I Got My 21 Cents…

22 cents actually. A day or so after enabling Google Adsense, my blog generated its first income from a click. A day later, another cent appeared. I’m not sure where the extra cent came from. It’s not from a click and it can’t be from impressions. I guess Google were just feeling generous.

Not Adsense!

I’ve read many posts recently saying that Adsense doesn’t perform as well as other options. Some people are even removing Adsense from their sites. It seems that Adsense is no longer the flavour of the month.

As I’ve said elsewhere, I know that Adsense will probably not work well with this blog’s content or with my target audience. I know there’s a chance it may even drive some readers away. I know there are other ways of monetizing a site. Despite all this, I am giving Adsense a whirl. Why?

I’m starting to do a little freelance web development. Adsense does suit some sites very well and is popular with my potential client base, so I need to have first hand knowledge of working with it.

I’ll also be trying out other options as well, but don’t worry, I’ll keep the ads to a minimum on the site. Making money is not the primary aim of this blog.

Obsessive Behaviour

Of course, despite my previous statement, I fell into the very common trap of checking the Adsense site every 10 minutes to see if I was a millionaire yet. Not quite, but that first 21 cents felt almost as good!

I quickly tired of constantly checking the total, but didn’t give up. Instead I installed the AdSense Earnings Reports plugin which displays your Adsense results in the Admin area of WordPress. Unfortunately the plugin didn’t work for me (nothing happened, the stats weren’t populated, not even to say 0).

Then I read a ‘Top xx Firefox Extensions’ post (I lost the URL unfortunately), which lead me to the Adsense Notifier extension for Firefox. I spend more time in Firefox than I do on my Admin screen (in Firefox), so my obsession can be fed more easily with this! However, there is a problem with it. You must manually log in before it will work (it should log you in automatically).

My guess is that Google has changed something recently that has broken both the plugin and the extension. Then again, I can’t find any reports of other people having problems, so it may just be me.

Anyway, my obsession is fading now. I’ll just check it one last time…

Ad Placement

For the moment, I am putting one 468 x 60 Banner in the post body, one 120 x 240 Vertical Banner in the sidebar and one referral unit in the sidebar.

I have tried to blend the ads in by using similar colours to my theme. I don’t want them to stand out too much and annoy everyone. Neither do I want people to be blind to them.

However, I have placed a border around them as I don’t want them to blend in too much and have people click them by accident (although this seems to be essentially what many Adsense gurus recommend).

I’m interested in any feedback on this. As a reader, do you prefer ads to stand out clearly, or do you prefer them to blend in? If you use Adsense on your site, have you found it to be better to blend them in?

Displaying The Ads

There are quite a few WordPress plugins for displaying Adsense, but at the moment I’m using a ‘home grown’ solution for the post body. I wrote a quick plugin (took 5 minutes) that replaces a tag I enter with my Adsense code.

This is probably not the long term solution. I’ve had a quick look at the Adsense-Deluxe plugin, which seems pretty powerful. I’ve also been hearing good things about the Shylock Adsense plugin, so I may have a look at that. Any advice is welcome.

For the sidebar, I’m using the Google Adsense widget plugin by Otto. I tried text widgets at first, but I use quite a few already and after a while it’s hard to remember what Text 4 is for. Otto’s plugin gives you widgets which are basically text widgets but with Google Adsense in the widget title.

The number of Adsense widgets is restricted to 4 (the maximum number of units allowed under Google’s old Terms of Service). These days you are allowed up to 11 units when you combine ad units, link units, referrals and searches. I’m not planning to use that many, but if I do, I could always use text widgets for the extra ones!

The Final Word

I’m looking forward to seeing how Adsense works. I’ll probably play with the positioning and type of ads to see how they perform. It’s a learning experience for me.

If you have any tips for me, please leave a comment. Thanks.

11 responses on “I Got My 21 Cents…

  1. Slevi

    Have recently re-introduced adsense to my blog as well, but results aren’t really good I must say. Although I have made about a dollar, I don’t really consider that to be a reason to keep it up. Asides from that the clicks I generated all came from older posts, so I’ll probably end up disabling adsense ads in my newer posts and simply use adsense as a way to get some little extra money from those older posts which people find through the search engines.

    Myself I use the shylock plugin, really loving how you can set ads differently for older and newer posts with that :).

  2. Maurice (TheCaymanHost)

    Hi Stephen

    You will earn the odd few cents here and there without clicks – for the number of displays of some ads – I think, but I’m not really up to date with it anymore.

    I think the “Adsense Blindness” often cited, is one reason why click throughs are sometimes lower than expected. Having said that, I often read Adsense ads and have sometimes found some little gems when I’ve bothered to check them out, so I would never discount Adsense as an additional revenue generating tool even though I don’t use it at present because of other programs. Glad you’ve seen your first hit though :-)

  3. Stephen Cronin Post author

    Slevi, I’m still nowhere near a dollar, so I’m jealous! :)

    I suspect Adsense really won’t make much on this blog. My target reader is a little more technical than the average internet user and they are known to click less. Also my content doesn’t lend itself to Adsense success. People at a knitting blog are more likely to click on an ad for knitting supplies, than someone at this blog is to click on an ad for a blogging service. Still I’ll have fun playing with it for a while. If I had more time, I’d setup another blog with content that would work better with Adsense, as RT from UntwistedVortex.com has done.

    I’ll have to watch where the clicks come from. It may be that I’ll find the same thing as you, in which case I may disable it on newer posts. The more I hear about Shylock, the more I like what I hear.

    Article, I thought CPM was for a thousand impressions – I haven’t reached that many yet in total, let alone for one particular ad.

    Hi Maurice. I have to say that personally I am Ad Blind (not just Adsense either). The funny thing is that when I look at the ads showing on my site, I occasionally want to check them out (but can’t because you can’t click ads on your own site)! I guess I need to start noticing ads more on other sites. I hadn’t appreciated that not all ads are for paid services – free services are advertised too.

  4. teia

    AdSense does well on some of my sites, but not the tech-related ones. I think that people who read tech sites have more AdSense blindness.

  5. Slevi

    CPM is for a thousand impressions indeed, but with adsense don’t place your hopes on that. It’s not even displayed on the basic reports anymore from what I can see.

    Note: Don’t mix up ECPM with CPM, the ECPM is an indication of what you’re making for every 1000 views.

    But well yeh, I got the same problem as you. The audience is pretty tech-savvy so the click-thru rate is minimal. I’m on 1/3rd done of the first payment since I still had some on it left from the past, but if it continues in the same pace I’ll need another 350.000 impressions before I actually reach the payment point :P.

  6. Hoto

    hey 22 cent are much better then nothing. lol i see it this way i don`t have to do nothing more for the money coming from google ad. so just have it on our site and grap the money for doing nothing.

  7. Stephen Cronin

    Teia, I agree with you, so I’m not expecting much.

    Slevi, thanks for the information. I’m not placing my hopes on Adsense at all. I’m up to 26 cents now. At this rate it will take 14 years to reach the $100 payout figure!

    Hoto, I agree, 22 cents are better than nothing, but it’s no good if I have to wait 14 years to get it. I’ll keep it here for now, but I don’t know if I will keep it. I’ll probably play with the configuration a bit.

  8. Sam Nichols

    Same here: CTR is very low on my blog and visitors are ONLY from search engines. NO SU, NO DIGG. And is below 1% no matter what. Maybe the information they find there is too good and they don’t need to click the ads. The answer is in the articles.
    Switched to affiliate marketing but conversions are very low. Should I start using crap content so people click the ads for an answer to their problems??

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