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If Adsense Rev Share is the Same, Why is My Revenue Changing?

Revenue share will always be different from what lands in your pocket.

Earlier today Google announced what percentage it is paying out to its self-service Adsense for Content and Adsense for Search publishers (68% and 51% respectively). It also announced that it hasn’t changed revenue share ever for Content and not since 2005 for Search (when it increased the payout).

I immediately heard moans “then why has my revenue been going down?”

There are a number of reasons your payout may be different from the overall percentage shared with publishers. I explained much of this in a previous post “The Google Squeeze: How Google’s Black Box Affects Partners’ Revenue“. For background you should read that article. But there are some additional relevant points to be made regarding Google’s announcement this morning:

1. It only disclosed rev shares for Content and Search feeds. Domain companies get these feeds plus an Adsense for Domains feed. Also, you get a combination of all of these feeds when you park your domains. So if the ratio of ads clicked across different feeds changes, your overall payout will change too.

2. The rates aren’t for negotiated contracts. Each parking company has a specifically-negotiated payout with Google. My understanding is that this generally ranges from 60%-75% depending on size. Also, parking companies often get a higher rev share percentage if they deliver more traffic. That can change frequently.

3. Parking companies pay out a percentage of what Google pays them. You probably make anywhere between 25% and 85% of what the parking companies are paid by Google. That percentage can change, too.

4. Smart pricing is killing you. Just to reiterate — this can drastically affect your RPC. Read my previous article.

5. Cost-per-click constantly changes. The topics of your domain may be in verticals that have seen a falling PPC price.

There are two good things that came from today’s announcement.

First, all of those “paid search experts” who’ve been running around talking about how Google’s falling “Traffic Acquisition Costs” means they’re paying a lower revenue share to Publishers can finally shut up. TAC changes based on a number of factors, and as I’ve written before, is a number that matters more to investors than Publishers.

Second, I think the payout from Google is very nice. Seriously. You have a huge ad network that does an incredible job optimizing which ads it shows at the right time to the right person to optimize click through and revenue. They take care of the instantaneous auction, tracking, ad delivery, and billing. This is all delivered to you by cutting-and-pasting a snippet of code into a web page. 68% sounds very good to me.

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  1. Shorty says

    Andrew, if the system is based on all these items that are supposedly innocuous, then why has not a single domainer I have ever talked to maintained or increased their earnings? Every single one has lost income.

    Google has never had a down quarter, yet we all have for several quarters now.

    I’ve yet to speak to any domainer that has maintained their earnings. Every single one I have spoken to that will talk about their earnings has noted 50% earnings drops.

  2. Chris says

    Someone previously asked: “Why is Google being transparent?” Indeed. Why is Google all of a sudden putting on its socks, combing its hair, and partially crawling out of their black box?

    The only reason would be due to competitive pressure.

    I think Google nailed it on the head: “Additionally, when considering different monetization options, we encourage you to focus on the total revenue generated from your site, rather than just revenue share, which can be misleading. For example, you would receive $68 with AdSense for content for $100 worth of advertising that appeared on your site. If another ad network offers an 80% revenue share, but is only able to collect $50 from ads served on your site, you would earn $40. In this case, a higher revenue share wouldn’t make up for the lower revenue yield of the other ad network.”

    Yup. Is Google feeling the pain as a growing number of mature publishers begin to shun their Adsense products?

    If you look carefully here, you will see that Domain Name Wire doesn’t show any overt Google ads. Why not? Because this site owner must experience a lower revenue yield from said network – Google.

    Sure, I bet Google is still signing up gobs of new publishers. (Read: Low traffic.) But let’s face it, for those of us who have vibrant networks with great traffic, we are not littering our pages with low paying link ads: We are selling our advertising directly to vendors.

    And you want to know the dirty little secret? If you have a website worth its weight in salt, you will find advertisers almost beating down your door in order to advertise. It’s as simple as that. The code may be a little different to put up an ad, but the revenue rate that you will see as the website owner will in some cases increase 100 fold.

    • Andrew Allemann says

      @ Chris –

      Good point. If you operate a good, niche site, then you shouldn’t have to depend on Adsense. I use it on some of my other sites that don’t get enough traffic to warrant direct ad sales. I used Adsense on this site originally, but not for several years now.

