With close to 11 million websites being monetized through AdSense, Google’s flagship publisher product is by far the world’s most popular choice for website monetisation. It’s simple enough that the smallest publisher can use it, yet powerful enough to play a part in the monetisation of leading websites.
With at least 11 million users, there are many self-proclaimed AdSense experts on the web. Some (including Google Certified Publishing Partners like OKO) have that expertise proven. Others may be less expert and contribute to a growing number of popular AdSense myths.
We’ve collected together some of the most prolific AdSense myths that we see and fact-checked them to help you sort the fact from the fiction.
AdSense Myth #1: ‘You can’t make a living from AdSense’
False. Not only is it very possible to earn a good living from AdSense, but we know many publishers who could make their bank manager blush with the size of their AdSense payments.
AdSense isn’t a get rich quick solution though. It takes hard work and dedication to earn well from AdSense. You need to be able to provide value to your users, a platform that advertisers find attractive and be able to drive large amounts of traffic. Many of those who claim that you can’t earn a living from AdSense simply don’t have the skills necessary to do it.
If you are wondering how much traffic it takes, try our Website Ad Revenue Estimator.
Of course, it is smart to diversify. If you are earning a solid living from AdSense alone then we’d always suggest broadening into other streams.
AdSense Myth #2: ‘Affiliate ads pay better than AdSense’
Sometimes true. Sometimes False. Affiliate marketing programmes allow publishers to earn a commission each time a product is sold based on their recommendation. Both Affiliate and AdSense depend on users clicking away from your site to generate revenue. The two streams are often seen as competitors to publisher attention and many supporters of the affiliate model are keen to claim that affiliate pays more.
At OKO we see the two streams as complementary when done well, and have never seen evidence that Affiliate pays more. In fact, display advertising is the dominant model for more of the world’s most successful websites, which strongly suggests that ad solutions like AdSense have the upper hand.
In truth it is hard to make a direct comparison. The fairest way to compare performance between AdSense and Affiliate on a particular website is to compare the average earnings per click away from the website. When we make that comparison we generally find the unsurprising truth that affiliate tends to outperform on websites designed as affiliate sites and AdSense wins on websites that are not designed in that way.
This is unsurprising as the traffic profiles of both types of site will usually be different. Successful affiliate sites attract end-of-funnel traffic – users who are close to making a sale. These are valuable users, but expensive ones to acquire. AdSense tends to thrive where there are larger volumes of more general traffic.
AdSense Myth #3: ‘You have to have a domain that is at least 6 months old to use AdSense’
Usually false. In certain countries, including China and India, it is true that domains must be at least six months old. This six-month requirement is mainly required by Google to filter out poor quality sites. This rule does not exist in other countries. There is no hard and fast rule in terms of length of site ownership, providing there is a decent amount of quality and original content on the website. It can be viewed as more of a guideline to consistently produce high-quality content for six months before sending off your application to ensure that you get accepted.
AdSense Myth #4: ‘You have to have at least X0,000 page views per month to use AdSense’
False. There are no specific requirements provided by Google with regards to minimum traffic needed to apply for an AdSense account. Of course, we’d recommend publishers that publishers hold off their application until they have a fair amount of consistent traffic but again, the most important thing is to have plenty of content that is both original and top quality. If you don’t have much traffic but meet other criteria, you may get accepted for AdSense but simply won’t earn much ad revenue.
AdSense Myth #5: ‘You have to place at least X and at most Y ads on a page with AdSense’
False. Contrary to popular belief, AdSense has no maximums or minimums when it comes to the number of ads on-page. There used to be a three-per-page rule, but this limit was removed in 2016. Google has a couple of simple rules that publishers must follow with regards to ad placement: ads must not outweigh original content and original content must add value and be the main attraction of the page. Web pages that violate these policies risk limited or disabled ad serving.
AdSense Myth #6: ‘The more ads you place, the more money you earn with AdSense’
False. It would seem to make sense that if you are earning $5 per 1000 pageviews with one ad on a page you will earn $20 per 1000 pageviews if you have four ads on the page. Unfortunately this isn’t true and you can in fact end up earning less by having more ads for a number of reasons:
- Each additional ad is worth incrementally less
- Additional poor performing ads can distract from your better performing placements
- Advertisers don’t want to appear on sites with too many ads
- Users don’t like websites with too many ads. Visit depth could decrease
- Poor user experience leads to bad ranking and could decrease traffic
The trick is to ensure that the ads you place have an impact and perform. Testing is vital, but be wary of taking long term significance from short term tests.
AdSense Myth #7: ‘Google rewards websites that use AdSense with higher search rankings and increased traffic’
False. Unfortunately for AdSense users, Google does not give a higher ranking to websites that run AdSense. In fact, in a YouTube video published by Google Webmasters, this question was clearly answered by Matt Cutts:
“Google does not, not, repeat NOT give a higher ranking to websites which run AdSense. They’re completely independent. It’s not the case that if you run AdSense you get any kind of boost in a ranking or anything like that.”
AdSense Myth #8: ‘Image ads perform better than text ads in AdSense’
Not necessarily true. This varies from website to website and ad to ad. As ever, our advice is to run your own tests. In most cases though, the best answer to “which pays more, image ads or text ads” is “both”. By allowing both formats to compete for an impression, auction pressure is increased and CPCs with it.
AdSense Myth #9: ‘Google Ad Manager is the premium version of Google AdSense’
Misleading. Many companies like to position Ad Manager / Ad Exchange as the ‘premium’ version of AdSense. However, both publisher products are tailored to publishers at different stages of their journey and therefore, each tool offers different benefits. (You can read more about the difference between the two here). Simply switching from AdSense to Google Ad Manager without changing from anything else does not promise additional revenue. Sometimes AdSense will win, whilst other times it will be Google Ad Manager.
Ultimately, Google Ad Manager can be used as part of a much smarter setup that brings additional revenue gains. Google Ad Manager and Ad Exchange offer more flexibility to do that, but they are just part of the picture. Companies like OKO use these publisher tools as part of the broader strategy to increase revenue. If you’d like to learn more about what we offer publishers, simply get in touch.
AdSense Myth #10: ‘Ad sizes, positions and formats that work well for other successful publishers will work well for others too’
Not necessarily true. You cannot assume that if you copy the ad placements of other publishers, you will be equally successful. Each website is set up differently and just because one ad performs well on another’s website, does not mean you will see the same results. A publisher’s cost-per-click is determined by a variety of factors; seasonality, topic, geography – the list goes on. We recommend optimizing your ad setup by testing and experimenting to determine what placements will earn you the most revenue.
Hate it or love it, the prevalent usage of AdSense is evidence that Google’s business model for AdSense works, which is probably why they are so rigid with so many aspects of the programme, such as policy and support. If you want to be successful in using AdSense, clearly the most important aspects are having high-quality, original content and experimenting to find the most optimal setup.
Dolly joined the OKO team in early 2019 and certified to Google Certified Publishing Partner status. Dolly manages publisher communication and learning at OKO.