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Does AdSense Suck for Bloggers?

Posted By Darren Rowse 8th of January 2007 Adsense 0 Comments

Nik Cubrilovic picks up on Guy Kawasaki’s posting his revenue and concludes that

AdSense for bloggers sucks, the click-through rates are too low, the advertising is not relevant enough and readers of blogs are more accustomed to blocking-out the ads – all this results in a very low CPM rate.’

While I don’t have time for a detailed post on this (I’m supposed to be packing as I write this) I would say that Nik’s conclusion is pretty spot on…. when it comes to Guy Kawasaki’s blog.

Guy writes to a pretty tech savvy audience (who tend to not click ads), he writes on a fairly broad range of topics (AdSense would have trouble honing in on what ads to serve him) and he doesn’t generally write about products or specific services (again making it hard to get him high paying and relevant ads).

As a result I’m not surprised that Guy was earning relatively small amounts from his blog from AdSense (when he was using it).

However – just because Guy’s blog doesn’t make much money from AdSense doesn’t mean that it sucks for all blogs. In fact I’ve surveyed my readers three times on their AdSense earnings (here, here and here) and while the poll showed the majority of bloggers don’t make much from AdSense it also showed that some definitely do.

Llast time I did the survey 24% of respondents said they earn over $500 a month (some quite considerably more) and a further 21% earned over $100 for the month). I would suspect that the vast majority of those had less traffic than Guy.

How can this be so?

From my own personal experience of blogging and from watching others I would guess that the majority of those earning more than Guy did would be doing so because of a number of factors:

  • Topic – more focussed and possibly on a more commercially viable topic (ie product related). This leads to higher paying ads and higher relevancy of ads (and higher click through rates).
  • Readership – while Guy’s readership is probably quite aware of what an ad is and isn’t and will actively avoid them – in my experience the average web user (the non blogging/web 2.0/geek crowd) is not as adverse to clicking ads.
  • Ad Positioning/Design – I can’t comment on how Guy had his ads positioned and designed – but it can be the difference between great and terrible AdSense performance.

Of course I’m not suggesting Guy change his topic, readership or blog design. However this might help explain why he didn’t earn as much as other bloggers are from AdSense.

How else could Guy Monetize his Blog?

Let me explore a few options:

Indirect Income Streams – Ultimately the way Guy should (and probably is) monetizing his blog is indirectly by building his own profile. In a sense he’s advertising himself and as a result is building a loyal audience for future books, speaking engagements and consulting work. More on indirect methods of earning money from a blog here.

Private Sponsorship – I think a better model for Guy to earn money from his blogs would be private sponsorship or a privately arranged CPM campaign. He still could have problems with this however because of his broad topic – but if he could find someone who had a product or service that was relevant or that matched his readership demographic he could be onto a good thing with his readership levels.

Affiliate Programs? – Another possible revenue stream that would probably do well for Guy would be affiliate marketing. The products that he promoted would need to be of a high quality, products that he’d personally used and genuinely recommended and he’d have to be careful about pushing them too hard – however if he found the right products I suspect his loyal readership would react well it (especially with his ability to sell) – and if he picked the right product (of a high value) he could earn some nice coin form it too.

Other Ad ProgramsText-Link-Ads would do well on Guy’s blog as it’s got a good SE ranking. I suspect they’d earn more than what AdSense did each month. Similarly BidVertiser, Performancing Partners and either Feedburner’s Ad network or TLA’s Feedvertising would be good ways to monetize his RSS feeds (nb: some affiliate links in this paragraph).

Again – it’s the indirect money making methods that I suspect Guy is focussing upon most and will ultimately do best with (unless he turns his blog into a product blog).

Update: just checked and Guy does use Feedburner’s Ad Network in his feed already.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. I’d rather like with focus on narrow topic, because adsense will give us more related ads and readers will feel the ads as its content itself. And that’s important because I’ve tried to put an amazon product which doesn’t related with my content and nobody click amazon. So, if your adsense is more related with content your CTR will raising….

  2. Well finally, Adsense sucks for bloggers! The experts say so. But it can change. Want to know how? Look at http://www.slimmetjegeld.nl?
    Don’t know Dutch? No problem, click on the link for the english version

  3. AdSense sucks for everyone — not just bloggers. This is especially true if you’re actually making money from it.

    There are several reasons why you should avoid doing business with Google at all costs:

    1. Google won’t talk to you. In fact, your company isn’t even important enough for them to provide you with a phone number.

    2. Google reserves the right to ban your account and keep all your earnings for any reason it sees fit and/or no reason at all.

    3. Google doesn’t differentiate between you fraudulently clicking your own ads and your competitors fraudulently clicking your own ads. In either case, your account will be banned and your money withheld – and that includes anything revenue generated by legitimate clicks.

  4. You guys should really try adbrite to make money. They’re even better than adsense and they do send you your money. you can make about 200$ a day if you really work on it and have a good strategy.


  5. I used Adsense for a couple years… then, as an experiment – and because I now have enough traffic to qualify for Chitika – I removed 90% of all Adsense ads and tried Chitika.


    I have less impressions on Chitika, and less click through rate.

    It’s not working on Aim for Awesome. I do know others online that are breaking the bank with Chitika. I guess it takes a certain audience.

    I am still looking for an alternative to Adsense as I find the ads unattractive and a big MINUS to the design and feel of my site(s).

    :) Vern

  6. I think monetization depends a lot on the kinds of audiences you have, if the visitors are not tech savvy the CTR for adsense would be fair enough and if they are tech geeks more affiliate programs will do well. So the point you have made makes good sense.

  7. I am getting close to be taking off Adsense of all of my sites.

    Clicks are ok, but, what if you convert those clicks in sales yourself?

    Aren´t you robbing yourself in the end?

    I recently did a post on this and took some conclusions.


  8. It does indeed suck something terrible. I have two blogs, one of which I just started 2 days ago and the other that’s been around for some time now. I signed up for Adsense thinking things might have changed with it yet it has only gotten worse. When I had a problem with coding and targeting and sought out the only place for help(that damn forum BS!) I was told that my text content and pictures are objectionable and I that in order to(in their exact words) “look prettier” that I should “take down all adult content.” Plus, these “forum people” called my blog ugly and then preceded to tell me to “follow there g00d advise.” <—Yeah, they’re professional. My blog that I’ve linked to on here has only been on the internet for a few days and I’m still tweeking it to make me happy, not Google. It’s a music blog. There’s not one shred of adult content or objectionable material posted. I’ve even worked out agreements with artists and other bloggers to post material most people on the internet post w/o consent. I’m sorry if I’m ranting-it just pisses me off that Google is so backwards and yet so popular. They let their adsense nonsense be posted on Medicare Fraud sites and then bust people for using the word s*** a couple of times on a page so they can withhold whatever they want. Ridiculous. No more AdSense for me, ever!

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