You’re annoying your readers and you’re not making any money

Writing

AKA: please stop putting Google ads on your blog.

As many of you may have noticed, this blog is still very new. I have been blogging quite often and I have even got one or two posts on the front page of dotnetkicks (which rules by the way), which has netted me about a thousand page views. After a few hundred page views I decided that I would throw some small Google ads at the end of each post to experiment with what kinds of click through rates that I would get. Well, the results weren’t exactly inspiring.

Adsense 0 Clicks

This is a picture from my Google Adsense account for October 31st and November 1st. A total of 408 impressions with zero clicks. At this rate, if I had one click, I would be getting around a .25% click through rate. On my site, a single click would probably be worth about 5 cents to me. So, lets pretend that I get about 1 click per hundred on my site, which is still only a 1% click through rate, which is either poor or average depending on whose numbers you are looking at. This would turn into about 5 cents per 100 views, or about 50 cents per thousand viewers. So, now let us pretend that I have now blogged for a year and I have pushed my subscriber base to an astronomical 5000 views per day, which for a blog that is a year old probably would be an unreasonable target goal if you did not have any advertising or hyper surrounding your blog's launch.

I say this because I'm not talking about generating a lot of traffic by getting your posts on Digg or Reddit because this traffic has been shown to be virtually worthless in terms of ad clicks1. Most people who come from these sites show up, are there for a few seconds and then leave. From what I can find on the internet, the click through rates of these types of users is in the 1/10th of one percent range. What I'm talking about getting 5000 good page views from visitors who found your site because they were actually interested in and looking for the content that your site has to offer. This is a *much* harder demographic to capture. And these days, with thousands of blogs being started up every day, you really have to stand out from the pack.

So with our 5000 views per day, and say that your ad payments stayed at 5 cents per click, and you were still seeing about a 1% click through rate. That would be about 2 dollars and 50 cents per day, or about 75 dollars per month. Probably about enough to pay for your hosting, since with traffic like that you will be using a decent, but not huge, amount of bandwidth. But what if you increased your per click price to 10 cents and managed to scrape up a 2% click through rate, well you’d be pulling in a whopping 10 dollars per day or 300 dollars per month. Certainly nothing to write home about, but a good start. You also have to keep in mind that sites which feature content that is aimed at more technically proficient people are going to have a lower click through rate2. Sites aimed at children/older people seem to trend toward higher click through rates since they are usually less adept at spotting ads and therefore more likely to click on one without knowing it3.

Now we will look at some pretty graphs which demonstrates my point a little clearer (and eat up a little more of my bandwidth, you guys are seriously stealing my cents)…

image

As you can see from this graph I have scaled the amount per click to go with the traffic, this was because I have found on the internet several places where people are claiming that Google pays out based on your site's traffic level and market, but less to do with how much the advertisers pay Google. With Google's income reports as high as they are, I'd be inclined to believe this. Google would pay larger more influential sites more money because they know that they could also go with a more traditional ad program, which would probably net them more money, but would also be more of a hassle. But Google offers them a decent amount of money, with almost no hassle, while the small sites don't really have any other options, so they can be paid less.

I'm *not* saying this is how it works, because Google won't tell people how they split up the money, I'm just saying that I have read this is several places and it seems somewhat plausible. My bet would be that traffic is only one variable in a complex calculation that figures out the publishers payment per click. So anyway, my whole point of this was that I have scaled the payment per click based on the traffic. It does not go linearly, because the highest amount that I saw any site owner claiming that they had made per click was about 35 cents. (I would love if anyone else had more solid data, I would happily update this in a future post)

So now that I am done discrediting my data completely, lets do some analysis of it. At 1000 page views per day with a 1% click through rate you are looking at about $15.00 per month. At the top end, with an 8% click rate (which I'm not even sure is possible without some clever trickery) you would be pulling in about $120 dollars per month. A modest sum, but getting 1000 page views per day to your site is no easy task. When you get to 3000 page views per day the numbers look a bit better, at 1% you are looking at $135 per month and at 8% you are looking at about 1080 dollars per month. Lets blow up this chart with the smaller numbers so that they are easier to see…

image

Now you can see where we are with this. By these numbers, and as you know they are probably grossly inaccurate, you would need far more than 5000 page views per day, even at 8% in order to pay a developer salary. So, if you had any thoughts of doing blogging full time and you only have 5000 daily page views, be prepared to live off about 36,000 dollars per year even if your audience is some crazy clicking fools. (And if you are getting an 8% click through rate, you can bet that Google is going to come knocking at your door sooner or later to investigate click fraud) In some parts of the world this is okay, but in the United States, being a software developer is quite a bit more lucrative.

