Making Sense of AdSense
September 28, 2006 3:14 PM   Subscribe

Approximately how much does Google's AdSense pay?

We are trying to determine whether AdSense provides us with a reasonable business model. Does anyone have any data on how much Google pays per page view and click? I realize the formula might be complicated and/or unknown--we're just looking for approximate numbers to see if an idea is viable, thanks.
posted by king walnut to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I think it varies tremendously depending on the subject matter of your page, the structure of your content, the type of users you have; all the things which might affect how effective the ads really are. Consider a site reviewing consumer electronics verses an equally popular site describing US War Crimes.

Anyway, on the second page of the adsense page there's a screenshot of a statement. If you're good at reading small you can see they've got 600k impressions, 20k clicks, and made $4k. While I don't know if that's typical, I would hope it's at least reasonable.
posted by aubilenon at 3:41 PM on September 28, 2006

It's also been a while since I've read the terms of service, but IIRC, the TOS expressly prohibits people posting how much they make (per click) on public forums and the like.

Their business model is to either pay per click, or (more recently) to pay per action, that is, to pay if a click thru generates a sale.
posted by cgg at 3:57 PM on September 28, 2006

In addition, you'll find that the Terms of service prevent people using AdSense from disclosing their cut of the pay.

High profile sites can do pretty well, but your average 100-person-a-day blog won't get much more than a few bucks out of it.
posted by chrisamiller at 3:57 PM on September 28, 2006

Consider that a given click can pay anywhere from a few cents to a few dollars, depending on how much Google got paid for it. That makes it really tough to make general statements -- 100 clicks could be $3 or $300.
posted by smackfu at 4:03 PM on September 28, 2006

Response by poster: In my own search for this information, many people mentioned that Google recently lifted the ban on sharing AdSense revenue data.
posted by king walnut at 4:07 PM on September 28, 2006

Their terms and conditions are public and pretty readable. You cannot disclose click-through rates or similar info, but you can disclose the gross payment amounts (which makes sense, since that is a financial transaction that would have to be shared with the IRS, bank, etc.)
posted by smackfu at 4:14 PM on September 28, 2006

For what it is worth, a friend runs adsense on his resonably popular blog and gets a click-through rate of 5 per 1,000. You can use the tool here to get an idea of what one of Google's competitor's is paying for certain terms.

JD, of Get Rich Slowly, recently discussed his ad revenue.

I did the math on what I thought was a fairly popular site I run, and realized I might make about $300 a year, not worth the hassle for me. If you have a future Boing-Boing in your pocket, I'm sure you can do way better than that.

The guys making the most money from adsense seem to be the guys running sites telling others how to make the most money from adsense.
posted by maxwelton at 5:19 PM on September 28, 2006

On a site I have knowledge of (not my own and I've purposefully rounded the numbers)

Impressions: 330000
Clicks: 6500
Total for September so far: $800

Hopefully that's enough not to violate their rules too much.
posted by Kickstart70 at 5:41 PM on September 28, 2006

The Internet's Biggest Google Whores page shows you how much the top dogs are making. I'm guessing you could figure out a reasonable estimate by comparing their Alexa info and taking into account the type of ads that would be served on their sites.
posted by chimmyc at 5:50 PM on September 28, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks of all the good answers. I guess there is no known formula and you just have to rely on the whim of Google.
posted by king walnut at 6:26 PM on September 28, 2006

King Walnut, I hope you're still checking this thread.

As maxwelton notes, I have made vague disclosures about the revenue from my various sites (of which GRS is by far the most important). I do make several hundred dollars a month total from a variety of sources. Google is one of them. But it's not the most important one, not by a long shot.

Whether or not Adsense is a viable business model will depend completely on your site, your content, and your traffic. Because Google doesn't allow publishers to disclose specifics, it's very difficult to tell how well various methods work. For my part, I've discounted the idea of every making enough money from Adsense to be able to live off my web work. I would need 25x my current total traffic among all sites at a minimum. I have big dreams, but not that big. Yet.

That said, there are other ways to make money with a web site. For me, it's tough because I'm trying to walk a fine line between making enough money for my web writing to be worthwhile and keeping the advertising innocuous enough that it doesn't piss people off. I think that affiliate programs are a great way to offer innocuous advertising, provided you're up-front about what you're doing. For example, I am an affiliate with a discount brokerage firm. I receive a commission every-time somebody signs up via one of my links. I incorporate such a link once or twice a month, whenever it fits naturally with the topic I'm writing about (and have a link in my sidebar at all times). I like this broker, and use it for my own investing, but I try to make it obvious to users that I profit from their actions.

Most months, I make about $500 from my sites. This month is very, very unusual: I'll make $1300. Again, Adsense only makes up a fraction of this. If you looked at how many hours I spend on my sites, I'm not making a lot of money. On the other hand, I've only been trying to make money off off my sites for six months. I can foresee a time when my web income is enough that I can quit my day job if I want, and stay home to work on my sites full time. That would be awesome. For me, that's "living the dream", doing something I love, something I would do even if I wasn't being paid. But I'm not there yet.

I've seen other sites in the same niche as GRS that are simply plastered with Google ads and various other promotions. I'm dying to know how they do. Their sites are ugly (not that mine is pretty), but maybe the ugliness is worth it because they make a fortune with Adsense. Somehow I doubt it, but it's certainly possible. It's difficult to find a lot of information on this subject because many TOS prevent discussion of revenue; some people are sensitive about money discussions; and some site owners (myself included) are worried about how others will feel about the fact they make money from their sites.

I often consider removing the ads from my sites completely. They can be a distraction, preventing me from focusing on my main task: providing quality content for my readers. I think that Ramit Sethi (of I Will Teach You to be Rich) has an excellent point. He doesn't put ads on his site. He makes money from ancillary projects. That is, his site is the ad, promoting him and his work. That's where the real money is, he says. Not in a few hundred dollars a month in Google ads. I think he's on to something.
posted by jdroth at 6:46 PM on September 28, 2006 [4 favorites]

I make $25-$50 a month off of about 10,000-15,000 page impressions. It's more than I expected, and it certainly pays the hosting bills.
posted by roofus at 4:22 AM on September 29, 2006

Without providing references, I'll assure you that between 3 and 10 CPM is very easily attained in semi-technical areas. That's all I can say.

However, I don't think any business should be built on Adsense being reliable. You can get kicked out pretty easily. You need to take several approaches.. things like, Yahoo, affiliate links to related products, etc..
posted by wackybrit at 8:52 AM on September 29, 2006

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