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Why Adsense is Not Suitable for All Blog Topics

One of the most striking things that hit me in my analysis of the 30 most visited blogs at Truth Laid Bear was the small number of blogs using the Adsense program. Only 8 of the 30 (26%) had any Adsense ads on their pages – most instead opting for BlogAds as their income stream of choice. A number of you have also emailed me or commented on this after my previous post (remember these 30 blogs are not THE most visited blogs – just the most visited ones with sitemeter stats tracking them).

As someone who uses Adsense extensively in my blogging this was initially a somewhat shocking finding. My Digital Camera blog is down at the bottom of the list at number 30 with 12518 daily visitors – I use Adsense extensively there and make over $200 per day from doing so on that blog alone (it is my highest earning blog to date). It would be easy to assume that a blog like Daily Kos with 35 times the daily traffic should earning 35 times the money if they used Adsense ($7500 per day).

This would be a false assumption.

Why? Its simply about Topic.

The majority of the blogs in the list have a political or news/commentary theme – I’d classify 22 of the top 30 this way. Of the 8 remaining 3 are tech related, 4 are gossip/celebrity focussed and 1 is a metablog covering all of those themes (ie tech, politics, culture etc). This last blog is BlogCritics who I’ve spoken with the owners of and asked why they don’t use Adsense – the reason is that they have many contributer – some of whom use strong language in their posting and comments which doesn’t fit with Google’s guidelines.

Political Blogs – Whilst they generate some massive traffic, Adsense is never going to be the income stream of choice for these bloggers for a number of reasons:

• They have no control over which ads do and don’t appear – You can just imagine the variety of ads that could be served to a piece written on George Bush. I don’t know too many political bloggers who would be happy to have an ad that they are opposed to running on their blog. Adsense has no way of telling if your blog is pro or against him – so it will randomly serve ads (if there are any). For instance if you check out Washington Monthly you’ll see an example of a political blog running adsense in their right hand sidebar and notice the variety of ads that are shown there from page to page.

• Low earnings per click – Political ads just don’t pay much. Whilst during the election there might have been a bit more competition between advertisers as there was more at stake, in general ads about politics (which there is no real product to sell) don’t tend to generate high bids from advertisers.

With these factors in mind – a better business model for such sites would obviously be a system that gives the blogger a choice about which ads appear on their blog and that are tied more to impression level or relevant ads than to ‘click value’. As a result BlogAds tend to do well on them.

Gossip/Celebrity Blogs – Again blogs of this nature have the distinct advantage of generating a lot of impressions due to the inquisitive nature of human beings who want to know others business and who have a fascination with celebrity. However they have the distinct disadvantage of not being big earners with Adsense. Once again this comes down to a lack of earnings per click. I run a number of celebrity blogs which at times generate very high traffic – but their CPM (earnings per thousand impressions) is generally the lowest among my blogs. This again is largely due to the fact that there is no high value product associate with celebrities. Sure there are a few books, DVDs, concert tickets and movies – but advertisers are not willing to shell out big dollars to get you to buy these lower ticket value items.

It is possible to make some reasonable money from celebrity blogs – but the rate of return per visitor will always be lower than other topics of blog – to make it big with Adsense on a gossip blog would require a lot of traffic and the fact is that they can probably earn more with other types of ads (impression based ones or site sponsorship deals would be more suitable).

Tech Blogs – whilst there are not as many of these in the ‘top 30′ list they are perhaps the best suited ones to using Adsense. This is largely due to the fact that they specifically focus upon items that can be purchased – some of which can be of a high retail value. In terms of ‘click value’ – these sorts of blogs do generate a higher return than political and gossip topics – but they are not the highest earning topics out there. In fact my Digital Camera Blog may be my biggest earner (total earnings) but in terms of click value its in the middle of the pack and perhaps even trailing the field a little. It is still well worth doing though as the combination of a slightly higher click value and some reasonable traffic pay off nicely.

I am a little surprised that the other tech blogs in the list don’t use Adsense as prominently as they could. I would have thought that with their higher traffic levels and profile that it would have been worthwhile to do so. Having said this it is probably due to them having better alternatives for their ad space.

Take Home Advice - So the take home advice is that not all blogs are suitable for Adsense. Other topics that will always be an uphill battle include:

• Religion – similar problems with politics – ie low click value and difficulty in serving ads that relate tightly with your perspective

• Adult Content – Google simply doesn’t allow ads to be served on pages with explicit content (same story with gambling I’ve heard)

• Sport – Similar problem to the celebrity blog – with no real high ticket value product attached to these keywords you need a lot of traffic to make much from these blogs from Adsense.

