You might have noticed over the past few weeks that in some forums and between some e-book writers that there is debate over whether AdSense is everything it’s cracked up to be. Some are saying that it’s dead, others are saying it’s dead if you use it for Arbitrage and others are saying it’s the best thing since sliced bread.
I’ve been emailed to ask what I think numerous times this week and have been pondering how to respond.
Here are a few random thoughts:
Let me start on a personal note – I still make a lot of money from AdSense on my personal blogs. While there have been times where I’ve had bigger months than the one that is ending now – I’m still very pleased with my own AdSense earnings.
Yes numbers are down a little but that has more to do with a number of other factors rather than AdSense being ‘dead’. Some of these factors include:
- Coming out of a slow period (summer in the northern hemisphere is traditionally slow)
- Adding other Ad programs (for example when I added Chitika my AdSense went down a little (not as much as the extra money that was brought in) due to AdSense ads having a little less prominence)
- Being Hacked (I lost a full few of days income from my recent hacking)
Having said this – AdSense is still my equal largest earner and isn’t WAY down (in fact over the first few days of October I’ve seen a small upswing again).
A lot of the complaints against AdSense over the last few months have probably got more to do with changes to AdWords than anything. Arbitrage publishers were rocked a couple of months back when changes were made to AdWords that made it more expensive to send readers to landing pages in the hope of getting them to click AdSense ads that earned more than the AdWords ads that got them there. It’s no wonder that people are complaining about AdSense as a way to Monetize Arbitrage with the changes that were made.
However if you’re not into Arbitrage and are a publisher who develops quality sites that grow a natural readership via SE traffic or loyal readers then I think AdSense is still a great way to go – particularly if you have a blog with some commercial edge to it (ie AdSense doesn’t tend to work well on religious, political or personal sites).
The last 12 months have seen a lot more competition for AdSense. I have noticed a slight drop off in bloggers raving about AdSense partly because they’re now raving about other ad systems.
In my chats with bloggers I’m seeing a number of other income streams mentioned again and again. Here’s a few:
1. Text Link Ads (aff) – the team at TLA have gradually built a loyal publisher list over the past few months but providing an ad system that may not be as flashy or spectacular as AdSense in some senses but which works. Interestingly – I’ve chatted with a number of smaller bloggers over the past few weeks who say that TLA actually is their biggest earner. This is because it is not reliant upon clicks or traffic at all and is a very passive income for a blog that over time grows as more advertisers buy links. I spoke to an owner of a lesser known blog network recently and he told me that his network is earning five figures a month with TLA.
2. Amazon Associates – some publishers laugh off Amazon as not being worth the effort because the payouts are so small (4-6% in post cases) but I’ve chatted with a few publishers this week who are doing very well from Amazon. The advantage of Amazon over many affiliate programs is that they are a trusted brand. If you pick the right products to promote you can actually do quite well from them. I chatted with a publisher this week who is promoting lawn mowers and power tools on Amazon. Sell a $2000 tractor/mower a few times a week and it certainly adds up.
3. Chitika (aff) – as unpopular as they became with some publishers in their early days of launching they continue to be a big earner for some bloggers. They continue to be neck and neck with AdSense for me in the earnings they bring in. They continue to improve their products and expand what they offer in terms of channels, their recent launch of shoplinc etc and I know of a few product oriented bloggers who make more from them than anything else. Can’t say too much but expect their range of advertising methods to continue to increase in the coming months.
4. YPN – Yahoo’s contextual advertising system is still in beta (it has been a longer process than many expected) and is yet to fully compete with AdSense. I’ve given it a go (via b5’s account) and wasn’t too impressed with how it converted here at ProBlogger but do know of some bloggers who continue to find that it does well for them. I think it’s a blog by blog proposition but is definitely an ad network to consider if you can get into the beta test.
5. Direct Ad Sales – another emerging trend among bloggers (and networks of them) is the increased focus upon direct deals that are being done between bloggers and advertisers (and their representatives). This month I had a sponsorship with Canon on one of my blogs that has been well worth while and I know at b5media we are finding more and more advertisers willing to do deals as the word gets out that blogs are online real estate that converts pretty well for them. It’s not always easy to negotiate these deals as a single blogger with a relatively small readership but we’re now seeing networks of bloggers banding together which makes it much easier to negotiate such deals.
6. Product Bloggers – while there are not a lot of examples of this yet I suspect that 2007 will be a year that quite a few bloggers will launch products in their niches. Bloggers are starting to switch onto the fact that after a year or two of blogging on a topic that they are sitting upon a goldmine of information and expertise that can be reused in other forums. While this past year saw a number of bloggers release books I know of quite a few who are working up to releasing online information products, membership sites and coaching services in their areas of expertise. Whether they succeed or not is yet to be seen but it’s a logical next step for many bloggers.
Of course there are many other AdSense Alternatives out there for publishers also (with more coming I’m told). The variety of systems open to publishers surely is having some impact upon AdSense and what people are earning with it.
What do you think? Is AdSense dead? What has your experience of AdSense (and other ad systems) been over the past 6 or so months? Are you finding it easier or more difficult to earn money from your blogging?