Thursday, May 18, 2006

How I made a fortune with AdWords and AdSense...

I have a confession. I have one of those annoying landing pages which just mostly contain advertisements, but not much content. It started as a legit site where I hosted a sweepstakes competition for a while, but after the sweepstakes had ended and there were still people pouring in, I decided to replace the previous site with a simple link directory and some ramblings sometimes (so there IS content too), but mostly just lots and lots of Google ads. Still the people are hanging around, so I guess they don't totally despise the page as it is now.

It worked. What I discovered is that people who have an intent to participate in sweepstakes have extremely trigger-happy ad-clicking mouse buttons compared to most crowds. The clickthrough rate was 3%, which I feel is incredible (comment if you think it's just normal to you!), especially considering how high in value sweepstakes ads are (average $0.36 per click). As lovely as this equation is, the absolute amount of visitors is very low (200 per day) so only a few dollars at best are generated in a day.

I thought I'd try AdWords, so I started calculating this thing out on paper. If 1000 visitors bring in $10.75 on average, perhaps I could get that many from AdWords with that price and maybe even make some profit. I figured that if I buy site-targeted ads at the lower price, which is $0.20 for 1000 displays and if 2% of people click on the ad, I could get 20 visitors for $0.20. Twenty visitors for my site is worth exactly $0.20, so I could break even. Those people are already proven ad-clickers, so perhaps they would be worth even more.

So I ran a test. I decided to try it out with about $100. I wrote a quick and dirty ad, chose some sites pretty much at random and then started thinking which tropical island I would most like to spend the rest of my life in... After coming back later to check the situation, I found myself a wealthy man. Okay, actually it was a total shocker, it underperformed my wildest imaginations. After 300000 impressions there were only 75 clicks -- CTR of 0.02%!!! That's absolutely horrible. I spent $76 to get $.75!

I made a fortune with AdWords and AdSense alright... for Google.

When examining the situation a bit closer, I noticed that all of the ad dollars had gone to one site, When I went to check the site out to figure out why the CTR was so low, I couldn't even find the ad section. It seems to me that they are somehow syndicating their own AdSense ads away (is that allowed?). I contacted a Google support guy and am now waiting for his reply on this. I'll post again when I get the reply. I did some searching on Axill and they seem a bit shady...

The landing page can be found on if you are in a masochistic mood.