About Adsense Pricing

May 12th, 2007 by Chris

I get really annoyed with Adsense sometimes. Starting in April they started passing out seemingly automated optimization reports that more or less told me, and many other publishers, that we’d earn more if we didn’t block so many domains with the competitive ad filter.

Well myself, and others, block many PPC arbitrage type bad sites with a poor user experience because we’ve notice an earnings increase by doing so. There is also a theory that Google is looking at how often people click the ads and then immediately hit the back button as a way to gauge the quality of our traffic. This seems unfair when it is the shoddy ad that is causing it but anyways…

After getting those rather annoying optimization reports I sent an email to an Adsense rep I’ve worked with in the past, his answers were enlightening somewhat.

Thanks for your in-depth email.

The situation you’ve described is not an easy one to diagnose. The truth
of the matter is that blocking MFA-type URLs from your site can result in
either a rise or decline in revenue (depending on what those ads were
doing for you earnings-wise prior to blocking them).

What I can tell you regarding some of your ending questions is that our
system takes into consideration factors such as what keywords and concepts
triggered the ads, and also which ads that are shown. For example, a click
on an ad for digital cameras on a page about photography can be worth less
than if the same ad shows on a page where digital cameras are compared.
Please note that the system is dynamic and can change with time. The goal
is to ultimately offer even more relevant ads with a better customer

I hope this clarifies matters. I’m sorry to hear of your declines, and
hope to see your revenue returning to levels with which you’re satisfied
in the coming weeks.

Feel free to let me know if you have any additional questions.

I then got this further followup:

Thanks for following up. To clarify, the targeting mechanism takes into
account a number of factors including the price of the ad, as well as the
ad’s relevance to your page, and the likelihood of the ad being clicked by
your visitors.

There is no blanket policy, but in general, if one of the types of ads to
which you’re referring is predicted to have success (both in terms of
revenue and click-through) on your site, the algorithm will opt to show

I never knew it before, and I’ve never seen anyone else mention it certainly, that ad pricing can change based on relevance. One would think though that Google wouldn’t be penalizing you for shortcomings in their content analysis and targeting algorithms. What is more likely I think is that they, obviously catering to advertisers, make judgement based on the ad’s relevance to your page and then apply a modifier to ads that aren’t 100% matches. If, with that modifier, the ad still pays more than the less than 100% matches it’ll be shown, but you won’t earn as much off it as if your site was perfectly targeted to it.

What concerns me though is how Google Hints affects this since using hints you can get ads that differ from your content. Additionally I feel that Google is putting maybe a little too much stock in pure content matching, which isn’t the same as serving ads your visitors are most interested in. Your visitor’s desires do not always match with your content.

For what its worth, I’ve also tried stopping all the blocking I’ve done and my income did not increase at all.

Anyways, count me as yet another webmaster frustrated with the seeming endless gradual decline in Adsense earnings.

4 Responses to “About Adsense Pricing”

  1. Paul  Says:

    “count me as yet another webmaster frustrated with the seeming endless gradual decline in Adsense earnings.”

    No kidding. Traffic up by 20%, earnings flat. I have been thinking about your ecommerce article more and more.

  2. Dan Grossman  Says:

    “I never knew it before, and I’ve never seen anyone else mention it certainly, that ad pricing can change based on relevance.”

    The digital camera example was the one they gave when smart pricing was announced in 2005…

  3. Chris  Says:

    Ya, its the same example, but I was referring more to the explicit statement of it being more about site topic directly rather than user click behavior over time.

  4. Wayne Schmidt  Says:

    I maintain a multi-topic site consisting of 300 pages covering everything from metal detecting to lucid dreaming. The site gets 4600 visitors per day.

    My Adsense income per click-through from this site has decreased steadily from 26.3 cents per click-through in January, 2006 to 12.6 cents per click-through in May, 2007. At the same time the percentage of click-throughs to page-views has increased from 0.9 to 1.3 percent, somewhat offsetting the loss of revenue due to the reduction of earnings per click-through.

    Tracking the pages being visited suggests that the overall make-up of the typical visitor to my site has not changed over this period so I assume the changes in income are strickly caused by changes within the Adsense system.

    I earn a modest $210 average per month from the site.

    One curiousity is that the number of page views credited to the site by Adsense averages 25-percent less than the number of pages viewed as reported by my webhost.

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