Google AdSense

June 14th, 2005

You see Google AdSense ads pretty much everywhere you surf to nowadays (and pretty soon most RSS feeds are going to be stuffed full on them - FeedBurner is claiming that this doesn't affect readership ... yet). It was a sure-fire winner and it quickly became the simplest way for anyone with a site to add ads to it ... sign up, wait for the confirmation email, add a snippet of code to the code of the web page (see, I always said that learning HTML would be important one day!) and you're set.

But does it work? Is the trade-off of return over screen real estate consumed by the ads worth it?

A lot of people don't think so and I'm starting to think the same. Joe Wikert's dropped it from the Average Joe blog because of poor return on the screen real estate that he's given the ads over a 3 month period. Given the numbers he's stated I can't say I blame him.

So what can the blogger or website owner expect from Google AdSense. Well, the TOC prevents me from going into specifics but if you own a small website or run a small blog then don't quit the day job at the same time you add AdSense to the site. A small blog or web site can expect a check at the end of the year that might cover a pizza for two (you'll probably have to chip in for the soda's).

The bigger and more specialist your site, the more you should make. There are stories on the web of people making a lot of cash from affiliate schemes and advertising but I'm not sure if I believe them all. Advertising is, after all, like gambling. People win, people lose, but it's the bookmaker that wins in the end. On the face of it Google AdSense and other affiliate programs look like a simple, no hassle, no hard work required way to make money. The social engineering is so simple most people don't see it:

"Got a website? Stick this code on it and make cash!"

Who could refuse? But remember the old adage, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

The really clever bit is in the TOC - people who put ads on their site can't talk about the specifics of how much they make without running the risk of getting the plug pulled on it (UPDATE - Thanks to Ed Bott for pointing out that now the Google AdSense TOC does allow the disclosure of earnings, not click through rates and other statistics provided by Google. It was different when I signed up and I guess I've not bothered to read the updated TOC.). OK, this could work both ways and you might end up in a situation where all the press is bad press and all you ever read about is people who don't make money but this is not a problem. Gambling and lottery systems are filled with losers (by this I mean people who have lost money) but it still doesn't stop new people funneling money into the system. After all, you only need the occasional winner, rumors of massive money-making potential and a lot of mystery to suck in new customers.

One imbalance with affiliate schemes that I think needs to be addressed is payments. Most schemes are "pay per click". That is, the host for the ads gets paid for each click made. But I think that this isn't totally fair. Take a look at Google AdSense ads. What's the single common ad on all of the AdSense ads on the web? That's right, ads for Google. What about Amazon ads? That's right, an ad for Amazon. These are free ads - no one is paying for these and the brand that affiliate schemes are promoting the most is of those running the scheme.

Only when this inequality is dealt with will these types of ads be fair to all.

For now the ads stay (at the bottom of the page and relatively small). If you want to click on one, then thanks, I appreciate it. If you don't, then I hope that they stay out of your way and don't affect your viewing pleasure.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 14th, 2005 at 13:40 and is filed under Administrative. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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