Adsense Kills Business

It’s so very tempting; selling advertising or using programs like Adsense, TextLinkAds, or any of the many others to boost revenue. Sure those pennies, nickels, and dimes add up over time and may even bring in a somewhat sustainable income. If you work at promoting your website and getting a nice bit of traffic, you might even get to the point where you are getting a check from these programs every month. But at what cost?

I know what you are thinking – Blog About Crafts has Adsense advertising, what is she talking about here? There is a big difference from a personal site like Blog About Crafts and a professional services or product selling site. On one it is almost expected to find advertising; on the other it can prove fatal for business.

If you visit my professional writing website, you will not find any outside advertising on that site. Sure, some of the articles on that site get a nice bit of traffic and could bring in a few dollars here and there if I was to put or sell advertising on them but I will never do so.

Stop and think about why you created your business website in the first place. Wasn’t it to sell your product or service? Why then would you promote your competition on your own site?

Think about the tradeoffs here.

Say you are lucky enough to have enough traffic and clicks to generate $2 a day/$60 a month from your site. How does that $2 compare to the revenue you would have gotten if your site visitors remained on your site and bought your product or service? How high does that click-based revenue have to be before you break even to what your lost sale would have earned you? $5 a day? $10? or how about $30?

I can tell you that in my case the monthly click revenue I earn from my other sites doesn’t even come close to the earning potential from a single writing client. Factor in the potential for future business from that customer and anyone they may refer to me and that $60 in monthly earnings has suddenly become very expensive for my business.

Is that $60 worth showing your potential customers that you are only interested in making money from them regardless of how you do so? Think about what ads can do to your professional image – they say that you are not confident that you can make enough money from your own products and services and want to ensure some level of income from the ads. Are you starting to see how much this $60 could be costing you in terms of your professional image and true income potential?

Keep in mind, I am not referring to advertising that comes in the form of referrals. It makes great sense for a company to refer their clients to a complimentary business. In the long run it might even clinch the sale. Someone looking to buy a home is most likely going to require a mortgage, so it makes perfect sense for a Realtor to have advertising for the local bank. It makes just as much sense for a dog breeder to recommend a vet, a particular brand of dog food, or even someone who makes custom collars and leashes.

It just makes no sense from a business perspective to give your prospective customers an invitation to leave your site and spend their real money (as opposed to a few pennies per click) with your competition. Why kill your own business while promoting your competition?

Any professional website that has Adsense or other advertising is quite unlikely to earn my business. They are inviting me to check out the competition and quietly telling me they don’t believe they can sustain their business on their own offerings. If they don’t believe in their product or service, why should I? Quite sad really.

What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them.

Join Michele on Wednesdays & Saturdays on Blog About Crafts where she talks about doing business on the web from a small business perspective with a focus on helping professional artists and crafts people.

Follow Up 10/14/07 6:14 PM: Wow, what a firestorm this post has started. I’ve read all the comments both here and on Digg (related Digg page) and appreciate all the time taken by folks to share their ideas. I had hoped it would bring a bit of traffic to my little piece of the web, but never did I expect all this! Being on the front page of Digg was not something I had even considered might happen.

To those who seem to think this entire article was stupid as no one would carelessly put advertising on their services site – when doing competitor research for a client in the web design business a large number of the sites I visited had ads all over their pages. A few had one or two on each page, others had advertising for Adsense and other programs all over the page. On one it was difficult to even distinguish between their content and their ads.

It was clear on a number of the sites by their ad placement that they were really hoping folks would click on the ads and go away rather than actually hire them to design a website.

Yes, this blog has Adsense on it.
Like I said in the piece, this blog is not selling a product or service and is simply my ideas on business, the web, and selling on the Internet. Why shouldn’t I put advertising on it as a content site?

My intention was not to bash any of the affiliate, CPM, CPA or other monetization programs. I realize that my headline is a bit sensational, but it was meant to grab attention, not bash Adsense. My primary point is not that these programs are harmful because they promote the competition; my point is that the revenue one gains from them may be severely harming your more profitable core business.

The money figures I used were for example only and do not represent what I earn on this and my other sites.

Competitive Filter? Perhaps I should have discussed this in my article. Many folks I’ve spoken to on a number of webmaster forums report great frustration with the 200 block limit. There are so many terms used when discussing web technology that generate total mismatches from Adsense. One of my articles on changing the way text appears on the page is indexed in the SERPs properly yet gets ads for baby changing tables. Get a few of those going on a site and that competitive filter quickly maxes out and ceases to be useful.

Follow-up 10/17: This article has led to such a great exchange of ideas! One of those ideas has led to another article on a similar vein. Please take a moment and check out: Content, The King of Missed Opportunities

A few suggestions for further reading...

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