I'm not saying any of this to discourage bloggers, I just want people to know that if you want to get into blogging, you do it because you want to share. Whether your motivations are altruistic or just plain selfish, you have to start out with a drive to spread the ideas that are percolating in your brain, and not to make a buck, because you have a long road ahead and when the dollars don't show up, you'll need something to keep pushing you. And yes, <sarcasm>while trying to sound completely cliche</sarcasm>, this is easier said than done.

Also, if you look out there at all of the websites that talk about how to increase your ad revenues, almost all of their tips are all about how to trick the user into clicking your ads. Some sites talk about “blending” ads into your site so that users do not “perceive” them as ads. In other words, make the ads not look like ads so that you can trick your users into clicking on ads without realizing it! Wow, is that all I need to do? I just have to trick my users? Where do I sign up?! What kind of piece of sh*t blogger do they think I am? Oh wait, people who want to make money are supposed to have no souls, right? Well, I for one think that treating your readers like idiots and dollar signs is bad for business, but what do I know?

So, now that we have the business out of the way, lets take a look at those high quality targeted ads and just how relevant they are to my readers…

This site is mostly .net and Microsoft focused, so while Komodo is actually a fine tool, it is mostly aimed at PHP developers (someone correct me if I am wrong, because I’m not allowed to click on my own ads 🙂 )

Komodo Ad

Hmmmm, I didn’t know that .net developers didn’t need to hire additional .net developers. I would have thought that this one would have netted me thousands of clicks!! I also saw one or two ads for outsourcing firms, but I didn’t get any screenshots of them. As a software engineer I believe that Dante described a special place for them in one of his books…I can’t remember which one though.

Adsense Ad 1

Wow, this is what I get for using a banking example in one of my posts. Something tells me that most software developers already have checking accounts. I’m hoping that Google actually pays their software developers and then they don’t just shove it in their mattress. (which is in their cube if they work at Google)

Adsense Ad 2

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat???? I guess you can never get enough Winterferien Frankreich and Monats! Come on google, at least get my language correct. And yes, I have my language settings in U.S. English in Adsense. Maybe they were detecting my subtle German undertones in my articles.

Adsense Ad 3

And again, if you are ever in the market for 2004, 2005, 2006, or even 2007, please stop by my site and click. I’m pretty sure they have all of them in stock, but you’d better act fast! I guess if they run out though you can always fall back on the Winterferien Frankreich. (And no, I have no idea where these ads went to, I can’t click on them or the Google Gestapo will come and get me)

Adsense Ad 4

Unlike a lot of people, I am not anti-ads altogether. I actually click on an ad every now and then when it is something that I am truly interested in. I absolutely refuse to click on full-page ads, transitional ads, those stupid dog ear page ads (you know, the ones that are up in the corner and look like a page in a book folding down), inline text link ads, ads that make noise, ads that trick people into click, and generally any ad that I find annoying or obtrusive in any way. I don’t care how relevant the ad is to me, if I click on an annoying ad I am rewarding them for being annoying.

So, in the end I decided to take the ads down. Until my site gets large enough that I can get on an ad network that will actually get me some targeted ads or until I can actually just sell some small blocks of ad space on the site, I am going to leave it ad free. On the other hand though, the contents of this article is so crazy that I really have to wonder what kind of ads Google would place on this one, maybe something for 2008, 2009, or 2010?

Footnotes:

  1. Unsubstantiated claim
  2. Another unsubstantiated claim
  3. Ditto

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Comments (1)

  1. I can’t agree with you . Many bloggers earn quite a lot from blogging . You just have to be focused and bring in the right browser to click. You can get well over 10% ctr without trickery.

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