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Find The Boots

Rantings from a few corporate types about life, technology, travel, guns, politics, and everything good in the world.

Google Adsense

Monday, June 11, 2007

A lot of people are under the impression that bloggers are like rock stars. That having a blog that is read by thousands of users each day leads to riches. Just slapping up a Google Adsense pane is an instant spigot of cash.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Well, at least from my standpoint. Without disclosing numbers, this site barely covers its costs (if that) and the additional traffic that we received from the Jericho articles was worth about $10 in Google Adsense. And zilch in Amazon or other affiliate programs. It's a good thing I wasn't writing those articles in hopes of making money, because there's no way we could afford a sushi lunch for Boondoggie and TierFlyer.

The blogosphere is full of stories of people making six figure incomes from their blogging. Perhaps that's possible if you're blogging about technical topics or in demand keywords where the ads will have high click through rates (CTR) and high payments and you run several blogs. How does that work? When Google places an ad on your site, they've gone through a mini-auction with the buyer of the ad for how much they'll pay to put an ad up around the content. Higher demand keywords bring in more cash. If someone clicks that ad, Google charges the purchaser for the price of the click, and then splits the revenue with the content provider that displayed the ad.

The critical numbers are click through rates (CTR) and Effective CPM. To quote Google answers, eCPM is:
From a publisher's perspective, the effective cost-per-thousand impressions (eCPM) is a useful way to compare revenue across different channels and advertising programs. It is calculated by dividing total earnings by the number of impressions in thousands. For example, if a publisher earned $180 from 45,000 impressions, the eCPM would equal $180/45, or $4.00. However, please keep in mind that eCPM is a reporting feature that does not represent the actual amount paid to a publisher.
So you can estimate your income by taking your eCPM and multiplying by the number of page views in a time period.

Your eCPM will be a function of your CTR and the average commission per ad. Higher paying ads will make you more money, but only if people click on them. So if you're got a blog about data integration and the tool vendors are paying $5 a click like in the good old days, you can make some pretty decent cash from low traffic. But the problem for political blogs and blogs that wander all over the place like Find The Boots is that Google's Adsense can't quite figure out what types of ads to place. Here, let's give it a shot. There's an ad at the bottom of the post and on the sidebar.

If we're lucky, those ads had something to do with Adsense. But just as likely, it came up with a completely unrelated topic to this article. Reading through this blog I've been presented with ads for gay communities, veterans benefits, coffee, nuclear war, and the best yet: Boots, both the pharmacy and the footwear.

So our CTRs are abysmally low even though we have a lot of intelligent and affluent readers that hit this blog every day. There's an entire body of knowledge concerning where to place your ads. You'll often see sites that break up the content with ads right in the middle, with the next/previous buttons a bit obscured -- they make your eye go to the ads before you can skip to the next section. I have no idea if that works, but as a reader it's a hassle.

CrispAds Blog Ads

We've experimented with Crisp Ads, which are keyword driven. The blogger lists the keywords in their blog and Crisp Ads shows them what they want to see. The ads look much more on target, but frankly they're not a big enough network that there are any interesting offers. So the click through on those is pretty small too. Perhaps they pay more if your blog isn't a blog about everything.

The other ways that people try to monetize blogs is through affiliate programs. See the various ads going down the side of the page on the right? Those are offers that might appeal to readers of the blog. The Amazon stuff is actually pretty good about providing things that the individual user would be interested in -- if you're an Amazon customer they customize the experience based on your previous purchases. The blogger either receives a percentage or a flat fee for items purchased, so just clicking on affiliate ads does nothing for the blogger.

As a reader, one thing you need to be aware of is that there are cookie monsters in the affiliate world. Most affiliate programs place a cookie in your browser, and whatever web site you clicked an affiliate link last on is the cookie you'll carry. So if you click on our Amazon link and then don't click an Amazon link for 2 weeks and log in directly to the store, we'll get credit for your purchase. Since there are some nefarious people on the internet, they've figured out how to make sites that do nothing but get people to unsuspectingly click on affiliate links. You think you're clicking on a link to see a picture of Paris Hilton in jail, and instead you get shown a chance to purchase a book. Viola, they just ate your cookie and gave you theirs. (BTW, shame on you for clicking that link.)

So if you're a blogger that's figured out all this revenue stuff, please drop me a line in the comments and tell me what I'm doing wrong. Because for now, I'm just having fun.

   

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4 Comments:

  • At 2:57 PM, Blogger bluesapphire7788 said…

    When I grow up I want to be rich and famous like you Mr. Boondoggie! Rich with wisdom!

     
  • At 2:18 AM, Blogger TierFlyer said…

    Just don't grow up to be *look* like him.

    -TierFlyer

     
  • At 10:20 AM, Blogger Paula said…

    I feel your pain BoonDoggie & TierFlyer... Try having a genealogy website for a family name of Corel. Not a great place for Adsense at all!

    Jericho may not make you rich, but I can promise you that it has gained you at least one new reader!

     
  • At 5:04 PM, Blogger Charles said…

    Mr. Boondoogie,

    Dont give up hope. I used the keywords "affilliate income drop google slap" and found your blog.

    We are a bunch of us in the same boat. I need to figure this out so that my kids can go to college. Otherwise, they may learn their spanish while flipping burgers.

    Preston
    http://www.collegeforkatie.com

     

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