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When is it time to throw the towel?

Adsense very low CTR

     
10:48 pm on Feb 12, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I have been running my website for 1 year now, while I see a steady increase in traffic, I also see a steady decline in CTR. There are days with thousands of page views and not a single ad click. And other days the peak would be 1% 1.5%

My websites content is relevant to my audience, my website is rather fast and responsive, I use 2-3 ads per page depending on how much content there is, a majority of my traffic comes from social media, and most of my traffic is US or UK.

I created this project because I have a passion for the topic / niche, and not just to generate money, but I feel like its becoming harder and harder to just break even after the end of the month.

How do I determine if its time to throw the towel and cancel the project? Of is it too early to say after just 1 year ?

Please apologize if this is a silly question, I am rather new to all of this, and simply trying to gather knowledge to better my website.
1:13 am on Feb 13, 2018 (gmt 0)

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What techniques have you tried to increase CTR?
1:15 am on Feb 13, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I have mainly played with the ad layout. What is something I should be looking into?
1:22 am on Feb 13, 2018 (gmt 0)

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What is something I should be looking into?
Don't know... whatever works for you. Point is, keep trying different approaches.

Change ad types
Change ad layout, positioning
Turn on/off different settings at your account
Approve more ads
...
3:28 am on Feb 13, 2018 (gmt 0)

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A few things to consider.
CTR is not the be all and end all of metrics. It is to some extent a pretty bad metric, as it only applies to a portion of your impressions (CPC). You should watch RPM as this an overall measure of performance and is less biased then CTR. These days the average AdSense publisher is said to earn about $2RPM (there is no reliable source for this figure but it is generally accepted rule of thumb) , that is $2 per 1000 page impressions. A few niches pay more, a few less but most are in that order of magnitude. So if you are not earning more than that now, I would not expect this to suddenly change.

Now with $2 per 1000 impressions, you can conservatively forecast what you can expect to earn based on your current and/or expected traffic.Does that cover your operating expenses, your time etc... Those are questions only you can answer.

Testing ad types, placements, colors etc... can provide marginal improvements but I wouldn't count on it doubling your RPM. Also note that many of those improvements can be short lived, as the impact wears off over time. It is often the fact that there was a change that causes the improvement more than the actual thing that was changed.

If you are going to be testing, be sure to carry out the tests in isolation such that you can be sure what action is actually providing the benefit.

Finally, if there is one metric to try to improve on it is AVV Active View Viewable. That is make sure that ads that are on the page are being seen, this will directly impact CTR and a high AVV will increase demand for CPM and AV-CPM bids.
10:47 am on Feb 13, 2018 (gmt 0)

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If the site wasn't set to make money from ads, and it WAS set up because the topic interested you personally and you felt the need to publish, then nothing has changed.

Advertising is unpredictable except in rather broad terms (ie, it works or, it might not work for you).

A year might not be enough time.

Have you looked at your site from an ADVERTISER'S point of view? Do you hit all their wants/demographics? Have you audited your site to make sure there's nothing out of place, that all updates have been applied, there's no glaring errors? Is your content reasonably refreshed or new content presented?

Have you an audience (returning visitors) or merely one time users (got the answer, thanks, bye!)?

Are you operating your own server or using a host? If using a host and expenses are becoming a concern can you move to less expensive?

Are you HTTPS?

What kind of monthly traffic are we talking about?
5:22 pm on Feb 14, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Thank you so much for all the feedback!

I am running a HTTPS site for more than 9 months, I switched to HTTPS early on, as I heard it was important for SEO reasons

Demographic is millennials / young adults. I check my page daily, on mobile and desktop accross different devices to make sure it works properly, I do not see any glaring issues.

My ads are implemented in the most none intrusive way. And they adjust to mobile, medium screen size and large desktop size.

my Bounce rate has been a little bit above average I would say, it is something I am working on, I think that may be the downfall of getting traffic from social who just come to read one article, and then return to where they came from?

I am on a web hosting, affordable and fast, I was on a cheaper one at go daddy but performance became an issue.

As for the content on my page, I update daily, multiple times. I do about 20%-30% evergreen content while the other content is news related

Monthly traffic is growing, and is currently around 200k.

From what I can take from the feedback I received.

- Change ad layout, try different things
- improve bounce rate
- improve SEO ranking ( something I truly struggle with )

I am not asking to make big bucks, but I feel that 1k page views should at least generate a couple ad clicks. The fact that there are so little clicks worries me more than the low RPM.

RPM sit around $1.60 most times
7:47 pm on Feb 14, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I am not asking to make big bucks, but I feel that 1k page views should at least generate a couple ad clicks. The fact that there are so little clicks worries me more than the low RPM.


This statement is contradictory. You could have hundreds of clicks, if they each pay pennies you will still maintain a RPM of $1.60, and at the end of the month your check would be same. As I mentioned above RPM = All revenue / number of impressions / 1000.

RPM is the only number of importance, and ultimately you should be agnostic in terms what type of bid is paying you. All bid types contribute to your earnings, your RPM. It should make no difference if it is CPC, CPM, AV-CPM, E-CPM, all you should care about is that your are getting paid, getting a high RPM.

