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Is there still a future in Adsense/Adwords?



6:23 am on Jun 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I'm not in the best of spirits but this is a relevant topic whether it's cozy where you are today. Most smart people are thinking one step ahead of the game or see the writing on the wall and change strategies accordingly. If not, they crash and burn. Lots of examples of that in business.

I know there are people just doing fine out there. Always the debate about the cry babies vs the people just raking in the money from Adsense. Even if my downturn of the past 6 months was to reverse itself tomorrow, I'd be asking the same question. Is this a dying formula? Should I even bother with sites I love because in reality they are going to produce squat in income and have very little monetizing options outside of Adsense.

I'm curious if anyone thinks that Adwords/Adsense worked yesterday but isn't viable in the future. There is something that I see where companies keep all the money to themselves. They don't have to include a middle man such as publishers. In the long haul, who wins? If you have a model that does away with the middle man I would think that is the ultimate situation. It's a much bigger topic whether you think Google believes they can keep ads in house enough to be on top. They can certainly move towards that even if it's gradual. Facebook doesn't pay you for a spot on your posts. Get it? M$ will be doing some sort of embedding advertising. Google has many many options for embedding ads which don't involve the middle man. It's just that they haven't pushed in that direction.

I guess I should have said it differently. Is there enough of a future in Adsense that you will keep creating content even when the payback becomes smaller and smaller? For me, if things don't turn around, I could see myself killing off many future planned projects and websites that I'm passionate about but that are dependent on a Adsense for earnings. If that's all a website has for earning options, then I'm pretty much approaching putting up the closed/out of business sign. At the end of the day why would I bother creating a website with great articles that Google won't really rank (unless you believe that a great website with good content can rank for no other reason) or send organic traffic to and secondly it won't generate enough clicks or Adsense earnings to make it worthwhile. At some point enough people might just say F this. Selling off websites, domains and the whole nine yards.

And for those sitting pretty right now, there may just be an influx of competition in your cozy little niches. I'm smart enough to know what not to do now. When the organics are all going to Wikpedia and pro staffed sites, there is only one direction left to go. I do think everyone will see their little comfort zones rocked in the next while.

In the end, if your Adsense diminished to 30%, 40%, 50% or similar, are you continuing along the same path? You don't think that in of itself would kill off a portion of the internet? As a senior person here said. It's because of programs like Adsense that all these scrapers are around and all the MFA junk is around etc. There is something ironic in that mentality.

Again this could all be an illusion or it could be my situation clouding my judgement. It's possible that everything shall remain excellent and that all the time spent on websites and content remain getting rewarding with decent Adsense earnings. I think I've seen a different side to this. I may be in a temporary bunk or something not right in my situation. With that said when I can have days of $xyz and have a day like today where in the last hour I get to $xy, that has to say something. No, nothing THAT extraordinary has taken place on any of my sites. But think for a moment having a day of $xyz and simply making your sites better with more content and then getting two days back to backthat BARELY break $x? I mean seriously. That's worth my time and effort? Sinking time into writing content that can drop so substantially?


7:31 am on Jun 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

Traffic seems to be the main issue for me. Thanks to who knows what (Panda, Penguin, the shift to mobile), I can see a big part of my earnings drop coincides with a drop in traffic. It doesn't take much imagination to see that if I had millions of page views a day that my current earnings blues would be a distant memory. Unfortunately, getting the traffic back up to even where it was in 2009 seems out of reach and that's very frustrating. Doesn't mean I'm ready to throw in the towel (though there has been a lot more swearing at my monitor!). The fact is, any site with decent traffic can be monetized. If there are eyeballs, then there will always be advertisers.


11:04 am on Jun 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Is there enough of a future in Adsense that you will keep creating content even when the payback becomes smaller and smaller?

It depends.

No: Not when hundreds of thousands are creating almost-similar content with the same speed, knowledge and savvy. In this case, advertisers are limited, publishers are not.

Yes: Of course, when you are a respected authority, or at least part of an authority circle, which is creating greater content with greater speed, knowledge and savvy. In this case, authority publishers are limited, and more advertisers will compete to follow.

All in my humble opinion.

[edited by: zdgn at 11:11 am (utc) on Jun 21, 2012]


11:10 am on Jun 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

Is there enough of a future in Adsense that you will keep creating content even when the payback becomes smaller and smaller?

Ok, I know I am not like most of the publishers here, I have a global business selling real world widgets to my wholesale widget trade.

