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Which Traffic Source Converts Best with Adsense?

Posted By Darren Rowse 2nd of November 2005 Adsense 0 Comments

Jeremy Zawodny has and interesting post where he analyses where his traffic is coming from (ie search engines, bloglines, rss etc). He then goes on to analyze which reader sources convert best for him in terms of his Adsense earnings. It turns out that while Google readers earn him most (after all that’s where most of his traffic comes from) but that MSN and AOL referred readers have higher CTR.

He’s obviously got some interesting script to track his Adsense clicks. It’d be interesting to see this type of information from a wider variety of blogs.

His figures resonate with my own experience – anecdotal information points to Search engine traffic converting better than RSS traffic for most of my blogs also

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 think it shows that AOL and MSN people are not experienced enough to distinct Adsense links from normal links. Their level of experience also reflects in their search engine of choice, since they probably don’t know that Google is the better search engine. Maybe they don’t even know about Google at all.

    I came to this conclusion even before I saw Zawodny’s post. My own experience is exactly the same.

    Coming from this conclusion I also decided I wanted to focus my websites on people that don’t know that much about the internet. But now some problems arise: they don’t know nothing about RSS feeds..

  2. Also on this same thought is that more experienced traffic (rss/web 2.0) doesn’t use alexa. Although never completely accurate, alexa used to be a fair judge of traffic.

    We have recently experience several front-page postings to digg.com which gave us a ton of traffic. However, this traffic did not show up in Alexa at all. We are not ad-conversion focused, but despite doubling our hits we didn’t see a huge change in ad-clicks during that time.

    It makes sense. The more experienced user is going to be using non traditional ways of viewing web content (firefox, rss feeds, etc.) which Alexa cannot capture. Likewise, digg viewers are just looking at the new material… and the ads (although focused to the content) are not appealling to the visitor.

    I discuss this more fully here:

  3. I would also like to know how did he come to this numbers and what scripts does he use for tracking AdSense clicks???

  4. When you search on Google, won’t Google show similar ads to what you’ll see at your website with Adsense? If the other SEs don’t show these similar ads, seems like this could be one more reason why users from AOL and other SEs may be more likely to click on Adsense ads.

  5. I suspect that in general people who read blogs using RSS readers and news aggregators are much less likely to click on ads, for a couple of reasons. First, they’re less likely to visit the actual site that is displaying the ads (hence the appearance of ads in syndicated content, like Google’s AdSense for feeds program, as an attempt to reach that demographic). Second, a level of banner blindness develops as a person regularly reads a blog. Search engine traffic is key to make money from the ads, both directly (people searching for things) and indirectly (new un-blind visitors discovering your site).

  6. Funny – I was going to post something on my tech blog about this since I had an interesting experience yesterday with my candy blog (http://candyaddict.com): yesterday, aol.com had a link to my site on their front page (yes, on http://aol.com !!!), and on three other fairly prominent places on their site (AIM page, on the AOL blog, and on their Good Morning America page). They sent me about 1000 visitors. For the day, it was my second best day of traffic (about 2300 visitors), doing 2/3 the amount of traffic when I was BoingBoing’d recently – but….my adsense revenue from yesterday was 6.5 times what it was on the higher traffic day from BoingBoing.

    My conclusion is similar….BB readers use RSS readers, Firefox with adblock, and do not click on ads. AOL readers don’t use those tools and do click on ads.


  7. Steve says: 11/03/2005 at 2:38 am

    This might be a bit off-topic, but I didn’t know where else to post it. The last post from Candy Addict, about how AOL drove her some traffic (nice job!) and how that resulted in her second best day of 2300 visitors, made me wonder what kind of traffic levels people who visit here regularly are getting. I’m very new to the concept of “earning revenue from blogging” and I’ve learnt a lot from this site. Yet, the amount I actually earn from my blog (ehich I started back in February) is “pocket change” at best.

