Don’t Give Up On Generating More Adsense Revenue

Don't Surrender On AdsenseI get lots of people who comment on the blog here about my meager Adsense earnings of $1,300 or so every month thinking they could never earn that much because they only bring in a few pennies every 30 days or so. I’m saying $1,300 per month is meager because there’s just a lot more potential available in that revenue stream and if you’re struggling to even make a $12.37 payday every month, keep reading because there is hope.

If you are new to the Adsense game there’s no need to go over the basics because they’ve been done a million times so check out my three tutorials on how to earn more from Google before moving on. Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here and Part 3 is here.

Okay, now that you have the basics let’s talk about what makes a good Adsense site and how to make your ads more appealing to your visitors. You never want to trick your visitors into clicking on your ads, but you can do a lot to make the ads more interesting and to give them more exposure. The longer your visitors see your ads, and they look appealing, the better chance you have to earn some revenue.

Starting out let’s look at what kills Adsense revenue. The first thing is hideous placement or color schemes that are a huge turn-off. I can’t tell you how many Adsense blocks I’ve seen that are outside the margin of the column they’re placed in, covering text on the page or are of such bizarre color schemes you can see how desperate they really are, which is an automatic no click in my book.

People are so much less likely to click on an ad if it’s obvious the webmaster doesn’t know what they’re doing or if it’s equally obvious that they desperately want you to click on their ads. Vivid purple background Adsense units with contrasting yellow ad headlines to click on are tantamount to those screaming automobile dealership tv and radio ads. Really, how much time do you spend listening to those dinosaur modes of advertising any longer?

Another thing that kills Adsense revenue is placing your ads way outside the main body of your content. Let’s say you have a 4 column template running on your site and you have your 160 x 600 Adsense tower in the far right column, 350 pixels away from your content, you probably won’t get more than a trickle of revenue every month from those ads. People don’t come to your site to click on ads, they come to your site to read content and to gather information, they will only click on ads if they are of interest to them and if they are convenient to click on.

Secondly, what makes for a good Adsense earning site is, as I have mentioned before in the Adsense tutorials, the niche. But, it is the niche and the placement that is the winning combination. Both are huge factors and don’t really work one without the other. I don’t know why some niches work and why some don’t. I was extremely fortunate to stumble upon a winning niche in travel when I placed my first Adsense units. The second full month running Adsense back almost 4 years ago earnings were at $930. It would be nice if everything I’ve tried worked out so easy, but it’s only been this one thing that, I guess you could say, clicked right from the start.

What you’re looking for in a niche is where people shop and are looking for information before they buy. You don’t want buyers or people who have made up their mind, you want shoppers. Shoppers are clickers. The more people shop, the more they will click on ads and the more choices you give them in your info, the more revenue you stand to earn.

You would think that people interested in American Idol would be the ultimate consumers and click ads like they’re going out of style. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, at least in my experience. Maybe American Idolers are too young, too tight with their money, maybe they don’t click ads, whatever, after a season of writing on AI and trying every placement trick in the book, it just didn’t work out for me on this one. No biggie, on to something else, which brings me to point number 3…

Don’t work one niche with Adsense and give up because it didn’t work out. It doesn’t matter if you have a site that gets 10,000 people per day, if it’s not the right niche, it’s just not right. I have a Christian website that used to get 400 to 500 people a day, but Adsense was only paying about 5 to 10 cents per click tops for that niche so I removed it from the site. It just wasn’t worth it to run ads on that particular site.

I just checked my Adsense earnings for today at the time of writing this post (Sunday evening 2-08) and it’s over $50 at 10:15 pm EST and the stats show that 8 individual niches are generating revenue. If you aren’t trying Adsense in at least 4 or 5 different niches, you aren’t trying hard enough. It’s not always about the niche that you think will generate the most revenue because advertisers are paying outrageous click prices, it’s about the niche that does generate the most for you. If you only have one Adsense niche, you will never know if another could have done 10 times better.

In closing, here are a few top niches that either work for me now, have in the past or probably will in the future.

Travel– Killer earnings with a minimum of traffic. I average 12 cents in earnings for every visitor that goes to my top travel site. I run both Adsense and TripAdvisor to monetize this site.

Air Purification– A niche where people love to shop before they buy. That’s what your looking for in Adsense revenue generation, shoppers.

Nutrition – requires a moderate amount of traffic on the order of at least 1,000 visitors a day to make it worth your while.

