Yesterday I published a list of reasons why AdSense is an advertising network worth considering if you want to make money blogging.
Today, in the interest of balance and fairness, I wanted to share the flipside and point out a few reasons why AdSense might not be best for your blog.
Hopefully somewhere between these two posts will be enough information for a blogger to make an informed decision. My personal opinion is that AdSense can be a great income stream for bloggers – but not on every blog. As always – it’s about testing different income streams on different blogs and going with works best.
Here’s some reasons why AdSense might not be the best money maker for your blog:
1. Sharing Revenue
Lets start with the bleeding obvious, AdSense takes a cut of any revenue that Advertisers pay to have their ad appear on your blog. There have been lots of educated (and not so educated) guesses at what percentage of ad revenue that AdSense keeps for themselves – but whatever it is you are not getting everything. Of course this isn’t unique to AdSense (almost all ad networks take a cut) but compared to selling advertising directly to advertisers yourself you’re losing money (of course for what they bring you this might be worthwhile).
2. Lack of Control Over Ads Appearing
One of the problems that using AdSense can bring with it is that you lose some control over what appears on your blog. Because AdSense draws ads from many thousands of advertisers and because these ads are targeted to readers of your blog differently in different parts of the world you can be largely unaware of what ads are appearing on your blog at any given time. Ads could be appearing on your blog for anyone from your competitors, to ads for dubious products or services or even for products and services that are quite the opposite of what you would recommend on your blog. While AdSense allows you to ‘filter’ advertisers by adding certain URLs that you want blacklisted – this is only ever going to help you blacklist advertisers that you can see in your part of the world.
3. Underselling to Advertisers
I was chatting to one advertiser recently who told me that he was able to run ads using AdSense on a particular site for 20% of the CPM cost than they were willing to sell ads for if he went directly to the advertiser. AdSense do their best to maximize the amount that you earn per click – but there is no way for you to have any input as to what your ads might be worth. As a result AdSense might sell your ads at a CPM of a dollar or two – but you might be able to sell the same ad unit for significantly more if you went directly to advertisers (this will vary from topic to topic).
4. Cheapen Your Site
I’ve chatted to some mid to upper level advertisers who have refused to advertise on a blog that has AdSense ads on it. The reason that they gave was that it cheapened the look of the site and they didn’t want to be associated with it. I don’t know how widespread this is – but it’s an argument that I’ve heard numerous times.
5. Not good for Political, Religious sites
AdSense is fairly good at working out what topic you are writing about and then serving up relevant ads to it (thus increasing your CTR). However some topics are more difficult to serve relevant ads for than others – particularly topics where there might be two opposing views. For example you might have a political blog and argue strongly for one political view point but use a few keywords in your post that trigger an ad for a completely opposing point of view. The same is true for other topics – like religion.
6. Distractions from Clicks on other Objectives
While AdSense can definitely be the primary way of monetizing a blog – it can also be a distraction from other income streams. The more options that you give a reader to click something on your blog the less they will click on any one thing. For example this can be a problem for blogger’s whose primary objective is to make money from affiliate programs – adding AdSense can distract readers from your affiliate links and decrease the chance of them converting. Similarly if you’re wanting to sell yourself as a consultant – when you add AdSense as a way of supplementing your income you could be sending traffic to other sites – some of which may be your competitors. It should be said that this isn’t just a problem with AdSense – any ad network added to a site can act as a distraction and send people away from your primary objectives.
7. Minimum Payout a Problem for Small Bloggers
As some pointed out in yesterdays post on why AdSense is good – a problem that some small bloggers face is that the minimum amount that you have to earn before being paid ($100 USD) is a big ask when you’re just starting out. Many small bloggers who earn just a few cents a day can take years to hit this mark. While it’s nice that AdSense accepts these publishers with little traffic (some ad networks don’t) the reality is that some bloggers give up before hitting this mark. I wonder how much money AdSense makes out of this.
Let me emphasize again – this is not a definitive list or one that should persuade a new blogger one way or the other on whether they should use AdSense. My personal opinion is that it’s worth testing numerous money making options for blogs to see what works best – including AdSense.
What would you add to today or yesterday’s list of reasons to use and not use AdSense on blogs?