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Adsense Ad Click Variations Explained

One of ProBlogger’s readers – Charles – asks the following question:

‘do you know anything about what drives the sometimes wild variation in day to day click values…’ (see longer version of the question).

It is a good question and something that I know many people ask so I’ll answer it publicly. There are a variety of factors that could explain the phenomenon of the variation of click values.

Geo Targeting – the global positioning of the reader clicking on the advertisement can have significant impact upon the value of the advertisement. I know of two bloggers who started blogs at the same time on the same topic – one of which has a .com URL and gets traffic from around the world, the other of which has a .nz (New Zealand) URL and gets quite a bit of NZ traffic. The .com blogger’s click rates are significantly higher than the .nz one’s. In my opinion this is largely due to the fact that advertisers targeting NZ readers are not paying as much for the ads as advertisers in other parts of the world due to market size and competition between advertisers. This could explain quite wide fluctuations in click values.

Demand and Supplya number of Adsense publishers that I know of tell me that they’ve tracked variations in click values on a variety of levels. Most of these might not explain wide variations. They include:


• monthly cycles – some believe that at the end of the month prices go down as some advertisers have spent their monthly budget and withdraw from the market for the remaining days until the following month.

• weekly cycles – many publishers believe that weekends tend to have lower click values than weekdays as advertisers are wiling to pay more per click to get midweek traffic (this might vary from site to site depending upon the topic of ads).

• seasonal factors – many publishers notice an increase in traffic values in the lead up to Christmas and other holidays. Correspondingly after Christmas can be a low patch for many.

• changes in competition for keywords – this is difficult to track but it makes sense that when a new advertiser enters the market for a particular keyword that prices can fluctuate considerably as a bidding war takes place. This could be triggered by events (sporting, political etc) or simply by advertisers starting or ending a campaign to launch new products or services

• other factors – I’ve seen publishers write that many factors contribute to click values – one I read recently believed that the weather even impacted his! I personally am not sure this would explain click value changing – it might impact impression levels though.

Variation between Ad Values on a Page - the variation might actually be explained by the value of ads displayed on your page. For instance some of my blogs can be displaying up to 12 or so ads on each page (over three ad blocks). There can be quite a large difference between what the top paying advertiser displayed is paying and what the 12th highest ad is paying. Usually the highest paying advertiser is the first ad shown on the first adblock in your page’s source code. The lowest paying ad on your page will be the last ad on the last adblock in your source code.

I’m certain that there are other factors that could explain variation between ads shown on one block and invite readers to submit their own ideas below.

Update – Another factor that some of you have reminded me about is Smart Pricing.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Bruce Allen says:

    Interesting theories. I’m still trying to find the ideal combination for myself, as I get a lot of traffic, and even quite a few clicks, but not quite the income I’d like to have. Still, it’s better than nothing.

    One thing I have noticed, interestingly, is that while my overall traffic and clicks are down on the weekends, many times my earnings are right on a par with what I get during the week, which seems to contradict the idea that weekends have lower click values, at least in my case.

    I’ve been reading everything I can on these topics, even bought a couple ebooks (In which I was very disappointed) and scour through messageboards on the topic. It’s never ending!

  2. Darren says:

    Good comment Bruce – the weekend earnings are an interesting one.

    What i find with mine is that on weekends my CTR tends to go up even though my impressions are down. My theory is that on the weekend whilst less people surf the web, more people have time to actually read a page and follow the links (including ads).

  3. Dale Estes says:

    The thing I can’t figure out is why on one of my blogs all that appears is the public service ad.it has plenty of content so its confusing to me.

  4. Duncan says:

    Is the geographic targeting based on IP adress of the viewer or the page? I’ve got a .com blog which displays Australian ads related to the topic when I visit despite the page being strictly related to an American topic.

  5. Darren says:

    I’m not completely certain how they do it – but yes I suspect its an IP address thing Duncan.

    There are a number of factors as to what ads your visitor will see I suspect – a combination of their IP address/location but also whether advertisers have specified that they want local ads or global ones.

  6. Charles says:

    Thanks for the overview Darren…what I am waiting for now is Yahoo! to join in the truly contextual ad game with some real competition to Adsense. That would be good for all concerned.

  7. GM says:

    We can only guess how click variations work but it will never be able to truly understood unless Google decides to make it’s tactics public.

  8. Nizar says:

    I am wondering if there are variations between image ad or text ad. Image ads consume the whole ad box. Can they bring more money?

  9. Levente says:

    I found this page using Google, because I was wondering about this smart pricing thing. Sometimes I get clicks over 1 $ and other times I get 0.03 – 0.05 $ on the same ads, on the same page. I think it’s more IP based than anything else because I have a .ro domain with English content for a worldwide audience and the huge differences in pricing I think it’s because of the visitors coming from different parts of the world.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Ok so at first glance Yahoo! Domains are right in there taking the top two spots. I wasn’t aware that Yahoo! were in the business of registering domains until I saw this. And actually their prices are among the best I’ve seen. Just $2.99 a year at the moment. I’ve been reading quite a bit lately to try to understand the whole CPC concept and reasons for the difference in the CPC a bit more clearly. The main affecting factors are Global Position, Demand and Supply, Smart Pricing. I found a very helpful article on Problogger.net which explains these quite well. [...]