    I know the problem is that my blog is a very general pop culture blog, aimed at the “Esquire Magazine” crowd, and not focussed on a discrete market where visitors are in “buying mode” (and I’ve started another blog last week specifically to try that product focussed angle).

    But in my mind I was thinking that the reason my main blog was not making much revenue was that it had such low traffic levels. But now I’m wondering what the definition of “low traffic level” is. According to my sitemeter figures, I’m currently averaging between 10 and 20k visits a day (and yesterday peaked at about 38k with a spike), and about 250k visits in October. Is this low? High? Medium? I have no yardstick to compare against. Some of Darren’s sites seem to be averaging WAY more than that.

  8. In e-commerce, we find that AOL, Yahoo, and MSN users convert much better than Google users. We attribute it to the naivety of that group.

  9. I notice that a few poeople here suggest that MSN users are more naive than Google users. That may have been true one but I wonder if it may not now be changing.

    Since the recent Google updates several experienced webmasters that I have spoken to have suggested that the relevancy of Google SERPS are nothing like they used to be and those webmasters are now using MSN.

    If they are moving over to MSN then others are too. It’s probably not a big factor in clicks to Adsense but it could be soon.

  10. Google is a great engine to get free traffic from. If you have your contents right and make sure site is some what unique then I would put my money on google engine to get me more traffice. In turn that will convert to more money from google AdSense.

    I think this is where Jeremy came from as well. I think his stats are 99% accurate.

    As some of you mentioned above, it is not exactly true that google search results shows the same ads on the right side as your web page will show. A big no no. Google right side ad is showing based on that specific keyword that people searched with but ads on your site will differ between 1 to 15 different keywords. Depends how keyword rich your content is. If your site lack content, then you should look into getting contents from article sites such as http://www.adzines.com to make even more dollars from AdSense.

    Good luck to all.


  11. “…Candy Addict, about how AOL drove her some traffic”. I’m a HE – I signed it Brian!!!! Just cause I write about candy makes me a girl? :)


  12. Steve,

    I wanted to check out your site, but you left no URL to visit – there is a field called website weh nyou post a comment – why didn’t you fill it in? First rule of promotion – always leave your URL! :)


  13. This is something that has bothered me a little for a while. Smart people don’t click on ads – and often have ways to block them altogether. Does making money from ads depend on human stupidity, or at least ignorance?

  14. To the person who asked what “low traffic” is:

    When you are four years old, everybody looks tall.

    What I mean is that it’s all relative. Compared to, oh, Amazon.com with an Alexa rank of 12 or so and a Netcraft rank of 16, any of us are puny and unimportant.

    A lot of people won’t tell you their site stats. I don’t know why – I run around half a million page views and 200K or so unique visitors monthly.

    If the site won’t say, you can get a rough idea from some toolbar sites:

    Example: My main site currently has a Google PR5 (down from 6 in this latest update) and floats in Alexa between a 70,000 and 100,000, and in Netcraft around the 16,000 range (lower numbers mean more popular). Now Darren here has a PR6, is quite popular in Alexa (9570 right this minute) but scores not so well in Netcraft (54,688 just now).

    So you could probably infer that Darren gets a bit more traffic than I, though not from Netcraft toolbar users. And that’s part of the picture too: a big camera site might need millions of vistors to be big compared to its compettion, but a site focusing on Commodore 64 computers might be “big” with a few thousand. A tech site will do better in Netcraft but worse in Alexa, because Netcraft is geekish and Alexa is not.

    Now as to income: Darren tells all, but doesn’t break it down by site. However, he has said that this site doesn’t make much, which makes sense given its content. My main site makes around $300 a week or so, which makes sense because of its content (Unix and Linux geekish stuff). Darren’s camera site probably does a whole bunch better than that because of a) the people who visit and b) the ads that run.