All my biggest sites existed before AdSense and I never used to carry any form of trade advertising whatsoever, imagine my surprise when I installed it and suddenly saw hundreds and then into thousands of Dollars coming in for, in my case, absolutely no extra work!

I can tell you a couple of us were so excited, did this mean we could just sit here all day long creating the new widget stuff we were going to do anyway and we were going to be paid this, basically, massive bonus every month?

I shall continue with AdSense for the moment, when it gets to a really silly level, let's say minimum payout each month, then I'll most probably remove their ads and replace them with mine.

It will be the trade's loss, not mine.

Sinking time into writing content that can drop so substantially?

Obviously I do not create content whatsoever for AdSense therefore I cannot comprehend how it must feel to consider one's time has been totally wasted since the content cannot either be found or has been scraped.

I am still seeing NEW EMDs or near EMDs with scraped content using AdSense however knowing how much my AdSense income has reduced I feel they're wasting their time in my widget sector.

Google's and AdSense's history will prove that Blogger was their biggest-ever mistake ... They released their own Pandora's Box:




11:54 am on Jun 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

If earnings are falling big time over the long term then a change of direction is required, that's clear.

What's not clear is the nature of the change. Abandon adsense and websites in general, and do something entirely different, or, change direction within the adsense world.

First of all, adsesne is not the only way of earning money fronm a website. Everyone's mileage differs but Vibrant Media has proven a good additional income for me. There are other companies out there who may suit your sites better.

If you abandon your websites entirely then what are your alternative money earning potentials? Remember, change is always scary, maybe the alternatives to adsense are not, in reality, all that scary.

I would say this, take a week off, go fishing / gardening / lounging on a beach, and forget it all. Then come back to work, place a blank piece of A4 paper in front of you, draw a line down the middle and list the possibilities for an adsense existence on the left and the non-adsense possibilities on the right.


12:00 pm on Jun 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

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My website launched in 2004 when there was virtually no competition at all. My peak earnings didn't come until 2011, so it does make me think there is more to be had, but it's hard to keep up with the huge number of new websites with the same or similar themes these days. Some of them have dedicated webstite teams working away behind the scenes, whereas I am just one person, so it does become harder and harder. The only advantage I have over some of the new websites that appear, is that some have built their sites purely for financial reasons, whereas for me, it is a pastime and something I am knowledgeable about - I only added Adsense around 2006, and never made much from it at the time, despite I had good visitor numbers.
I could never muster the motivation to create websites purely for advertising value.


12:22 pm on Jun 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

Yes of course there's still a future, but it may not be like it is now.

The first thing to do is to stop pursuing ideas that can *only* be monetized with AdSense. Come up with something where AdSense is the side dish, and not the main course.

How do you do this? You have to find a need to fill. How do you do that? Start listening to the people around you. Particularly listen for sentences that start out "I want..." "I need..." and "I wish..." Eventually ONE of those will be something you feel you can do well. I keep a list, every time I think of something that I wish existed and doesn't - there's at least eight WordPress plugins on it that I need but don't exist yet. Maybe some day I'll commission them.

But nobody should be putting together a business plan that relies solely on AdSense. Nobody. If that's all you got, then maybe online publishing isn't the right fit.


1:57 pm on Jun 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Another point is: Google and the likes have overdone it in the past, stretching privacy laws to the limit and beyond with tracking users, retargeting and what not.

I expect a big legal backlash in the the near future - actually it has already begun in some countries like the UK with it's new cookie law. Which means the possibilities to server targeted ads and getting half decent CTRs might fall back to where they were in the mid 90s.


6:26 pm on Jun 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Very salient points and experiences. It's great to hear other perspectives.

Part of what I'm asking is whether you truly believe that Adsense has peaked and is in decline or if it's stable and it's snafu. It's a serious thought because if there were better monitization options we would be using them. Sure there is other ppc or advertising but if those were good options we would be using those.

Look at M$. They are adding ads into Skype. Guess what they haven't done? There is no publishing program. I'm asking why because frankly I believed that it was in the works, but now I believe it won't be coming. I personally think the concept of a Google type company paying the middle man for space on their sites is becoming a tired and old and outdated system. Average users ability to block ads will increase and not decrease. That alone would send flags to my business if I was doing an Adwords/Adsense program.

