One Year of AdSense

Around this time last year I have signed up with Google AdSense, and implemented on this website. 12 months later -- yeah I have made some pocket money with it, but for me it is more of an experience in online marketing, contextual advertising and the whole Internet economics.

It was fun. It was rewarding -- maybe not in financial terms but more of "beating the system". It is exhausting -- yes it does take time to read, write and tinker with small details. Despite my previous dislike of banner ads, I think I now have a better understanding on how the whole thing ties together, and will continue to put those little text ads on this site (if Google permits).

First of all, here's a chart of impressions verse earnings over the last 12 months. Sorry no actual number but feel free to guess what they are :)

Google AdSense earning statistics

Things I have observed after running AdSense for 12 months on two hobby sites (playground and bargain blog):

  • Figures don't just go up. Yeah, the first few months are pretty much going up and up, but then it stalls, went down a bit, and up again. A bit like a roller coaster ride than highway cruse. Many reasons contribute to this.
  • It eats your time. I don't write very fast (although it did make me write faster). Nor did I think fast. So when you are busy -- church, work, family, etc -- you have less time working on websites, thus produce less traffic, thus less people click, thus less income. But things ain't that simple.
  • Google is a mysterious blackbox. Most of the time I just have no idea. Why some clicks pay more than the others. Why some pages have better targeted ads. Why some pages rank better thus bringing more visitors. Google is mysterious -- and it is not a good thing if your income depends on it.
  • It won't replace a full-time job. At least in my case, it never will. It pays peanuts in comparison with my day time job, and I do not see how I can actually make decent money even if I work full time on it. Probably I just don't exactly know how it works, yet. Or maybe I just don't have any quality stuff to write.
  • Still a nice pocket money. Especially when you are blogging anyway, and the extra pocket money from the big G is just enough to pay for all my hosting (currently 2x VPS + 2x shared hosting), my ADSL connection and all phone bills. No complain :) Can't bring Vivian to eat lobster too often though :)
  • Content is *not* everything. You still need good original quality content though -- diary style blogs don't really work. However, a good informative piece of article does not always lead people to advertisement, and most of the time you need to work out psychologically "why do people click on ads".
  • Attract visitors in "spending mode". Thus organic traffic is good -- people came in search of "something". Review a product positively is important, and I suspect I can never be a good marketer as I am always too critical on things.
  • Traffic! Traffic! Traffic!. After looking at my statistics over the past year, eCPM goes up and down, but always within a range. Therefore in order to increase the earning, you definitely need more traffic. My traffic is pretty much organic, and 80+% from Google. I guess there's more to work on.
  • Niche! Niche! Niche!. Well, traffic is important, but each niche is different -- they have different advertisers, and they attract different visitors with different views on banner ads. This site is a mix bag of things. Bargain blog does well as visitors are usually in "spending mode". FuCoder.com does very poorly (0.x% CTR where x < 5) -- I guess programmers don't click on ads, thus I just take them all off.
  • Ad position is critical. Moving the skyscrapper to the left-hand side on bargain blog helps. 3 fold!! Too bad that I don't really have time tinkering with the ad format. Nor am I a fan to blend the ads right inside the content (way too ugly). Still, AdSense heatmap works.

Well, I am sure there are lots more that I have acquired though this exercise. Except I cannot all share here as it's almost 12am and my brain has SpeedStep to 10% of the performance. I'll add more onto the list, if I remember.