    So.. it’s all relative, You could have much less traffic than I do and make more money or vice versa. If we both had similar content, then traffic would be the largest influence on our income, and optimization (good or bad) might kick us 20 or 30 percent either way.

    I know that really doesn’t answer your question, but you need apples to apples and we’re all a mixed bunch of fruit..

  15. I’ve always thought of myself as fairly intelligent – maybe even above average. But judging by most of these comments, I’m not as smart as I thought.

    I like to look at the ads once in awhile if it’s on a page that I’m really interested in. I’ve found some great websites by clicking on Adsense ads.

    By no means do I click and then hit the back button, just to make the webmaster some change – but if I don’t see an “aff” in the ad and it sounds interesting I like to check it out.

    I’m not ignorant, just interested.


  16. There’s two sorts of visitors on your site:

    1) Readers
    2) Shoppers

    Readers don’t click ads unless it is eye catching – as Cassie alluded.

    Shoppers are looking. They will click everything that might be of interest. Product blogs hence will have a much greater Adsense success than Topic blogs. (Topic blogs are commentary, opinion and ones like ProBlogger which focus on a topic but that’s not a product.)

    Just think about the blogs and sites you visit… where do your eyes focus? On a Topic site you focus on the articles and deliberately ignore ads, ie, you don’t take the time to scan the ads when you visit. But if you’re in the market for say a digital camera, and you’re at Darren’s Digital Camera Review, your eyes will be scanning looking for any information that might help your decision. You’ll be click happy

    This why RSS isn’t as successful – people coming via are RSS are more often than not Readers. They’re there to read, not to click.

    Some Topic blogs can attract clickers – ProBlogger for example. New bloggers will click on ads, but then as they settle into blogging, will become readers since they know that what they need to know is in the articles.

    There’s four forms of third party advertising on the internet:
    1) Pay per click (eg Adsense, Chitika)
    2) Pay per sale (eg Amazon, Audible)
    3) Pay per view (eg Tribal Fusion)
    4) Paid for space (eg Adobe buying time in Digital Camera Review’s banner)

    #3 could be good for Topic blogs but you need heaps of traffic (I’d be interested to hear from Darren why he doesn’t use #3 on ProBlogger)

    Can you turn Readers into Clickers? I really don’t think so. Click thru is always going to be much lower on Topic blogs than Product blogs.

    So if you’ve got a Topic blog with high readership but low click through, what’s the value? If you want to make money, are you wasting your time? No. You’ve got traffic, and as the recent rash of buyouts indicates, traffic is worth a lot of money. Plus there’s also the opportunities in #3 and #4.

  17. I don’t think intelligence is a factor at all in whether visitors do or don’t click on ads. Rather its a question of what niche they come from. Traffic sources like Digg tend to be heavily biased towards a particular niche.

    That niche has a tendency to look down on advertising and thus is much less likely to click on it. They also seem to take great pleasure in proving to the world how “clever” they are by putting down everyone else, but that’s another issue. :)

    If you only read blogs you might get the impression that everyone hates ads. Thats not in fact remotely true. I’d venture to suggest that AOL or MSN visitors is are far more representative of most people online that someone from BoingBoing.

    What all this really means is that when you get these links you need to react accordingly. If its an AOL link, monetize it because they will click. If its a BoingBoing/Slashdot/Digg link then don’t waste your time monetizing. Instead find ways to encourage them to spread that link around further.

  18. Search Engines worked best for me last month because people were actively pursueing information. Once they read what I had to say about the subject they looked for more links and the links that they found were the adsense or chitika links and they followed them.

    Last month was great for me because of high search engine rankings and almost all the search engine people (AOL, MSN and Google) clicked on ads almost equally.

  19. Steve says: 11/03/2005 at 3:39 pm

    My thanks to pcunix for a very helpful reply – I was not aware of all those measurement companies – I will check them out.

    As for how much intelligence you need to decide whether or not to ignore an ad – my day job is as Creative Director at a NY ad agency, so if this is true, thank heaven for dummies.

