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Is AdSense Dead?

Posted By Darren Rowse 7th of October 2006 Adsense 0 Comments

You might have noticed over the past few weeks that in some forums and between some e-book writers that there is debate over whether AdSense is everything it’s cracked up to be. Some are saying that it’s dead, others are saying it’s dead if you use it for Arbitrage and others are saying it’s the best thing since sliced bread.

I’ve been emailed to ask what I think numerous times this week and have been pondering how to respond.

Here are a few random thoughts:

Speaking Personally

Let me start on a personal note – I still make a lot of money from AdSense on my personal blogs. While there have been times where I’ve had bigger months than the one that is ending now – I’m still very pleased with my own AdSense earnings.

Yes numbers are down a little but that has more to do with a number of other factors rather than AdSense being ‘dead’. Some of these factors include:

  • Coming out of a slow period (summer in the northern hemisphere is traditionally slow)
  • Adding other Ad programs (for example when I added Chitika my AdSense went down a little (not as much as the extra money that was brought in) due to AdSense ads having a little less prominence)
  • Being Hacked (I lost a full few of days income from my recent hacking)

Having said this – AdSense is still my equal largest earner and isn’t WAY down (in fact over the first few days of October I’ve seen a small upswing again).

AdWords Changes

A lot of the complaints against AdSense over the last few months have probably got more to do with changes to AdWords than anything. Arbitrage publishers were rocked a couple of months back when changes were made to AdWords that made it more expensive to send readers to landing pages in the hope of getting them to click AdSense ads that earned more than the AdWords ads that got them there. It’s no wonder that people are complaining about AdSense as a way to Monetize Arbitrage with the changes that were made.

However if you’re not into Arbitrage and are a publisher who develops quality sites that grow a natural readership via SE traffic or loyal readers then I think AdSense is still a great way to go – particularly if you have a blog with some commercial edge to it (ie AdSense doesn’t tend to work well on religious, political or personal sites).

AdSense Alternatives

The last 12 months have seen a lot more competition for AdSense. I have noticed a slight drop off in bloggers raving about AdSense partly because they’re now raving about other ad systems.

In my chats with bloggers I’m seeing a number of other income streams mentioned again and again. Here’s a few:

1. Text Link Ads (aff) – the team at TLA have gradually built a loyal publisher list over the past few months but providing an ad system that may not be as flashy or spectacular as AdSense in some senses but which works. Interestingly – I’ve chatted with a number of smaller bloggers over the past few weeks who say that TLA actually is their biggest earner. This is because it is not reliant upon clicks or traffic at all and is a very passive income for a blog that over time grows as more advertisers buy links. I spoke to an owner of a lesser known blog network recently and he told me that his network is earning five figures a month with TLA.

2. Amazon Associates – some publishers laugh off Amazon as not being worth the effort because the payouts are so small (4-6% in post cases) but I’ve chatted with a few publishers this week who are doing very well from Amazon. The advantage of Amazon over many affiliate programs is that they are a trusted brand. If you pick the right products to promote you can actually do quite well from them. I chatted with a publisher this week who is promoting lawn mowers and power tools on Amazon. Sell a $2000 tractor/mower a few times a week and it certainly adds up.

3. Chitika (aff) – as unpopular as they became with some publishers in their early days of launching they continue to be a big earner for some bloggers. They continue to be neck and neck with AdSense for me in the earnings they bring in. They continue to improve their products and expand what they offer in terms of channels, their recent launch of shoplinc etc and I know of a few product oriented bloggers who make more from them than anything else. Can’t say too much but expect their range of advertising methods to continue to increase in the coming months.

4. YPN – Yahoo’s contextual advertising system is still in beta (it has been a longer process than many expected) and is yet to fully compete with AdSense. I’ve given it a go (via b5’s account) and wasn’t too impressed with how it converted here at ProBlogger but do know of some bloggers who continue to find that it does well for them. I think it’s a blog by blog proposition but is definitely an ad network to consider if you can get into the beta test.