Precious Metals – The economy is bad and people with money are trying to preserve their wealth. I’m just starting to see some decent Adsense earnings here and expect it to get much better.

Now put on your thinking cap and figure out where the shoppers are before you raise the white flag and give up on generating Adsense revenue.

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Done With Entrecard

Done With EntrecardThe time has finally come to remove the Entrecard widget from Affiliate Confession and make better use of the sidebar space it has occupied. Over the last couple of months some major bloggers have dropped Entrecard and some of my favorite places to advertise (that have brought me the most traffic) have left as well, but the last straw in helping me make that decision was when Lisa from To Create A Website rejected my Entrecard advertisement because she is also leaving Entrecard.

I’ve had a 9 month love, hate relationship with Entrecard and sang it’s praises when I first installed the widget on this blog at the beginning of December 2007. Through those 9 months I’ve tried massive advertising experiments, purchased credits from eBay and Entrecard itself, won thousands of Entrecard credits and spent massive amounts of time dropping cards and trying to find blogs worthy of advertising on.

And that’s where my main issue with Entrecard comes in. Trying to locate blogs worthy of spending your hard earned credits to advertise on is a huge time waster mainly because 97 to 98% of the blogs in the Entrecard system are one small step above being spam blogs. And unfortunately the pricing system for advertising isn’t based on actual traffic a blog receives, it’s based on how many ads are waiting to be shown in the blog’s que. This sometimes creates hugely overpriced ads that bring little to no traffic.

The process of hunting down blogs in your niche, visiting them to see what they look like, weeding through blogs that have advert prices above 1000 credits, yet have less than 10 rss readers, getting less than quality traffic from your ads and then sticking with that process week, after week, after week is just too cumbersome. Where Entrecard fails in my opinion is that the adverts you place only last for 24 hours. In my last advertising blitz I spent somewhere around 8 hours using up 30,000 credits, advertising on 300 different blogs and did get some low quality visitors to the tune of 250 to 300 oer day. But that only lasted for 10 days and the whole process starts over again.

That just doesn’t work economically for me. If I’m going to spend 8 hours doing advertising for my blog, it should last longer than 10 days and bring better quality traffic. Entrecard is too much like those lame traffic exchange systems where you earn traffic credits for visiting other sites in the system you aren’t interested in just to get people who aren’t interested in your site to visit you. Sadly, Entrecard is not much different than that.

If you have an ad already in my que it will run, but as of today, I won’t be approving any new ads. See ya later Entrecard.

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Profiting With Facebook Ads

I’m taking a break today from the Harsh Reality series to report on some success with Facebook Ads, finally. Over the last 3 days I’ve found out that yes, you can actually make some money with Facebook. It does take quite a bit of trial and error to find an offer that works and to be able to write your ads in a way that will please the ad editors, but when you finally get everything right, Facebook converts like crazy.

Over the last 4 days starting with Saturday evening I’ve earned a little more than $300 by running several niche offers. The best ones are a niche within a larger niche and I have one in particular that’s earning about $3 for every $1 I put into it. I’ve never even come close to anything like that with Adwords so this one is doing exceptionally well.

Facebook SpendI’ve found the trick with making a profit on Facebook is finding an offer that obviously appeals to the college and career minded individual, of which there are millions on FB, and it has to be easy and, even better, free to join, something that doesn’t require a credit card, at least initially and requires not more than about 8 fields to fill out.

One thing that has come as a surprise to me only in the last month or so, is that you can make money with cheap leads where you only earn $1.50 to $4 or so. In my previous experience with driving traffic via Adwords, it took lots of traffic to even get one conversion, but as the payoff per lead goes down, they will generally be easier and less costly to convert.

Spending stats for Facebook are above and here’s my earnings stats from AzoogleAds over the last 4 days or so:

Azoogle Earnings

The Facebook campaigns were started sometime on Saturday afternoon so they’re for a little less than 4 – 24 days. Total revenue for the 4 day period is $548.10 with spending at $233.57 resulting in a profit of $314.53. Not bad for a few hours worth of work over not quite 4 days.

To get profitable I started out the campaigns at around 35 cents a click and pared some down to 21 cents per click trying to keep my CTR consistent. Even if you can get your clicks down by 5 cents and it takes you 6 clicks to get a lead, as it did with my top earner, you can earn 30 cents more per lead which translates out to $30 extra profit per 100 leads.