  3. DomingoOrtiz says

    andrew,
    most parking payouts @ the domain level are simply a massive guess-timation. by that i mean any parking company on the adsense for search or adsense for content feed is not given domain level stats from google. thus the parking company has to guess-timate what each domain makes

    google assigns IDs and channels to each parking company and then the parking company points traffic to each channel at google and then google reports what that channel made the previous day. the parking company then has to parse that lump sum revenue back to each domain based on its traffic/KWs etc. (the big guess-timate) so it can provide its customers with domain level reporting.

    if you’re a big domainer, your pkg company probably has you on your own google channel, so in aggregate you’re getting paid what your traffic generated, but any domain level stats are simply guestimates.

    thus if you’re wondering why specific domains are making less on a google feed, you should know that the data you’re processing isn’t necessarily accurate

    parking companies maintain lists of keyword prices but again that is guestimated as google doesn’t provide that level of feedback. so even if a vertical is increasing or decreasing in RPC, your stats won’t reflect that as the parking company uses fixed and probably dated RPCs in its guess-timates

    google is also decreasing rev shares for parking companies when their contracts are up. as you’d imagine the parking company isn’t going to tell you that google just gave them a 10% decrease in rev share, so you may see lower revenues and never get a good answer from your vendor.

    at the end of the day google is keeping more revenue in the domain channel, despite increases in general internet marketing spend, we’re seen a 2 yr slide in payout that isn’t done yet.

  4. Shuwix says

    Shorty:
    Exactly. Let’s take story about less advertiser competition droping PPC.
    If so, less advertisers, less PPC, same % share for webmasters and probably +- 1% same for parking companies.

    And Google is rising on revenue with less advertisers and lower PPC? Mathematicly impossible.

    Maybe they were running on 68% but now it’s like 40%.

    GDP of some countries fell few %. But PPC (for smart advertisers ppc*clicks/salesamount => 0).

    I don’t believe that salesamount dropped that much as PPC. I rather think that good e-shops might be even rising as even lazy consumer have now more motivation to search online for lower prices.

  5. John Humphrey says

    Here’s hoping the Google announcement inspires parking companies to follow suit. As it is I don’t trust any of them. Every time I see a full page ad or a costly sponsorship, I find myself wondering if that’s what really happened to parking revenues.

  6. Stephen Douglas says

    Let me ask everybody:

    Would you rather let your domain stew and brew hoping to get clicks at 2 -99 cents? Or would you rather hope you complete an affiliate sale (CPA) that paid, based on your domain’s prodserv, at least $3 on a 5% payout for conversion? Or what about using both?

    I see so many frantic emails about Google this and Adsense that, why are domainers making themselves slaves to Adsense? Build a site, and create some CPA’s on the site. One sale can beat your adsense revenue 100-200% or more.

    Am I wrong? I’d like to hear from the expert domainers using CPA advertising right now to make their domain monetization efforts sing…

  7. Chris says

    @Stephen Douglas: You are absolutely right. CPA is especially powerful if you have a product keyword domain/website.

    People coming to your site are generally ready to buy – and at the very least – looking for additional information. With relevant product placement, it’s a slam dunk.

  8. Shorty says

    The problem is with most CPA programs is they shave or simply don’t report any sales.

    Game over for your site…..unless you can stay on top of who is honest. That’s a full time job by itself.

    Most affiliate promotions are just a way for a retailer to get free traffic and exposure.

    It takes a ton of volume traffic to make them be honest b/c then they really don’t want to lose you, but be assured they are screwing the rest of the small publishers or small sites.

  9. Stephen Douglas says

    @ Chris — thx for the notice — it’s a “ghost” monetization technique in the domain world because we’re so conditioned by parking services and that CTR/CPC. What domainers don’t realize is that ONE SALE on a CPA can beat a CPC setup by 1000% or more.

    @Shorty – I agree — work with companies tho that depend on their reputation and making sure their publishers get paid, like CJ, Clickbank, and a few others I’ve been look at.

    I’m sure there are some domain CPA experts reading this who can add a few other affiliate trustworthy systems to sign up to… yes? CPA heroes, let loose on some of your preferred affiliate companies you think you can trust.

  10. Mike says

    This entire domain name industry is about as transparent as a brick wall. I have never encountered so much hush-hush in my life before and I am closer to mafia people than one would imagine! There is very little about this domain name stuff that is “legit”, let me tell you all. Dont even think of asking, say, Afternic where the web traffic for a parked domain comes from. Or, Sedo, why the PPC is going down and down and what’s it actually based on?

    Please. I have met more transparent “Vinny’s” in my life.

    And, yet, NO ONE wants to discuss it.

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