5. Direct Ad Sales – another emerging trend among bloggers (and networks of them) is the increased focus upon direct deals that are being done between bloggers and advertisers (and their representatives). This month I had a sponsorship with Canon on one of my blogs that has been well worth while and I know at b5media we are finding more and more advertisers willing to do deals as the word gets out that blogs are online real estate that converts pretty well for them. It’s not always easy to negotiate these deals as a single blogger with a relatively small readership but we’re now seeing networks of bloggers banding together which makes it much easier to negotiate such deals.

6. Product Bloggers – while there are not a lot of examples of this yet I suspect that 2007 will be a year that quite a few bloggers will launch products in their niches. Bloggers are starting to switch onto the fact that after a year or two of blogging on a topic that they are sitting upon a goldmine of information and expertise that can be reused in other forums. While this past year saw a number of bloggers release books I know of quite a few who are working up to releasing online information products, membership sites and coaching services in their areas of expertise. Whether they succeed or not is yet to be seen but it’s a logical next step for many bloggers.

Of course there are many other AdSense Alternatives out there for publishers also (with more coming I’m told). The variety of systems open to publishers surely is having some impact upon AdSense and what people are earning with it.

What do you think? Is AdSense dead? What has your experience of AdSense (and other ad systems) been over the past 6 or so months? Are you finding it easier or more difficult to earn money from your blogging?

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. Somebody actually launched a (free – if I remember correctly) eBook saying “AdSense is Live!”. I have mixed opinions on AdSense – while it’s “easy” way to generate income from a site, it still requires quite amount of traffic to be useful. Niche sites with loyal readers might benefit better using different alternatives (like product selling, TLA, Amazon and others).

  2. The PC Doc says: 10/07/2006 at 12:30 am

    The patterns that I’ve noticed is that most of those that say AdSense is dead are all trying to sell something. ’nuff said!

    “Air is running out! Buy my e-book to find out more!”

  3. Darren,

    This is a great summary of options. And the timing is perfect, I’ve been thinking about each of these options and wondering how they might fit into my blog.

    One question I have is the issue of social security numbers. I’ve several times backed out of applying to one or another of these programs because I don’t feel comfortable about posting my SSN all over the place.

    I don’t know how things work in Australia — if it’s an issue for you. But do other US readers have questions about that? Should I worry?

  4. I’ve actually noticed that my Adsense revenue has gone up about 400% over the last 6 months, but then I am writing a lot more “worthwhile” content. Perhaps that’s the problem that some of these people are having, thinking “I don’t have to do anything to make money any more!”

    As for other revenue streams, I think it’s a must for anyone looking to make money from their blog. I personally am just looking for a little beer money but still put Amazon on my site as useful reference material for my readers and am also writing an e-book, again not really for the monetary aspect but as an aid for my readers (although I will charge a little bit for it to help cover hosting costs and there will be a free cut-down version).

  5. Darren,
    I dont think so.I am practically not earning anything from my blogs which i consider is still in experimenting pahse but i have seen when my friends read the articles i have written and i check my adsnse account and use Analytics to see the pings it matches and increases the ctr.I dont think its dead all you need is to write good content and right content to attract traffic.More the people stay on a page more will be earning.

  6. Do write me back and if possible review my site.I am writing again coz i forgot to mention.
    Thx again

  7. For the most part over the last 6 months I have seen a steady increase in my Adsense stats. During the month of August I saw a decline but it wasnt that much. I don’t think the program is dea but I am glad there are other programs out there to add to the income from my blog.

  8. I believe you’re spot-on here Darren. Sept. was actually my best month in a while. I do make quite a bit more with TLA over adsense, but for the reasons that you stated and not because adsense is dead.

    Nice article btw.

  9. the adsense revenue from most of my sites has dipped slightly.. but so has the rev from other contextual advertisers i use… i have however seen a slight increase in ppc rates from the paid parking programs i use, so i suspect advertising spend is ramping up for pre xmas trade..

    i think the “adsense is dead” rumors were down to some viral campain to sell a few crappy ebooks!

