Podcasting, DotNetNuke & Photoshop
Customer Loyalty

Google AdSense is NonSense

I tried it, “earned” a few bucks, but now I’m dropping the program. When I originally added Google AdSense to my blog I figured it might be a way to at least break even on the annual TypePad hosting fee. After all, how long should it take to earn $50 in click-thru’s? The answer: Too long, at least for the traffic levels this blog generates.

Here are the final results: I launched Google AdSense on March 7th and removed it on June 11th. During that period, there were almost 13,000 page views and 132 clicks. Here’s another tidbit that makes me question the value of AdSense, at least on my blog: quite of few of those clicks resulted in zero earnings. I understand Google tracks IP addresses and apparently doesn’t pay for clicks if they appear to come from someone who’s just trying to run up the click rate. That’s fair, but don’t you wonder if the advertiser still has to pay Google for those clicks? Does anyone know the facts on this?

Regardless of how the AdSense program is supposed to work, it only generated $16.61 in advertising earnings for me over the past 3 months. Google makes it very clear that they pay only on click-thru’s, not impressions. Nevertheless, I feel there’s a significant imbalance between the visibility I’ve been providing advertisers and the income I’ve earned. For the modest traffic levels The Average Joe generates, I think it would be better to use that space for something else. So, over the next couple of weeks I’ll work on adding more cross-references and archive information to the right column of this blog.

In the mean time, I guess I’m forfeiting my $16.61 in AdSense earnings. I’m pretty sure I had to exceed $20 in earnings before a payment would be made. Oh well. I’m hoping that by providing this information, it might help other aspiring bloggers decide whether or not they should try the AdSense program.

Comments

Jeremy Wright

Just a few quick points, as an FYI:

- you would have covered your hosting costs at that rate (also, it's entirely probable your traffic would have gone up over time
- Google doesn't charge advertisers for clicks publishers don't get paid for (that'd be illegal, since the pay structure is commission based)
- You'll get a cheque in the mail sometime around next February (otherwise the books won't balance at the end of year)

That said, I'm glad you dropped it. I hadn't seen anything that made me want to click in 3 months, which isn't a good indication of relevance. Maybe there just aren't that many publishers wanting to advertise books on publisher-driven websites?

So, good call (in my humble opinion).

Naba Barkakati

Hi Joe, I had added Adsense on my blog and then clicked on all the ads one day to see what they were putting up. Google sent an email message saying there were illegal Adsense clicks. I immediately removed Adsense and the Google search box from my blog. Also, I notice that I never click on any of the Google ads that appear on any blog or website. I wonder if Adsense is really doing well or it's struggling...

Randy Charles Morin

It's pretty difficult to make money with adsense, unless of course, your in the A-list. Then it's easy. Or for that matter, if you blog on a high value, low content subject. But, if you blog around tech crap, or blogosphere crap, then well, everybody is doing that and too much supply means low prices.

Sol Nasisi

I find it's not just AdSense but almost all affiliate programs. I have a book affiliate program and so far after having provided thousands of impressions, have little to show. I get a few clicks here and there, but little else.

I'm okay with that because the books are listed as a service to the site visitors. But I don't see how any small to medium size site can make any real money from these programs.

Todd Main

While I agree that, for the most part, Google Ads do not make much money for anyone, they certainly do for highly trafficked sites and niche products/services. I have sites with GoogleAds - one of them typically makes about 5 to 10 cents a click and the other one typically makes about $1.50 - $2.00 per click. It is the latter that is for a specialized and highly competitive set of key words that advertisers pay up to $6 per click for.

Then again, GoogleAds are simply a supplement. Even very highly trafficked websites tend to use a variety of ads and affiliate programs to make money, not just AdSense.

Brad Hill

Clicks discounted by Google are not invoiced to the advertiser.

Joe, I'm a bit confused. You started AdSense to pay for your hosting, and, as Jeremy points out, it would have. But you discontinued.

For the record, your one-percent clickthrough rate is roughly the network-wide average. Your CPM (cost to Google/earnings to you per 1,000 impressions at your site) of about $1.27 is decent. In other words, the program was working for you with textbook predictability. Nothing was wrong. That makes me think your expectations somehow got out of whack.

If you think you were unrewarded for the visibility you provided, AdSense offers the CPM (cost per impression) program as an opt-in. As more advertisers also opt in to CPM, ad supply should build up to something worthwhile. For now it's best to opt into both if you want any CPM action, so Google never has to send a PSA for lack of paid ad supply.

AdSense is definitely a volume business. Good earnings require either a high-volume site or multiple low-volume sites. Rather like book authoring.

Brad Hill

Naba -- it sounds like you feel affronted by Google's letter to you, though I can't tell for sure. Please understand that you explicitly violated the TOC you agreed to when you signed up for AdSense; the TOC forbids clicking ads on your page.

AdSense is spectacularly successful. Yahoo!'s SEM division is scrambling to catch up while there's still a slice of pie left, and there are at least 20 second- and third-tier players providing contextual advertising networks. It is true that advertiser sentiment about AdSense is mixed. Advertisers can opt out of the entire Google "content network," which includes small AdSense sites, corporate Premium AdSense sites, and Gmail. But advertisers cannot activate or disable portions of that network. Smart advertisers optimize multiple campaigns, dedicating some to the content network and others to Google-only delivery. It is clear (to me and some other SEM specialists) that AdSense actually works better than Google pages for certain types of ads. Unfortunately, Google does not use clickthrough rates for the content network in determining the viability of a campaign or individual keywords. That means that a successful ad on the content neworks (that is, clicking through well as an AdSense ad) might struggle on Google's pages, and eventually be deactivated by Google. That unfortunate fact steers successful ads away from the AdSense network.

