Google AdSense CTR Dropping

Nov 11, 2013 • 8:34 am | comments (39) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google AdSense

Google AdSense logoThere are dozens of threads at both Google AdSense Help and WebmasterWorld forums with publishers complaining about their CTR (click through rate) declining significantly in the past week or so. Some are saying this is having a huge impact on their earnings.

Here is what one publisher had to say:

My blog traffic still increasing but adsense earnings dropped from three days. I have a message from adsense help as "Your earnings were 76% below our forecast".

Here is another:

At the risk of getting screamed at for asking this question (yet again). My ctr went down the last 3 days (Sunday,Monday, Today) a whopping 75%!

Now, we always see complaints about CTR in the forums, but the complaints and pretty large now.

Personally, my CTR is up. Not that I do much with AdSense, but here is my charge, with a red line showing the trend:

AdSense CTR

Like I said, we've covered complaints in the past but something is unusual about the number of complaints we are seeing now.

RazorMax from the AdSense forums posted his opinion on what is going on over here.

Forum discussion at Google AdSense Help and WebmasterWorld.

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Michael Martinez

11/11/2013 02:35 pm

I think it's only going to get worse as more people install ad blocking software in their browsers, but it's conceivable this recent rise in complaints is due to something else (or a combination of factors). The major ad blocking browser plugin/extension providers all claim millions of downloads. That kind of consumer backlash against ads eventually grows into a massive force to be reckoned with. I use ad blocking software in my primary browser these days. People are just embedding too many ads on their sites.


11/11/2013 02:52 pm

I would like to see browsers blocking adwords in google search. Would love to see google get a massive slap.


11/11/2013 02:53 pm

You can accomplish this with AdBlock.


11/11/2013 03:24 pm

Yes, but Google paid AdBlock not too long ago to whitelist Adsense ads by default. AdBlock must now be manually configured.


11/11/2013 03:32 pm

The CTR problem is not the result of people using ad blockers because Google does not record their visits and the failed ad loads. Therefore, ads that do not load are not factored into the CTR. I think that the poor CTR problem can be attributed to the quality of the ads being displayed (not targeted properly, poor visual appeal, etc.) and Adsense blindness.

Durant Imboden

11/11/2013 03:40 pm

I'm seeing a modest drop in CTR since Nov. 1, but that's to be expected for our travel-planning site at this time of year. (Most of our readers aren't actively researching travel purchases in the doldrums of November.)

John Terris

11/11/2013 04:12 pm

Durant, I would advise you to improve the quality of your travel planning website because its most likely that google has detected the site needs improvement. Matt Cutt's advice is to bring the quality in and they will come! If you want me to help you, then tell me the name of the website.

Durant Imboden

11/11/2013 04:16 pm

Huh? We're talking about AdSense CTR here. (As for whether my site "needs improvement," that's hardly a topic for SEORoundtable, but the fact that we rank on the first page of the SERPs for most of the queries that I track would suggest that our quality is pretty decent from Google's perspective.)

John Terris

11/11/2013 04:27 pm

I went to your site and it definitely needs improvement from a user perspective but maybe from a google algorithm perspective it does not. If you are really getting all the views you claim, then google search obviously likes sites with thin content.


11/11/2013 04:30 pm

People who use ad blocking software should be careful what they wish for. Many sites provide excellent FREE content, which is subsidised by advertising revenue. If everyone were to use ad blocking software, a lot of great free resources would disappear or start charging for content. I do agree though, that some sites go over the top with ads.


11/11/2013 05:22 pm

Also, if more websites are showing an increasing number of ads, CTRs are going to drop. CPCs on AdWords are also dropping, which some people see as a bad thing for Google. I see this as a positive, because they're just increasing the number of places where ads are shown. More room for everybody.


11/11/2013 06:38 pm

Durants very vocal cheerleading of google and his ctr for Viagra selling Ppc sites ensures he gets a little google extra love in the SERPS


11/11/2013 07:45 pm

Looks like it's heavily optimized for mobile and a bit strange on a widescreen monitor with 100% width. It does have a circa 1996 feel to it.

Michael Martinez

11/11/2013 11:33 pm

You're assuming that just because an ad blocker doesn't show the ads to the user that the Javascript is not being fetched. The blocker has to retrieve all the widgets in order to determine which ones to block. And the implementation undoubtedly varies by blocker, so methods will vary.


11/12/2013 12:01 am

No, it will not retrieve the js based on the source url. There is absolutely no reason to download or execute the js.


11/12/2013 12:21 am

Just verified this with ABP and Firebug. AdSense javascript is not executed at all, so CTR would not be affected by the most popular ad blocker anyway.

