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Why is RPM Gradually Falling?

reasons for RPM fall, Adsense RPM

     
12:02 pm on Apr 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Hello friends,

Our RPM has been gradually falling in the past 2 years. It's gradual.

I am trying to understand the reason and what can I do to make it stable?

Thank you
8:54 pm on Apr 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

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It could be lots of things happening. I will give an insight...

We have been running AdSense since its launch. This is now 13 years and counting. At the peak we were making five times more on a monthly basis than now.

First I think AdSense had a very small number of publishers so revenues were higher. With time this number grew larger and larger so the ad revenue had to be spread more thinly to reach all publishers.

Back then our audience mix was mainly 70% US, 20% NZ and then all the rest. Over the years we focused on moving to a bigger NZ audience and we succeeded. At the same time our revenues dropped. Looking at reports today I can see we make a better RPM on pages served to US audiences but since these are now small...

Then there's coding... For example in February I noticed a sharp drop in our revenues, around 30% in one single day, lasting for the whole month. I thought it could be the end of financial end. March came and nothing changed so I contact AdSense to ask why all our ads were serving text only. They said nothing changed. We use Google DFP Small Publisher and noting changed on our side either. Google insisted they were testing my codes and all was ok. So I decided to generate new DFP tags and replace the existing ones. And everything came back to normal - image ads displaying, revenue up, etc.

Google support tells me nothing changed on 1st April but I still think something on DFP changed on that day that caused that massive drop.

In your specific case it could be lots of other things. Have you worried about page load speed? Changed or added more scripts? Posted more links that people use to leave your site? Got less traffic? Got more traffic?

So, again, it could be lots of things happening. Some we will know for sure, some we will not.
2:49 am on Apr 22, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Is it CTR that's falling? Could be that Google is now much better at detecting fraudulent clicks. Or the ads aren't targeting your content as well. Or you're getting too many IBAs or too few. Maybe interest in your niche has waned and there aren't as many relevant advertisers. Is it EPC that's falling? Could be that competition for ads has declined - maybe advertisers have gone elsewhere - lowering bid prices. Maybe some have dropped out of display advertising. Could be any number of things.
2:51 am on Apr 22, 2016 (gmt 0)

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So many variables it's not even funny...
3:33 pm on Apr 27, 2016 (gmt 0)

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thank you everyone. I really appreciate it. Does this mean using DFP is better than regular Adsense ads? thank you everyone.
5:04 pm on Apr 27, 2016 (gmt 0)

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There is also the adsense push for higher Active View Viewable percentage and Google offering that advertisers won't pay if the ad isn't seen.
6:30 pm on Apr 27, 2016 (gmt 0)

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The other aspect to consider, and i'm sure this is a bigger problem than some suggest, is ad blindness. Nowadays, people are so used to seeing sites with ads that they tend to ignore them completely.
The worst advertisers and publishers slowly put more and more in-your-face annoying ads to get attention, with the result that ad blockers became more popular, and are default in some systems.

These, amongst some of the other things mentioned also contribute towards a slow decline.
1:32 am on Apr 28, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Good point everyone. Now, what solutions can we take?

How many ads can you show in the viewable area for mobile users?
What can you do about ad blindness?

Thank you
armen
8:28 am on Apr 28, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I think that we must also consider the possibility that the bigger advertisers are now buying more via ad exchanges which are open to bigger publishers (such as OpenX - 25 million impression lower limit) and thus possibly shutting off display network in Adwords.
8:48 pm on May 18, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I tried even Facebook ads for mobile visitors, the CPM is extremely low, despite their advertiser pool.
9:38 pm on May 18, 2016 (gmt 0)

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My RPM has gone down because the CTR is practically non-existent. Simple as that.
1:56 am on May 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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so why is CTR falling?
2:50 am on May 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Most quality advertisers are no longer part of the "basic" AdSense inventory. Big brands are typically only showing up on YouTube in terms of Google's properties. All the big consumer brands are spending their budgets on Facebook and Instagram. Also, the inventory is so low that if you have 2-3 ad units on the same page, chances are it's double/duplicate ad serving most of the time. Nothing looks sketchier than the same ad on the same. I cannot believe AdSense can't fix this double/duplicate ad serving issue. I think it's the biggest reason why CTR has fallen so significantly. Oh and yeah, AdSense has changed their algorithm in terms of what's a click. Meaning when in doubt, clicks are not being credited to publishers. I don't really have a problem with that, but I believe it's a significant enough recent change.
1:15 pm on May 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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so why is CTR falling?


Because upwards of 90% of my traffic is mobile now, and up until recently the responsive design put the ads way to the bottom of the page. That and I think almost nobody intentionally clicks on an ad while they're on their phone.
6:53 pm on May 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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thank you guys.
so what do you suggest?
Any real steps publishers can take? Especially when it comes to mobile?
thank you
2:58 pm on May 22, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I just did month-over-month comparisons for the first five months (to date) of 2016 over the same period in 2016. Except for one month (February), our RPM was higher every month this year than in 2015.

I also looked at some historical numbers. Back in 2003 and 2004, monthly RPM was usually higher than it is in 2016, but not always. There have always been peaks and valleys, although the monthly variations have been less extreme in recent years than they were back in the aughts. (I credit that to the greater variety of advertising products and bids in today's AdWords and AdSense programs, which should tend to have a smoothing effect.)

Also, as I've said before, I suspect that audience demographics and intent play a big role in determining why some publishers are seeing a decline and some are doing okay.
6:30 pm on May 22, 2016 (gmt 0)

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EditorialGuy mentions a critical point:

...audience demographics and intent play a big role...

No one size fits all especially on the web. Every referrer sending traffic has a to some degree different demographic, this is true between SEs as well as SM platforms and individual sites. And they tend to shift over time.

For those of you relying on a primary referrer, i.e. Google, remember that platforms (not just SEs) have been creating filter bubbles via personalisation. And that it works both ways: sites are categorised as well as visitors. Increasingly search is determined to match up round visitors with round sites, oval with oval, square with square, etc. The narrower less inclusive/expansive your site/page the smaller your bubble of available referred visitors. So increasingly one gets perfectly matched (for some definition of matched) visitors or those or whom they couldn't find a match.

And that is without bringing visitor intent into play.
And as mobile user uptake increases and ad spend increasingly moves to mobile intent is increasing other...

So, a matched visitor is likely to convert as you'd like/expect but there are probably far fewer.
BUT
How do your pages receive and guide those whose intent/interest differs somewhat to significantly from the landing page? These are almost certainly an increasing majority.
If your site is content targeting large screen user intent simply made mobile 'friendly' you are likely mistargeting increasing numbers of visitors' intent.
Getting context right is critical going forward.

Things, including search engines and ad networks and advertisers and visitors and... behaviour, change. If that change negatively impacts your business it needs adapt in some way(s) or must absorb the loss. Doing nothing is easy, it may not be conducive to survival but it certainly is easy.

I'd like to give concrete by the numbers solutions but no two sites or business models are the same. And generic advice is as likely to be counterproductive as productive.
What is your product/service?
What is your unique selling/value point(s)?
Have enterprise sites come into competition?
Why your site and not one or another of your competitors?
Is your niche attracting competitors?
How are your referrers changing that affects the traffic they send?
Where is your existing audience, market segment?
Where are your prospective audiences, market segments?
Does your business model need to change?
---how does your revenue model need to adapt?
---how does your marketing model need to change?
Etc. et al ad nauseum.

As I get older I increasing detest change while being better at recognising it. So I get grumpier while adapting. Just in case you were wondering where old grumps come from. Bah Humbug.

p.s. illegitimi non carborundum
 

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