  10. The king is dead, long live the king. Last month (September) was by far our best month ever with AdSense, nearly double any previous month. I ascribe this to the end of the Northern hemisphere summer doldrums and to some judicious, simple optimization. The only thing “dying” in AdSense seems to be some of the thinly disguised arbitrage scams.

    We do intend to expand with several of the alternative suggestions in the coming months, especially some more merchandise oriented programs as the Christmas silly season approaches.

    Katiebird raised an interesting issue for American bloggers (and probably many in other countries, too). If a company is going to pay out money they must, by law, have a Social Security account number _or_ another official taxpayer identification number to report payments against 9yes, one has to declare and report any income). It certainly raises some concern to give out one’s data to “Billy Bob’s Ad network’, but some ID is mandatory.

    I believe Darren has covered the issue of forms of business organization already here on ProBlogger. A solution may be to incorporate and then use the corporation’s ID information, which is what I did some time ago. In most US states a simple LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) is easy to set up and only costs a few bucks. At some point every blogger who aspires to be a “pro” has actually got to take the steps to turn pro … running one’s operation as a bona fide business. One should read up on the options and seek guidance from a qualified accountant or tax advisor …it’s part of the dues you have to pay to play the game.

  11. i still struggling making a few hundred a month
    he was right in what he saifd thou

  12. i still struggling making a few hundred a month
    he was right in what he saifd thou

  13. Google has just turned on the world’s biggest volume switch.

    Video and audio will be showing in your adsense ads anyday now.

    ‘Adsense is dead’ is probably the most outrageously silly bait linking statement I’ve heard in a long time.

  14. I think AdSense is more than ‘alive’, but it’s been because of a complete lack of mainstream opponents. This is not discrediting the efforts of smaller companies (TLA, Chitika, etc). But what has happened to viable alternatives from the big players? Especially YPN (will this program ever even go LIVE?) or Microsoft (??).

  15. Is adsense dead ? – Darren answer -…

    Darren Rowse, of problogger.net, answers the current rumors about the death of adsense and points to some alternatives…

  16. My site is in no way a major publisher but I’ve seen an increase recently in adsense clicks. I have also seen an increase in traffic (last two months I’ve received 500 more uniques and it’s steadying out there so that was a nice increase) which might have helped this but I’m not sure.

    I’m definitely interested in other ad companies however because of a new site I launched, no ads as of yet because I’d rather build the user base and content first then possibly put ads on for revenue later on.

  17. I saw revenue go up during the past months, there was indeed a small dip in august, but for the rest it is doing fine.

    However, I do wonder how this will develop… especially when we are going to have a mix of cpa and cpc via adsense. This might well cause a dip in revenue as well, or not.

  18. Is AdSense Dead?


    But skillful attacks at the established “norms” continue to be effective methods for generating hype for successful product launches :)

  19. […] Einen schönen englischsprachigen Artikel zu diesem Thema gibt es beim problogger. Tags: google, adsense, adwords, click flipping […]

  20. commentator says: 10/07/2006 at 7:15 am

    Another trend I’ve observed is that Adwords advertisers are getting more savvy, and not falling into the trap of being top bid for one main term and instead bidding for the low-hanging fruit.

    For example two years ago I was the only bidder on dozens of terms that I was only paying 5 cents for, and getting more traffic cumulatively than the “main” term was worth on a given day. Now these “bottom feeder” terms are themselves getting competitive, and not only is the bid price going up, but there are over a dozen people vying for these terms.

    A lot of the sites competing for these terms don’t even bid for the “top” term, as it costs well over $1.50 per click, whereas most of these highly specific terms are still 25 cents and below, and in most cases convert very well.

    At one point people were paying well over $3 per click on the “main” keyword, because everyone was trying to be in first place, but when people stopped bidding for the “top” terms, the competition cooled off, and now saner prices prevail.

    I am seeing more clicks than ever, but I am also seeing lower bids on the terms themselves, which translates, in lower EPC. My sites had over 2.1 million AdSense impressions in September, and my highest monthly earnings ever, second only to October 2005.