Now for a little rant. You can make a profit with Facebook ads if you don’t give up and just keep looking for an offer that converts, but it can be difficult because of the utter incompetence of the Facebook Ads department. It is a complete joke what’s going on there. Sometimes it takes 5 or 6 tries to get your ads approved and I even had one ad that took me 4 times to come into compliance with one rule only to be disapproved for a completely different rule on try number 5. All the while my best performing ad is apparently in violation of both rules, yet they’re letting it run.

I’ve had ads approved and run for 1 hour and then turned off because they’re violating some insane policy. The Excel downloadable reports are absolutely worthless because they aren’t divided by campaign or date, just a single row of info (why even bother making an .xls file?). There isn’t any way to get a monthly report by campaign or day, you must go into each individual campaign and get reports by the week which will make for complicated accounting at the end of the month and there’s even more.

The incredible shortsightedness on the part of the developers of the ad system at Facebook is mind-boggling and then to top it off by staffing it with people that must have zero experience in advertising or making money online is truly astonishing. Facebook could probably be making billions with their ads, but because they are so user unfriendly and must employ people like the soup Nazi on Seinfeld to approve ads, they’re probably bleeding advertisers, and more importantly revenue, by the dump truck loads. End rant.

The best way to get your ads approved seems to be to get them in early in the morning before 10 am Eastern time. I’m guessing there are thousands of ads to approve from the night before and they are probably spending less time looking at your ads and are less alert because their Starbucks buzz hasn’t kicked in yet. I’ve had the exact same ad, only targeted differently, approved in the morning and not approved in the afternoon or evening multiple times, so they may be spending more time looking at things after the workload dwindles throughout the day.

If you’re going to make money with Facebook ads just decide right now to suck it up, bring a pick axe and keep chipping away at the rock because there are little gems to be had in there somewhere. Just keep looking.

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Facebook Advertising Report

Facebook AdsOver the last 3 weeks or so I’ve had the joy of trying to make money with Facebook Ads and trying to figure out what the minds in the ad department will allow to be shown on their site. Luckily I was able to secure $250 in free Facebook advertising coupons (some have expired as of this post) via NeilsWeb.com so this little advertising experiment didn’t cost me anything.

Probably the biggest drawback to advertising on Facebook is just trying to figure out what the ad editors want. In a previous post I lamented that the ad editors were so arbitrary in their decision making that they were causing blood to shoot from my eyes. After posting some 28 ads and getting 8 disapproved, I think I finally have somewhat of a handle on what is acceptable. They won’t accept anything that even remotely resembles spammy advertising, whether it be in the way you write your ads or the product you’re advertising.

Their old advertising guidelines don’t give you much direction on how your ads should be worded and while their new guidelines (not yet published, but found at Nickycakes.com) are much better at explaining what they’re looking for, their philosophy on advertising in general is bizarre to say the least. The text in your ad can’t imply that there is anything wrong with a person who might click on your ad. For instance, ads for weight loss products can’t say something like, “Want To Lose That Weight?” because that would be implying that those who want to lose weight are overweight. Well ya! Your ads must be worded in a neutral way such as, “Lose Weight With Product X” or Product X Weight Loss”. Completely lame.

It seems like the ad department at Facebook needs a little schooling in long established marketing principles because they seem to be hell bent on rewriting the rules of advertising. For Facebook to not even allow you to creatively pique a potential customer’s interest by asking a question, to establish a need, is just plain foolish. The powers that be at FB might have to rethink that one when their ad revenue starts drying up.

So what exactly happened with the $250 in free advertising credits? Well, my results didn’t turn out all that well. After spending $247 of the $250 I managed to only earn back $87.15, not a good return. Here’s how it all breaks down:

28 total ads created

8 disapproved

4 ads generated revenue

AzoogleAds Campaign = 9.50
Azoogle Campaign 2 = 23.35
Azoogle Campaign 3 = 2.50
Market Leverage Campaign = 51.80

Total = 87.15

3 Paused due to bleeding revenue to the tune of $97 in about 2 days time.

Probably the biggest hindrance to earning back the $250 was the high bid prices that are suggested you start your campaign with. Many of them are in the 50 to 70 cents per click range and I started 3 campaigns that ate up $97 rather quickly and produced zero results. I didn’t really figure out how some people such as Neil from NeilsWeb.com are able to get their bids low and still get a decent CTR. Most of my campaigns ran at a ridiculously low CTR of 0.03% and while I ran one campaign after I’d spent the $250 in free credits that got a 0.27% CTR, it ended up producing zero revenue after spending around $30.

