Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Does AdSense Suck for Bloggers?

Nic Cubrilovic picks up on Guy Kawasaki’s posting his revenue and concludes that

'AdSense for bloggers sucks, the click-through rates are too low, the advertising is not relevant enough and readers of blogs are more accustomed to blocking-out the ads - all this results in a very low CPM rate.'

While I don't have time for a detailed post on this (I'm supposed to be packing as I write this) I would say that Nik's conclusion is pretty spot on…. when it comes to Guy Kawasaki's blog.

Guy writes to a pretty tech savvy audience (who tend to not click ads), he writes on a fairly broad range of topics (AdSense would have trouble honing in on what ads to serve him) and he doesn't generally write about products or specific services (again making it hard to get him high paying and relevant ads).

As a result I'm not surprised that Guy was earning relatively small amounts from his blog from AdSense (when he was using it).

However - just because Guy's blog doesn't make much money from AdSense doesn't mean that it sucks for all blogs. In fact I've surveyed my readers three times on their AdSense earnings (here, here and here) and while the poll showed the majority of bloggers don't make much from AdSense it also showed that some definitely do.

Llast time I did the survey 24% of respondents said they earn over $500 a month (some quite considerably more) and a further 21% earned over $100 for the month). I would suspect that the vast majority of those had less traffic than Guy.

How can this be so?

From my own personal experience of blogging and from watching others I would guess that the majority of those earning more than Guy did would be doing so because of a number of factors:

Topic - more focussed and possibly on a more commercially viable topic (ie product related). This leads to higher paying ads and higher relevancy of ads (and higher click through rates).
Readership - while Guy's readership is probably quite aware of what an ad is and isn't and will actively avoid them - in my experience the average web user (the non blogging/web 2.0/geek crowd) is not as adverse to clicking ads.
Ad Positioning/Design - I can't comment on how Guy had his ads positioned and designed - but it can be the difference between great and terrible AdSense performance.

Of course I'm not suggesting Guy change his topic, readership or blog design. However this might help explain why he didn't earn as much as other bloggers are from AdSense.

How else could Guy Monetize his Blog?

Let me explore a few options:

Indirect Income Streams - Ultimately the way Guy should (and probably is) monetizing his blog is indirectly by building his own profile. In a sense he's advertising himself and as a result is building a loyal audience for future books, speaking engagements and consulting work. More on indirect methods of earning money from a blog here.

Private Sponsorship - I think a better model for Guy to earn money from his blogs would be private sponsorship or a privately arranged CPM campaign. He still could have problems with this however because of his broad topic - but if he could find someone who had a product or service that was relevant or that matched his readership demographic he could be onto a good thing with his readership levels.

Affiliate Programs? - Another possible revenue stream that would probably do well for Guy would be affiliate marketing. The products that he promoted would need to be of a high quality, products that he'd personally used and genuinely recommended and he'd have to be careful about pushing them too hard - however if he found the right products I suspect his loyal readership would react well it (especially with his ability to sell) - and if he picked the right product (of a high value) he could earn some nice coin form it too.

Other Ad Programs - Text-Link-Ads would do well on Guy's blog as it's got a good SE ranking. I suspect they'd earn more than what AdSense did each month. Similarly BidVertiser, Performancing Partners and either Feedburner's Ad network or TLA's Feedvertising would be good ways to monetize his RSS feeds (nb: some affiliate links in this paragraph).

Again - it's the indirect money making methods that I suspect Guy is focussing upon most and will ultimately do best with (unless he turns his blog into a product blog).


Tom OKeefe said...

Startups listed on Bizak.com who have Google Adsense as their revenue model earn only $0.06 per visitor (EPV). Even with those low numbers 21.5% of all startups listed (on Bizak) rely on Adsense as their primary revenue source.