This is really the crux to me. Is it worth investing another second of time building content and stories on a website that will most likely lose it's ability to earn solid revenue. You have to believe that the options for making money today are going to be there is a year or two or three down the road. I personally don't see that happening unless there is a shift from what a search engine is or if there is more than one giant at the top. Sure you could rely on affiliate links but what about security now and people deleting cookies? How about that constant concern about affiliate links costing your rankings in Google?

I guess to me the future in the Adsense model is less and not more. If anyone can indicate stories or trends that support Adsense becoming stronger and that Google won't be utilizing their own platforms to embed ads, please discuss.

I think also, and I dont' want to get political, but can we not get some insight into the future of Adsense on the next financial report? As in, when the ad revenue brought in is growing much greater than the ad revenue paid out, what do you have? I would say that means more ad money is coming from their own search page that your website or mine. The greater the discrepancy between what they bring in vs what they bring out surely has to be the clearest signal. Isn't that the bulging of the twine or the cheese on the pizza? If the competition can get ad revenue and not include publishers, they make more on having less advertisers. Getting more from less is the nirvana isn't it?

Please don't misunderstand my perspective. I'm not attacking Adsense. It's been the best part and the most rewarding program for me. It made my time and writing worthwhile and it has proven an amazing secondary income source. I pray every night that it continues and that the system itself doesn't get dated to the point that I have to give up on websites that I'm passionate about or simply kill off a website that has true value.


6:44 pm on Jun 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

AdSense is doing great for me and if it can continue for another 3 years I'll be very happy as it's only gotten better for me the last few years. If not, well that's where Plan B comes into play. You do have a Plan B right? I actually have a Plan C as well but it doesn't pay that well which is why it's Plan C.

As far as Google utilizing their own platforms more I'm still amazed ever time I look at YouTube that they haven't done more to monetize it.


8:41 pm on Jun 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm going to try and repeat an analogy I explained to my eldest daughter about search engines and reducing advertising income.

In the early days of the www there were several libraries with quite a bit of useful information however the publishers of that information, although easy to find, couldn't find anyway to make money from it and, anyway, it didn't really matter to a most since their sites were, in general, company or enthusiast sites. No one copied other sites much, what would be the point of doing that?

As the years progressed a new type of library came along and everyone liked this library much more than any other since, quite simply, there was more in it, it worked better and almost everyone could find what they wanted to.

Over time the library became bigger and better, it even allowed anyone the opportunity, for a fee, to advertise their products in the library. This advertising was very successful and the library owners thought "Why not let the suppliers to our library have a piece of the action, we'll make more and it will also give them the incentive to keep developing their sites."

Up until this moment the big library's thinking was very good however it made several fatal flaws which would come to haunt it in later years. The library, in its greed, let almost anyone into their inner circle without hardly any checks whatsoever and that was beginning of the great library's problems and which will continue to be so unless they decide to have a very serious cull.

Why would they need to have a cull? Because the library's users are fed-up of having garbage and advertising thrown at them from every angle. Why should a user have to continually sort the wheat from the chaff when it is the library itself that has created this unneccessary concoction?

Part of what I'm asking is whether you truly believe that Adsense has peaked and is in decline or if it's stable and it's snafu.

The solution to much of the current SERPs mess is in Google's hands. There are millions of sites out there scraping and creating garbage yet remain there simply because once or twice a year they may reach the minimum payout level which pays for their domain name, hosting and a meal out.

Maybe I do look at things too simplistically, I do prefer the K.I.S.S. method since it's worked well for more than 40+ years for me, however I feel it needs a simple approach to try and get the library back under control otherwise it may become so overly-complicated its users may desert in droves.

Yes, AdSense could become good again for some of us but only if its management makes a determined effort to mend its errant ways and have a drastic, and it would need to be a very drastic, sort out, since, quite simply, libraries are not meant to be the depositories for garbage and enjoyed by villans.

</end semi-rant of Google AdSense history>

PS To Google: Please feel free to implement my ideas even if it were to mean me losing my account. I would far rather have a decent search engine than the current disaster.


8:58 pm on Jun 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

Good analogy HuskyPup with the library. Playing off of this library example is why I made a conscious decision a long time ago to not worry about where I was located in the library...to complicated and time consuming. Instead, I decided to talk with people outside the library and hoped they would talk with others about my site so I would have no need for the library. The library can burn to the ground for all I care since I don't rely upon it.


9:33 pm on Jun 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

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


Just to reiterate, traffic really is the issue. Don't know what kind of numbers you're pulling in, but if I had the traffic of say, craigslist, monetization would be a very different proposition.


