There were several questions I wanted answers to when I started using AdSense:
Here is what I found…
Google’s website claims:
“AdSense delivers ads precisely targeted to your site, helping you earn revenue from your website.”
“AdSense can deliver relevant ads because Google understands the meaning of a web page. We’ve refined our technology, and it keeps getting smarter all the time. For example, words can have several different meanings, depending on context. Google technology grasps these distinctions, so you get more targeted ads.”
Well, sort of.
I found that Google’s Ads were generally in the ballpark, so long as it’s a really large ballpark.
The ads served by Google were only generally related to the page they were found in. My tutorial pages always have the same set of ads for the same college, for instance–so my odds of generating revenue are exceedingly slim. Occasionally they were dead on target, such as when there is a specific product that matches the topic of my page (ie. desktop computer, mobile phone). My pages contain a lot of information technology related topics. Generally speaking, Google ads were nearly all information technology ads. However, Google served up ads as follows:
I would not say that the Google ads are always ‘precisely targeted’, but it would be more accurate to say that they are usually ‘generally related’. This is no surprise since computers are unable to understand meaning and language.
Now let’s move on to my concerns as to whether placing ads on my site might cause me to lose visitors. The possibility of a loss in visitors due to Google ads was not mentioned anywhere in the AdSense promotional pages. As a prudent webmaster, you need to review how every change impacts your readership and your traffic levels.
Google claims that the ads will increase traffic at your site because people will come to your site in order to click an ad and buy something. I find this claim to be unsupported as well.
Keep in mind that I purposely made no changes to my website other than adding Google AdSense so that if there was a change, it would be due solely to the placement of the ads, not other changes. I witnessed rather significant drops in traffic after installing the AdSense ads in my site. The number of visitors to my site dropped by about 10%. However, the total number of pages viewed dropped by more than third!
My conclusion: The ads do not entice readers to stay on the site, rather they encourage the opposite. Some people ARE turned-off by ads and DO leave your site because of the ads.
This too was not a surprise. I don’t like advertising myself, but since the level of donations we receive doesn’t even offset hosting and domain name fees we pay each year, and because I don’t sell products or services, advertising is the only way to generate revenue. Its too early to tell if my current drop in page views is permanent or only temporary.
Google’s website states the following:
You can maximize your revenue potential by displaying Google ads on your website. Google puts relevant CPC (cost-per-click) and CPM (cost per thousand impressions) ads through the same auction, and lets them compete against one another. The auction takes place instantaneously, and, when it’s over, AdSense automatically displays the text or image ad(s) that will generate the maximum revenue for a page — and the maximum revenue for you.
Google’s page shows a single day’s earnings as $334.34, an odd total and probably made up. I decided to be more conservative and set my hopes on $50 my first month. My monthly aggregate total came nowhere near to that goal. I tried using the optimization techniques Google recommends. I tried changing sizes, placement and colors and left the ads for several days after each change to see if there was any improvement in earnings. There wasn’t. I tried creating channels and making those channels visible to advertisers. Again, no change in earnings. None of these ‘optimizations’ made any difference in my earnings.
My monthly aggregate total from advertising is enough to cover my hosting bill (just under $20 a month), but not much more. So, yes, I am generating earnings, but it will take at least six months before my earnings reach $100 and Google sends me a check. I need the money to pay for the InetDaemon.Com web site, so I’m stuck with advertising for now.
Bottom line, unless you have a huge site, well known that regularly features products and services for sale, don’t expect to make a lot of money on your site. If you’re only looking to make enough money to pay your hosting expenses, if you don’t want the hassle and effort of establishing and then maintaining business relationships with advertisers, AdSense will work just fine. It’s a quick and easy, but not very profitable.
I will continue to post about my experiences with Google AdSense as I learn. Who knows? I’ve only been using it a month and there is still plenty to learn.