AdSense and smaller sites

Yesterday I talked about site/network popularity. My closing thoughts were that I believe my site is growing and think it is 'popular' for some fields, but that it could probably be more so.

With that said, how can a smaller site attract advertisers who will, hopefully, pay (some of) the costs of creating and updating a site?

In the old days, advertising on a small site meant banner networks, or exchanges. By putting some code on your page, a banner ad would display. For every ad you displayed, you would get an ad on someone else's pages. Sometimes you could make money instead - display 100 ads and get 10¢. Now days, the racket is slightly different.

Where once only top sites could work with the top advertisers, and where once ads had to be banner images of a certain size, Google's AdSense has changed the rules. Now, smaller sites, as well as larger sites, are able to use the same service. Of course, the bigger sites will continue to get the better paying ads, but 'bigger sites' can now be run by one individual, instead of a large company.

As a small site, and as an individual who wanted to make some money off of my site, (if nothing else, in order to pay the hosting or domains cost) I signed up for AdSense. Yesterday we went over the stats, so we all have an idea of what kind of traffic I get. But, what kind of traffic did I get for AdSense?

For AdSense, they count page impressions and ad unit impressions (below, the first and second numbers, respectively). From Google, "Page impressions are [...] the number of page views we detect. Ad Unit Impressions are [...] one impression logged for each ad unit shown." Since some pages have more than one unit, the numbers will not be the same.

  1. September 2005: 4990-5045, daily average of 166-168
  2. August 2005: 3271-3371, daily average of 105-108
  3. July 2005: 3537-3651, daily average of 114-117

Having thrown those numbers out, we can throw out the click-thru rates, or the percent of clicks per view; .2%, .4%, and .5% (September, August, July). Views are going up, but clicks are going down? Actually, clicks are staying consistent.

If I now look at stats from when I started to today (December 27th, 2004 to October 8th, 2005), we've got 24,460-28,615, with averages of 86-100, and a rate of .6%-.5%.

Is the percentage low? On the one hand, yes. On the other hand, it's not too bad. Browsing about, you'll learn that a click-thru rate of 1-2% is pretty good, no matter the site. Obviously, the more ads you display, and the better your ads, the more money you can make.

If things continue as they have, it will be a couple more years until I make enough to be paid. Am I expecting to make a lot of money with AdSense, right away? No. I'll admit I was hoping for a greater number of clicks, but that's the point this time. AdSense, and any other revenue making tool, is not going to get the small site owner rich quick.

So, focus on content - get the people to your site - and then see what you can do about getting them to click on the links.