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Repeat Visitors vs New Visitors – Which is Worth More to Your AdSense Earnings?

Posted By Darren Rowse 16th of August 2010 Adsense, Blogging for Dollars 0 Comments

A few days back I shared a little analysis of my AdSense earnings as it related to sources of traffic and looked at how – for me – traffic from newsletters was actually the most valuable traffic that I get on my photography site.

This dispelled the myth that loyal readers to your site become blind to ads and are not likely to click them – but I wanted to dig down a little deeper to look at the difference between first time visitors and repeat visitors and how they interact with ads. Here’s what I found when I looked at the last 3 months.


On my photography site it is the case the new visitors click ads and earn more per 1000 visitors than repeat visitors.

In addition to those coming from newsletters repeat visitors on my site would include RSS readers, visitors from social media (facebook and Twitter).

This makes sense – those there for the first time are probably clicking around more, exploring and looking for things to click on. They’re also seeing ad units for the first time and are likely to click them.

However repeat visitors are not far behind. I’m not allowed to share the exact figures but the difference in CTR was tiny and the eCPM difference while noticeable was not huge. Repeat readers are still valuable – particularly as many of them are coming back on a daily basis so on a per visit basis they’re not earning as much but over a year they’re earning considerably more than a one time visitor.

update: I should say that one of the reasons that I suspect AdSense is better at converting for repeat visitors these days is that they not only rely upon CPC (cost per click) ads but also use CPM (cost per impression) ads which means that people no longer need to click ads for you to earn anything.

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. Darren,

    Nice analysis. I must say thanks for taking the time to put this together darren. Great work.
    I think new visitors are important than new visitors.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. You’ve definitely gone a long way in the last few days towards proving common wisdom wrong – repeat visitors are NOT immune to ads. One less thing to worry about is always good. Thanks, Darren!

  3. Darren,

    Very interesting, but not surprising as you said, loyal readers can be blind to ads already on the blog.

    I am curious, you get many new visitors here as well, why you are not using adsense here on problogger as well?

  4. Your figures really surprise me. I would have thought the new visitors click on ads a lot more than repeat visitors. That seems to be the case on all my sites.

  5. Your insight also segues into the lifetime value of a customer concept, Darren.

    New visitors lead to short term AdSense earnings, given that they are clicking around – and seeing the ad placements for the first time.

    Repeat visitors are probably resulting in medium-long term AdSense earnings – and potentially have a much higher lifetime value from a net dollar perspective.

  6. Thanks Darren for that piece of advice. I would have never given it some serious thought until you brought it up. From a business perspective this gives me motivation to continue to bring value to both new and existing readers.

    Keep up the great articles I love reading them during lunch or during my free time.

    Vincent Ng

  7. Darren-wow, that’s kind of surprising. I would’ve surely thought that the repeat visitors would develop a blind eye to product ads etc.


  8. I personally think that regular visitors are probably going to click on ads much more often based on the fact that they’re coming back and after building a relationship with you and your blog, they trust what you advertise. It all comes back to trust and time.

    New visitors want to get to know you and want to just find info fast and if they keep being directed to your site with what they’re looking for, then things may fall into place.

  9. Hi Darren,

    New visitors are your future repeat visitors.(don’t mean to state the obvious).
    What interests me is the value perceived over say a 12 month period. I wonder how many people come back as they have spotted an advert and now want to click it.
    I know I have done this.
    Which as i know now was stupid because they get rotated.


  10. I just love statistic analysis in blogs. Nice one!

    It would be very interesting to get same reports for bounce rate. How it differs for new/returning or google/newsletter/socialmedia visitors.

  11. Your faith in the new / repeat classification is interesting. But I’m not convinced.

    My ISP uses dynamic IP addressing, so I’ll appear at a new visitor every day (or sometimes more often). OTOH, a person using a shared computer (at a library, university, etc) may appear to be a repeat visitor when they’re really new-to-your-site. Etc.

