this out. For many of the developing nations, certainly those with a consistent zero CTR, this says either the demand/incentive to click on Ads or Ad inventory itself is lacking in Adsense for these countries (at least in my niche, YMMV). I have also cut out many 'foreign language' developed countries from the EU who also do not click on ads from my site; not sure 'why' these visitors do not click, apart from poor ad targeting (?) but see below for an unintended consequence in improved visitor experience for these visitors.

Last week I further reduced it down from 17 to just 11 top performing countries. And I am happy with the results having done so. Impressions are down, but CTR is up (no surprise there, there is a correlation when you narrow the focus) but other metrics have also improved, and overall income is up (YMMV so test, test and test some more, what is good for my site may not be good for yours).

Plan of action - I will always keep the top 9 countries of the 11 but I will rotate out two of the least performing countries of the 11 every month, and replace them with two others for a month (from my previous top 21 which I have on record) to see how they fair. Then rotate out the bottom 2 performers and try them with another two different countries etc. This is to make sure I have not excluded a country that could perform better in the future.

Unintended Consequences - in WebmasterTools the overall average site speed has decreased (yes, I am aware of how it is measured). Countries outside my top 11 are having the same access to information on my site, just without Adsense ads (or direct Ads) being shown to them, (perhaps this is a better user experience) and this is saving over 2 seconds on average with each page load.

For my English speaking targeted countries, with a broadband internet infrastructure, page load is not really an issue, but for poorer, developing nations, without broadband infrastructure, it seems the pages load much quicker without the ads, and bounce rate is reduced for these nations (and also for foreign language visitors from developed countries, which also do not get shown ads) ... <educated-guess> an improved overall user experience and lower page loads speeds may help in future SERP's(?) I repeat 'may' help - it can't harm </educated-guess>

FYI ... The new tool in webmaster tools which 'previews' the site shows the site without ads, i.e. it shows the site as other countries outside the top 11 see it. Therefore I have used collapsible <div> boxes to show the ads (width is given in the CSS but no height) which then 'disappear' without the ads in them, collapsing the space into which other information boxes shift - making the site very presentable when ads are not shown.

Caveat: you cannot target adsense to specific countries using the adsense tools given in the adsense manager - you need to use internal server side scripts or a third party ad manager.


6:58 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

I'm seeing similar issues with these countries, and I would like to ad Pakistan to the list.

@JoePublisher, what you are saying is making a lot of sense. So you are blocking these countries on the server side...how? PHP or ASP? Any examples? Thanks.


7:04 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

"I know how to get out of AdSense Google and I'm starting on removing you in the morning, you are no longer welcome. "
[webmasterworld.com ]

You really puzzle me mate!


8:23 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I live in one of those countries and I know why...

For many, many years, classic advertising abused us with huge/annoying flash ads, so -> ad blocker and especially ad blindness is something common :(

+ you must realize that Europe doesn't have a developed online acquisition culture!

I don't comment on countries like Pakistan, where the income is very, very low.

For me 20% of traffic is giving me 80% of income...


8:51 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

You really puzzle me mate!

Talk to my ex-wives...they don't understand anything I do but my husky understands everything:-)


11:51 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

@JCKline I use a third party adserver (DFP) which is a really complex, powerful and accurate piece of ('free') software to target only the criteria you input - however the WYSIWYG panel and interface make it very simple to use once you get the hang of it.

Server Side Scripts:
If you want to use a server side script to block countries then look in the Apache forum if your server uses Apache etc. They have some excellent advice on this. But this method is best implemented when you want to block your entire site from being seen by country based IP's and Ads as part of your content would only be shown to your white-listed countries.

Now this is used by many publishers who literally only want their content to be seen by certain countries, and they block countries with low ROI or common scrapper countries like Korea etc. - either re-routing them to some other site or showing one Page which states the site is not available in their country. There are also some companies who offer webmasters this service and they do all the blocking of countries on your behalf. However, this method is not so good to implement if all you want to block are the ads from being shown.

Ad Server: Using an adserver means that all countries continue to see your content and website, but the low ROI countries, and countries with slow internet infrastructure, do not get to see the ads - this means overall lower impressions, higher CTR and less time to serve the page to developing countries. Depending on your niche and audience you get to decide who gets to see what, even altering criteria between different web properties you own.

Use an ad server (recommended). An example of the excellent targeting available on DFP is that a direct advertiser with me only wants their ads shown in the UK, and only once per visitor, on alternate days of the week, between the hours of 8am to 11pm. This is possible with a couple of tweeks to their advertising 'order' and it is done (three minutes tops to set up) ... and yes the ad server does exactly this and keeps track of it all for me.

I put my adsense code through an 'order' in DFP and whitelist it to be seen by only 11 countries, and as competition to some direct advertisers and other ad networks for that 'ad unit'. The only down side to this method is that many of the things DFP needs to know are based on cookie tracking and the inconsistencies of IP addresses, both of these things can throw off the targeting, but on the whole I would say it is above 90% successful.

Note:I am by nature a cautious man, and I have exactly the same set up as I do on google's DFP as I do with the also free to use OpenX system. I use DFP as I like their code and interface but I also made it my business to set up an 'on ramp' account and learn to use the OpenX adserver. If I ever fall out with google (not because of something I do, but because of something that they do) then I can strip out the DFP code from my site, copy and paste in the OpenX code, and I would be up and running direct ads again in 5 minutes flat, with no loss or inconvenience. OpenX has similar functionality to DFP and it is pretty powerful too and I know other people prefer it to DFP ... but I recommend DFP, it really is powerful, flexible and scales incredibly well as your website grows.

[edited by: JoePublisher at 12:04 am (utc) on May 24, 2011]


12:03 am on May 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member play_bach is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Thanks again JoePublisher for the info. Thanks to you and wheel, I may one day actually use an adserver (been watching the OpenX videos, interesting). That said, it seems to me the IP/country thing was really poorly thought out and now with proxies and the like, damn near impossible to really isolate as well as a big hit on server load. Why I can't just say 'USA' or 'Pakistan' and simply block by name (like everybody wants to be able to do!) vs blocking by IP ranges escapes me.

[edited by: Play_Bach at 12:11 am (utc) on May 24, 2011]


12:11 am on May 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

@Play_Bach I haven't looked into blocking countries for my site (only ads through an adserver) but I do know if you use the most popular of the 'free' CDN (content delivery networks) you can chose to block 'countries' through their interface and not have to mess around or update IP ranges - and they are apparently very very affective - they also update the global list of IP addresses each day to keep on top of any new scrapper bots or country wide changes etc. If I wanted to block my site by country and scrapper bots I would probably give a highly recommended CDN a try.

I am looking at CDN as a way of speeding up my site delivery right now, and I know that this is part of what you can do with it, however other people who have already tried some of these companies out might have some good / better advice, (as I just know the 'hype' and 'pr' spin at this stage, rather than have any first hand experience).

[edited by: JoePublisher at 12:27 am (utc) on May 24, 2011]


12:23 am on May 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

@JoePublisher, Thanks!


12:27 am on May 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member play_bach is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Back in the days before AdSense, I tried my hand at blocking countries using htaccess. PITA and the huge file was a big drag on my server. Eventually gave up. Nowadays, I block only the odd IP and am much happier.


12:31 am on May 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm with you on this, messing around with IP ranges and updates to the lists in my .htaccess file is not an option for me, however if these CDN companies can do what they say, (and they do all of the IP updates on a daily basis as part of their job to block new scrapper bots and new country IP ranges etc.) then they might be worth looking at as an option ... (?) particularly if they also speed up page load times :)

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