  20. Steve – 250,000 pageviews a month is pretty big. Donald Trump would say “HUGE”. You might want to work on optimizing your ad placement and doing the section targeting thing to improve ad relevance (assuming you’re using Adsense). That trafffic level should be bringing in an amount in the hundreds of dollars a month, even at fairly low CTR and keyword values. Not enough to quit your dayjob, but if you consider it pocket change, could you spare a little change?

  21. One thing overlooked in the analysis of the “intelligence” of ad-clickers is that Google visitors were *searching* for something when they found your site. They may be trying to solve a problem, so an appropriate ad might be exactly what they want.

    RSS visitors are searching for something interesting to read. I might be an RSS visitor one day and a Google search referral another: I’m more likely to click an ad if I’m trying to solve a problem or research some concept.

  22. I have to disagree with Tom Hanna, sorry. A few hundred thousand page views isn’t huge, and while it can be enough for significant income, it isn’t necessarily because the content might not be conducive to advertising anything worthwhile.

    For example, a well done humor site might easily get that level of traffic, but what ads are going to work? Not much probably, and not high paying. A site about airplanes and travel, on the other hand, could make a lot of money with that many visitors.

    Look at this site: Darren has said it doesn’t make much, but I’m sure his traffic isn’t shabby. It’s just tough to advertise on (though I bet those Chitika referalls have done well). Political blogs are tough, too. Not that you can’t make money with just about anything, but it’s going to vary wildly with your subject matter.

  23. The majority of the web doesn’t know what AdSense is.

    Many people on the web are quite intelligent.

    I see very intelligent people clicking on ads all of the time. If you’re in the publishing business, you have a very different concept of ad based navigation than those who just want to surf the web and find a piece of info or a product.

  24. Majority of people don’t know what the adsense is. Even some of the computer techies don’t know about adsense. They simply think of it as plain link. But over the period, the CTR will drop as more and more people come to know about it. Then google may have to change the format. Chitika is new and their format is different that’s why problogger is getting good response. Problogger has high quality content. That’s the main reason of success.

  25. “But over the period, the CTR will drop as more and more people come to know about it.”

    That makes it sound like people are being tricked into clicking on ads. I’m sure that happens sometimes; I know I have accidentally clicked now and then. But most of the time if I click on an ad it is because I want to know more about it.

    I know some people have this complete abhorrence of advertising. They hate it, put up blockers, and refuse to use it. I think that’s strange: an ad is a source of information. Perhaps our antennae needs to be a little more sensitive when going through an ad, but really, what’s the difference? I go googling for xyz and find sites and ads – the places the ads lead me to might be exactly the same as the “real” links – so where’s the problem?

    People are strange..

  26. I keep forgetting to leave a link to my site above, which I now fixed. The new experiment in “can i get more revenue from less traffic but more focussed content” is podguide.tv

    I think pcunix is right – I could probably optimize the ads a little more on yesbutno, but the fact is, it’s a humor-based pop culture blog, so I’ll never get the click thru rates a product review site would get.

  27. pcunix, I based what I said on my lowest CTR and lowest click valueblog, which is, in fact, a political blog. If it hit 250,000 pageviews, it would be doing a couple of hundred dollars a month. As I said, for anyone who thinks that’s pocket change, I could use a loan that I don’t intend to ever repay. ;)

  28. From what I’ve seen of my other site so far, search engine traffic converts much better than incoming links.

  29. […] La provenance des lectrices et lecteurs est aussi un grand facteur dans le succès des publicités. Un blogueur a trouvé par expérience que l’achalandage provenant des moteurs de recherche était plus efficace que celui provenant des flux RSS, donc des lectrices et lecteurs réguliers. […]

  30. everyday is changing… it also depends on the kind of website u ve

  31. Clicks on ads always depends upon, your sites content matching with what exactly the visitor is lookind for

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