Adsense is perhaps one of the oldest ad networks and monetisation methods used by blogs and businesses world-wide that monetise their traffic with display advertisements.
In its initial days, adsense was every one’s favorite, as it made it easy for anyone and everyone to join and place ads on nearly any kind of website in any industry or niche. And the early bird people did make good money, infact a lot of money from it.
People would even go to the extent of manipulating or cheating adsense to make money for them. There were entire networks of people who would click on ads on each others’ websites just to generate more clicks which resulted in high earning.
People would even setup bots that would simply open a website and click ads from different ip addresses via proxies. What a scam it was. Nonetheless google was fully aware of how its platform was being abused by spammers to steal advertisers money.
However over time as technology improved, the engine behind adsense got smarter in identifying real vs fake traffic and clicks and with this, most of the bots and fake click strategies went out of business.
Today adsense controls the largest share of display marketing across all platforms including desktop pc, laptop and smartphones. You see the most popuplar smartphone os is android which comes from google itself.
Targeted Display Advertisement is the largest source of income for google itself. Though it sells other cloud services as well.
How much I made from Adsense
In the screenshot below you can see I made around USD 34882.42 in the period of 2020-Oct to 2022-May which is around 3 years. The problem is google will not allow me to see reports older than a certain date.
This particular account in total made around USD 87,961.69 in the period 2014-May – 2022-Dec. Thats about 8 years. Kind of funny. Averages out to USD 10,995 each year from adsense alone.
Afterwards I switched from Adsense to BuySellAds as it was offering me better better rpms. Adsense is click based but, buysellads is both click and impression based. So higher impressions meant higher earnings as well.
The RPM Calculation
RPM is a very convenient calculation that gives an easy comparison between the earning potential of different ad networks. In my case the rpm metrics were roughly like this:
RPM of Google (Pageview RPM) = 1.99 = 2
RPM of BuySellAds (Pageview RPM) = 5.14
As we can see that buysellads is a clear winner over here. After switching to buysellads, i never looked back. The good news is that there are other ad networks that offer even better earnings like mediavine, ezoic and adthrive. However some of them have their own conditions on who they shall allow in the network. Blogs usually need to fulfill certain traffic criterias like traffic levels, geo-location etc.
I tried to join adthrive but was rejected twice because the percentage of USA traffic on my tech blog was lower than what they wanted.
Admedia Ad Network
Besides adsense and buysellads i tried few other ad networks. One was admedia, that i had used sometime in 2013-2015. It started quite well with rpms better than adsense, then suddenly the ad delivery was restricted on my website and the revenues dropped. So at some point i stopped using admedia.
Here is a screenshot of my overall earnings from admedia.com
Adsense and Blogging
If you are into blogging chances are that at some point of time you have had tried using adsense ad units on your website or may be you are still using it. I used adsense since 2009 and then around 2016 i discontinued it in favor of other monetisation methods.
There are other ad networks that pay better than adsense for small publishers like bloggers. Some of these include BuySellAds Optimize, Mediavine, Adthrive, Ezoic etc. These are the ones that are newbie friendly with less stringent policies when it comes to accepting new blogs into their network.
However there still are big blogs that use adsense as the primary ad network on their websites.
There are a few things you need to understand about adsense.
1. To make lots of money with adsense, you need to have a lot of traffic. Yes a lot of traffic. In comparison affiliate websites with targetted traffic will be able to earn more with less traffic.
The reason is simple. Not everyone who visits you website will click an ad. And those who click an ad, there is not guarantee that they were shown a high paying ad. Ads rotate over time each time page is loaded somewhere in the world. So the ad that got clicked might be an ad that was having a low cpc bid from the advertiser. In that case the revenue share for the publisher will also be low.
Factors that affect adsense earnings
There are certain key factors that affect adsense earnings on blogs. Here is a brief overview:
Traffic from different geographic locations generate different levels of ad revenues. If the traffic on your website comes from english speaking rich countries like usa, canada, australia then you will be able to earn more.
On the other hand if the traffic coming from countries with lower ad spendings, then the earnings will be lower as well. In general USA traffic is performs the best when it comes to ad revenue.
Here is a report from my adsense account showing the earnings country-wise along with other interesting metrics like rpm, pageviews and impressions.
USA highest earner: Note that country USA has an rpm of $19.05 which is amongst the highest ones. On the other hand countries like India have an rpm of $0.44. This roughly means that for the same amount of traffic received from both countries, the earnings from the US traffic would be 40x higher than that of india. This is significant.
If you are just starting out to develop a new blog you have take in consideration, what geographies shall you be targetting. If the average rpm for a given country is low, it does not necessarily mean that you can’t earn a good amount. It just means that you need a lot more pageviews.
Also note that the number of impressions is roughly 3 times the number of page views. This is simply because until sometime back google had a policy of allowing only 3 ad units per page. So when a page gets loaded it counts as 1 page impression, but if there are 3 ad units on the page, there will be 3 ad-unit Impressions
This leads to many ideas on how to increase adsense earnings. Firstly you can place more ad units if you have not done so already. Uptil a certain point, adding more ad units increases the average earning per visitor or your rpm.