Sorry for the lengthy tirade. My point is that AdSense is definitely successful, even with some problems in its implementation.

Joe Wikert

Hi Brad. Yes, I initially incorporated AdSense into my blog as a way to offset my hosting charges. The more I looked at how much real estate it took up on the page though, the more I felt like that wasn't a reasonable trade-off. Yes, it does indeed look as though I could have earned $50 in advertising if I would have left it up for a full year. My point is that I'd rather pay the hosting fee out of my own pocket and put that surface area to better use for readers of this blog.

I also neglected to point out that the number of clicks had really slowed down recently. In fact, I think there had been zero clicks for the past 2-3 weeks prior to taking it off my blog. Is that a statistical abberation, something that would have evened itself out over time? Perhaps. But as I noted, I simply lost interest and feel that I can do something better with that area.

I'll probably keep my eye on AdSense and I wouldn't rule out bringing it back in the future. If so, however, I'm sure I'll go with a much smaller footprint on the page. Yes, that will likely translate into even fewer click-thru's, but I'll have to see whether that trade-off is worthwhile.

Steve O'Keefe

I agree with the others here who indicate 1. the money you're pulling in from AdSense is accurate (typical) and that 2. most if not all affiliate programs are equally dissapointing.

One solution is to donate your AdSense revenue to a worthy cause. For you, it doesn't add up to much. But for a literacy program, having 100 sites like yours donate AdSense revenues directly to the charity adds up to something significant. Google and Amazon and other popular affiliates should make it easy for people to choose a charity to receive commissions.

Affiliate marketing is mostly a sucker play. Millions of people put the Amazon logo on their site in hopes commissions would be meaningful. Most would have *never* sold Amazon a similar size ad for the paltry amounts the Associates program typically pays.

STEVE O'KEEFE
Author of Complete Guide to Internet Publicity (Wiley)

TDavid

Joe - sorry, but I have to agree with others here that believe you just gave up too soon on this one. We've done _very_ well with Adsense and I think maybe you threw up the ads in places where nobody would pay much attention to them.

If you put them in the right places, coupled with the right content, then they will complement the content very well without being offensive.

I've been here before and even trackbacked an entry from this blog and don't recall even seeing your Google ads -- that's not a good sign for optimal placement. The ads don't have to be all in readers faces like some sites do, but somewhere between being reader annoying and having them be in very visible primary contextually optimized locations will be the sweet spot that performs the best.

Also, if you were running Adsense on the outside pages that was a mistake because too much content results in generic blog ads that generate subpar CTR.

I predict you'll be back :)

Brad Hill

Well, I definitely say Joe's ads; in fact, I would have counseled choosing a less obtrusive ad unit. The new link units can be squeezed in almost anywhere, but they do put a second click between the visitor and a paid clickthrough. But TDaivd is right to note that experimentation is key. Placement, colors, and ad unit styles and all variable.

Another problem with blogs is that many readers take the content via feed, not by direct visitation. I come here to write comments, but if I have nothing to say there is no reason to visit the site. AdSense for Feeds is a program you might want to experiment with next, Joe. You wouldn't have to devote an real estate on your pages to ads. I don't particularly like the unit style available in the Feeds program, but presumably Google will develop new styles.

mikers

this guys an idiot anyways, seriously man, after one month? what optimizations did you make in that time? didnt think so ....

Joe Wikert

I got curious several weeks ago and decided to give AdSense another shot. This time I went with a much simpler ad box. The results: So far, click-thru's are happening at a much higher rate than before. I'll leave it in place for a while and see if the trend continues.

Mihai Rad

As far as I’m concerned, the best way to make money with Adsense is to develop a website or blog on a niche topic that should also be something you are interested in. Hobby-related sites have the best chances of keeping you, as their webmaster, happy and involved, and this will soon show in the number of visitors and the amounts of money you make.

Another vital thing to consider is ad style and placement. I prefer to use a similar structure for all my websites – one that was proven to work. I will share this with you as I believe in reciprocal help through free advice – I also learned A LOT from browsing blogs such as this and other webmaster resources on Adsense. Ok, so getting back to ad placement: I love the idea of placing a 120x90 or 160x90 adlink box on the left side menu of my sites, in the top left corner, just below the banner. Have a look at my website, and get more tips on How to make money with Google Adsense and look at the area below the graphic saying “Online money” – it will house a nice 160x90 adlinks box soon after my site receives enough traffic.

The second good spot to place a 250x250 or 300x250 ad box is in the article text. Loose the border and make the background of the ads the same as your web background (same is true for the adlink placement mentioned above. The final touch comes with a final ad placed at the end of each araticle. Consider the article a path that leads to the final conclusion – exactly where the ads are. You can also place a small graphic image to the left of the ads, so that they are more attractive from a visual point of view.

By using such an ad placement most of my sites get CTRs of 10%-15% all the time

Give it a try and let me know if this sort of ad placement worked in your particular cases – I am also doing a study on this which I will eventually publish on web2earn.com

Best regards,

Mihai

well well

I see you still have adsense and google search in your page. what a sham!

Joe Wikert

Dear "Well well", you obviously didn't read the later comment I made to this post. Read my follow-up note that appears two comments above yours and you'll see that I made changes based on feedback. Why is it a sham? I said I was giving it another shot and I am...

kamell

Thanks for all these great information

Multiple Income Streams

Excellent article and commentary!

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