Can You Have Too Many Adsense Clicks?

Filed as Features on August 29, 2008 4:35 am

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Seth Godin, love him or hate him, gets attention. I am sure half the time he knows exactly what he is doing when he causes one of these web arguments.

The latest is the “Is Seth advocating click-fraud” debacle when he suggested clicking ads as a kind of tip jar for publishers. Like their stuff? Click their ads!

As you would expect, several people took him to task. In his follow up he kind-of clarifies, but I think he still needs to look at this issue from beyond his blogger/Squidoo founder mindset.

Unfortunately while the publisher and publishing service owners would love to increase their clicks, advertisers and advertising networks frown on these kinds of visitor activity.

Consider the advertiser point of view. What do they want to happen?

  1. Billy-Joe visits a blog
  2. Some browsing happens
  3. Oooh, look! Walrus Polishing Kits 50% off! W00t! *Click*
  4. “Yes, please rush me my Portable Walrus Polishing Kit. I understand I get 50% off AND a free newsletter subscription to Sea bound Mammal Monthly”
  5. Ka-ching!

Now in Seth’s vision of the future you would instead get:

  1. Billy-Joe visits a blog
  2. Some browsing happens
  3. Random click which takes Billy-Joe to the advertisers landing page
  4. “Can’t be bothered reading this” *Back-Back-Back*

At this point the publisher might still get paid, but what will happen if this goes on?

I doubt Seth’s idea that the world would adjust to the new rules of the game would materialise, rather Google would reduce the click cost on that particular blog, discount the clicks entirely, or the advertiser would pull their ads.

Anyone who tracks return on investment is not going to hang around on a blog that drives tire-kickers long enough for a new world order to come about.

Am I right or am I missing something in what the mighty Godin wrote? Let me know in the comments …

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  1. By Eve Dmochowska posted on August 29, 2008 at 5:22 am
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    No, I disagree.

    The onus is on the advertiser/publisher to figure out what ad is relevant to a reader of that blog or that blog post, and then sit back and *pray* that someone clicks on it, so they can be taken to a landing page that is mesmerizing and hypnotic. Or just very good :-)

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  2. By Rarst posted on August 29, 2008 at 8:16 am
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    There was follow-up post there with more thoughts.

    That’s kinda choice between:

    1. Five readers who might be interested in product but won’t click ad because they don’t click ads.

    2. Five readers who are probably not very interested in product but willing to click ad and take a [very] short look.

    I am not advertiser… But I’d prefer five visitors that I may impress and convert inro readers instead of five visitors who had never made to my blog.

    It is said that bloggers need traffic… But somehow advertisers don’t need traffic but need only people running to them with stupid grin and money to spend?

    Blogger’s monetizing is building traffic and sending to advertisers. Sorting traffic so advertiser gets only very best and interested is not blogger’s problem. Traffic sent, convincing that traffic to part with money is advertiser’s problem.

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  3. By Ventibate posted on August 29, 2008 at 11:34 am
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    He wasn’t advocating fraud. He’s simply suggesting that people click on ads that interest them on blogs because it helps the blog owner. I’m constantly getting into debates with people that think that the Internet should be free and we have no right to put ads on our blogs. Look at how many Firefox users are using the plugin that removes ads from pages. If that mentality continues, a lot of blogs are going to fold up eventually.

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  4. By Chris Garrett posted on August 30, 2008 at 2:42 am
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    The ads will dry up though if the advertisers don’t get a return on their investment. If you are paying several dollars a click for “trip or fall lawyer” clicks and people only click because they like the blogger, first Google will lower the amount of money they are willing to pay bloggers and then if it continues you are soon going to move your advertising budget elsewhere.

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  5. By dinu posted on September 1, 2008 at 10:33 am
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    clicking on ads = tipping the blogger .. voww :P sounds cool

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  6. By Andy Merrett posted on September 1, 2008 at 10:45 am
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    If I were an advertiser using a contextual service such as AdSense, I’d be pretty peeved if people were merely clicking to raise revenue for the publishers of the sites my ad had displayed on, rather than out of genuine interest, though having said that, the ad would still (hopefully) be in context and may convert a very small percentage of those who clicked, even for the “wrong” motives.

    I imagine it’s the motivation of advertisers who pay to have their products/services displayed on competition / free prize draw / “get a free iPod” sites. Particularly where the visitor only has to click on an ad and visit a web site for 5 seconds or so, the conversion rate is probably negligible — however, presumably it must work to some degree or they wouldn’t do it. And these ads are usually generally targeted rather than being driven by keywords.

    I’m primarily a publisher, so of course I’d love to maximise revenue on my sites, but if, long-term, it leads to a decrease in the advertising pot, it’s surely a bad thing. I’m sure Google et al would take a pretty dim view on anyone advocating such tactics, even if not explicitly asking people to click on the ads on their website.

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  7. By Ventibate posted on September 1, 2008 at 2:34 pm
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    Andy, my point was that he wasn’t, as far as I can tell, advocating clicking on links simply so the blog owner makes money. I believe his point was to encourage people to actually take the time to look at the links and click on anything that did interest them because all too often, blog readers either read our blogs by using RSS and don’t even visit our sites or they only visit long enough to see if there’s anything they want to read and then leave. However, those same people will use Google to look for something to buy or buy things they see advertised on television.

    Personally I think RSS is bad for bloggers but most of them are too concerned with bragging right to realize that they’re just giving people a way to read their stuff without ever visiting their website.

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  8. By Rarst posted on September 1, 2008 at 3:04 pm
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    >Personally I think RSS is bad for bloggers but most of them are too concerned with bragging right to realize that they’re just giving people a way to read their stuff without ever visiting their website.

    Maybe bad for money making but not for bloggers. I’d prefer person to read my RSS feed and without visiting my blog than visit once and never come back.

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  9. By Piggy posted on October 18, 2008 at 1:44 pm
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    why not a pig polishing kit? Great post by the way.

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  10. By injoon posted on December 5, 2008 at 12:12 am
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    that’s weird. i get a lot of clicks somehow, maybe i got a niche going LOL

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  11. By iGuide posted on March 25, 2009 at 5:44 pm
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    To answer the title of this article: no! I’ve found more clicks is always more money, though obviously regular ad clicks are worth more than link unit clicks. And, supposedly clicks on a first ad unit are more highly monetized than for subsequent ones, so you may want to reduce you number of units to drive up earnings per click (and user experience).

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