Posted:April 13, 2010

Unreluctantly Cutting the Tether


You’ve Got to be Crazy to Look to an Ad-based Revenue Model

OK. After an experiment of more than three years, I have just now canceled my Google AdSense participation. (Which, Google, by the way, makes almost impossible to do: Finding the cancel link is hard enough; but who remembers the day they first signed up for ads and how many impressions they got that day? Both are required to get a cancellation request approved. Give me a break. It is worse than banks claiming small digits from bank interest for their own income!!)

Despite my sub-title, I never did expect to make much (or, really, any) money from Google ads. When I first signed up for it in Dec 2006, I stated I was doing it to find out how this ad-based business really works.

Well, from my standpoint, it does not work well; actually, not well at all.

Over the years I have seen visits on this site climb to nearly 3 K per day, and other nice growth factors. Perhaps if I were really focused on ad revenue I would have rotated stuff, tried alternative placements, yada yada. But, mostly, I was just trying to see who made out in this ad game.

It is certainly not the standard blog. I think my stats put me somewhere in the top 1% of all sites visited, but even that is not enough to even pay my monthly server charges (now higher with Amazon EC2).

Yet, in recent months, I have noticed some vendors have specifically targeted advertising on my blog and there also has been an increase in full banner ads (away from the standard, unobtrusive link Google ads of years past). Maybe they know something I don’t and they are winning, but my monthly ad income has dropped or remained flat.

And, then, I began to get full panel flashing ads on my site that just screamed Hit me! Hit me!. WTF. It was the last straw. Where did the unobtrusive link stuff go? Screw it; I can afford to pay my own monthly chump change.

This is probably not the time or place to discuss business models on the Web, but the woeful state of ad-based revenue is apparent. My goodness, I’m getting tired of ReadWriteWeb, as an example and one of the biggest at that, shilling with repeats and big ads with stories for their prominent advertisers each weekend. And, they are one of the only few ad winners!

My honest guess is that fewer than 1/10 of 1% of Web sites with advertising make enough to cover their bandwidth and server costs. How do you spell s-m-a-r-t?

So, the experiment is over. I will now think a bit about how I can reclaim that valuable Web page space from my former charitable contribution to the Google cafeteria. Bring on the sushi!

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Unreluctantly Cutting the Tether

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You’ve Got to be Crazy to Look to an Ad-based Revenue Model

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OK. After an experiment of more than three years, I have just now canceled my Google AdSense participation

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One thought on “Unreluctantly Cutting the Tether

  1. Hi Mike,

    Happy to see one more piece of the Web rid itself of advertising. I played with adwords a bit myself but realized that the only thing it would do for me would pollute my site and make Google a tiny bit richer. To hear that Adaptive Information wasn’t making enough money to pay for hosting really reaffirms that decision (as I doubt I will ever crack 100 page views a month nevermind 3,000 ;) .

    If you did want to make another attempt at ad-based revenue, my understanding is that you can do a lot better based on direct contracts with the companies that advertise than you can with google. But then you have to find them and negotiate terms etc. so again it probably isn’t worth it.

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