AdSense Bad For Bloggers?

By Nathan Weinberg

Darren Rowse asks the question if AdSense is no good for bloggers.

If you want to make big money via Adsense I’d pick another topic - readers of such blogs are remarkably blind to Adsense ads and the ads themselves are notoriously poorly paying.

I guess what it comes down to is the fact that if your blog is doing 1000 impressions per day that you’ll never become rich - no matter what revenue stream you may choose to run on it. Your only real option to significantly increase your earnings at this level of blogging is to find ways to increase your traffic or add new blogs to what you do.
My experience syncs up with what Darren is saying. AdSense is no good for my blog. Too many of my readers are very good at ignoring ads, just like I am. Plenty of my readers know all about ad systems and are the worst target audience for click ads.

Plus, the ads are not at all contextual. They never change significantly, always talking about blogs and ads. What about ads for humor sites or news sites or anything other than “Blog”? Never gonna happen. Because I can’t ban or suggest keywords, not being a premium AdSense publisher, I’m stuck with crap ads.

My page title has “blog” in it, my image header alt tags have “blog” in them, my URL has “blog” in it, and my sidebar has “blog” and “RSS” all over the place. I’m doomed! By the time AdSense’s contextual scanners get to my actual post content, its too late.

I’ve got a suggestion for Google, one that would be simple and useful: Make AdSense blog-aware. Give users the option of specifying when they code their ads what blog platform they use. Every platform I’ve used has a special code for posts and titles. For example, in WordPress titles are the_title and posts are the_content.

AdSense could use the text within these codes, and only that text for determining relevance. Then, if I post on 7-Eleven, I only get 7-Eleven related ads, no stupid blog ads. If I post on Microsoft AntiSpyware, I get ads for AntiSpyware programs, not the freaking blog ads.

Its such a simple implementation, and I can’t understand why we haven’t seen it yet. Considering how many blogs Google has in AdSense, wouldn’t they want relevancy to improve? Otherwise, I can look at my plummeting CPM and dump my short lived-AdSense revival experiment.

Addendum: AdSense average earnings per thousand impressions:

  • Friday - $1.84
  • Saturday - $1.13
  • Sunday $0.45
  • Today - $0.63

Average CPM on the old blog, over the previous ten months: $0.21. Not even in the same neighborhood as “good”.

UPDATE: I take it back! Darren, over at ProBlogger, says that he earned between $10,000-$20,000 last month from AdSense. Now, he can get that much because he has 20 blogs, not all of which are about geek stuff (and he says ProBlogger earns terribly) so he has a wide variety of ads.

I could not be more jealous. I have been having some great traffic lately, but little in the way of actual earnings. I think I’m going to put an ad on the post pages, just to see if there’s any revenue-making opportunity there. I’ve been relying on Blogads for far too long. I don’t suppose anyone knows what a site sponsorship should cost, say, per 1 million impressions?

Posted:
July 11, 2005 by Nathan Weinberg in:

14 Responses to “AdSense Bad For Bloggers?”

  1. Randy Charles Morin Says:

    I use a lot of techniques to optimize the ads generated. For instance, I wrap a lot of boilerplate code in javascript:document.write, so that Adsense will ignore them and focus on the more dynamic content.

    I’ve also played with ad placement and can move my CPM from $0.21 to $1 to $5 with simple changes in ad placement.

  2. bernis Says:

    good luck with YOUR new ad placement on InsideGoogle front page … that should give you definitely at least 2-3$ EPM … and with articles, move the ad between article title and article text and it will boost it definitely

  3. Nathan Weinberg Says:

    Thanks bernis. I just have to know what kind of money this blog is capable of, and if its worth it.

    I’d rather not put an ad there. You don’t think it would be a bit too disruptive and off-putting? I’m trying to add ads, but I don’t want to do anything that would draw people away from the content. I’m blogging for the articles, not the ads.

  4. Darren Rowse Says:

    thanks for the link.

    I’d suggest on the front page that ads should be a little more subtle than they can be on other pages of your site.

    A Front page is about making good impressions and an ad front and centre can put people off.

    On other pages I usually are a little more blatant with them though.

    Your positioning on this page is good (ie above comments) but I’d also suggest a second ad at the top and inside of the content with the content wrapping around it. Similarly to what is being done on this page here.

    Having said that I suspect this will be one of those blogs that readers are a little blind to, partly because of the nature of your topic but also partly because I suspect you get a lot of loyal repeat readers and less one off SE referral readers. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    Let me know if I can help any way Nathan.

  5. aaron wall Says:

    >UPDATE: I take it back! Darren, over at ProBlogger, says that he earned between $10,000-$20,000 last month from AdSense. Now, he can get that much because he has 20 blogs, not all of which are about geek stuff (and he says ProBlogger earns terribly) so he has a wide variety of ads.

    three thoughts
    1.) most of his blogs are not useful and contain little original information.
    2.) when I looked at some of them all I saw was snippets of other people’s contents wrapped in AdSense
    3.) if you have good link popularity and traffic you can leverage that by creating blogs on expensive topics.

    look at the topics Darren writes on. see which ones look like they are frequently updated but do not have much useful information on them. you can probably beat him on earnings in those channels if you hire someone to write on those topics.

