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December 2015 AdSense Earnings and Observations

     
11:42 am on Dec 1, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I'll need more than good luck this month, maybe a miracle about the 25th?
3:03 pm on Dec 1, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Fingers are crossed here. Nov. was not so bad.
3:29 pm on Dec 1, 2015 (gmt 0)

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After black friday/cyber monday everything returned back to average. Quite a slow start. I hope that as we get closer to the holidays the earnings will go up though.
1:19 pm on Dec 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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An average first day of December for me, not too bad, but nothing to get too excited about. If every day is the same as yesterday then I will have nothing to complain about. The last couple of months with media.net don't exactly earn as much is AdSense, but certainly enough to bring the monthly earnings up to a reasonable amount.

18 months ago I had a daily goal that I wanted to reach. If at the end of the month I done that then I was a happy bunny. Nowadays I can half that amount because of the deterioration in earnings that we've all seen. So basically I lower my expectations and I'm not disappointed. Okay, we were all adding twice as much two years ago, for most of us these days of our garden so we might as well forget about the good old days and concentrate on what we making now.
3:49 pm on Dec 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Well... I'm impelled to vent my frustration here.

Type of sites: forum, informational, resources, all direct and organic traffic (no social media traffic), no blackhat, no dubious schemes
Continent: Europe (South)

AdSense revenue report screenshot: [s14.postimg.org...]

Long story short:
- same situation in all sites, even with different audiences, verticals, etc.
- lots of guessing, why has revenue dropped?
- several scenarios drawed and analyzed
- several hypothesis considered
- several experiments tested, ad format variations, ad style variations, ad positioning variations, viewability variations (show only to clicking audience)

Is it my fault (publisher), is it your fault (AdSense)?

Conclusion:
- it's 20% my fault, 80% AdSense's

Why?
My fault: ~20% drop in pageviews (more competition = diluted audience as in same population, same subjects, same interest, lots of more sites competing with me)
AdSense's fault: November 2015 is 37% of November 2014 revenue
Everyone's fault: recession, ad blindness, mobile, social media

Most probable cause: lack of advertisers or qualified (contextual) advertisers (aka competition) and or user-ad algorithm mismatching (keep seeing completely unrelated ads when completely anonymized - no cookies, no cache, incognito, public wifi, etc.)

AdSense rep suggestion a year ago: two 300x250 above the fold, side by side, and one 300x600 in the left column.
Result in one of the sites, with such sugestion: 0,02 clicks, that's USD$0,02, using 300x600, as of today.
Never implemented such suggestion in the other sites, scared of "excessive ads above the fold" Google Search's algorithm penalty.

Curious fact:
- average ad CTR in premium positions in one of the sites: 0,6% (from 0,9% to 0,3%, top to bottom).
- average new AdSense matched content unit CTR in the lowest position in page (after all ads): 6,2%.
Ad style of matched content unit = ad style of all ads.

I'm procrastinating the direct ad sale approach (with all the hassle involved) but, thinking about it more often than ever.
No other ad networks alternatives over here, except for affiliates, which most of the time simply don't pay or don't convert.

Forecast: AdSense will become irrelevant to this content-ad business model.
Question: will that forecast resume to AdSense or will it resume to all of the content-ad business model?

Rough times ahead. :(
4:30 pm on Dec 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Is reporting from U.S. visitors slow today? Stats are way off here.
5:05 pm on Dec 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Started the day off with two $6.00 clicks -- then back to normal CPC
5:09 pm on Dec 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Lagonda, did you try to artificially increase the amount of competition for your inventory by pitting ad networks against each other in DFP? From what I've heard here, this might be the perfect thing for you to do.
Also, have you ever tried link units?
6:27 pm on Dec 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@Lagonda - My graph chart looks even worse, you really would cry!

Today is phenomenal, 22 cents in earnings so far, go for it G.
9:42 pm on Dec 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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"AdSense rep suggestion a year ago: two 300x250 above the fold, side by side, and one 300x600 in the left column. "

That's one of the worst suggestion that I have heard in a while. I thought they should have stopped giving this type of recommendation around the time they released a version of above the fold algo announcement. This ads heavy setup gets hit by so many different filters it's not even funny. Once goog crawls enough pages and label the whole site with such setup, the site can get tossed into oblivion.

It may work with social media viral sites, but for organic informational sites it's suicide. It is like killing the golden goose for the egg.

Seeing much lower rpm the second of december, almost back to preblack friday levels, appears that advertisers are pulling out of the blackfriday impression hungry frenzy.
9:59 pm on Dec 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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This ad heavy setup gets hit by so many different filters


I think the perfect example of what not to do is any Google search results page for competitive keywords.

Now that is ad heavy:

3 ads on top, 8 ads on the right side, map, knowledge box.

No "Search Results" above the fold. OK for Google, Publisher would get the boot for doing this.