    I, however, received nearly 3X the clicks in September that I received in Oct 2005 – all I have to do is check the bids on terms that I am showing ads for, and see how much lower the value per click is, so smart pricing issues can be eliminated.

  21. I’ve seen a sudden upturn in my Adsense income in the last 6 weeks or so. Even though it’s only the 6th of the month, I’m on track to have a record breaker (my income now is where it usually is around the 15-17th of the month).

    Why the upturn? I removed low performing ad units, including removing the ads completely from a site that got very low traffic. So while I’m seeing less page impressions, my CTR has doubled and CPC is 4x what it used to be. The change didn’t happen overnight, but I’m 99% sure that’s the reason.

    It may not last forever, but I intend to enjoy the ride for as long as I can.

  22. Thanks for this reassuring article. And it´s great to hear about the alternatives and how they are working out for people (Text Link Ads sounds mighty interesting), especially for a beginner like myself.

  23. Good points from Commentator , and also Judi brought up something I think I saw mentioned here a while back, and I’m glad she did.

    Part of what I meant in my last message about “optimizing” was taking AdSense off so “inactive” blogs that were getting very few pages views and thus very few clicks. Lesson is, don’t spread your AdSense units over too much real estate. If you focus them on one blog that gets even minimally decent traffic (just a few hundred uniques per day” and don’t have units on essentially ‘dead’ blogs you’ll find the value paid per click on your ‘good’ blog goes up, measurably.

    Build traffic on one blog while you write and do other things to popularize secondary blogs but keep the AdSense off the low performers… don’t know how scientific this is but it worked for Judi and it worked for me.

  24. ¿Adsense ha muerto?…

    Últimamente advertimos en muchos foros que se habla sobre el supuesto deceso de Adsense, dicen que el……

  25. Hi there Darren.
    Yeah, everyone’s been talking bout Adsense is dead, and there’s another group of people arguing that Adsense is alive..
    This is what I call Click flippers vs Adsense Publisher’s battle ;)

    And oh, by the way, I think we need more tips on how to drive traffic to our sites. I have been to the older posts in this blog, that led me to way back to year 2004.. most of the tips and ideas, including the website aren’t functioning anymore..
    just my 2 cents ;)

  26. Surprised no mention of AdBrite here. Do you know something I don’t?

    Well besides all that really smart stuff… ;)

  27. I listened to the interview on the IsAdsenseDead website. The guy had something like 70,000 automatically generated sites on a single sub-domain, each with around 200 pages. Eventually it would get banned and they just moved to another domain.

    The guy admitted they made so much money because the content was so bad people clicked on the ads just to get out of the site.

    Then surprise, surprise one day it stopped working and they claimed “Adsense is Dead”. The interview is pretty unbelievable to listen to.

    A large chunk of my internet income still comes from Adsense, so for me Adsense is very much alive.

  28. chitikas blog has a page rank of n/a hahaha is google being anti-competitive. adsense changes a lot and there are winners and losers when it does. it has to change lots to survive of course.

  29. […] De laatste tijd gaan er steeds meer stemmen op dat AdSense niet meer oplevert wat het al eens heeft gedaan. Zelf ken ik deze ervaring niet. Net als Darren ga ik er van uit dat Google haar AdWords programma heeft aangepast en dat de sites die het alleen gaat om de kliks op de advertenties hard worden getroffen. Naar mijn idee is dit ook terecht. Als je een AdWords programma opstart om bezoekers te krijgen naar een landingspagina waar het draait om de advertenties wat is dan de bezoeker nog waard voor de adverteerder. […]

  30. My rate rate per click seems to have dropped off a lot in the last 2 months. That’s the only change I’ve noticed.

  31. My earnings have improved thanks to wise and effective SEO techniques. Though I admit that TLA is my biggest earner, but with my blog just under a year, I think it’s quite early to say if Adsense is dead for my site. I still have confidence and faith in Adsense. I think it’s the competition, the clickfrauds and the sheer popularity, Adsense being so commonplace nowadays, have all conrtibuted to its unpopularity today.

