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More impressions, falling CTR

with Graphic

     
9:56 am on May 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Please look at this

[imageshack.us...]
(you can enlarge the graphic)

This is the data since 2008 until today, impressions are continually rising but CTR is falling and falling with no recovery.

This is the aggregated data of three big forums, same layout but totally different subjects. In the last years I haven't changed anything, just small changes updates. Only guests see the ads - users who are logged in, don't see them.

What could be the reasons? I have no idea!

Is this the general trend that people are not clicking on ads any more than in the last years?

Help is appreciated very much!
3:42 pm on May 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Welcome to my world!

My CTR graph looks very similar to yours and from other site graphs I've seen we're not the only ones.
4:02 pm on May 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

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As traffic has gone up the intent/interest new visitors drawn from an expanded pool may have been less focused, thus less likely ads that are well targeted to the page content.

From posts here over the years it's pretty common for traffic increases to result in lower CTR.
8:25 pm on May 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

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@HuskyPup, have you any possible explanations?
@ken_b: I didn't understand that, would you explain this please to me?
8:52 pm on May 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

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...less likely ads...

That should have said... less likely to click ads....

Additional traffic has to come from somewhere. If it comes from different (more general) search terms, it might be less focused on the specific content of your page. It it is less focused on te specific content of your page, and the ads are well targeted to your page content.... you get less clicks.

Example search terms that could lead to this.

[Lets say your content is about round blue widgets and your ads are well targeted to "round blue widgets".]

A search like "round blue widget" would result in highly targeted visits, and the best CTR.

A search like "blue widgets" would send traffic that was not as well targeted, and get a lower CTR.

A search like "widgets" would send traffic that is even less well targeted, and get an even lower CTR.

If your ads are targeted at round blue widgets, and the visitor is looking for red widgets, well they are probably a lot less likely to click on the ads.

Look at your analytics or log files to see if your additional traffic is coming from these less targeted type searches.
5:15 am on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Thank you ken_b, that makes sense.
6:29 am on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Also check the advertisers. If they too have become 'less focussed' then your CTR may well fall.

Following ken_b's example

A visitor searching for 'round blue widget' back in 2008 was presented with with an ad block full of relevant ads for 'round blue widgets'.

Now those ads are less focussed, ads for red widgets, ads for something unrelated to widgets, thus a lower CTR.
8:34 am on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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have you any possible explanations?


When was the last time you clicked on an applicable ad?

I used to quite frequently when visiting interesting sites, these days I ignore probably 99.99% of them however I feel the main kicker is that after so many years of using The Net that I know, more or less, precisely where I'm going to get stuff from that I don't even bother looking for new suorces/suppliers.

I actually bought a new washing machine recently from a local supermarket since its price was better than anywhere on The Net, plus they delivered it the same day, plus they plumbed it in, plus they took the old one away...job done.
4:24 pm on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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HuskyPup, have you tried to deactivate Google Certified Ad Networks? That's what others have suggested and I did that today.

But you are right: I never ever click on ads! I always wondered: who are those peope who are clicking on ads? I never find sth useful - the ads are sometimes nice but the sites behind them are never useful for me.
5:24 pm on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I never ever click on ads! I always wondered: who are those peope who are clicking on ads?


I click on ads when I am in shopping mode or when an ad offers a significant discount.

Here is what I believe will help forums monetizing with AdSense:

1. Forum Topic
Is the member level discourse expert or newbs asking about the basics? Expert level members may not click on ads with the frequency as newb level visitors.

2. Descriptive discussion titles are important ways for encouraging discussion as well as ranking for search queries. Newbs, possibly your most valuable members in terms of income are notoriously bad title makers. Keep on them, encourage them in the welcome email to create descriptive titles, edit their titles if necessary. This in turn will encourage new visitors and with it clicks.
A. Do your discussion titles become H1 headers on the page?
B. Do your discussion titles become the first part of your title tag?
C. Do you encourage members to create descriptive discussion titles?

3. Change it up...
Matching colors that blend into a forum template look nice but even doing something like changing the color of the title/link can squeeze out more clicks. They say to use the largest ad units you can stand but I personally feel that going to the extreme may sacrifice user experience for a higher CTR at the expense of growing the user base.
 

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