Guess you can never have too many Billions of dollars.
10:23 pm on Dec 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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November 2015 ended up earning around 60% of November 2014. I got back the lost mobile traffic by making many of my sites responsive, but the earnings didn't really follow. The strange thing is CPC ads still perform well, but I get a greater percentage of low paying CPM ads instead compared to last year.
10:25 pm on Dec 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Seeing decent improvements but then again, this site is geared towards the holidays so it might just be me.
3:12 am on Dec 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Swapped out the 336x280 for 300x600 on my main page and been happy with the change.
9:51 am on Dec 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Seeing terrible RPM at the moment - Media.net is actually higher for the first time even though Media.net Ads are displayed on my (historically) worst-performing pages!
11:13 am on Dec 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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After three days of record earnings with RPMs hovering around double dollar digits, today looks like it might be the great equalizer. Pretty woeful everything so far.
11:57 am on Dec 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I totally concur with Lagonda's analysis. I've been using Adsense since 2012, and for the past three years revenues have grown steadily every month (+20% month on month revenue increase). From October 2014 to August 2015, I managed to maintain an average CTR of 2%. Over this 10 month period, my ads generated over $7,000 in revenues (average UVs per month: 35,000 / average pageviews per month: 200,000). Needless to say that I was really happy with it. Combined with direct advertising at $400 a pop per month and some affiliate programs, I was making a pretty decent living out of my website.

Nowadays, things are totally different and way bitterer. I won't go into a long analysis, as what happened to me is pretty much the same as what Lagonda described in his analysis, except that my pageviews and UVs regularly increase month on month.

Page CTR November 2014 vs November 2015: - 43% (2,5% vs 1,4%)
Number of UVs November 2014 vs November 2015: + 50% in November 2015
Pageviews November 2014 vs November 2015: + 45% in November 2015

Since October 2015, my adsense revenues have been steadily plummeting. I've been using the same ads combination since 2014 (the one that brought be $600 in revenue in average each month), i.e. two reactive ad units within my blog's main content: one just below the title of each article, one at the end of the article. Ad units were configured to display the following formats: two 728 x 90 (desktops only), two 300 x 250 (smartphones), two 336 x 280 (tablets).

I've tried different combinations over the course of the year, to try to increase CTR and RPM. But the above mentioned combination was the best for my blog.

So I did not modify anything to my website's template or Adsense: I used the exact same ad units, kept my website mobile friendly, and slightly increased its Pagespeed score. Maybe that's the problem now: my website loads too fast vs the ad units. But in this case, only the top ad unit just below the title, should be affected by this "issue". However, the CTR of the ad unit located at the end of the article, also plummeted. Website speed is not the culprit.

What I believed killed my CTR, is the fact that Adsense introduced pageviews as measurement of performance. Drop in CTR & revenue occurred in October, just when this new measurement rolled in. I talked to an Adsens rep., who told me he was not aware of such modifications made by Adsense, and that the issue was probably linked to my website and that I should try some different ad formats. Talk about some BS.

For the past month I've desperately tried any possible ad combination. But nothing worked. Not even the Adsense's rep. recommendations. Page CTR averages 0,5% a day, when last year I would have gone mad if it had been under 2,5%. Days are different now, and it seems that we're entering some "dark ages" from an Adsense revenue generating perspective. It is happening so fast, that I have the feeling that Adsense is actually trying to make us leave their program on our own.

Last year I applied to BuySellAds, and their rep. told me that I had to get rid of my Adsense ad units in order to be accepted into the program. I've given it a new thought recently, and I concluded that I'd rather work with advertisers that will provide relevant ads to my niche website, than what I've been getting from Adsense for the past few month. I'd even rather not cash $200 in Adsense ads over a month, but keep my website clean of irrelevant ads and increase my readers experience.

I'll let my ads run until Sunday, and I'll remove them all at once to apply to BSA by Monday. I guess this will be my first step as a free mind, who doesn't have to sell his soul to the devil anymore :)
2:52 pm on Dec 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@ Nikkoboy

I concur with everything you said. What is so worrisome is that Adsense does not seem to care. You just get the feeling that they just don't bother anymore. There is something really WRONG and no one is admitting it, at least not from the Adsense side.

This sudden erosion in performance and earnings is unprecedented. I know it is tied to surging mobile usage and Adsense simply cannot keep up with mobile use. It seems they just don't know or don't care, and would rather let all the publishers who are affected to sort themselves out - on their own. If you want to dump Adsense, they'd just shrug their shoulders and look the other way.

That's how it appears to me.
3:21 pm on Dec 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@Ebuzz

I fully agree with what you described. Mobile usage has been overtaking desktop usage for a little while now. Between December 3rd, 2014 and December 3rd, 2015, Smartphones & Tablets accounted for 55% of my overall Adsense earnings (50% of the overall impressions vs desktops, 70% of the overall clicks vs desktops, and a 70% higher CTR vs desktops).

I was really confident until recently, that one day I could almost exclusively rely on mobile usage to bring 80% of my Adsense revenue. This sudden drop was totally unexpected (for me at least), and the fact that it takes such a clear and steady downward direction, isn't reassuring at all.

Sometimes I think that just Adsense bailed out of the burning plane long ago, and we, publishers, unaware of what is going on, and how fast we're getting closer and closer to the ground, are still asking the flight attendant if we could get another drink.

