Set your expectations about generating ad revenue, and BizSpark!

I’ve talked before about how I joined the Microsoft BizSpark program. This is a program which is FREE, and it gives you MSDN for up to 3 years. This means you also get up to $150 credit/month for Azure use, plus access to virtually every Microsoft product (with legal licensing).

Well, my 3 years is coming to and end in a few months. I host this site, along with a couple of others, in Azure. When my MSDN goes away, so does my Azure credit, so hosting my blog and other sites is going to start costing some money.

One of the ways I intended to perhaps offset that, was to enable advertisement in my WP8 app and on this blog website. I did that by enabling Google AdSense. I had no idea what to expect in terms of income, but I figured there is no harm in seeing how it works.

Getting traffic to your website:
One thing that is important is that you have to have some traffic coming to your website. You do this first by having some valuable content on your site. You also do it by promoting it when you can. It’s also important to have your site registered correctly with the search engines.

When I moved this WordPress site from the free www.wordpress.com site to my own hosted solution, the domain name changed. So, I had to remove my old site content, de-register that URL, and specifically register this one. Search engines don’t like when there is a second copy of the data on your site, existing somewhere else in a different domain. That is a sure-fire way to get your links not included in search results.

Now, using some statistics from a plug-in in WordPress, I now see similar traffic to what I used to see.

Welcome to the scam – Google AdSense:
Google AdSense is this concept where you place ads on your pages. You get credit for every “impression” (every time it is shown), and also if someone clicks. So, the magic numbers here are: page views and clicks.

Well, according to TWO different statistics plug-ins I have for this WordPress site, I get around 2,000 to maybe 3,500 page views day. This isn’t “unique visitors”, or “hits”, but page views. Like, when this page loaded in the browser, that is one pageview – and it should have loaded 3 ads – one at the top, one in the middle, and one at the bottom. So, the common jargon is “page view”.

So, let’s take yesterday (March 6th) for example, WordPress says I had 2,312 “page views”. When I look at Google AdSense for the same time period, here’s how many “page views” it says I had for the day:  17

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Now, after Googling this and talking with other professionals, this is just “accepted”. “That’s the way AdSense works”, they say. If this isn’t a scam, I don’t know what is. So, if this is how the system works – what’s the point? I’m getting 2000+ page views and AdSense is reporting less than 1% of them?

It would seem either my statistics page is lying or Google is lying, right? My statistics plug-in has no incentive to lie, Google does. How much they pay me, is based off of these numbers. So, if they only report 0.7% of the actual page views, they just made a 99.3% profit! haha

By the way, my monthly earnings (based on the above) have been around $2.25 USD per month!

Bottom line for me:
Despite Google being a billion dollar company because of it, I don’t – at a fundamental level – believe in, nor like advertising. I go out of my way to avoid ads and I certainly NEVER click on one. I don’t want to encourage that concept. This experiment now shows me that you really need a website that gets way, WAY more traffic to make this worth your while. Doing the math, if you got 5 MILLION or more page views per month, that starts to become enough to replace your day job.

I’m going to do a bit more research and if my understanding above is correct, I will turn off ads on this site. I think they are obnoxious and they are worth almost nothing, monetarily.

Meanwhile, I still have the issue of finding a new way to get MSDN. I’m not sure what I’m going to do there. I could pay for Azure, which averages $70 to $90/month (plus $9.99 for the disk space for WordPress)! However, I think it’s time to look at other options.

Next steps:
I would like to see if maybe I can re-start BizSpark under a new company name perhaps? If not, I don’t know. Bottom line, if I am going to remove ads from this blog, I might as well just move back WordPress.com. There, I can host this site with the same name for $8.25/month (by upgrading to “Premium”, there), and move my other domains to a generic .NET web host for like $10/month (send me a referral link if you can recommend a good one).

I would love to keep things in Azure, but it’s still simply not cheap enough to do. And if it’s the difference between paying $18/month for everything on WordPress.com AND a separate web host – or paying $80+ dollars in Azure.  I obviously can’t stay in Azure. Amazon AWS also now has a very competitive “free” tier too, maybe it’s time to check that out instead? http://aws.amazon.com/free/

If you have any ideas for me – or if you can explain or correct any of my observations about AdSense above – please post below or shoot me an e-mail

Posted in Ads, Computers and Internet, Infrastructure, New Technology, Professional Development, Uncategorized

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