  32. I’m a newcomer to the whole adsense game, but I’m doing ok. I think I need to do what Judi did however and remove some low-paying ads. For the last few days I’ve noticed an alarming number of low-payed clicks on my blogs but thankfully it seems to improve by the end of the day and my average daly revenue hasn’t gone down.

  33. […] Problogger give a nice account of their thoughts on Adsense and a number of the other alternatives out there. https://problogger.com/is-adsense-dead/ […]

  34. I personally link TLA and amazon. I think adsense has its flaws just like any other service. For one, a lot of it adds point to sketchy websites that just turn people off. Also Google Adsense customer service just sucks. My account has been broken for weeks, and all I get is automated emails or other messages that promote other services.

  35. I dont login to any webmasters’ and adsense forums, so only after seeing this did I get to know that some people are not making enough money with adsense. Personally, I am only seeing my adsense income increase and even CPM has been increasing. My revenues are not big yet but at least as of now, adsense is the way to go for me.

  36. […] Featured Oct 9 at 11:55 pm by Matt Craven -Darren Rowse asked the other day Is AdSense Dead? And I think that answer is a resounding No!. […]

  37. Hi Darren,
    How about a post on CPM advertising for blogs – how to set your rate, useful free tools like phpadsnew – but again, most importantly, how do you decide a rate? Is 10$ cpm a lot or a little for a niche blog?

  38. I really dont know where all this skepticism is coming from. I have used adsense for the past 4 years, and this month is my best yet.

    To be honest I think it comes from the vast majority of bloggers who arent willing to put the effort in to find out.

    Nothing comes easy. Blogging takes lots fo time, effort and dedication, but it does indeed work.

  39. Hi Darren,

    First, thanks for all the useful info that you have published regarding blogging. I’ve found your site to be very helpful. Just a quick question. I just started a travel-related blog… really just started, I only have two entries at this point, and I know it takes Google a while to get things up and running, but I was disturbed to notice that when I am logged onto my blog (through Soulcast), the Google ads that appear are very relevant… travel-related ads. But then, when I log out and go to my blog as a person just wanting to read it.. ie, not logged in as the blogger, the ads are all about iron-on patches, cloth patches, etc. Any idea why this would be happening? I certainly didn’t expect the ad content to change between the logged in and logged off status…. and I tried it several times in a row, and the same thing happened. Any insights you could offer would sure be appreciated.


  40. […] Hace unos días atrás escribí un post sobre la falta de opciones y por consiguiente competencia que sufre el mercado hispano en internet en cuanto a publicidad. Casualmente Darren de ProBlogger se hizo en estos días una pregunta muy popular que anda dando vueltas por ahí: ¿Está Muerto AdSense? A mi gusto una pregunta un tanto apocalíptica pero que no deja de tener relación con lo que escribí en el post anterior. […]

  41. I am still making money with adsense, and I will hit my first $100 soon.

    for me, adsense is really alive and I think it will continue.

  42. This is very timely as I’m in the process of getting started. I’ll have to take a look at the various options out there!

  43. […] for passive income or for those considering the move to Adsense, here’s a great article from ProBlogger that will help you with your decision. Published by James on April 18th, 2007 Tagged […]

  44. Adsense is dead!!!!

    My website use to get 120 hits a day but now I get 50 hits a day!
    My page views unique visitors have actually increased over the period! I use to earn good money from Adsense but compering CPC and total earnings for the same amount of clicks, from before to now have decreased 70%! And you going to laugh today I am getting .04 cents CPC! I am ready to dump Adsense! It is a shame!

    And some may say that my website visitors have changed, but this is not true!
    I do a lot of work on my website and create useful and creative content! My searchengine refferels are good and very much optimized to my website, with good keywords to my website relevency and industry.

    Too bad for Adsense!

    Check out my website and see my work!

    Problogger, I like your Blog, keep doing a good job!

  45. Oh! And I just learned something new the reason why my CPC was so low because I used targeted chanels! I have set up 3 targeted chanels thinking the advertisers would bid more for a prominent real estate! I found out, not so! At The top banner one I got the cheap ones paying .04 a CPC and the chanel with less click, which is an inline chanel was getting all the good brand name ads, but no clicks!