I don't expect anyone at Adsense to beg me to stay. I'm just a tiny drop in their cash tank. I'm just considering other alternatives, like BSA.

Surprisingly, after a few weeks of torturing myself trying to figure a way out (and there might be none), i got to accept this yesterday. And it surprisingly felt good. I never thought that waving goodbye to $600 a month would be that easy. Just maybe as good as what would feel a hooker who ran out of customers and decides to take a new and healthier path ;)
8:06 pm on Dec 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Doing OK so far this month (considering that it's our slowest time of year), with a maximum of one 300 x 600 ad unit per page.
8:43 pm on Dec 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Utterly dire for me today, 0 clicks from either USA or UK so far!
8:57 pm on Dec 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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50% increase in daily earnings these first three days of December, RPM also higher -- revving up for the holidays :-)
11:10 am on Dec 4, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Hi,

Thanks for the DFP tip, going to gather information about it.

I've tried ad links, had them all the time. In one of the sites, a 728x15 is the best performing unit - I think people mistake them with a nav bar.
It outperfoms the same site's left column .02 300x600! Glad that in that case I get the right advertisers.
In the other sites, I get completely unrelated ads - page about blue widgets, gets ads about dumb contests for email grabbing and mobile premium services - WIN AN IPHONE 6 and such.

I think that one of best hypothesis for my case's revenue drop is mobile, graphic ads and smartpricing.
Reviewing the ads in AdSense's "review center", I get the notion that most of them are graphic, not text, in contrast with AdSense's genesis.

Follow my thinking: mobile surge -> big graphic ads fill completely the smartphone screen -> people click (tap) them unintentionally when scrolling -> people get back because they didn't want to click -> repeat -> AdSense reports them as valid but classifies them as "bad converts" -> smartpriced
So, instead of getting .12 clicks like a year ago, I'm getting the same clicks but with a .07 value.
Multiply this by 500 or 1000 clicks a day and you'll get the picture.

It happened to me several times - unintentionally "clicking" when scrolling, why shouldn't it happen to everybody?
I know that Google doesn't count "clicks" within an ad's margin but...

Maybe that's what's happening to you too @nikkoboy - from your numbers it looks like it.

The problem here is that, because of the bad seeds, Google doesn't advise us of what's wrong with our sites, like @Ebuzz says.

Right now, I'm getting the "Switch the font of your text ads" to optimal box in AdSense's homepage.
What has happened to blending in? (feeling confused)

I've always felt I should contribute for a better world and a better web.
My sites reflect that. I try to help people.
Last rant of the day: sometimes I really consider I should be targeting the dumb web - black hat, taboola, infoproducts, viral-oriented massive copied video/9gag sites, and such... it has to be easier (if there's anyone here doing that, sorry for the direct hit).

Kudos to all. :)
1:08 pm on Dec 4, 2015 (gmt 0)

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From what I see here more and more publishers are having troubles with ad monetization. I am on the verge of outsourcing all my tasks to an agency, and focus full-time on creating my own product. So yeah, I guess it's time to move on
1:49 pm on Dec 4, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@ LuckyD

I think I'll do the same; Adsense has turned me away from content creation for the past few weeks, as I was struggling to find a solution to my monetizing issues, before resuming my writing activities. And even though finding direct advertisers tends to pay more than going through third-party programs, it is too much time consuming. I think I'll give BSA a try.

Has anyone tried DoubleClick for Publishers as an alternative to BSA? Have you had a rather positive experience or a negative one with DFP, compared to Adsense? I've made my homework trying to find answers online, but I'd rather ask this community here who has an in-depth knowledge of Adsense's monetizing solutions.
3:43 pm on Dec 4, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@nikkoboy, BSA always takes a 10% (maybe even more now) cut from everything you have sold personally. You just put some code on your website, where advertisers can buy advertising themselves. With DFP, however, stuff gets more interesting, because there you can combine all the newtworks, BSA, direct deals, etc. and optimize based on price. In the end, ideally, you should end up with the best possible rates at any point in time.

I'm in the process of setting up DFP right now, and the learning curve is way steeper than I could ever imagine. Especially, since Google has 3-4 sources of information about DFP, and most of them are already outdated.

So yeah. Easy way - BSA, but with a cut, hard- but more profitable way - DFP
3:54 pm on Dec 4, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I know what I have. It's called S ads. People don't click on S that mean nothing to them. I know when I killed it, the ads made sense. Good ads = good money. I don't need more analysis than that. I guess content/quality wise most of what I have is considered S or that now there are more Google properties to put your ads on, making it more of a S on S situation. Aside from this, things are great in life.
8:22 pm on Dec 4, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Frst 3 day's of december was ok but 4.th december -20% :(
12:16 am on Dec 5, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Same for me. Last 2 days I'm off 20%. What's going on?

[edited by: puckparches at 12:17 am (utc) on Dec 5, 2015]

10:07 am on Dec 5, 2015 (gmt 0)

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And it surprisingly felt good. I never thought that waving goodbye to $600 a month would be that easy.


It's hard to believe some of the braggadocio that goes on on this blog.

Take that money and donate it to charity if it's peanuts to you.
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