    Also, the idea that “– those there for the first time are … seeing ad units for the first time and are likely to click them” – yeah right! AdSense ads appear on lots of sites, and the chance that someone hasn’t seen ’em before is pretty remote.

  12. Hi Darren,

    Thanks for your great analysis. This shows that repeat visitors are always more valuable than first time visitors.

  13. Repeat visitors become “Customers” not just purchasers. Customers are the ones where the majority of your income comes from not the one off visitor

  14. Hi Darren,
    I offer you my gratitude as well for taking the time to do this research.

    Here are my thoughts:

    Perhaps, new visitors are clicking around a lot as you said but perhaps also repeat visitors click around quite a bit too because they have read good stuff you have written on DPS many times and now they want to take action to get a tool to help them apply what they have learned.

    What do you think?


  15. I’m so glad Darren did this research. I’ve always struggled with trying to decide if it is better to keep people on-site and convert them to “long term members” (for example getting them to join my community forum) or to get them in, monetize them, and get them out… especially considering that AdSense opens in the same window and the person may not come back.

    Based on Darren’s data it looks like I’m in a good spot to keep people on site and returning because they will eventually click ads. Cool!

  16. Great article. I’ve often wondered which set of visitors is more important when it comes to conversions, but I’m glad to know that both hold value, as I appreciate both equally when it comes to my blog.

  17. Good research by the way. New visitor is your future visitor. Both are valuable. I personally think that new visitors worth more to adsense earning because repeat visitors already know where adsense are located and become blind to ads.

    Maybe its depend on niche and the way blogger interact with visitors/readers.

  18. I just put up an ad from clickbank instead of adsense, it’s called the Auto-Blog System and it’s one of the most popular on the clickbank site. But I’m wondering…does anyone actually buy in to these infomercial type programs?

  19. The value is relative, it is a commercial corporate page encouraging people to call, or it is informative… It depends of the goal! In our case, we need people to call and buy offline. They have no reason to come back. And also is based in new clients!!! Hence, new visitors is vital.

  20. Thank you Darren. I really thought that repeat visitors would not bother with ads
    Food for thought here

  21. Now that’s an interesting study. The numbers you have there shows an intriguing parallel to be drawn between how one approaches a blog.

    I’ve always wondered which one of the two is better-
    1. Keeping content simplified consistently so it remains understandable for new visitors, but would probably bore returning ones.

    2. Natural progression on logical thinking and thought. I see you have worked on it like this and it does work.

  22. I think regardless of whether your customers are old or new, it definitely pays to advertise. But since we’re on the topic of which particular customer should your ads cater to, I’d say on the onset, the new customers. why? because the old ones are already aware of your product or service.

  23. Hi Darren,
    Everything that you mentioned is so Important. I’m glad that you have this video transcribed. Thanks for doing that!

  24. Hi
    Awesome points you shared.I completely agree with you.New visitors gives more money to google adsense but still repeat visitors are more valuable.And this can only be done if they find what they are looking for and forcing them to come back again to your blog or website.

  25. You said, “…but also use CPM (cost per impression) ads which means that people no longer need to click ads for you to earn anything.”

    What am I missing here? So far I’m only getting paid for clicks. Time to do some more research.


    Any idea why I can’t post to this blog from my iphone? It works fine for posting on other blogs…

  26. why the returning ones are better?

    they should got ad-blind effect because of they already know which one is ad and is not ad

  27. Perhaps to please the returning visitors and prevent the “turning a blind eye” thing might be to change up those ads and their locations every week, month, or few months depending on how much time you have.
    I also think that as someone else said it depends on your “niche”.
    Great food for thought here.

  28. Targeting both new and repeat visitors is motive of all bloggers. But your stats makes it clear that repeat visitors do click your ads!!!
    Impressive post Darren.

  29. Nice Analysis. yea its rite new visitor have more tendency for clicking but I think its not only about visitors (newer or older) its about what sort of ads in front of him and what sort of information he is looking for..

  30. Both are really important, but usually, new visitors are better specially when it comes to interaction and AdSense clicks.. thanks for the info Darren..