    Advertisers who pay high CPC do not want to be in a busy chanel so they opt out of that one and sign up for a quite chanel to get a free ride! They know visitors see their domain name, so they get brand marketing for free – no click!

    So in my humble opinion, stay away from targeted chanels,if an advertiser likes your website, let them bid for all space, the one they like or not!
    No free ride, to market your domain!

    Even though I fixed this problem, still compared to 3 years ago Adsense CPC and hits are down like 70%

    Problogger, as for Text Link Ads, I would not recommend it!
    Google and other search engines will drop your PR if you link to bad neighburhood! So a PR 7 having 3 PR 1 links may not be bad, but for PR 4 and 5 websites it may not be advised!
    Also what happens if you are linking to a link farm, a spam list domain, a nasty forum with no moderator, etc.
    I am sure you getting the picture!
    Final thing what happens if Google and others determine that all these links come from the same program and not natural links – links out of your network of connectivety! Damb all hell will break loose and everyone will get pinalized!
    Google does state in their webmaster SEO faq, do not play the pay for high PR linking we will catch you and you will be penalized!
    Go figure, maybe they just saying this!
    But since 3 years ago Google has reindexed its main index every time, and it has gotten harder to get an easy ride!

    Anyway my .05, I do not want to squat here for ever otherwise Problogger will start charging me rent!
    He, he!

  46. Problogger or anyone else, in your opinion having more than one Adsense unit on a page diminish CPC?

    I have one Adsense leaderboard that that is getting X pageviews and Y clicks a day! I added another unit that was getting X*25% hits a day and Y*.02% hits a day!
    Being that the second unit was generating many page views but no clicks! Of course my eCPM went down and I noticed my total CPC earned went down for the same amount of clicks as to when I had one unit!

    Now maybe it was just a off day, but my gut tells me the CPC goes down when you have churn and no results!

    Can someone confirm this feeling?

    I hate micro managing Adsense – it must tell you if it is not dead it is dieing!

    I am trying to find another CPC program but finding it a little difficult!
    1. I am a travel industry vertical.
    Trying Adbrite, but getting ads about dvd players!
    2. 30% of my trafic is from usa the other 70% are by usa customer, generated while they are traveling abroad!
    I tried Burst Media for CPM but I display 100 banner and they pay me for 30! Not fare! Also their banners are a bit grotesque!
    Want to sell your liver?

    Any recommendation and input would be highly appreciated!


    P.S. not Spamming or looking for PR, just want to share my experience about web marketting, before the web disappears!
    Now web 2.0 how and who is going to make money of it?
    Do you guys think Myspace and Youtube user will click on buy DVD ads?
    Maybe I should follow Pud and trash web 2.0 and then have some VC give me money to set up a company with intension of Google acquisition!
    I am not like Pud, who spent his barmithzva money on a better modem! I spent it on, you all know what! :)
    IMAO, happy bugger Pud!

    Okay, any feed back would be appreaciated!

  47. It’s Official: Paid links are bad

    Text Link Ads

    Problogger, you really need to get rid of that recommendation and come out clean with a Blog about not doing paid links on Website!

    Just having http://www.text-link-ads.com on your Website violates Google’s Webmasters Guidelines.

    Clean it up and come clean or you may be on somebody’s shit list and Google will be Problogging you!!!

  48. […] for passive income or for those considering the move to Adsense, here’s a great article from ProBlogger that will help you with your […]

  49. Phill says: 03/12/2008 at 1:25 am

    Adsense is dead as dead can be with income shrinking by a farther 15-25% with every passing month.

    Have been slowly switching to CBprosense and Adbrite lately. I decided to smart price them myself. So unless Adsense lift their game, FAST, then they can kiss my 15 million p/m impressions goodbye.

  50. I’ve been using Adsense for a while and I can’t really get a good feel for why some months are good and some months aren’t. I’m thinking of using some of the other companies you have mentioned here.

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