Bye Bye Google Ads

January 16th, 2009 | Posted in General

Back to shameless begging…

The great Google ad experiment is over.

Starting today the ads (as you can see) that for the last year or so have been littering my sidebar are gone. I placed them there in an effort to “monetize” my blog… in other words try to make a little dough to help justify the time and effort I put into The MAD Blog. The idea was to get advertisers to pay me through the Google Adsense program, which would generate some revenue but not cost the readers of the blog a dime. It didn’t work out too well.

The way Google ads works is that you place some code on your blog and then Google dynamically places ads on your site and you are paid by some convoluted formula consisting of clicks through to the ads placed and page views. I thought that, given I have around 700 RSS subscribers and get between 2,500 and 3,500 “page views” a day from unique visitors, it wouldn’t be too hard to rack up a few dozen ad clicks a day.

I believe I averaged about four clicks per day. Total income less than one dollar per day. Fail.

Why did it fail? Because Google Adsense, the program that is supposed to provide you with ads targeted to your reader’s interests through keywords and analyzed the content of your website is unbelievably stupid. It seldom places ANY ads that might appeal to the readers of my blog. For example, as my name is “Tom” Google Adsense, in it’s infinite wisdom, often places ads for “Tom-Tom GPS Navigation” devices. When I did my tutorial on Drawing Hands, which by the way set a record on my blog for most page views in one day with 33,000, and the ads that got placed were for “Hand Lotion”. Brilliant.

Even when it’s closer to the mark Google Adsense fails miserably. There is often a few ads for personal caricature services by other artists placed by Google. Personally I don’t market myself as doing personal commissions, but if I did what would I want the ads of competitors on my blog?? Google does have some kind of “competitor filter” that is supposed to help with that, but it works on a specific URL basis so it’s almost impossible to eliminate competitor ads. Since I don’t do personal commission or party work (generally) I don’t care much about that, but do people end up on my blog looking for that kind thing? No. Those ads are generally useless.

What kind of ads would work well on my site? How about ads for art supply wholesalers and on-line retailers? Those I would think would be winners, but I have NEVER seen one of those in any Google ad placements. The targeting program needs work.

So, no more Google Ads. If readers want to contribute a few bucks to the Greater Good of The MAD Blog, they can do so by either tipping the blog through PayPal, buying some of our Cafe Press junk or by buying some of the recommended books and stuff through the “MAD Blog Recommends…” Amazon Associates links… I’m thinking about putting some Tom-Tom GPS equipment in there just for fun.


  1. Meredith says:

    Have you looked into Project Wonderful? Most of the ads are from webcartoonists who would gladly pay to advertise on your site.

  2. Tom, maybe you should target specific advertisers and work out a cost per impression, rather than per click, deal, or just a flat rate for the year. Also, I never saw ads running actually IN the posts themselves, which might have produced more revenue rather than the sidebar. I think Google is the only one that really makes any money from Adwords, and sure we’re all richer for your tutorials and enthusiasm. 🙂

  3. You should look into affiliate ads that are specific to things you cover. Like sign up for Amazon Associates program and have a section “gear I use” in the sidebar with links to all the different Wacom devices, pens, etc. that you use. I bought my Wacom 12WX after seeing your review of the device, and if I’d have seen a “Like this review? Buy it here and help me out” link, I would’ve tried to order that way (unless there was a cheeper way somewhere else). In any case, I think affiliate links are fine as long as you’re totally up front about them being ads and you don’t try to hide what they are.

  4. Bearman says:

    Have you thought about expanding your cafepress offerings? I’ll bet just your caricature of Barack Obama’s face on a tshirt could be a big seller.

  5. SteveH says:

    Tom, why not contact an art store chain and invite them to place a static ad on your blog for a reasonable fee, with your endorsement ‘I use the acme ink pens and there great!’ it may work? Just my dumb idea for what its worth!

  6. Shiva Souza says:

    I believe another thing that really hits ad-based blogs is the Adblock Plus plugin for Firefox. Lots of people today use it, and basically when you install it, you have the option of downloading a “block-list”, that basically has all kinds of different ad-based sites blocked.

    While this is great for sites that overuse ads, or simply use tasteless ads. Its really a blow for more serious stuff like yours, as many people won’t even know that you use ads or something.

    Anyway, good luck with the funds man!

  7. Project Wonderful does seem like a good match, and I most certainly would buy advertising on this blog if you used it. I might even be your first PW advertiser. It’ll mostly show ads for webcomics. Not sure if you’d get more than a dollar a day, but I get 30 visitors a day and still get a continuous stream of pennies.

    Also, the idea of promoting certain art supplies is excellent. If you do that, make SURE you have at least one big-dollar item like a Cintiq, just to not limit yourself.

  8. Bill says:

    I have the same problem on my site, but since they cost me nothing and generate a little something each month, I just leave ’em there.

  9. Wittygraphy says:

    Using Amazon is easier because you can handpick products to show. But it takes much more work. With so much of content on this site, I am surprised Adsense couldn’t do a good job.

    Wittygraphy is a community dedicated to caricature, thus we are also looking for ads that are relevant to this topic. Please let me know if you know a good network.

    It seems Project Wonderful is build on the same concept of “ads marketplace”. There are many larger marketplaces such as Adbrite. From what I heard, it works better for sites w/ a lot of traffic. Nobody wants ads on low traffic sites because they will need to manage hundreds of those to meet their marketing needs. That’s why smaller publishers all flock to Adsense.

  10. bonni says:

    The advertisers choose the keywords they want their ad to respond to, and they pay for it. Common or popular keywords can be quite pricey for the advertiser, so many choose somewhat more obscure words and hope for the best.

    The people who choose “tom” or “hand” for their products probably would be surprised to see that their ads show up on the blogs of “random men named Tom” and “tutorials about how to draw hands”. (Actually, they can see the sites where their ads appear, but most won’t bother to refine it.)

    Google Adwords is a flawed system, indeed. If it were just Google choosing what appeared, it would probably be a lot better, but when you let the advertiser have a say, you automatically introduce an “idiot factor” that’s hard to get around.

  11. I’m with you, Tom. I bugged out of this model some time ago, leaving only my links page as a pick-up. Still…not a dime.


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