  31. Hi Darren,

    I’m trying to follow everything you say, but I think I keep missing some of the basics.

    I’m confused. Is this data from your Digital Photography School website vs. Twi-tips and you are just reporting in on your ProBlogger blog? Are newsletters and blogs different?
    I don’t know what CTR and eCPM are.

    Sorry if this is apparent somewhere.

  32. Very interesting post. I always assumed as well that returning visitors are completely immune to advertisement. If anything else, I see how important it is to check your reports when it comes to this sort of thing. It’s something that I’m still learning.

  33. Repeat visitors have recognized you and your business as a thought leader and therefore are more trusting of the inforamtion you provide. These users have developed a relationship with you where new visitors are simply curious. I’d be interested on purchasing statistics in relation to click-through’s.

  34. Another reason is that AdSense show different ads with each page load which means a new offer is available for each visit, regardless of whether it’s their first time on the site or they’re coming back from an RSS reader.

  35. I do agree with your analysis. New visitors to your site is looking something and more likely to click on the ads. They may be new to your site but if they do like your site, even though they may be in there accidentally, they will be your regular visitor.

  36. My returning visitors simply don’t click ads. I have to change ad position from time to time, even so new visitors are way better.

  37. Hem… It proves me wrong. I always thing that the first time visitors is always far better from returning visitors. And it seems that the returning visitors can be also good for Adsense.

  38. Fantastic post. I have been testing returning visitors with my Adsense for about 4 months and have found pretty much the same resultsas you. On some of my WordPress sites were I can use a plugin to not show Adsense to returning visitors, my income dropped dramatically.

    It is enlightening to see that returning visitors are still worth showing Adsense to. I feel much better now:)

  39. Hi Darren,

    I am little bit confused after reading this analytical comparison. New visitors can be future repeat visitors and repeat visitors are somewhat loyal visitors that have developed a relation with your blog and they click on ads more what i think.

  40. ha well.. good stats.. will surely help us :)

  41. Nice post. I think that although the graph shows that new visitors earn you more than repeated visitors, repeated visitors that come from the readership that you build from your blog are highly valuable.

    Although I think this would not be the same for other type of blogs.

  42. create a blog and get started with writing articles interesting and helpful is not easy. require patience and sustained effort, do it with pleasure is the way to prevent boredom. then you are ready to become a successful blogger, start making money,thanks for sharing

  43. Hi Mary,

    CTR is “click through rate”, and eCPM is the estimated amount you earn from 1000 page impressions. You can find out more about the definitions from Google’s Adsense help section.

    As I understand it, Darren is comparing different visitors on one site – his photography site. The “new” visitors have never been to the photography site before. The “returning” visitors have been before – some of them return to the site from a link in his email newsletter, some from his RSS feed, some from Facebook or Twitter.


  44. I think both the kind of visitors are important for earning.

  45. wow, i would have always though that the repeat visitors were far more likely to click the ads than a repeat visitor,
    do you have any data that would show or indicate why?

  46. This article really confirms what the industry always suspected. Returning visittors are great for page views, but new visitors are better for the bottom line.

  47. Darren,

    I have always wondered why you don’t use adsense on Problogger since you do so well with it on your photo blog?

    Is it because of the totally different demographic of the users on each blog?

    Does adsense turn these people off?

    I know that there is can be a huge aversion to some people for using advertising on their sites, worrying that they will turn away readership, but your free content is so good I have a hard time seeing how it would not convert on Problogger as well.

    …maybe it would cheapen it. I’m sure you have tried in the past. Just wondering what your experience was on this as I am debating doing it on my own site. I didn’t realize that they had a CPE model now. That could be the better way to go for a professional site… hmmm.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  48. My visitors first time or not don’t click…*sigh*

  49. Adsense is changing and I think if they will add exact and relevant ads on your site than click rates will increase al ot.

  50. Depends on the niche of the blog, is it normal for a photography blog get almost same earning from new and returning visitor because photographers always looking for something new. Blog about blogging wouldn’t get that result.

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