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Is Adsense Performing Poorly?

Posted By Darren Rowse 13th of October 2005 Adsense 0 Comments

This week I’ve had at least 20 emails from bloggers asking if I (or others) have noticed any changes in Adsense performance.

These types of emails are not unusual for me – I get a number of them every week. Usually about 60% of these emails report per Adsense performance and 40% better than usual performance (I guess people email more when they are worried) but this past week has been unusual because out of 20 emails (a higher number than normal) 100% have reported poorer than usual Adsense performance – most over them referring to a period over the past 2-3 weeks.

At first I thought it might just be coincidence but the emails continue. Today I notice that my own Adsense earnings have been on the slide over this period also – largely due to a poorer than normal CTR. Earnings per click are stable for me and traffic is also (in fact its a little up if anything).

I’ve been putting this down to the fact that I’ve added Chitika ads to my blogs which perhaps have taken some of the focus from Adsense ads (I was willing to live with it because the increases in overall earnings that Chitika have bought are more than the losses) – but in talking to those who are noticing decreases in earnings it is only a minority of them who are trying the Chitika ads.

Others have noticed this trend also – a forum over at Webmaster (Something is Definitely Screwy at Google) world has been very active over the past 10 days with many reporting decreases in CTR and eCPM. As usual – theories are flying about what is causing it and among the complaints are a few stories of increased earnings – but the more I dig the more I find people worried about their Adsense earnings.

I’d be interested to hear how things have gone for you over the past few weeks. Don’t share specific figures – but are the experiences that I’m talking about isolated to a few (earnings do go up and down over time so I half suspect it’s just one of those months) or do you find yourself in the same boat?

Update: Actually I’ve just done some digging around in my Adsense channels and want to say that while my overall CTR has decreased – that the real reason for the decrease in earnings does actually seem to be a decrease in click value on a couple of my bigger blogs. They have decreased by about 10-20% which to me indicates that the changes (I can only speak for my blog) seem to be coming from either less relevant ads being served or a decrease in the bidding by advertisers for these topics.

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, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  1. This story caught my eye, because this month my earnings have jumped up 25% and my CTR and eCPM are both up by 15%. This is the first I’ve heard of poor performance.

  2. Congratulations Tom – thats great news.

  3. No drops for me either. Started at 0, still at 0 ;-)

  4. Thanks for the heads up. I was probably one of the people that emailed you last week that you are talking about… but I started noticing more clicks from my site, but they were also a lot less earnings then usual. But, I can happily say I have already passed my last months earnings so far this month.

  5. My CTR is increased. But sometimes I got CPC as low as 0.01$. It’s definitely smart pricing effect. I’m both publisher and advertiser. My adwords can get CPC lower than 0.05$ most of times. That means CPC of publisher goes down too.

  6. For several days this week, my blog was showing really daft ads on the front page. Child pages were ok but the front page was only showing ads for PostNuke and PHPNuke CMS stuff. At first I wondered if I’d been somehow hacked.

    My site is about portable entertainment devices such as iPods, PlayStations and portable DVD players – so nothing to do with CMSes

    I did contact Google but got no answer. Today the ads started returning to normal.

    I reckon it indexed my page wrong – possibly indexing the raw code which does contain the word “posts” many times.

    Maybe all this is related. Maybe the Google index has been a bit screwey and maybe ad relevance is down.

    Of course, my other sites at had no probs! Computers!

  7. Over the last two weeks our site ( has been up quite a bit. However, over the last week, actually the last two days in particular I have noticed a significant drop. We are only making about 40% of what we normally do.

    I think that Google has made some changes to their spider that screwed some things up. Our homepage is showing the “View ads about” with a search box and it has ever since our site started performing poorly.

  8. One theory I’ve heard mentioned is that it’s something to do with ‘section targeting’.

    Have any of you who have poor performance recently implemented section targeting? I know on the pages that have gone down hill I implemented it about 6 weeks ago. They say it takes a couple of weeks to kick in which would be at about the time my ad values started dropping…..

    just a hunch

  9. I am first time *commentator* here. I don’t know for sure, but here is theory.

    I tried YPN, and my Adsense did take off locally. Where ‘locally’ mean the CPM is higher than the past week or two.

