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Why AdSense Might NOT be Best for Your Blog

Posted By Darren Rowse 12th of December 2007 Adsense 0 Comments

AdsenseYesterday I published a list of reasons why AdSense is an advertising network worth considering if you want to make money blogging.

Today, in the interest of balance and fairness, I wanted to share the flipside and point out a few reasons why AdSense might not be best for your blog.

Hopefully somewhere between these two posts will be enough information for a blogger to make an informed decision. My personal opinion is that AdSense can be a great income stream for bloggers – but not on every blog. As always – it’s about testing different income streams on different blogs and going with works best.

Here’s some reasons why AdSense might not be the best money maker for your blog:

1. Sharing Revenue

Lets start with the bleeding obvious, AdSense takes a cut of any revenue that Advertisers pay to have their ad appear on your blog. There have been lots of educated (and not so educated) guesses at what percentage of ad revenue that AdSense keeps for themselves – but whatever it is you are not getting everything. Of course this isn’t unique to AdSense (almost all ad networks take a cut) but compared to selling advertising directly to advertisers yourself you’re losing money (of course for what they bring you this might be worthwhile).

2. Lack of Control Over Ads Appearing

One of the problems that using AdSense can bring with it is that you lose some control over what appears on your blog. Because AdSense draws ads from many thousands of advertisers and because these ads are targeted to readers of your blog differently in different parts of the world you can be largely unaware of what ads are appearing on your blog at any given time. Ads could be appearing on your blog for anyone from your competitors, to ads for dubious products or services or even for products and services that are quite the opposite of what you would recommend on your blog. While AdSense allows you to ‘filter’ advertisers by adding certain URLs that you want blacklisted – this is only ever going to help you blacklist advertisers that you can see in your part of the world.

3. Underselling to Advertisers

I was chatting to one advertiser recently who told me that he was able to run ads using AdSense on a particular site for 20% of the CPM cost than they were willing to sell ads for if he went directly to the advertiser. AdSense do their best to maximize the amount that you earn per click – but there is no way for you to have any input as to what your ads might be worth. As a result AdSense might sell your ads at a CPM of a dollar or two – but you might be able to sell the same ad unit for significantly more if you went directly to advertisers (this will vary from topic to topic).

4. Cheapen Your Site

I’ve chatted to some mid to upper level advertisers who have refused to advertise on a blog that has AdSense ads on it. The reason that they gave was that it cheapened the look of the site and they didn’t want to be associated with it. I don’t know how widespread this is – but it’s an argument that I’ve heard numerous times.

5. Not good for Political, Religious sites

AdSense is fairly good at working out what topic you are writing about and then serving up relevant ads to it (thus increasing your CTR). However some topics are more difficult to serve relevant ads for than others – particularly topics where there might be two opposing views. For example you might have a political blog and argue strongly for one political view point but use a few keywords in your post that trigger an ad for a completely opposing point of view. The same is true for other topics – like religion.

6. Distractions from Clicks on other Objectives

While AdSense can definitely be the primary way of monetizing a blog – it can also be a distraction from other income streams. The more options that you give a reader to click something on your blog the less they will click on any one thing. For example this can be a problem for blogger’s whose primary objective is to make money from affiliate programs – adding AdSense can distract readers from your affiliate links and decrease the chance of them converting. Similarly if you’re wanting to sell yourself as a consultant – when you add AdSense as a way of supplementing your income you could be sending traffic to other sites – some of which may be your competitors. It should be said that this isn’t just a problem with AdSense – any ad network added to a site can act as a distraction and send people away from your primary objectives.

7. Minimum Payout a Problem for Small Bloggers

As some pointed out in yesterdays post on why AdSense is good – a problem that some small bloggers face is that the minimum amount that you have to earn before being paid ($100 USD) is a big ask when you’re just starting out. Many small bloggers who earn just a few cents a day can take years to hit this mark. While it’s nice that AdSense accepts these publishers with little traffic (some ad networks don’t) the reality is that some bloggers give up before hitting this mark. I wonder how much money AdSense makes out of this.

