How much traffic is necessary for adsense to make sense?

  • 4
    Make sense for what? Paying the server costs? Paying for your new Rolls-Royce?
    – delete
    Commented Jul 10, 2010 at 3:29
  • Well, at least for the effort to set it up, and for the annoyance of the users getting the ads.
    – txwikinger
    Commented Jul 10, 2010 at 4:55
  • 2
    I have never had luck with Adsense, at all, regardless of the traffic. If your 'big enough' that Google is willing to tailor the ad styles to better fit your site, it helps, but I know more people with bad luck than good when it comes to Adsense.
    – Tim Post
    Commented Jul 10, 2010 at 16:54
  • Might I ask what's the best alternative for AdSense?
    – Daniel W.
    Commented Dec 19, 2013 at 16:16
  • @TimPost Then wait for me, I'm building a new ad network that will beat google adsense :D Commented Sep 8, 2019 at 14:02

7 Answers 7


I recommend listening to Podcast #64 of Stackoverflow where they discuss their disappointment in Adsense.

I also tried it on my personal blog where I get only about 50 visitors per day on the high end. In that case it's definitely not worth it and after a few months I ended up taking it down.

From the Stackoverflow podcast mentioned above:

  • On the crushing disappointment of Google AdSense on Stack Overflow. The theory of AdSense, matching topical ads to the content on the page, is fantastic. The reality of the type of ads we actually saw on Stack Overflow is a terrible disappointment. They were barely relevant, and often quite ugly.
  • Our hand-selected ads, targetted to our audience, perform 50 times better than AdSense. We believe that if Google could somehow tag a site with a specific audience topic (such as, say, “programmers”) it would do much better.
  • If a site like Stack Overflow, which does almost a million pageviews a day, can’t make enough to cover even one person at half time using Google AdSense, how does anyone make a living with AdSense? Does it even work?
  • Joel says the only people making decent money with AdSense are scammers who specifically build websites to do nothing except target high pay-per-click keywords. I am not sure this is what Google had in mind. It is a stunning indictment of “the power of the algorithm”.
  • Well.. every algorithm can be figured out and manipulated
    – txwikinger
    Commented Jul 10, 2010 at 14:25
  • 6
    Does Joel have any actual evidence for what he said there?
    – delete
    Commented Jul 10, 2010 at 17:17
  • I don't think they released any concrete data, but the statement that custom targeted ads performing 50x better speaks loudly. Commented Jul 10, 2010 at 18:25
  • 3
    the comments on the blog entry are also highly recommended -- blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/11/… -- particularly "I’ve earned serious money with Adsense in the past (up to almost $10k a month in 2008) and also run developer sites. The answer is.. developers are not a good audience for Adsense!" Commented Jul 10, 2010 at 20:37
  • 12
    That's the kicker isn't it? 99% of us either have an adBlocker or (think we) know exactly what we want and how to get it. We would rather do 30 minutes of our own product research and then search Google Products for the lowest prices than just click on a contextual ad. We just don't trust advertising. In fact, most of us are probably subconsciously trained to not even look at text ads or banners since we're on the web all day and constantly bombarded with them. Commented Sep 9, 2010 at 9:30

Google themselves use the following measures, "clicks", "click through rate" (CTR), "earnings per mille" (eCPM), and "earnings". The CTR is how many people click on your ads, and the eCPM is the average of how much money you get per 1,000 people who look at the advert.

The earnings is the money Google pays you (obviously). What you need to do to work out whether it is financially worthwhile for you is to multiply the number of ads you can serve (how many 1000s of pages) by what eCPM you expect to get.

Example: if you expect an eCPM of one dollar, and you have 50,000 people a day visiting your site, you'd expect to get $50 a day. If you expect an eCPM of ten cents, and you have 100 people visiting your site a day, you'd expect to get 1 cent a day. With an eCPM of ten dollars, and 3000 people, you'd expect to get $30 a day.

Note that Google's terms and conditions forbid people from revealing either their CTR or their eCPM, so the hard part of this guessing game is finding a realistic eCPM figure. As for setting up the ads, that is actually dead easy. Google Adsense really isn't very hard to set up; there is a "wizard" which makes the HTML code for you and you just stick it in your website wherever you like.

Level of annoyance to users is a factor, but you have the following kinds of control:

  • You can choose "text ads only" so that you never get any image or animated ads.
  • You can block off ads you dislike with the "competitive ad filter".
  • You can choose the colours, sizes, etc. of ads.

Other things you need to think about are that you need a privacy policy, and there is a "laundry list" of other conditions your website needs to fulfill before you become eligible.

There are quite a lot of rules and other stuff which you need to follow, so if your content is highly controversial or X-rated then forget it. There are also limits on things like what language your page may be written in, etc


I run a hobby website that gets about 140K visitors per month and about 5.3 pages per visit. I decided to put a few Adsense text links on it several years back and I have been totally surprised at how much it has brought in. I was able to place the text ads in a very tasteful manner that doesn't ruin the user experience.

It is not enough to live on by any means, but it is some really great pocket change. I know there are some people who claim to make their entire living off of AdSense, but I can't imagine what kind of site you'd have to build in order to do that.

So to answer your question. AdSense was totally worth the effort in my scenario.


Adsense is very easy to set up and configure, so even if it turns out you don't earn much from it, it would definitely be worth trialling it.


There's a thread on SitePoint with people posting their AdSense revenue. They don't say their traffic levels in the thread, but it should give you a rough idea of the range of earnings to expect.

  • 5
    Take it with a grain of salt in some of those cases.
    – delete
    Commented Jul 10, 2010 at 6:32

On the main page of adsense there is a "Calculator" https://www.google.com/adsense/start/#calculator .

it says

To view your potential earnings, select a category for your site and a region for your site's visitors.

Now move the trackbar of your "Monthly page views" , IT STARTS WITH 50,000 VIEWS MONTHLY AT LEAST . Have fun;)

enter image description here


I think the best answer is really: it depends.

If your site's audience consists of tech savvy people, like SO, AdSense is probably a waste of your and your visitors' time.

If on the other hand you have a website with 1. an active batch of AdSense advertisers and 2. an audience of people who are looking specifically for what these advertisers are offering AdSense can be a great way to monetize a website.

We're basically talking about RPM here. Revenue Per Mille. How much money do you make from 1000 page views? Google AdSense doesn't allow people to publish these numbers. So let's beat around the bush. I have run AdSense on a lot of websites and I've seen RPMs for different sites range between 0 (I guess this number can be revealed without violating AdSense policy ;) to something worth my effort with only 100 visitors per month. The only real way to find out is to try it. (Well, once you have at least 30 visitors a month I'd say. And I can also add that you can probably stop trying if it doesn't make enough money after a month or three, with 100 visitors/month - and try affiliate marketing or hand picked ads if you're so lucky to get offers for those.)

If you do see some revenue for 100 visitors you can optimize a lot, it's not unheard of to tweak a 10x increase of revenue by improving positions, ad formats etc. Unfortunately AdSense's A/B testing "Experiments" require a LOT of traffic to be useful. It's better to just take a good look at your pages and manually put the AdSense ads in there. Plugins like Quick AdSense for WordPress can be good to get started but it's really not a good way to move forward. It's much better to spend some time thinking like a visitor of your site.

And then finally it depends (again, it depends) on what you're trying to achieve.

  • If you want to build a nice passive income stream AdSense can be great - if you don't do any flaky stuff it can be a pretty reliable source of income.
  • Forget about AdSense if you want to build a heavily scalable company (like SO).

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