Why Google Adsense is Not a Business Strategy But Still Money in the Bank

Would you take $740 if I gave it to you? Most people would say Yes. My Google AdSense check came today. It’s for 548.65 euros, about $740 dollars. I get this check every month; payments range from $700 (low) to $1200 (highest). But, I’ve decided to stop using Google Adsense. Here’s why.

Google Adsense is Not a Business Strategy but It’s Still MoneyWould you take $740 if I gave it to you? Most people would say Yes. My Google AdSense check came today. It’s for 548.65 euros, about $740 dollars. I get this check every month; payments range from $700 (low) to $1200 (highest). But, I’ve decided to stop using Google Adsense. Here’s why.

Google-Adsense-Monthly-Check-PhotoGoogle Adsense is Not a Business Strategy

I’ve decided to phase out Adsense for different reasons. Here’s the background:

  • When I started my online business, I had no products. Google Adsense was the simplest option. It acted as an interim solution until I had my own products.
  • But it does work. I took this course from this guy and learnt how to really use Google Adsense. It paid for itself many times over.
  • Earnings rose from $3 per month to over $1200 at its peak.

So, why stop? Here’s the problem.
What is Google Adsense? Well, it is not a Business Strategy. It’s a deluxe affiliate program. And a very good one but…

  • Strategy – My long-term aim is to develop my own suite of digital products and earn from these. I want greater control.
  • Ownership – I have no control of Adsense. If it disappears tomorrow (unlikely, but I’ve been bitten before) all my efforts is wasted. In the meantime, I could have developed or explored other options.
  • Competition – While Adsense does very well, split testing with other products has shown that some of these earn as much, if not more.
  • Customers – they have little interest in the ads and do their best to ignore them. Many complain that it’s irritating and/or visual pollution.
  • Traffic – strangely enough, split testing pages with and without ads made little difference traffic wise. BUT, it reduced the number of comments on the site. When I removed the ads, the interaction improved, resulting in visitors staying longer. Banner Ads and other in-page adverts irritate users; I’ve never met a customer who asked me to put ads on a site.

Criteria for phasing out affiliate products

This creates a small dilemma. Do I phase out and/or remove Google Ads?

  1. At what point do I phase out an affiliate products?
  2. How long do I give an under-performing product before reviewing, pausing and/or removing it from the site?
  3. What criteria do I use to judge the performance of a product? Sales is the simplest/crudest indicator but, and this is my concern, if I switch the position of Adsense (i.e. place on the website) with another product, its sales numbers are negatively impacted. And the replacement product often performs better.

How To Use Google Adsense For Maximum Effect

Let’s not thrown out the baby with the bath-water. My current solution has been to:

  • Placement – Move the ads to the lower left navigation. This space allows ‘skyscraper’ ads to appear there. These have high clickthru rates, i.e. higher payments. Position = rates.
  • Video – This position also allows video ads to appear. Again, these have high click-thru rates.
  • User Behavior – Articles that discuss high end products, such as digital cameras benefit from these skyscraper ads. These are rather eye-catching and, it seems, when people scroll to the end of the page, they click on the largest (i.e. easiest) option available. In this case, the skyscraper video ads work very well.

So, for now, we have reached a happy medium. I still use Google Adsense, even if it’s less prominent than previously.

Adsense Highest Performing Ad Sizes

Update: Google published a list of the highest performing ad sizes:

  • 336×280 large rectangle
  • 300×250 inline rectangle
  • 160×600 wide skyscraper

I’d recommend the 160×600 wide skyscraper as it doesn’t distract the reader from your main content and sits nicely in the side of the page.
Which brings us back to Business Strategy…
Defining a strategy means choosing the most effective way to run your business. Google Adsense is ideal for those starting an online business – but you need to (and can) aim higher. Ultimately, you want to wean yourself off from low-performing affiliate programs and develop your own products, which of course, you can then market to your own army of affiliates!
See the difference?
Next week, I’ll show you how I’ve started to develop a strategy for a new small business site. It has no Google Adsense and no advertising – 100% digital products. If you’re interested, please bookmark this site and see how it works.
Do you agree with what I’ve done? Would you have done it different? Let me know below.

15 thoughts on “Why Google Adsense is Not a Business Strategy But Still Money in the Bank”

  1. Interesting, and great job on the $740 dollar check! Contextual ads are not my biz model either, and you already touched on most of them. A better way to do it, IMHO, is to contact the advertisers directly and ask if they want to advertise with you. If they're already getting good traffic from you, they would do so happily.

    Oh, and nice rebranding there!

    1. Hi Ken,

      <Contextual ads are not my biz model either, and you already touched on most of them.
      Something I overlooked to mention in the article was the Google Adsense/Adwords can work (or be more lucrative) on product or review sites, e.g. reviewing digital cameras.

      The click-thrus seems to be higher AND the advertisers (e.g. Canon) seem to make a greater effort to write sharper ads (e.g. better copy) and more attractive videos. This makes a big difference with the conversion rates.

      <contact the advertisers directly and ask if they want to advertise with you.

      I hear what you're saying but it’s a real slog. If they contact me, we’re usually good to go, but others want so much ‘proof’ before they do a deal (say for $200) that it’s not worth the time/effort.
      Another way is to join an Ad network and let them find the advertizers. The downside is that they usually want prime ‘real estate’ on your homepage and I prefer to keep this for my newsletter.
      Sponsors might suit your site, by the way.
      E.g. if you wrote a series of article on a specific area of finance, I can see how Bank of America etc would be interested.

      And your Facebook site looks good!

    2. about the re-branding…

      Reading Yaro this week and he said you HAVE to have a strapline. What does you site say in 1 second?

      I looked at my site and thought, ‘well, what’s it about?’

      Even I could tell!
      Now, it looks a bit better.
      This site helps you

      1. Escape the 9-5 by
      2. Developing a Business Plan to do so!

      And it helps me stay focused!

      1. Yeah I agree it's not easy to get direct advertisers, it takes some skills to pull it off too. So it's not my biz model either. I look forward to seeing you escape the 9-5 and live anywhere in the world! +)

  2. Where do you put the google ads? i used to put them above the header so they can t miss it but no one seems to click on them. What am I doing wrong?

    1. Timmo, you should test out different placement on your website: sidebar, footer, header, middle of post, end of post, etc. There's no one-size-fits-all solution really. It also depends on your traffic, obviously. Good luck!

      1. I’d second that.
        Look at how Amit does it here
        http://www.labnol.org/
        the 2nd nav bar at the top is actually google ads.
        See how he gets them to blend into the site design?
        They don’t look like ads, do they?
        So, I guess, more people click on them! More money in the bank!

  3. Wow! You manage to earn $740 dollar check monthly. It is a great amount for me. If you really manage to produce your own product, i think Google Adsense can be taken out from your site. However, people who do not manage to produce product like me have to depend on Google Adsense to make money. 🙂

    1. Hey KS,
      People who do not manage to produce product like me have to depend on Google Adsense to make money 🙂

      One thing in your favor right now is that Google Adsense is getting a reputation as a poor investment, i.e. for making money, so less people will be trying to get in here.

      Maybe you can use this to your advantage and try to dominate some micro-niche area, e.g. write a book explaining how to run successful Google Adsense campaigns.

      One book I found v useful is The Findability Formula. If you can find it on Amazon, try to get it. Some good tips there re: squeezing the most from your campaigns.

      And any tips you’d like to share would be great.

      I'm learning too! 🙂

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