I’m sure there are others. Feel free to leave a comment below and let the rest of us know what you think. What topics have you found don’t work too well on Adsense? Which ones do?

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. Ray says:

    Top post, very helpful for me as I consider a topic for my next blog. Thanks

  2. I’m going to have to consider some alternatives for one of my websites because the adsense ctr is very nearly zero and I think I’m getting uninteresting ads (for my nerd audience).

  3. Andy says:

    I agree with the lack of control factor. I wrote a vaguely political piece on my blog and when I viewed it, I found a link to a ‘Thank Tony Blair’ page – basically about the Iraq war. Don’t worry I am not going to talk politics here, but let’s just say I wasn’t ecstatic about it. For my pesonal blog (perhaps ironically, given that it reflects my views alone) I can live with this, as most people (I hope) can see that they are Google ads. I do run AdSense on a couple of my other fledgling blogs, and I may have to review whether that works or not. You only have to mention one word in an innocent context and it could be taken out of context and advertise something you don’t agree with.

    Once rhings get more established (content is a first step,I am not looking at honing revenue streams on blogs with only 3 articles!) I will pick some good affiliate links that I have control over, and stick with those.

  4. david says:

    I agree on every point. As interesting as the blogs that do not benefit much from Adsense is the blogs that are tailor-made for the program. As an example, my music, literature and pop culture site generates roughly twenty times the traffic as my wife’s (a massage therapy and wellness blog), but often her Adsense revenue is higher than mine.

  5. Bruce Allen says:

    I’m going to try to do more with Blogads…without really noticing it, they brought in more for me last month than Adsense did, and yet I was so focused on Adsense that I paid no real attention to it.

  6. Tom Hanna says:

    I would also expect that a blog like your digital camera blog gets higher CTR than a politics blog because many of your visitors are actually in the market for a camera or accessory, so when they see an ad offering that, they click it. On the other hand, most people aren’t put in the mood to buy something from reading a political piece.

  7. Darren says:

    You’re exactly right Tom – looking at the search referral terms that they come to the site on – they are searching for specific information on specific cameras. Of course when they see an ad for these cameras they are more likely to ‘click’.

  8. Sal says:

    Did you know that Blogging Help has republished this full article? Did they ask permission?

  9. I’m no fan of either “liberals” or Bush, but I have no problem with pro-Bush or pro-liberal adsense ads on my site. Those are mainly for things like mugs, t-shirts, forums, etc. etc. I’ve only blocked two sites, one of which was from a politician I strongly oppose. If I got similar ads from other politicians I greatly dislike, I would probably block them too. But, people selling pro-Bush t-shirts? I don’t mind.

  10. Emmy Smith says:

    This is great! If possible, would you please write another article about what blog topics are earning higer using adsense…

  11. Raffa says:

    I’m trying two different strategy on the italian market (blog market?) but I can confirm your thinks about news/gossip blogs also in my language area. :-(

  12. L says:

    That is so interesting, I never knew this.

    What is the best for a celebrity site (it does have a focus on products: fashion) that has only 400 visitors per day?

    And what about a gadget (stylish stuff for women) blog that is JUST starting? (Hasn’t yet.) (I’m going to use Chitika and Adsense, and then add it to Glam.com.)

  13. It looks that adsense may not be suitable for niche blogs with high traffic since most of visitors are returning visitors and they won’t click on ads too much because of ad blindness.
    Affiliate programs may bring much better results for an authority blog on certain niches, since visitors will trust the blog and buy the products bringing large comissions to the blogger…

    In general adsense is still the best though :)

  14. Damnablog says:

    Darren, this explains a lot. I’ve had Adsense off and on for years now on various sites, with less than satisfactory response. I came here looking for tips on customizing or filtering out ads by keyword. Evidently you can’t do that, and having ads for Bibles and Christian sites seems somehow inappropriate (and very unprofitable) for an Atheist web site! LOL I’ll look into BlogAds and further customize my Chitika eMiniMall ads.

    Thanks for being here dude.

  15. saif says:

    So what are the niche money making topics.

  16. Andrew says:

    WOW good write up But i would like to know about tech crunch as its my favourite

  17. Wellness says:

    God point about this, nice summary.

  18. mxyzplk says:

    I see, this post clears my mind now… I pass it, and now I’m thinking how can I get good traffic? and I really need some blog to follow to guide me for adsense traffic and earnings.

  19. Another interesting article from your blog :) When will it stop….hopefully never

Trackbacks

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