    Is this possible that Google is trying to retain the customers who are trying YPN by giving a small % of share from the other _loyal_ publishers?

    Doesn’t seem to be a very bright theory, as they would be loosing more customers, but who knows.

  10. Darren,

    I did add section targeting about a week ago, but I removed it yesterday. I thought the same thing.

    The thing that I thought about is, if Google visited your site and knows that you have section targeting, why didn’t they update your ads to use the section targeting when they were there?

    My gut feeling says that it may have something to do with it, but my logical side says that google is to smart to have a flaw in this process.

  11. LOL I’m with Tom.

    I never seem to follow the trends others report.

    My CTR on some blogs is down, up on others. I had a surge in visitors to one blog, which pushed the CTR down but earnings up.

    Last month (September ) wasn’t great, it’s the first time my monthly earnings went down, but October is looking on course to beat August. I broke a new milestone yesterday as well, though partly this could be do to improved performance of some of my sites, three of which are on an upward trend in terms of visitors.

    Joel/Darren, where is this ‘section targetting’ part? I’ve looked for it (maybe not very hard) and can’t see how to implement it? None of my sites have this at present.

  12. My earnings are up, but my traffic is way up for the same period and I did some fairly serious optimization including the section targeting which seems to be working well on most of my blogs. My CTR is all over the place, but I have spotted “trouble spots” that seem to be topic related. On the other hand, my per click value is way down, as much as 3/4 in some cases.

    I also noticed that on one blog I’m getting a penny here and there without any clicks, so I assume that blog is getting the “per impression” ads. The terms on those say that there is NO additional payment for click thru.

    The “ad links” on several blogs, which are very good for earning generally, have started returning “Search for ads about” instead of links.

    On blogs where I know the ads well enough to compare specific keywords, I know that I’m getting a small fraction of the Overture bid tools fourth or fifth bid price. Since they don’t publish percentages, maybe they just cut the publisher’s share? Or maybe blogs switching to YPN has advertisers switching to Overture?

  13. On Myomancy [ ] my CTR is down over the long run but up over the last week. I posted a graph of my CTR on my other blog MiceLife [ ].

  14. Andy,

    See the following FAQ from Google here.

  15. Ahh thanks Joel. From what Darren said I might hold off, as my ads seem to be doing OK anyway.

  16. I see programmes like Chitika (I still can’t say it out loud) as a viable replacement for adsense. For one, it’s sexier, more exciting, makes my website look cool. It also allows hard coding of the keywords, which can be very useful. I signed up using your affiliate link Darren so hopefully you get lots of lovely cash.

    It seems that all these new contextual and quasi contextual ad systems coming on to the market are making the buy advertising market more efficient outside of adsense and are chipping away at the Google behomoth with a thousand little hammers. This can only be good for us little and not so little bloggers.

    In this business, nothing stays still for long, you have to constantly try new systems and test test test.

  17. I’m also up about 15% since adding YPN and Chitika. I attributed this to the new ads helping combat ad blindness. Chitika revenue is dismal, but as Google is up quite a bit, and I can run them non-contextual on the same page, I’ll leave them in place. YPN revenue varies; sometimes its better than Google, sometimes much worse. Over a week, YPN seems to have similar performance to Google so again I’ll leave it in place.

  18. Bryan Rich says: 10/13/2005 at 8:19 pm

    Hi Darren,

    a couple of days ago I’ve started using AlternateURL to replace Google’s PSA ads. I’m still evaluating revenues, but my traffic is low so I need an entire month to have numbers.

    If you wanna give it a try this is my affiliate link:

    and here the disclaimer:

    Disclaimer: the link to AlternateURL in this comment is an affiliate link – if you sign up using these links I earn a small amount as a commission. It does not impact what you earn from AlternateURL but rather is paid by AlternateURL. While this link is an affiliate link I genuinely believe in the product and have endeavored to point out both its benefits and weaknesses in all my writing about it.

