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This question is about what AdSense isn't telling most of its publishers. Please don't regurgitate what they post on their help but rather tell us what they're not saying if you can.

Scenario: our website exists for nearly a decade. Currently we're at ~1 million daily pageviews. For some time we've had AdSense and noticed that the first months are much better than next ones. We dropped AdSense for some time, choosing user experience over revenue.

A few years later we decided to introduce it again, in least intrusive manner (ads on the bottom). Again, first months were really nice and then a small decline (say ~10-20%). Then, after about a year of us not changing the AdSense code and having roughly similar type of traffic and content (one cannot be 100% certain, right?), we saw a huge drop during the last days of September 2016. The drop was in CTR and thus revenues. Same kind/amount of traffic/content. We didn't make any changes in our sites in the few days before/after the drop was noticed.

Since then (3+ months) we've had various chats with AdSense support and nothing useful came out of those. Our CTR kept dropping and we're now at about 50% less than what the first months have brought.

What's going on 'behind the scenes' here? Do AdSense have some score for publishers that, when reduced, generates lesser ads? Seems like there's some preference towards newer publishers, is this so? Does it make sense to stop all AdSense serving every now and then?

AdSense support, if you care to know, were first telling us it could be an issue due to the beginning of a quarter. Proven wrong. Then they said it was about placement and suggested moving ads around and adding more ads (as they always do). Doesn't explain why a sudden drop would be experienced after about a year. Then they mentioned that their "arrow" feature isn't always shown due to invalid clicks and recommended that we move ads away from content on mobile. Did that and nothing improved. So far, useless.

  • CTR drop means your visitor is not clicking on your ads. Google adsense now display what kind of Ads are displayed in your site, if such ads gives you poor CTR then block it. Try A/B test and place ads on different area of website, also test different style and banner ads. There is no proper answer. – Goyllo Jan 9 '17 at 8:58
  • The question is about what's been going on behind the scenes and created the sudden specific drop that occurred during the last days of September for a website with about the same amount and kind of traffic and AdSense placing it had for about a year before. General ideas for AdSense "try X and see if it works" are not what I'm looking for here. It's not that suddenly ~30% of people decided to stop clicking ads that were clicked as about the same rate for a year. Thanks. – Collector Jan 9 '17 at 14:11
  • The title of this question is very vague. It sounds very similar to Adsense RPM dropped more than 70% or Is eCPMs dropping by about 50% in January a usual behavior on Google AdSense? or Sharp drop in adsense revenue. I think the question has some unique elements that should be in the title – Stephen Ostermiller Jan 9 '17 at 14:27
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Any time there are big shifts like this it is because the advertisements shown on your site have changes significantly. This can be because:

  • An advertiser (or several advertisers) stop advertising
  • New ads come online that match your site well, but end up not performing well
  • Google changed their algorithms and matches different ads to your site

Unfortunately, Google doesn't provide any reporting to help you diagnose which scenario it could be. I would love to have a report showing the top advertisers on my site and how that changes over time. I would like to know when top advertisers introduce new ads or pull existing ads.

September and January seem to be the months in which advertisers are most likely to make changes. January would be changing for next years budget and pulling down ads from the holiday shopping season. I'm not sure entirely why September is big for changes, but I see it on my sites as well.

It is also my experience that your initial RPM is likely to go down over time. When you start, you get a selection of advertisers that haven't done any optimization for your site. Over time advertisers tend to optimize for your site specifically. Advertisers that find that you site isn't converting drop out. Others adjust their bids accounting for the traffic from your site. In general, RPMs start out high and generally decline.

I've also found that mobile hurts RPM. Over time, as users move to mobile, ad revenue falls. That is much more gradual and doesn't account for any sharp drops though.

  • Thank you for this informative answer. I agree with what you write but not choosing this as an answer as I hope someone will be able to shed light on that algorithm choosing which ads to show on which site or anything else we might have been missing. – Collector Jan 12 '17 at 6:29

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