Michael Martinez

11/12/2013 01:47 am

If you're trying to block ads and not navigation, there absolutely IS a reason to download and execute Javascript.

Michael Martinez

11/12/2013 01:48 am

That's 2 out of how many?

Michael Martinez

11/12/2013 01:56 am

Of course, when CTRs on banner ads went down 10-12 years ago everyone praised the introduction of contextual ads. It could just be that consumers are getting tired of the advertising and tuning it out, as they learned to do with banner ads. I remember the days of 40-60% banner ad click rates.


11/12/2013 12:41 pm

True, but either way, Advertisers aren't dumb. If people are just blocking the ads, they will consider them less valuable, so pay less. This means many of the smaller sites will not be able to continue. I don't use adblockers for this reason, there are two choice, we'll either have to pay for stuff or see adverts. Personally I'd prefer to see adverts ;) Simple truth is, people need to be paid to eat.


11/12/2013 12:45 pm

The content is Ok, if it could use some work, I agree the layout isn't great, very outdated, but it is a fairly decent site with some useful information. Still hardly relevant, but if its working, its working :)


11/12/2013 01:06 pm

A minute of 'work' to achieve the desired goal!? Blasphemy!


11/12/2013 03:00 pm

"I don't use adblockers for this reason, there are two choice, we'll either have to pay for stuff or see adverts. Personally I'd prefer to see adverts ;)" But if you and others don't click these ads then the result is the same as if you had blocked them. I think that's why so many people are upset with what is going on. Like a light switch the CTR was cut in half or more for many publishers. On some forums I've seen people accuse Google of shaving and other "ideas" to explain the sudden fall in CTR. @Michael_Martinez:disqus AdBlock serves the bulk of the ad blocking market and other providers have only a negligible impact on publishers. To kill the ads, the software blocks the JS file and no record of the visit occurs to skew the CTR numbers. The sharply reduced CTR publishers are experiencing is likely the result of poorly targeted ads. Yes, Adsense has been on a decline for years as the program is exhausted/tired. But people did not wake up one morning and decide not to click ads or use an unknown ad blocking solution that somehow allows Google to record visits yet block the banner. Google bases the Adsense CTR on banner loads.


11/12/2013 03:16 pm

@disqus_E35m0qPAEM:disqus Several big and faulty assumptions there based on only one platform. 1> Some advertisers are paid via impressions not via clicks. Depends on the system. 2> If you can't see em, you can't click em, even if you liked the product and might be interested in having a look! 3> Some advert blockers do that, some block it later in the process. Just because some do it one way doesn't mean all of them do


11/12/2013 09:45 pm

Steven, you still don't get it because you don't understand what ad blockers are doing to prevent the ads from loading and how Google handles these situations. Show me an ad blocker that does not block the ads by preventing show_ads.js from loading. I'd like to see one because everything I have personally tested in the past and use currently blocks that specific file from loading. On further testing, on our own sites, when show_ads.js does not load then Adsense does not even record the visit. If a visit did not occur, when blocking show_ads.js, how would this impact the CTR? It doesn't. Barry's post was about CTR, which is why my comments are pointed in that direction. Whether a publisher is paid in impressions or clicks does not matter. When ads don't load, they are not recorded as a visit. Period. There are estimates everywhere regarding ad blocking solutions in use, but from what I have seen only < 20% of the people out there are using an ad blocker. Most are using AdBlock Free or AdBlock Plus, with the remaining providers controlling a statistically insignificant market share. Knowing good and well how AdBlock and other somewhat popular ad blockers work, there is no way mathematically that people complaining of a sharp decline in their CTR has much of anything to do with ad blockers. Do the math yourself. Even if Adsense recorded a visit when all Adsense ads did not load, how can 20% of the population cause a 50% or 75% decline in the CTR? It can't. The math does not add up and your understanding of ad blocking technologies does not either. We regularly compare our raw log files to that of Analytics and Adsense. I can assure you that far less than 20% of our visitors are using ad blockers. And I can also state with absolute certainty that half the internet population did not wake up one day and install an ad blocking solution. However, more people are gradually adopting the use of ad blockers and we have all witnessed this over the years. Gradual yes, but not the sharp CTR dropoff people are reporting. Like I said before, people did not wake up one day and install ad blockers to justify a 50%+ overnight CTR decline. And non AdBlock Free and AdBlock Plus users represent such a insignificant portion of the estimated 20% of the people using ad blockers that their impact on CTR or impressions is statistically worthless. If you still believe that 20% of 20% of the internet population (4 out of 100 people) is causing a 50-75% decline in CTRs as Barry's post noted, you need to revisit math 101. The CTR is poor because the ad targeting is poor. It's as simple as that. Or you can believe that Google is shaving clicks or grab for some other theory that does not abide by the law of mathematics. But the sharp decline in CTRs has nothing to do with ad blockers.