10:04 pm on Jun 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

There is still life in it, but Google does need to diversify. Maybe more fonts, more sizes, bring back the old-style 728x90 (or let the site owners choose which style - old or new - of 728x90)


10:25 pm on Jun 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Regarding the analogy, it may very well be the case there is a gradual cull happening right now. Again there will always be the cry babies vs the millions of satisfied publisher who are paying off major purchases with their earnings. Is that revenue under a gradual threat and is there a viable alternative?

Okay, plan A = keep doing the same thing because it's resulting in increased earning for years. Plan B likely pays at about 25-50% less than Plan A otherwise Plan B would be Plan A. Plan C? Most likely that would provide 75% less in earnings.

It's impossible to speak with generalizations about Adsense. The reality is that my efforts and content get put into websites that provide income back. Unless things change I most likely will stop updating some of my longest running websites which I have a lot of passion about. Return on investment (time) enters the equation at some point.

Another variable in all this is the likely growing use of tablets and touch screens which less face it, are a invalid click nightmare. I would think those style devices are making Adsense/Adwords type systems have fits. Was that a click or not a real click? That is the question... It's why I'm wondering if the system itself has run its course or not. There is a technical aspect also. Go back even five years and a mouse/trackpad click is pretty deliberate. That was a friend of PPC.

I'm not suggesting drastic things are going to happen overnight. I'm just wondering in long term planning whether this method of monitizing websites has its best days behind it.


10:25 pm on Jun 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

Microsoft has a closed program; I'm in it. It blows because the advertisers aren't there. I put an MS ad and a Google ad in even rotation over a number of hours on a site, and during that time the Microsoft ad was nothing but crap travel and diet ads. It earned $1.57. The same spot Google ad, which ran the exact number of impressions, earned just shy of a hundred bucks.

Online publishing is not the same game it was even two years ago, and it's not for everyone. If it were easy, everyone would and could do it (though God knows everyone seems to try) You need to *control your business* - not hand it over to Google or anyone else.

Sure, AdSense has peaked for some people, because they haven't changed with the program or with the way online business has evolved. Or their niche is just not as well served by it as it used to be. There've been a ton of changes on the advertiser side too. It has not peaked for me, not by a long shot. It's a tool is my toolbox, and it's just ONE tool. No more, no less.


12:40 am on Jun 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I really have nothing bad things to say about Adsense. I'm a single employee. I started 7 years ago with only 1 site just as a hobby. 3 years later, I left my high paying job as a website designer when my Adsense income surpassed it. Just last year I added 5 more sites. My page views are going up and earnings as well. With my adsense income, I'm able to buy a house, a luxury car, and support a family of 4, for that I am very very grateful.

There is just no other feeling to do what you love and get paid for it. Working at home is great. No longer must I endure lengthy commutes to the office.

Adsense/Adwords is the future - there is just no competition that come even close. Believe me, I tried them all. The closest is probably AOL but they only accept big publishers and will only deliver ads for US and Canada visitors.

My only wish is that if only I had a good command of the English language, then I would earn even more.


5:53 am on Jun 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

There is an advertising ecosystem which never seems to get mentioned in these threads. Have you tried other CPM Ad Networks?
I use DFP as an ad server. I let Adsense compete against my Ad Networks. Adsense ends up with 100% of intentional traffic and about 30% of US, UK and Canda. The rest goes to Tribal Fusion, Admeld, Lijit, Burst then ValueClick.


2:57 pm on Jun 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

A lot of those places have traffic minimums that would disqualify most AdSense users. Most of my own sites only have mass quantities of traffic during different seasons in the year. That said, I've tried a couple of em, and AdSense still out-earned.


3:39 pm on Jun 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

There is an advertising ecosystem which never seems to get mentioned in these threads.

Because I think that ecosystem - sans AdSense - is all tried, I should think by many if not most webmasters of yore, and concluded not worth the time/effort it requires to maintain it. Unless you have a team of ad-execs working for you.

There is still nothing remotely close to AdSense for the amount of return against the minuscule time/effort required to run it (just dropping a few lines of silly code on your webpage) while freeing up time/effort for one to run and enjoy their sites, not micro/macro manage their monetisation, IMO.


5:34 pm on Jun 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

That said, I've tried a couple of em, and AdSense still out-earned.

