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So I ditched Adsense

     
2:06 pm on Sep 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Just cancelled the Adsense account, which I had running 3 sites.

Reasons?

1. Even though there are 300,000 pages on the main site, and dozens on the other two, this year the combined income was less than $60 a month (previous years it was $100 a month)

2. It goes against my principles of tracking. I had turned off tracking and dodgy ads as much as I could, but it still did not feel right - especially as I encourage the use of adblockers

3. New rules coming in September requiring obtaining consent from site visitors. Too much hassle, man.

Feeling?

Liberated.
2:44 pm on Sept 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I'm seriously mulling over whether or not I can start implementing a subscription model on some sites. One of the perks of which would be, no ads.
2:59 pm on Sept 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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That's the way I had it set it up on the main site. Visitors saw ads, subscribers saw none.

Now visitors will only see in-house ads: boxes showing the various features and pages of the site that they may not know about.
3:26 pm on Sept 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Now visitors will only see in-house ads:

Are you ditching the subscription model too? Or will all visitors have to subscribe, and do you charge for subscriptions?

Or are you not monetizing the site at all?
.
3:33 pm on Sept 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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From number 3 above, does that mean you are EU area? If you are not, then I need to do some quick research in the US! Still have three sites left using adsense, the others have moved to different strategies over the last few years as adsense revenue had/has steadily declined.
4:36 pm on Sept 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Ken, yes it is subscription based. Subscribers pay monthly / yearly to access information.

I did have heck of a lot of free stuff, which recently I reduced vastly. I was always following the model of giving as much free stuff as possible in order for visitors to want to come back again and again. Some did, but they rarely converted.

I am trying a different tactic now. Free is seen as 'cheap', and no value. So removing as much free content as possible and reducing the word free itself should enhance the brand.

tangor yes UK based. I never complied with the silly cookie law, and never registered with the ICO for DP purposes. I have even ignored VATMOSS. The reasons for doing so is because we don't do targetting or analytics, or collect PII. For VATMOSS we are classed as electronic services "with more than minimal human intervention".

But when I saw the Google EU changes for September I could not see a way out of it so the ads had to go.
5:30 pm on Sept 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I feel the same annoyance Frank. I think I have a legal argument for the vatmoss thing .(b2b) but have gone adsense free on 3 sites because they were coded in a way that would make them difficult to update.

The oddball stuff I tend to search for is becoming difficult to find. Or perhaps I am searching for even more oddball stuff that doesn't exist. Hopefully the oddballs that write it don't follow your lead.
6:08 pm on Sept 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I did have heck of a lot of free stuff, which recently I reduced vastly. I was always following the model of giving as much free stuff as possible in order for visitors to want to come back again and again. Some did, but they rarely converted.


Of course, that's not a problem with the AdSense model. It's a symptom of the traffic your sites were bringing. Rare conversions and sites visitors who are freeloaders are a recipe for an underperforming site. I've discussed this for years with regard to user intent. If user intent is not anywhere on the buy cycle then AdSense is not for you.

It's good you've finally figured this out. Now you can adjust your site to attract a better visitor.

Good luck!
9:08 am on Sept 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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AdSense can work on informational sites, but the ads have to be really good, and well targeted. I've seen so many informational sites using AdSense and the ads were off target. Many ads just look awful, imho, and, importantly, it puts me off the site.
10:54 am on Sept 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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If user intent is not anywhere on the buy cycle then AdSense is not for you.


I'm not sure that's completely true. My site is purely informational. No services or products are reviewed or recommended, yet I make a living through Adsense. The catch is that you need a tidal wave of traffic from high paying nations (US, UK, Canada, Australia). And the key to that, of course, is excellent content and SEO.
11:31 am on Sept 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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If the user intent for a site visitor is for downloading a free template, downloading free graphics, or reading information about a celebrity, there is no buy cycle user intent. The likelihood of a sale is as close to zero as possible. That kind of site will do poorly with AdSense, regardless of the quality of the advertising. If you don't believe me sign up for an affiliate program and test out the conversions for yourself. They will be close to zero.

I experimented with a variety of content types fifteen years ago and found that the closer the domain and content is to something someone desires or aspires to be, the higher the affiliate sales. The same translates to AdSense. The only thing that's changed is that I now use branded domains, but the principle of cultivating visitors on the buy cycle is unchanged.

A purely informational site can do well with AdSense, provided that it has the same kind of focus. For example, a travel destination website can expect ad clicks and has a chance to earn a living with a "tidal wave of traffic." A site offering FREE Australian Beach Sunset Photos for download will experience a tidal wave of freeloaders, zero sales, abysmal ad clicks which then leads to crap ads as quality advertisers are cycled out of those sites.

I used to know a guy who had over a million unique visitors per month but made only $60 off them. Why? Because he was monetizing domains that had once belonged to news websites, domains that were about free downloads (flags of the world), and other educational related websites. The only sites making him money were the sites closely related to a product. He had a tidal wave of schoolchildren downloading flag images. There is no money in that because they are nowhere on the buy cycle. Same with the defunct news websites.
11:53 am on Sept 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I'm not really sure why you think you should be earning more because you have 300,000 pages on the site?

Your income will typically be directly proportional to your pageVIEWS and users, not to how many pages you have on the site.
1:35 pm on Sept 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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If the user intent for a site visitor is for downloading a free template, downloading free graphics, or reading information about a celebrity, there is no buy cycle user intent.


That's true to an extent. Downloaders don't often engage with the content of a site, including ads, so they don't click. I'm not sure being in or out of the buying cycle has much to do with it. They're just hitting and running.

Trust me, my site contains information about as disconnected from commercial products and services as you could image. My visitors come looking for reference material, not products and services. The difference is that they are actively engaged, which means that more of them notice the ads and more of them click. IBA ads undoubtedly play their part here.