Increase Pageviews for higher earnings
Also try increasing the pageviews on your site. With proper site structure and engaging content you can increase the pageview per visitor on your website. For instance if 1 visitor visits you site and reads a page and leaves your pageview per visitor would be just 1 which is the lowest it can go.
On the other hand if each visitor views 4-5 more pages on your website after landing, then you can get 5 pageviews/visitor. In this way you can increase your earnings without having to increase the traffic actually.
The pageviews per visitor depends a lot on the niche your site is in. If you are writing tech articles where the visitor is looking for some very specific piece of information or solution to a problem he/she is facing, they will simple read the page and leave after getting what they want. On such type of websites, it can be quite challenging to increase the pageview count.
However there are some niches, where the users wants to explore more content naturally to learn or discover more. For example “craft ideas” or “home decoration ideas”. On such websites, the user will tend to explore more articles to find more useful and relevant content to his/her interests thereby increasing the overall pageview metric for the same number of unique visitors.
Traffic size / quantity:
The obvious thing that affects ad revenue is the traffic coming to your site. More traffic means more clicks which means more money.
Increasing website traffic is what SEO (search engine optimization) is all about. SEO has evolved over the decades into a very professional subject and science in itself.
You need to do keyword research, write high quality articles that are indepth, provide value to user and satisfy their query. As you write more and more articles, google sends you traffic for more and more keywords. This is the basic strategy behind increasing traffic through seo. On this website we discuss seo and various techniques a lot.
Besides seo there are also many other ways to generate traffic on your website. Social media is also a major source of traffic for many websites. Websites like twitter, facebook, linkedin, pinterest can send traffic to your website. Usually its classified as “referral traffic” since its another website that is sending users to your website.
When it comes to monetisation using ads, traffic from any source is good, be it seo or social media.
Niche or Industry:
Ads in certain industries pay a lot more compared ads in certain other industries. For instance if your website is about automobiles that auto makers will display their ads who spend a lot of money on online advertisements.
Similarly technology, finance, law, medical services are some industries where advertisers spend a lot of money on ads. So if you are blogging in these sectors, then your blog will very likely attract high paying ads and you will generate higher revenue.
But again, in 2023 its not that simple. High ad-spending sectors are also high competition and you need to have a lot of domain authority to rank and drive traffic in these niches. So choose your niche carefully.
Even in a high competition niche, there are possibilities of finding low competition keywords and rank for them by writing high quality articles. This is the whole point of keyword research and is something that you should learn well if you want to drive traffic from seo.
Ad placement determines how and where you put the ad units on your webpage and how many ad-units you put in total. This affects earning significantly upto a certain level.
For instance “above-the-fold” placement is highly recommended, which implies that atleast one ad unit should should clearly and fully visible right when your webpage loads. For this you have to place the ad somewhere towards the top area. This can be in the header or just under the post title on a wordpress post.
Sticky ad-units is another strategy used by a lot of bloggers to boost their earnings. For example you might see a sticky ad towards the footer that keeps showing as you scroll the page down on a smartphone. Or there might a sticky ad on the sidebar they stays visible by moving its position as you scroll up or down.
Another technique is to strategically place the ad-units in the content area of the page rather than just the sidebar. Users tend to keep their eye-balls on the main content and look less towards the sidebar area.
So if you ads are in the content area they have a higher chance of getting noticed and eventually clicked by users. However this can be difficult if you have to do it for 1000s of pages on your website.
There are wordpress plugins for instance that allow you to inject ad units in the content area of the post or article. For other cmses you need to find a case specific solution.
Mobile Optimization: A big percentage of traffic received by websites is coming from smartphones now, which have a different display size. Your website should be optimized for mobile display when displaying ad units. For instance on a desktop screen, ads can be visible in the sidebar area. However on mobile phone there is little to no sidebar area (though there is a footer area for sticky ad).
For such layouts you should be able to inject ads in the main content properly so that as the user scrolls he can see more ad units along.
AdSense vs affiliate For Bloggers
When it comes to monetisation the choice is between adsense and affiliate. Now which one is better, is a very circumstancial question. If you have targetted traffic that converts on the affiliate offers you are promoting, then affiliate marketing will make huge lot more than adsense.
In general for targetted traffic affiliate marketing generates 5-10x profits compared to an adnetwork like adsense
I do amazon affiliate marketing on my main tech blog and drive targetted traffic through “buyer keywords” method. These keywords convert well and i generate sales for amazon and receive commissions in return. Doing this I made over $184,529.21 in amazon affiliate alone.
Here is a screenshot of what I made in since Oct 2021-Dec31
However getting targetted traffic is not easy, since they are already high authority domains go after the buyer keywords that attract the buyer minded targetted traffic.
In most cases small bloggers can generate traffic to their websites only for keywords that are not very targetted or are informational in nature that big sites would usually not chase aggressively.
In such cases, promoting affiliate offers will not deliver significant profits, and it would be a lot better to use ad networks like adsense. I also used different ad networks on my blogs like adsense, admedia, buysellads optimize. In ad revenue I made over