Have you tried using DFP and letting Adsense compete against your Ad Networks?
In my experience for small sites DFP (Adsense + Ad Networks) < Adsense
However, for sites with lots of traffic DFP (Adsense + Ad Networks) > Adsense

Of course it depends on which Ad Networks you are using. Tribal Fusion does really well for me. Also depends on your niche. If you are getting high CPC from Adsense you don't want to bother with CPM Ad Networks which will only pay at most $1.00 CPM

Because I think that ecosystem - sans AdSense - is all tried, I should think by many if not most webmasters of yore, and concluded not worth the time/effort it requires to maintain it. Unless you have a team of ad-execs working for you.

Agreed. Learning to use DFP is a very difficult task. Monitoring many Ad Networks is a time consuming task. That said, the ROI is worth it for high traffic sites.


12:49 pm on Jun 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

Here's a long blog post by Tim Carter of AsktheBuilder.com on his roller-coaster journey with AdSense, which gets to the heart (I think) of how the online environment has changed over the past year and the challenges web publishers face these days:


Granted, in earlier discussions here other posters have made what I think are valid comments about his site, so I don't want to rehash any past arguments about the quality of his site. This is just a good, honest post about one publisher's real-life experience with AdSense, which is tough to come by sometimes, as mostly what we see are stories of wild success or doom and gloom.

Also, here's a couple more articles on the (very real, as my site traffic data demonstrates) transition to a mobile or at least a multi-device world, and the challenges of monetizing online content in the not-too-distant future:

"What If Mobile Ads Just Don't Work?" in the Atlantic Monthly



"Mobile Advertising: The $20B Opportunity Mirage"



8:04 pm on Jun 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

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That post by altadsenser, with the links, highlight the fact that Adsense or any other program may not, in themselves, be the danger which is looming over the horizon.

Having multiple alternatives to Adsense may well not solve the problem because it may just be the case that any type of advetising on mobiles might never return a viable income.

Searching out private advertisers, new programs etc. etc. may not be the solution if mobile advertising simply doesn't work. Read the links in the post by atladsenser.

What if ads (of any kind) on mobiles don't work?


4:17 am on Jul 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

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My 2 cents regarding mobile ads is that they must be a magnet for invalid clicks. No? I see ads on various iPad games and what a joke. People pay for those clicks? If you're an advertiser and you see the click piling in you seriously think those are interested/valid clicks? That's a crap shoot in my mind. A mouse click is what, 99% more accurate than the average persons finger? It's ironic that various placements could get your Adsense account suspended, yet by the very nature of touch screens, you're inviting invalid clicks all over the place. It's part of what I think about this style of revenue generation in the future. If I'm Google it's better to ensure quality clicks which brings on greater scrutiny and ultimately less revenue. My point is what was a valid click 5 years ago is not a valid click today. The valid click today will not be a valid click tomorrow. That's the future I see. If I was in Google's shoes that's the only way you can move forward. You have to get tighter and ensure Advertisers aren't paying for clicks by people with over sized fingers.


6:36 am on Jul 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

My 2 kroner: Thanks God the EU plus the Russian federation (700 millions) do not speak and write in English (a language broadly used in certain nations in the far east.... ,this is not out of the topic just think what I'm trying to say ;)


6:48 am on Jul 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

The above 700 millions do speak, write and understand English, but they do not search in English ;)


6:53 am on Jul 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

in other words jbayabas is right..........


6:54 am on Jul 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

I read no response thoroughly before posting this... I make squat on adsense for the niches our sites qualify for. The money we "really" make isn't from Google, Google is just the icing on the cake. Find a sponsor or advertising program that works for you. I cannot suggest one and it's been years of experimenting to find the ones that are successfull to our audiences, but for you, try to test ads from differnt sources.

EDIT: spelling errors and added "thoroughly".


4:15 pm on Jul 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

The bottom line is it doesn't matter what advertising method(s) a site uses. Traffic is the factor which determines whether someone can make money off of advertising or not. That, of course, is where the "original" Google (Google as a search engine) comes into play for most sites. Well, yes - Bing and the others like DuckDuckGo come into the picture. But - At least in my situation Google is the main search engine which sends my sites traffic.


4:28 pm on Jul 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I really started this out as a future prospects discussion. I know it's tailed off into "Adsense is great for me right now" type discussion. That's not the point of this. Yay, I had my best month ever in December 2011. Does that mean six months later I'm doing as good or better? Not at chance. I'm safely down about 50%. I guess people will believe because it's great now there are no threats or concerns about their future Adsense income. Oh well. Best of luck!
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