Let me emphasize again – this is not a definitive list or one that should persuade a new blogger one way or the other on whether they should use AdSense. My personal opinion is that it’s worth testing numerous money making options for blogs to see what works best – including AdSense.

What would you add to today or yesterday’s list of reasons to use and not use AdSense on blogs?

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. minimum payout may be a problem at first when the traffic to the blog is light. But it does makes sense when one think in terms of cost when checking into your earnings. Since there are things like handling fees, etc.

  2. I have a small blog that deals with carbon offsetting. I looked into other advertising programs but none of them have the advertiser pool like adsense

  3. Hi Darren,

    I think that Adsense will work for certain niches and not at all for others.

    I think as bloggers (aka marketers) we need to test and see if we are better off using AdSense or going for other types of ads.

    What do like about your approach is the fact that you presented both sides and you allow readers to decide based on all the facts.

    Greatt approach! Well done!


  4. Been running AdSense a while. I wish there was more control on the ads. They do seem in general to be well matched to content, and I have filtered a few sites, but now and then one slips through, advertising lingerie or something even more inappropriate.

  5. It can also take away clicks from your other pages. That’s crucial to the idea behind PR. See more on the theory behind this here.
    Advertising Cuts PageRank

  6. I was loving adsense up until the 10th of December and then my daily revenue dropped to 10% of what it used to be. It appears that in switching my domain on a 3 year old blog has caused the problems along with a possible adsense revenue of only 1-2¢ given per click now!

    I’m fried! I dropped from a PR 4 to a 0 – back to the beginning.

  7. I think you hit it perfectly with the “set it and forget it” point yesterday. Yes, I might be able to make more money by finding advertisers on my own, and negociating my own rates, but AdSense gives a (small) income stream from what’s essentially my hobby, without me doing much work.

  8. Hectril says: 12/17/2007 at 1:27 pm

    Thanks for the insights about Adsense. I have my own blog I just started and I notice that some visitors don’t generally read your content but go directly to your ads and it get away from your site as well. Also I have to agree with you about having affiliate ads and adsense together it somehow gets in the way when you have a high paying ads compare to google adsense. I’m trying to check if Adwords can work as well as Adsense for my blog. Any ideas or tips on this.

  9. Adsense is good for capitalizing on exit traffic…

    The problem is once someone, especially a new visitor, clicks on the ad, they are likely to be gone for good.

    With your own ad management system, you can set ads to open in a new window when clicked. This is likely to work out better…

  10. So if we shouldn’t use Adsense, what should smaller blogs that aren’t getting the traffic necessary to affiliate with bigger advertisers be using?



  11. I agree, using AdSense might not be the best option for us smaller bloggers. Seems like a better thing for certain niche markets, where readers are more likely to click on a certain ad to buy a certain product.

  12. Darren, thanks for the post. I wasn’t sure how I stacked up amongst other bloggers, not that it should matter, but it gives me a gage as to if I’m on the mark or not. Once I better overstood SEO I decided to start several blogs within my niche, the music business. Doing so has positioned me to hit the $100 min a while ago.

    With that being said, I’d recommend others find additional niches to blog about and spread their adsense over all their blogs. This may improve their earnings in a shorter time period as it has done mine.

  13. Hi Darren,

    I have been experimenting with the idea of putting adsense on my blog in different forms from content to referral ads ,with a mixture of affiliate links also.what i have found recently is that many visitors seem to ignore the adsense ads in all shape or forms -no matter how you blend in or position them. Most of the clicks are made on the affiliate links which pay me more money.

  14. Affiliate marketing FTW. I’ve made much more money with that than I ever did with adsense – and you have full control over what appears, how it looks, etc.

  15. This post will be translated into Chinese on Essentail Blog late today.

  16. it gives me just a basline figure – not more not less

  17. It has been months blogging but I have only made $ 3.54 from adsense. Whats the better option for me?

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