Okay, what did I learn from this? While it’s still somewhat of mystery as to how some people are rockin Facebook Ads and cleaning up in revenue, I learned these basic things:

  • Don’t advertise spammy offers.
  • Find the fine line between neutral and creating too much of a sensation and you will get your ads approved.
  • Watch your ads closely and reduce bid prices accordingly if you are spending too much.
  • Look for offers or products that pay high, cost the consumer little and have appeal to the young Facebook audience.
  • Don’t listen to me, I essentially lost money! For crying out loud, read NeilsWeb.com and NickyCakes.com and learn from people who actually make money with Facebook Ads.

I’m not taking this as defeat though. There is a way to make money with Facebook Ads because other people are doing it, I’m just going to be a lot more careful with the next $250 spent, because this time it’s my money on the table.

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Facebook Ad Editors Causing Blood To Shoot Out My Eyes

Thanks Facebook Ad ElvesI though Google Adwords had cornered the market on vague and restrictive rules for advertising. Not so. Facebook advertising has turned into a complete joke. Their guidelines mean absolutely nothing, they turn off ads already approved and apparently ad editors arbitrarily disapprove ads for the same reason my cat vomits, that would be for any reason or no reason at all.

Let’s have a look at what a joke Facebook Ads are. Here are 3 ads of mine below that they approved:

Vote For Your Favorite

Now have a look at 2 ads that they didn’t approve:

Facebook Ads Disapproved

Does this make any sense? The first set of ads is a complete goof and the second set is advertising a legitimate product and a legitimate business opp offer without making any ridiculous promises or unrealistic income claims.

But it gets even more unbelievable. The worst part of this whole sideshow is that they must draw numbers out of a hat to decide which Facebook Ad Guidelines they’re going to tell you that you’ve violated as their reason for not letting them run. The ad above about saving 90 cents a gallon on gas is going to this landing page that’s about what else, saving money on gas by using a fuel additive. Yet check out guidelines number 8 and 9 I’ve supposedly run a foul of:

8. Facebook references

Ads are not permitted to mention or refer to Facebook, its site or its brand in any manner, including in the title, body, image, or destination URLs.

Ads must not use Facebook logos, trademarks, or site terminology (including Facebook, The Facebook, FacebookHigh, FBook, FB, Poke, The Wall, and other company graphics, logos, designs, or icons).

Facebook site features may not be emulated.

9. No incentives

No ad may offer incentives to viewers for clicking on the ad, for submitting personal information (cell phone numbers, social security numbers, physical addresses, or email addresses), or for performing any other tasks.

WHAT? (this is when blood squirted out my eyes and across the room) Are there two different sets of guidelines, because what you’re showing me here has no relevance whatsoever to the disapproved ad? Where does my ad say anything about Facebook? Who exactly is running the show at Facebook Ads, and is anyone being trained on how to interpret their advertising guidelines.

Yes, believe it or not, it gets even worse. I’ve been trying to get some understanding on how the Facebook advertising game works by reading NeilsWeb.com and Nickycakes.com and these guys seem to be having some adventures with the gang at Facebook as well, but on a much bigger scale than myself.

Neil logged into his account one day this past week only to see that the ad Nazi’s at Facebook turned off thousands of dollars of previously approved advertising without warning and Nickycakes recently tweeted about a good performing ad he had spent over $100,000 on that was suddenly turned off. Mind you, this is all without warning. One day you’re making the big bucks, and the next day you’re done. No warning, no renegotiating, no fixing the problem and no way to contact the little elves at Facebook Ads, that’s it, we don’t want your money any longer.

Okay, if I’m a VC with money invested in Facebook, I am freaking losing my mind at this point. You did what? You turned off the adverting of a $100K spender without even so much as an email or a phone call? When I worked at BellSouth Advertising we sent advertisers like that to Daytona and gave them box seats, we sent them to Orlando Magic games and they sat in the sky-boxes and got free food, we didn’t rip their $60,000 per month worth of advertising out of the phone book because we changed a policy overnight.

Guys, get a grip on reality, I have patches over my eyes to keep them from hemorrhaging any more.

Update: As I was getting ready to publish, I read this post over at Nickycakes.com on the new guidelines for Facebook Ads and they look even worse that before, but that’s a post for tomorrow or later.

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