Having said that, niche publishers would probably be disappointed with my RPM. I have to get pageviews in the six figures to make what I'd call a good day's pay.
2:16 pm on Sept 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I do pretty well with free events, but my advertisers tend to be local businesses and services, plus travel and vacation in the areas I cover. But absolutely if I were targeting a buy cycle, I would no doubt do better. Not sure I'd have as much traffic though.
2:31 pm on Sept 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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We earn a living with a free informational Web site and have done for years. As Martinibuster suggests, some topics and audiences lend themselves better to ads [whether CPM, CPC, or CPA] than others do.
3:15 pm on Sept 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Some sites do better than others because they don't abuse the user, and at the same time, have a clear, concise, and user friendly experience ... and those will trump most all singing all dancing methods of ad insertion. Sites set up that way use the ads as a minor break in the reader's flow, tastefully done, and some readers just might be intrigued.
3:24 pm on Sept 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Yes, when you run an informational site you walk a fine line between placing your ads so they're noticeable but also not getting in the reader's face. More aggressive placements might increase CTR in the short term but they'll backfire on you in the end. I never run more than two ads on a page but one is always placed near the most important content element.
3:45 pm on Sept 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I only put ads in sidebars and one leaderboard across the top. No ads in the actual content. I'm sure it's costing me money, but I can't implement on my own sites what pisses me off on other sites.
3:58 pm on Sept 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Yes I had them on the sidebar too. But of course, on mobile devices they would end up full width in the footer.

jmorgan. I was not implying the main site should be earning more because it has more pages. I fully understand more traffic is more likely to increase earnings than more pages. The main issue is that adsense earnings are 40% down on last year and around 50-60% down on their peak.

Adsense was never meant to be "an earner" for the site. Prior to running ads I had assumed the site looked too clean and unusual. All other sites in the sector had ads so it sort of looked out of place and by running ads I had assumed it made us look like other sites. Of course that thought was over 5 years ago. Things are different now, like the emphasis on "free" has changed.
6:34 pm on Sept 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Good to read you feel liberated Frank, that's I think the most important thing. I'm curious and how you have so many pages on one site, but I know we can't talk specifics, anyway 300,000 seems like a lot to me.

On a traffic angle I have a lot, daily, a network, still the income keeps going down. It bothers me the idea of being giving away for cheap or almost free lots of impressions that I don't even have a good report on performance, too many doubts if it's about ad blockers or what.

At this moment my decision is not precisely about Adsense and how to get it to make more money, it's more about the user experience, the speed, the site fast response without ads, clean and quick load VS a site with ads, extra code form Adsense and the nonsense off topic words on the sides (the ads).

How I'm seeing this now: let's say you all have a site or sites with 5K visitors per day, 500 pages, and a site response of 0.5 average seconds reported by metric tools. It's clean, people read it, IT'S A RESPECTED BRAND, hey, it's well positioned and considered authority on it's field, let's say as mentioned above a travel or vacations site. There is potential on putting sponsored RELATED stuff there.

And yet, you have a choice, I offer you US$200 per month:
- but you have to insert extra 15K to 60K of code
- my code slows your site down to 1 to 1.5 seconds response
- some ads appear vertical/horizontal despite of what you do (yes, a glitch)

And last, my offer involves that your nice articles about Vienna, or Paris, Quebec and Toronto with such nice pretty pictures... well, show aside, in the middle or top/below, BIG boxes with ugly text about TRUCKS, loosing weight, paint for houses, travel packages to RUSSIA, and let's not forget MY SUITE of free online apps Xmail, Xdocs, Xstats, Xmed, Xwidgets, Xstuff. Oh you don't like that? I give you free a control panel where you can block manually those unrelated ads dedicating just a few minutes to hours every week, just as if you were cleaning manually your inbox from spam.

It comes to my mind that with such traffic and such content, 4 ads for as cheap as US$100 the whole for the complete month, about traveling to Quebec, Toronto, Paris and Vienna would be better in such case instead of the US$200, considering the long term effects of speed, page load, extra code and hey, I don't think that would be catched up by adblockers if easy-non-hassle-well-done-small-code.

Speed, extra code, unrelated stuff... I surely wonder how Adsense impacts sites growth now.
6:38 pm on Sept 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Let's not forget, we all are way ahead of post in the form of complains, things that could make anyone doubt of your site or content, we are on a chapter where no matter how well your content has been created or the quality of it... your site might show really nonsense stuff.

* Sometimes I research, then G starts showing nonsense ads (interest based ads etc) on every site I visit. Interesting, I bought that stuff a week... month ago (locally or internationally) but you keep showing me those ads, some stuff was never bought... but I keep seeing those ads. Such a waste of space.
6:51 pm on Sept 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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The high number of pages is due to it being a sports related site, which has tens of thousands of names, which can each have 10 times related pages. A heck of a lot of the pages are in the long tail and would rarely get searched on but the pages have to exist - can't get rid of them.

There are also around 13,000 forum pages according to Google serps. I thought they would have always faired better but I could just never get the forum ranking well.

If you look back at my posts over the last decade+ you will see how this has been a big struggle. The site recently reached the $1Million income mark (subscriptions income, not Adsense) but to put that into context that is the total income since I started the site 15 years ago, and it's still not even making a profit.

One thing that concerns me about dropping Adsense is that it may upset the almighty Google God. I realise visitors may now have a better experience but what if Google turns something down a notch because our competitors run ads but we don't.
8:28 pm on Sept 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Frank_Rizzo .... that last part... I wouldn't worry about that at the moment. G has other things on their mind. :)

And if they were ever CAUGHT doing damage to "ex" adsense sites that would be the death knell of G!

Make your decisions based on what's right for YOU and not worry about the G machine!
 

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