    >I could not be more jealous. I have been having some great traffic lately, but little in the way of actual earnings. I think I’m going to put an ad on the post pages, just to see if there’s any revenue-making opportunity there. I’ve been relying on Blogads for far too long.

    if you have high social currency you can leverage that into financial gains by creating a network of many topics and pour your rich link popularity into the more niche expensive channels.

    >I don’t suppose anyone knows what a site sponsorship should cost, say, per 1 million impressions?

    so many factors there. with google sometimes I pay 20 cents CPM on their adsense ads (by having CPC ads with low bid prices and low clickthrough rates) and on some blogs I have paid $100 - $150 a month for ads, but I think most of them got way less traffic than 1,000,000.

  6. Nathan Weinberg Says:

    Darren, thanks for stopping by. The events of this post have forced me to subscribe to ProBlogger.

    About the front page: It should be simple for me to move the front page ad down. Its positioning is based on a simple variable in the WordPress template system. I could knock it down to the third post. I’ll give it a shot after I’ve accrued a few days of data.

    The in-content ad would be difficult. My site is of a fixed width (800px) and the content at 460px. I’d have to find an ad that would fit within that and still allow for easy reading. Considering I like to put images in the top right-hand corner, it might involve some WordPress hacking to get it just right.

    Despite the fact that my readers are less likely to click than others, I’m seeing a great first-day clickthrough rate. I’m sure it’ll drop significantly, but hopefully I can make up in traffic what I lose in eCPM.

    Do you have any recommendations on URL filtering?

    Thanks a lot for the advice. I really appreciate it.

  7. Nathan Weinberg Says:

    Aaron, Darren’s blogs are perfect for the AdSense system and search engines, even if they don’t provide a whole lot of reading material for you and I. I’m trying to establish multiple topics on this website, but more as a means of traffic than contextual advertising. Frankly, I don’t like contextual ads, and would rather sell on a CPM basis.

    As for site sponsorship, at 20 cents CPM, 1,000,000 impressions would go for $200. Talk about the opposite of tempting :-) Perhaps 20 cents is a low ball figure. I’d like to hope for at least a thousand per million for a full site sponsorship (including “brought to you by” in the page titles, RSS feeds).

  8. aaron wall Says:

    Oh, yeah the $200 is lowball on that.

    the $1,000 / month might be workable.

    not trying to sound like a middleman huckster taking a cut (because I wouldn’t be getting one) but if you want to send me an email with the details and I will refer it through to a friend who might be interested in that or may be able to make you an offer for part of the network

    two things I would warn about putting the sponsors name in all the page titles
    - it will thin out the keyword weightng on the words in your page titles and thus lower your overall traffic
    - if page titles are too similars some search engines such as yahoo might crawl the pages a bit less aggressively

    also some people who read the RSS might hate the same message in every post and unsubscribe. some of the more fanatical / evangical / purist bloggers have good link popularity and directly or indirectly may be the cause of much of your traffic, so it is a balance with how much advertising you can put in the feeds without it costing you more in longterm social currency

    In a few minutes I will try to do a 1 month BlogAd on this site 4 ya :)

  9. richard Says:

    The biggest positive changes occured for me when I stopped using the word “BLOG” and I stopped getting the same boring ads for how to setup a free blog. The next best change was when I stopped “boxing” the ads… Ie, I made the background of the ads the same, or nearly the same as the page background. I took a lot of my google ads offline for a while, but have just started playing with their placement againin combination with some other revenue sources.

  10. SEO Book.com Says:

    Leveraging Social Currency: AdSense Bad for Blogs about Blogging…AdSense Good for Blogs about Expensive Topics

    Post about leveraging the link popularity of unprofitable information channels to make profitable channels more visible.

  11. bernis Says:

    yep Nathan, it’s the matter of decision. what i suggested was close to some kind of “black hat” adsense optimization. it’s up to you how much money you’ll try to squeeze of your site. it has much bigger potential, but i understand using it to the “full extent” would make you feel kind of weird. just wanted to point out how the other guys manage to get that money from adsense.

    simple relying on that user will click blue adsense strip on white background just because he got attracted by its content can bring you just about the mentioned 0.2-0.5$ EPM …

    i would guess that in average maybe some 80% of adsense clicks are made “by mistake” … ie clicks where people got confused by tricky design …

    what surprised me that google also suggests some of these methods in it’s official optimization guide. i mean some of the step are really looking to fool the user so that he will mistake adsense for original content.

    still, it’s good for google, good for publishers and if advertisers don’t complain too much then “all is ok” … kind of

  12. Steven Says:

    If you get a decent amount of traffic you can let people buy cheap ads on your site using AdBrite.

  13. adguy Says:

    adbrite is like adsense, except 100% of their advertisers are scam artists, penis pill pushers, pr0n sites, dating sites, and offshore pharmacies.

    basically all the advertisers that are rejected from adsense. lol

  14. Practical Adsense Tips V -- Macalua.com Says:

    […] When irrelevant ads get displayed, you have very little or zero chance of getting AdSense clicks. Bloggers are the worst type of visitors. They know about AdSense (they see it every second online). They also know just about any other ad system in the world. They’ve since added another skill; they’ve become quite adept at ignoring ads. Banner blindness they call it. You can’t click what you can’t see, can you? ;) […]

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