Why Adsense is Not Suitable for All Blog Topics

    April 28, 2005

One of the most striking things that hit me in my analysis of the 30 most visited blogs at Truth Laid Bear was the small number of blogs using the Adsense program.

Only 8 of the 30 (26%) had any Adsense ads on their pages – most instead opting for BlogAds as their income stream of choice. A number of you have also emailed me or commented on this after my previous post (remember these 30 blogs are not THE most visited blogs – just the most visited ones with sitemeter stats tracking them).

As someone who uses Adsense extensively in my blogging this was initially a somewhat shocking finding. My Digital Camera blog is down at the bottom of the list at number 30 with 12518 daily visitors – I use Adsense extensively there and make over $200 per day from doing so on that blog alone (it is my highest earning blog to date). It would be easy to assume that a blog like Daily Kos with 35 times the daily traffic should earning 35 times the money if they used Adsense ($7500 per day).

This would be a false assumption.

Why? Its simply about Topic.

The majority of the blogs in the list have a political or news/commentary theme – I’d classify 22 of the top 30 this way. Of the 8 remaining 3 are tech related, 4 are gossip/celebrity focussed and 1 is a metablog covering all of those themes (ie tech, politics, culture etc). This last blog is BlogCritics who I’ve spoken with the owners of and asked why they don’t use Adsense – the reason is that they have many contributer – some of whom use strong language in their posting and comments which doesn’t fit with Google’s guidelines.

Political Blogs – Whilst they generate some massive traffic, Adsense is never going to be the income stream of choice for these bloggers for a number of reasons:

They have no control over which ads do and don’t appear – You can just imagine the variety of ads that could be served to a piece written on George Bush. I don’t know too many political bloggers who would be happy to have an ad that they are opposed to running on their blog. Adsense has no way of telling if your blog is pro or against him – so it will randomly serve ads (if there are any). For instance if you check out Washington Monthly you’ll see an example of a political blog running adsense in their right hand sidebar and notice the variety of ads that are shown there from page to page.

Low earnings per click – Political ads just don’t pay much. Whilst during the election there might have been a bit more competition between advertisers as there was more at stake, in general ads about politics (which there is no real product to sell) don’t tend to generate high bids from advertisers.

With these factors in mind – a better business model for such sites would obviously be a system that gives the blogger a choice about which ads appear on their blog and that are tied more to impression level or relevant ads than to click value’. As a result BlogAds tend to do well on them.

Gossip/Celebrity Blogs – Again blogs of this nature have the distinct advantage of generating a lot of impressions due to the inquisitive nature of human beings who want to know others business and who have a fascination with celebrity. However they have the distinct disadvantage of not being big earners with Adsense. Once again this comes down to a lack of earnings per click. I run a number of celebrity blogs which at times generate very high traffic – but their CPM (earnings per thousand impressions) is generally the lowest among my blogs. This again is largely due to the fact that there is no high value product associate with celebrities. Sure there are a few books, DVDs, concert tickets and movies – but advertisers are not willing to shell out big dollars to get you to buy these lower ticket value items.

It is possible to make some reasonable money from celebrity blogs – but the rate of return per visitor will always be lower than other topics of blog – to make it big with Adsense on a gossip blog would require a lot of traffic and the fact is that they can probably earn more with other types of ads (impression based ones or site sponsorship deals would be more suitable).

Tech Blogs – whilst there are not as many of these in the top 30′ list they are perhaps the best suited ones to using Adsense. This is largely due to the fact that they specifically focus upon items that can be purchased – some of which can be of a high retail value. In terms of click value’ – these sorts of blogs do generate a higher return than political and gossip topics – but they are not the highest earning topics out there. In fact my Digital Camera Blog may be my biggest earner (total earnings) but in terms of click value its in the middle of the pack and perhaps even trailing the field a little. It is still well worth doing though as the combination of a slightly higher click value and some reasonable traffic pay off nicely.

I am a little surprised that the other tech blogs in the list don’t use Adsense as prominently as they could. I would have thought that with their higher traffic levels and profile that it would have been worthwhile to do so. Having said this it is probably due to them having better alternatives for their ad space.

Take Home Advice – So the take home advice is that not all blogs are suitable for Adsense. Other topics that will always be an uphill battle include:

Religion – similar problems with politics – ie low click value and difficulty in serving ads that relate tightly with your perspective

Adult Content – Google simply doesn’t allow ads to be served on pages with explicit content (same story with gambling I’ve heard)

Sport – Similar problem to the celebrity blog – with no real high ticket value product attached to these keywords you need a lot of traffic to make much from these blogs from Adsense.

I’m sure there are others. Feel free to leave a comment below and let the rest of us know what you think. What topics have you found don’t work too well on Adsense? Which ones do?

Link: Weblogs By Average Daily Traffic

Darren Rowse is the founder of ProBlogger.net, a blog about the many ways of adding an income stream to blogs.

Darren owns and writes a variety of blogs including Digital Photography Blog and Camera Phone
. He is also a co-founder of the Breaking News Blog Collective.