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Which no matter how you put it, it doesn't make sense. If the ads are no longer relevant then why wouldn't the other ad unit be affected?
[edited by: martinibuster at 2:51 pm (utc) on Oct 30, 2013]
It helps to know something about how AdWords works to understand what all goes into the value of a click. There are so many variables now (and believe me, because I have the added fluctuations of seasonal sites, I vary from days with mid to high five figure earnings, down to slow periods where I barely make twenty or thirty bucks)
So what goes into a click? First of all, there's an ad auction, with advertisers competing for your placements. Each one of those advertisers have issues of their own that come in to play - daily budgets, max cost per click, quality score, dayparting in some cases, ad sizes available for display ads, geo location if applicable, varying bids by device type, etc.
Then there's the stuff that goes on at your end - your placements, your ad styles, smart pricing, traffic quality, user intent, and in the end, what the user actually clicks on. Your top ad in your top spot might be paying out five bucks a click, but for whatever reason, the users are most interested in the last ad in the last ad unit, which pays three cents. Oh well.
Then you add in the whole click fraud detection system (which personally I think *might* be a tad aggressive, but on the other hand I see so many flagrant violations out there in the wild, maybe not aggressive enough) with click networks and bots and I dunno what all - that all has to be sorted through and the bad guys filtered out.
And then on top of that - user behavior has just plain changed since 2004. Users are definitely becoming ad blind; in certain sectors you see heavy usage of ad blocking technology, and pile the whole mobile thing on top of it, and it's a wonder we see any stability at all.
Yea, I'm sure there is AdSense experimentation (we've all seen it) but as a percentage of the whole, considering all that stuff up there ^^^ and other factors I don't know about or have forgotten, it's hard to really blame too much on the experiments.
If I'm to believe the ZDNet post about it, (and I don't know how accurate it is - nobody does but Google) AdSense is seeing some decline as well.
I kind of think that roller coaster is the name of the game for AdSense in 2013.