Gracious Store

11/13/2013 05:25 am

Why didn't someone in Google respond to these people concerns on the CTR of their adword ads? I suppose Google should be able to explain the reason(s) in the drop in CTR of ads


11/13/2013 06:23 am

Who said that CPC in Adwords going down? I am surprised to read this line. As more and more sites are vanishing from organic ranking, more site owners are running towards Google Adwords. This is increasing the competition between them to place their ads in top and to do so they have to increase their bid to remain on first page. 6 months ago the keyword that used to cost $2 per click is now costing $12 per click.


11/13/2013 06:34 am

You have only seen 1 website of Durant. He owns around 11 domains with same theme covering different locations.

Soni Sharma

11/13/2013 09:34 am

Yes I noticed it too. There is a significant drop in clicks.


11/13/2013 09:48 am

You are focusing only on adwords, my response wasn't only about adwords, but about adverts on sites in general. Blocking show_ads.js isn't going to stop non-adwords ads. My comment was generally about how advertisements pay for the services you use, not just adwords.

Mark Warner

11/13/2013 12:55 pm

This has been going on for some time. Now what is happening is not a gradual shift! Overnight (beginning of June for me) your adsense account just "acts differently". Basically revenue is slashed. At first you think it is an Adsense problem but bit by bit you realize that it is a change. People then flap around on wild goose chases trying to fix it. And ironically it actually gets worse! Meanwhile others are carrying on as normal ... then another chunk of people are hit. You can see the trail on Adsense Earnings Forum .. identical things just a new confused group of people, What else happens is that you see clicks come and a minute later they are gone. The stats go all over the place (most days I see $7+ clicks which is stupid money come and then go). As I said beginning of June for me and there is no rhyme nor reason to what goes on .. just your earnings end up shot. And if you do get to speak to a G rep there isn't any real outcome. For a multi billion dollar earner it is crazy that the main support is a forum staffed by volunteers Plus the quality of ads I am currently getting is VERY poor. Here are 3 example from today READ NOW | FULL VERSION | SIGN UP | FREE TRIAL > DOWNLOAD ON OUR SITE | FULL VERSION | FREE TRIAL > Latest Version Download Now Which as I point out are misleading, look as though they are part of my site and I am the one who picks up the "invalid clicks" I am slowly moving away to other less volatile revenue streams and also to places that are more transparent in their dealings and offer a modicum of support. There is no doubt about it Google come out of this in a VERY poor light


11/13/2013 03:31 pm

"You are focusing only on adwords, my response wasn't only about adwords, but about adverts on sites in general." Steven, you are right that I am focusing on Adwords/Adsense. Barry's post is about the sharply lower Adsense CTR that publishers are experiencing, which is indeed the primary subject of this page. While a discussion about how ad blockers impacts other types of advertisements may have its merits, this is not the post for it and discussing it would only lead to confusion. Please remain on-topic.


11/13/2013 03:37 pm

Primary subject of the page, doesn't mean comments can't talk about the situation in more general terms, or your comment about ad-blockers as well is completely off-topic. Comment threads often variate from the main page topic, unless you are a mod, you don't have the right to tell anyone they can't comment about related subjects in the comments.


11/20/2013 01:05 am

Here's the problem why adsense earnings are droping


11/25/2013 04:06 pm

My adsense (desktop especially) earnings have practically gone completely since the last 2 weeks, time to rethink


11/27/2013 02:10 am

Mark Warner hit the nail on the head. I've been experiencing drops in CTR and CPM since last week of Oct and also have seen clicks disappear, just saw 2 clicks and $2.30 drop so yes that's happening. I had a 30% drop and then continued to drop till a 50% decline last week and then im back at around 35% drop. And I'm also seeing a lot more untargeted ads, as well. Ive blocked, got tighter in my blocking but still nothing is working.


11/28/2013 12:01 am

I had to comment on this! This is exactly what happened to my site! I've just checked my adsense stats for October and November, and guess what? My CTR for text-ads-only went down from 3,33% in October to 2,33% in November. On the other hand, cpc went up for 10% in November. So this is it - less accidental clicks, lower ctr, but higher cpc. Makes sense. Thanks for this information. Now my struggle to search why my earnings dropped in November is officially over!!


03/11/2014 10:56 pm

The commentors below are on average the biggest bunch of whiners I have ever encountered. If you build your business on top of Google you're vulnerable.

Jon Hogg

04/08/2014 05:24 pm

That post is from 2007

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