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When AdSense Makes No Sense

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Google’s AdSense program is a proven money-maker that has enriched the pockets of many website owners.

Unlike many pay-per-click systems, the AdSense program has a large pool of advertisements to draw from – the ads come from Google’s AdWords program, which you can think of as the flipside of AdSense – which almost guarantees that AdSense can find relevant advertisements to display alongside a site’s content.

There are times, however, when using AdSense makes no sense at all. Here are some common scenarios:

1. Your site gets too much traffic. The basic AdSense program is geared for small-to-medium sites. If your site gets significant traffic, look into the Google AdSense Premium Service. This is the program used by sites like Amazon.com and The New York Times.

2. Your site does not conform to AdSense program policies. You cannot display AdSense advertisements on any site that violates the AdSense program policies. This is outlined in the first section of the AdSense Terms and Conditions to which you agreed when you joined the AdSense program.

Practically speaking, this means that any content that promotes pornography, gambling, drug use or any illegal activity is unsuitable for AdSense use. You are also forbidden from using AdSense to promote alcohol, tobacco, conterfeit goods and other controversial products or services. If you’re running an online casino, for example, AdSense cannot be used on the casino’s site.

3. Your visitors are offended by advertisements. Above all else, AdSense is an advertising distribution program: you’re renting space on your pages to Google for the display of advertisements drawn from its AdWords program. In return for the use of your space, Google gives you a cut of the pay-per-click revenue it makes from the advertisements shown on your pages. If most of your visitors find ads offensive, they’ll stay away from your site and you won’t make any money from the ads that are displayed anyhow, so you might as well not display any ads.

Note that there’s a difference between offending your visitors by showing any advertisements at all and offending them by showing the advertisements in so obnoxious a manner that all they want to do is leave your site. In fact, displaying ads in an intrusive manner violates the AdSense program policies and should be avoided for that reason alone.

4. The ads are simply unsuitable. Although Google does its best to find targeted advertisements that are relevant to a page’s content, sometimes that targeting fails and unsuitable ads are shown. If your content is about the evils of dieting, for example, you probably don’t want to see advertisements promoting specific diets. Nor do you want to see advertisements for competing products or services. AdSense lets you filter out many advertisements, but in some cases it’s simply impossible – or too much work – to keep out the unsuitable advertisements.

5. You make more money by keeping visitors on your site. The fundamental premise of pay-per-click advertising is that you’re willing to send your visitors elsewhere in return for some kind of payment. If AdSense is your only form of revenue then this is an acceptable trade-off. If, however, your site makes you more from other programs, you should consider whether or not losing some of your visitors to pay-per-click ads is worth it.

You don’t have to remove ads entirely to handle this problem. You can simply reduce the number of ads that you display and even reposition them so that they’re clicked less often. Or place them only on the site’s exist pages – the pages from which your visitors typically leave the site. Remember that your visitors are going to leave your site eventually anyhow, you’re just trying to get them to stay longer.

Another strategy is to use AdSense link units instead of regular text or image advertisements, because you can configure link units (unlike the regular ads) to open in a separate window when clicked.
Remember that the AdSense program is a flexible pay-per-click program. You don’t have to show advertisements on each page of your site – in fact, the AdSense program policies forbid you from displaying ads on certain kinds of pages. Nor do you have to display ads on each site you own. You can even decide whether image or text advertisements (or both) are to be shown on a page-per-page basis. And of course you can use AdSense channels to discover just exactly which pages are making you money and which pages aren’t.

Use AdSense’s flexibility to your advantage, but don’t get stuck on it if it’s not working for you. There are other pay-per-click and impression-based advertising systems out there to explore. For a general, all-purpose program it’s hard to beat AdSense, but your situation may warrant a more specialized program. Some sites make more from affiliate programs that from selling advertising, or use a combination of both. Do the search and figure out what’s best for you.

Eric Giguere is the author of Make Easy Money with Google: Using the AdSense Advertising Program, an introductory AdSense book published by Peachpit Press. Make Easy Money with Google shows the average, non-technical computer user how easy it is to build a money-making blog or website with no experience required. The book steps you through the entire process: finding and creating the right content; registering a domain name; setting up a simple site or blog; joining Google’s AdSense pay-per-click program; and driving traffic to your site or blog. Find out more about the book from the companion site or by contacting the author directly at eric@makeeasymoneywithgoogle.com.

When AdSense Makes No Sense
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