If you are looking for places to make improvements. Look at your pages that earn the highest RPM's. See what makes them special. Repeat that.
7:48 pm on Feb 14, 2018 (gmt 0)

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a majority of my traffic comes from social media

Probably this. Traffic from social media is often hit-and-run.

Demographic is millennials / young adults

And this. On average, younger people are less likely to click on ads.

You might squeeze a few more clicks out of them with "better" ad placements, but you don't want to make them obtrusive either.

Maybe wait a couple decades until they're all grown up ;-) Until then... set reasonable expectations.

[edited by: robzilla at 7:51 pm (utc) on Feb 14, 2018]

7:51 pm on Feb 14, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Thank you Nick.

In my head I was thinking that even though RPM is at $2 it is still a red flag that CTR is so low. i.e often I see one click on 1000 page views, though the CPC is near $2, which puts me into the $2RPM ballpark that was said to be somewhat norm. Keep in mind I am openly somewhat uneducated and new to all of this, I am doing my research, and reached out for help because I feel I am stagnating a little bit.

What is the best way to see which article/page on my website generates the best RPM ?
7:53 pm on Feb 14, 2018 (gmt 0)

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What is the best way to see which article/page on my website generates the best RPM ?

It's easiest if you've linked AdSense to Analytics. Then go to Behavior > Publisher > Publisher Pages.
7:59 pm on Feb 14, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Wonderful, thank you Robzilla, I have already set up my analytics and linked to my adsense, thats very valuable information. Thank you
8:27 pm on Feb 14, 2018 (gmt 0)

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a majority of my traffic comes from social media


As robzilla wrote this is most likely your problem and especially so if it is simply to linked articles etc, flash visitors basically.

I have the opposite problem to yours with a CTR averaging over 3.5% over several sites with a $10+ RPM however because my sites are highly widget business niche focused, my PVs are pathetically low compared to what they were before Google's great image theft of a few years ago. Let's say PVs are down more than 95%!

And herein lies the great conundrum, lots of irrelevant visitors possibly = low CTR and low RPM whereas lots of niche visitors can = great CTR and RPM.

Are your ads relevant to your articles?
8:35 pm on Feb 14, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Interesting.

I would say that my ads can be relevant to my articles. Let's break it down like this

30% of ads are related directly to my articles / content
30% related to my audience
40% completely unrelated

does reviewing ads actually help anything at all? I only really started looking into this actively this week, while before I only banned annoying ads like foreverspin
8:46 pm on Feb 14, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Traffic from social media is often hit-and-run.
Could be, according to some sites but a huge percentage of my traffic is from social media and it converts well.

I spend a significant amount of time targeting specific topic groups from various SM sources, exploiting the potential purchasing of not only my own products but the Ads as well.

I can understand that SM may be hit-and-run when you don't approach it correctly; when the incoming traffic is just spill-over from a casual involvement in SM, but when organized for targeted traffic, in specific ways, SM is a gold mine.
9:40 pm on Feb 14, 2018 (gmt 0)

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More traffic statistically means more clicks somewhere down the line, but the real trick is to get QUALITY traffic. That means getting the site out to those audiences and building a brand. That might be serps, might be SM, might be radio/tv, could even be legacy print media.

The web may appear egalitarian, but it isn't. Think like a venture capitalist and act accordingly if you want to grow your biz. THERE IS NOTHING FAIR ABOUT THE WEB.
10:12 pm on Feb 14, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I can understand that SM may be hit-and-run when you don't approach it correctly

I'm sure you can put it to your advantage if you take a strategic approach and you can find the right audience. That's not something I'm particularly active with, but sometimes it will bring a surge of traffic when someone spontaneously puts up a link to my content. I think that, on average, the interaction we can expect from social media referred visitors is much lower because they're engaging in a different type of activity. They're not actively seeking my content, it was just presented to them in their timeline and they clicked out of curiosity, fear of missing out, boredom, or what have you. So they click through, scratching that itch, and then go back to the platform for more. Bounce rate is almost 2x the average.

Having said that, the CTR is not as low as I thought it would be: only about 20% lower than organic search. eCPM is 3x lower, though.
10:18 pm on Feb 14, 2018 (gmt 0)

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the interaction we can expect from social media referred visitors is much lower because they're engaging in a different type of activity.
Again, it's how we approach it.

One example is FB Groups. There you have a topic-specific targeted revenue source to be exploited. It takes time to nurture relationships and build trust and branding, but it really pays off.
10:40 pm on Feb 14, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Fair enough, I was speaking more from my own experience with social media traffic. There's undoubtedly an art to it.

I still get the sense it probably holds true for MonkeyPantz's traffic, unfortunately.

I hadn't checked my Publisher stats in Analytics in a while. Now that I have, it seems they don't really correspond well to the performance reports in AdSense. RPM in AdSense is 3x higher than eCPM in Analytics, even though I believe that's roughly (if not exactly) the same statistic. It's probably fine for determining the performance of content or referrers relative to others, but apparently not much else.
9:38 pm on Feb 16, 2018 (gmt 0)

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When is it time to throw the towel?

I believe the short answer is - when your costs exceed your revenue.
 

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