  19. My adsense figures have been pretty dismal since I started. I put that down to poor page design and ad placement. My chitika numbers have been inconsistant, but have earned similar revenue compared to AdSense.

    I recently updated the roblog ( with better ad placement and I tried using alternating adsense colours. I saw an immediate spike in my adsense CTR. Double figures infact. This worries me a bit as I wonder if Google may react badly/suspiciously to a sudden spike and close the acc.

    I am yet to try AdGenta, maybe I’ll throw the code into a different blog altogether.

  20. I’ve seen a slight decrease in CTR over the past three weeks. (10% below normal? About that.) But the last three days have been absolutely horrendous–CTR has been about 25% of normal.

    Ads seem to be targetted pretty well, and I am using section targetting (which was implemented a few weeks back).

    The thing is, I’ve been using Mint [] and the AdSense Pepper. According to the Pepper, over the past few days I’ve been getting the same number of clicks as normal, making me wonder if Google isn’t miscounting somehow.

  21. My CTR has been steady, if not improving a little, but click values have gone down across the board.

  22. my site at is DOING ok for now. Its even increased from last month. So no rotten eggs to throw at Google yet.

  23. Yes, CTR dramtically down over the last week. They were never really high on our blog, as it’s not a blog focussed on products or product evaluation, so no-one comes to our site in “buying mode”. So, regardless of page design (and I happen to think ours is pretty good) my CTR have always been less than 1%. But we still get enough traffic that I can see CTR decrease dramatically over the last week.

    But again, also, it coincided with a) Chikita implementation and b) section targetting. CTR going down due to Chikita I can handle. CTR decreasing because of section targetting makes no sense at all.

  24. I agree earnings are down, but that could be due to a number of things on my sites.

    Definitely the extra competition in the market place is starting to take affect.

    The days when UPS delivered google checks could be sadly over.

  25. There is also another factor that no one has mentioned and that is the economy. I am not saying the economy on the whole is slowing down but it could have something to do with it. Gas prices has been going up around the world and has been really felt hard by the US economy. Also the stock market has been declining quite a bit in the last few weeks.

    If the economy is not doing well, businesses spend less which means publishers get fewer and lower paying ads.

  26. Hmmm, my CTR has actually increased significantly over the last few weeks, but the CPC has definitely dropped for me…I use AD targeting, too.

  27. I’ve been down as well for a couple of weeks.

  28. I’ve been about normal/good.

  29. My two highest earnings sites have been doing fine. One has had steady CTR and CPC over the last month. On the other, the CTR and CPC have both improved over the last week.

  30. Google does not disclose the share that they give us. Most of the time they can try to keep us happy by giving us bit more, but on times when quarterly financials are coming out, just behind the corner, it is time to squeeze the money screw and produce those needed figures.

    Wonderful way to show up at their best at any Wall Street party. “By the way, we did it again – we topped expectations.” Great to have such a power over ones income.

    I myself have seen amazing AdSense revenue over the past month and I do not even write about anything special plus I write very seldom.

  31. mine have been going up and up, although because I’m getting more traffic this month.

  32. My little Google revenues are down but my traffic is a little lower right now too. However, my Google ads are not very good compared to what I was getting in August and September and I think it has something to do with it. I assumed it was some sort of indexing issue.

    Also, I just launched a new blog with Google AdSense included. There are still some PSAs showing until there’s enough content for good indexing. However, the PSAs are in a foreign language on the new blog instead of English. This has become less frequent but it’s weird.

  33. Robert says: 10/14/2005 at 10:55 am

    Both CTR and CPM are slightly up for me this month. I hit an all time low in Sept., but it looks like things will bounce back nicely.

    Things should continue to gain steam through Q4 and in the first month or so of Q1 2006, at least that’s what seems to happen the past couple holiday shopping seasons.

  34. First thing this morning I saw that I had 8 clicks worth $1.14; however a couple of hours later these same 8 clicks became worth .48! How and why does this happen?

  35. I’ve been reading about this in some forums since last week. People complaining about lower cpm and stuff. I wasn’t worried then since my site is doing okay. But this week i’m starting to see off topic ads displayed on one of my site. ctr and earning about drops

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