Why I Dropped Homepage Google Adsense

by jim on January 5th, 2010

Your site’s regular readership is its lifeblood, you should always strive to give them what they want and keep them coming back for more. They are the folks who take time out of their day to email you, to comment on your articles, to tell you when your wrong and to tell you when you’re right. Without them, your site would a lifeless collection of posts that really, lets be honest, are otherwise unremarkable. With readers and their own insightful comments, your posts become much richer, provide more value, and are probably more interesting. 🙂

So with that mantra always in my mind, I’m always striving to improve the user experience because I want to make the site the best it can be. That’s why I try to make it faster using tips from YSlow and why I, about a year and a half ago, decided to remove Google Adsense from Bargaineering.com’s homepage.

Metrics Don’t Lie

Metrics will always lead the way in any justification and this case is no exception. My hypothesis was that regularly readers were hitting the homepage and thus less likely to click on advertisements. Search engine and new visitors, those more likely to click on Adsense, would predominately be visit individual posts. Fortunately testing this theory was easy, I had separate channels for the two left sidebar skyscrapers on the homepage and for the two skyscrapers on individual posts. Each were the 120×600 blocks.

June 2008 was the last month I had Adsense on the homepage and CTR figures were (these are not the actual CTR figures but the ratios are correct):

  • Upper homepage skyscraper – 2.56%
  • Lower homepage skyscraper – 1.00%
  • Upper individual skyscraper – 29.77%
  • Lower individual skyscraper – 3.33%

Don’t focus on the numbers themselves because they’re not the actual CTRs, just focus on the ratios. One ad block did not get a near 30% CTR… 🙂

As you can see, the homepage ads performed horrible compared to the individual ads – as expected. In fact, the lower placed individual skyscraper beat the higher placed skyscraper on the homepage – further cementing the idea that homepage visitors simply don’t click on advertisements.

Revenue

When you looked at revenue, the difference was even more pronounced (again, no actuals but ratios):

  • Upper homepage skyscraper – $2.89
  • Lower homepage skyscraper – $1.00
  • Upper individual skyscraper – $67.95
  • Lower individual skyscraper – $14.00

If I had to keep only one adsense block, I’d keep the upper individual skyscraper. Fortunately, I can decide to keep them all and I made the decision that it was better for the user if I removed homepage ads. In the end, it wouldn’t cost me much and I felt it made for a cleaner experience.

Have you made the switch to an ad-free homepage? If so, did you do a similar analysis? It not, have you considered it?

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20 Responses to “Why I Dropped Homepage Google Adsense”

  1. Pinyo Says:

    I’m 100% on board with ad-free home page. It has been that way for over a year now (roughly) that I don’t have ads on Moolanomy’s home page.

  2. Mike Says:

    Couldn’t agree more. I did the same a while back. In this case the numbers don’t lie!

  3. Mrs. Micah Says:

    I’ll probably do that on my new redesign. I already use WSA to keep in-post ads small for the first month or so (probably could shorten that to a week), trying not to bother the readers who wouldn’t click anyway.

  4. Mike Piper Says:

    I ditched adsense completely on my investing blog. It earned less $/visitor than just selling my own products.

    That said, I still use it on my tax site.

  5. Jason Unger Says:

    It’s worth way more money to keep a clean homepage for regular readers than the little you’ll get from Adsense.

    The key is to target people who are just driving by …

  6. Viviana Says:

    You have read my mind, just last night I was rethinking having Google Adsense. It has not made me much money but even more importantly I don’t think the ads look good on my site. I would appreciate any suggestions as to other ways of monetizing.

  7. FFB Says:

    I dropped Adsense on my homepage as well. If a reader is going to find me via search then they will find my individual posts anyway rather than my homepage.

    I still have other ads on my homepage. I might have to re-consider that.

    I also show only excerpts on the homepage so if a reader wants to read a particular article they click through to the article. Then they see the Adsense.

  8. J. Money Says:

    Very interesting….haven’t put much thought in it, but I like the way you all think! It’s on my list to review – thanks Wangarific. Now get your a$$ down to a blogger happy hour 😉

  9. Nathaniel Broughton Says:

    Don’t the big-time ad buyers want home page exposure? If you’ve got a high traffic site, it’s probably more profitable to sell any ad space you do rock to big name brand buyers who can throw a few grand at you for those skyscraper spots. Sure beats pennies from Adsense.

    All fine to be Mr. Clean and not run ads, but I doubt most people will turn down big money for hp’s ads to real ad buyers. You just need to know how to sell to those guys.

  10. Peter Says:

    At one point i had 3 adsense ads on the homepage, but due to horrible perfomance of those ads I removed 2 of them. I still have the one 160×600 on the homepage, and it does ok, but nothing like the 2 adsense ads on the individual post pages. I’m sure I could remove it from the homepage with little impact. But honestly – I’m not sure most people really care if you have adsense on your pages – I think it’s expected nowadays? I’ve never once in 2 years of blogging had someone complain about ads on the page. Has anyone else?

  11. Mike Says:

    Peter, I’m not too worried about “looks” but if an ad unit isn’t making any $$ then I’d rather not bother.

    That said, I’ve been considering putting a sidebar block on the main page and only showing it to search engine visitors. That might be worth trying.

    Jim, would it be possible to add “subscribe to comments”?

  12. jim Says:

    Hahaha, I would if you guys would stop having it on Tuesdays and Thursdays… 🙂

  13. jim Says:

    It depends on what the advertisers are trying to accomplish and oftentimes, at least with financial services companies, it’s about conversions. The advertising they do display is an attempt to get more conversions or they’re thinking about it from a blended CPA perspective. IF they buy an ad here, how much does it increase their affiliate CPA costs? Perhaps they only pay $20 through the program but, through direct ad sales, the blended CPA is more like $40 or $50 to reflect their desire to keep you as an advertiser.

    I’ve found that the branding aspect is immaterial to them when you’re talking about a smaller site (it’s different if you are CNN or ESPN).

  14. jim Says:

    Mike – there’s a checkbox underneath the submit button for you to subscribe to comments.

  15. Evan Says:

    Jim,

    What about a service like Chitika which only shows up when the person came from a search engine?

    Any experience with them?

  16. jim Says:

    I never liked how Chitika “audits” revenue figures at the end of the month, that practice turned me off to them. In theory, it should be fine but Chitika simply doesn’t have the same breadth of advertisers that Adsense does.

  17. Evan Says:

    What do you mean audits?

  18. jim Says:

    Your earnings are unaudited during the month (it says so in parenthesis). At the end of the month, they go through and scrub your revenues for things like fraud.

  19. lester Says:

    How do I drop Adsense from my Blogger homepage?

  20. jim Says:

    Lester – you’ll have to look through your template and find where the adsense is appearing and remove it manually. It’ll be a large block of text that will have google repeated several times. (google_ad…, google_color… etc.)

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