Movie Vault’s AdSense Mystery: Can You Solve It?

May 5, 2006 Posted by Tyler Cruz

I seem to spend quite a lot of time when writing blog posts. This one took 3 hours. In fact, I believe I spend around 2 hours on average when posting a new entry. Crazy, huh?

Anyhow, here’s today’s posting:

  1. Latest ‘todo’ list
  2. Movie Vault’s AdSense Mystery: Can you solve it?
  3. PokerForums admin improvement
  4. ProjectAffiliate Diary

Latest ‘todo’ list

Some of you may be wondering why I haven’t been posting up new ‘todo’ lists over the past while. What happened was that I was indeed working slow and steady on my original todo list I wrote many weeks ago – there was a number of items on them that really took a whole lot longer than I had expected, most notably being the ‘create 20 threads on X’ where X was one of 4 or 5 new forums I was launching. Creating 1 or 2 threads isn’t too difficult, but creating 20 on each site and making those new threads well-written with between 2-5 paragraphs and pertaining to the site’s topic/niche really is a lot harder that it sounds. Then I also had to do some description writing for projects and such. On these, I’m very detailed and organized. I tend to write between 3-9 pages on such descriptions and format it all nicely.

Anyhow, the old ‘todo’ list is finally done and I’ve manifested a new one. It’s very lengthy. Here’s a screenshot of it. Notice the scrollbar indicating there’s more…

Somebody stop me! Haha. Well, yes, it’s a lot of work, but I don’t expect to complete it for about 3 weeks or so. I also don’t burden myself with it; it’s work I do after completing e-mails and whatnot during my work sessions. The whole routine is working better all the time and I believe it makes great use out of my time; I only do a ‘work session’ when I want to and I have ample energy and focus to do so. If I don’t have any energy or focus for 5 days, then I don’t work for 5 days.

Movie Vault’s AdSense Mystery: Can you solve it?

Where to start. While I earn a modest little sum of income from the Internet, almost of it is received through private ads. Most of the rest is made from affiliating or from various ad networks. AdSense therefore accounts for but a tiny fraction of my income, yet it is the most dominant form of advertising residing on my site

I have used AdSense on Movie Vault since 2003, and while I only used a single 468×60 at first, that gradually grew to an average of a 468×60, 250×250, and 120×600 situated per page. Some pages have more.

Now, at first glance you’d think that Movie Vault, being very content-rich with thousands of professionally written movie reviews created by Movie Vault volunteers, would be a great candidate for contextual advertising. Any maybe it still is… However, I’ve always received horrible payouts from AdSense. But that’s not the only thing.

I’ve done my fair share of moving the ads around, trying different colour schemes, ad formats, and positioning – that did help a fair bit, boosting my CTR up quite a bit. Unfortunately, there is not much I can do about my niche; entertainment/movie ads it seems pay out extremely low – with an average of $0.05-$0.10 CPC.

Anyhow, continuing on with the mystery, let me give you a brief look at Movie Vault’s traffic:

The chart above shows April’s daily unique traffic. As you can see, it averages at 7500 uniques per day. It should be noted that approximately 45% is from Search Engines (You guys should really check this on your server too; you may be surprised how much of your ‘unique’ traffic is actually spiders crawling your site… ).

This chart shows Aprils pageviews. Unfortunately it isn’t much more than the uniques. The daily average for pageviews is 20,000. Note this.

Here now is where the mystery breaks from the darkness. The image above shows April’s AdSense earnings for Movie-Vault ads only. It appears that a daily average of 2,000 page views are shown here, which doesn’t add up to the daily 20,000 that Urchin (among other programs/sources) states.

This isn’t a recent bug or anything; I’ve always noticed this, but have always just shrugged it off as I assumed that it’d be foolish to second-guess Google. But things just don’t add up. I finally decided to ask for public help after speaking with Mooky last night on AIM; he didn’t have an explanation either.

So I of course did some more digging around:

This is from April as well. There is only one change from this image from the last – it displays the Ad unit impressions instead of the page impressions. Now, according to the above image, this appears to make sense as I do have multiple ads per page. However, this still only calculate to around 2,000 pageviews per day.

Why is this happening?

Why does AdSense only seem to see a small fraction of my ads, 10% to be exact? Yes, I have AdSense on every single of my pages on the site. The only exception would be that I only have 1 468×60 on the forum, which doesn’t get a massive amount of traffic, and on the staff admin pages, which doesn’t get a whole lot of traffic either, there is only a 468×60 ad. This does not add up.

The only real thing I can think of are defaults. You know, those public service ads and whatnot that Google displays when they don’t have an appropriate or filled advertiser to display. Now, sure, this would all make sense.. however.. I highly doubt that AdSense shows these defaults 90% of the time.

So, I’m looking for answers people 🙂 I’m completely lost here. What am I missing here? I’m obviously missing something… aren’t I? Or is this normal? Does this happen to everyone?

I’d love to try YPN but alas it is still in Beta and I’m not an American. I’m frustrated here earning a nickle or dime per click, and having AdSense only show 10% of my actual pageviews.

If anyone knows an answer to this, or if this is normal, please let me know!

I’ve also posted this on Sitepoint and TalkFreelance (my first post there) as I’d really liek to get to the bottom of this.

PokerForums admin improvement

I had this project planned out in mind for my long time programmer to tackle after he finished with ProjectAA. However he had a strange request; he asked if I’d do him a favour and give the project to his friend. Now, I wasn’t thrilled with this idea – I find the quality of most ‘random’ hired help to be insultingly poor. Also, he’s a PHP programmer. My long-time programmer and I are Perlers are heart 🙂

Anyhow, after a bit of negotiation, we worked out a deal. First, my friend assured me that his PHP friend was definitely of proper calibre. Secondly, I managed to dramatically cut down his friends price for the project (nearly in half. Haha, I always rock at that :P). Lastly, my friend agreed that if I wasn’t satisfied with Mr.PHP’s work, that he’d do it from scratch in Perl and take over for him, basically putting his back on the line for his friend. Gutsy 😛

Very basically, the project involves converting PokerForums’s poker site reviews section to a dynamic format, using scripts and MySQL. It will be very robust and more user-friendly, as well as a hell of a lot easier to update and append to, as an admin area/CMS will be created to ease the burden of myself.

ProjectAffiliate Diary

Just a small note here. On my Affiliate project I’m starting (which may actually turn into an AdWords/AdSense site) I decided to keep a diary/log. It will be very brute and basic in form, but I thought it would be awesome if down the road the site did become a success, as it would be a log from the very birth ( in fact pre-birth as I’ll be in R&D mode researching for the site before I even get a domain) and I think that it would be an invaluable tool to other webmasters.

Anyhow, that’s my entry for today. Good day, and good earnings 🙂

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Posted: May 5th, 2006 under My Websites  

5 Responses to “Movie Vault’s AdSense Mystery: Can You Solve It?”

  1. I think you have to be careful with disclosing your Adsense stats in such a way. It might go against the TOS.

  2. Peter Avey says:

    Maybe you could make dummy adsense ad’s to see what your true CTR is and then do the math to work out if google are “bumping” you or not. I do have this problem and so do many other webdevelopers from what i have seen on the net.


  3. DM says:

    I have always been a little confused by this. But since I have only been in this market since the end of last year I just blew if off thinking I was missing something.

  4. […] The last time I gave a glimpse of what my ‘todo’ list looks like was just over a year ago on my post: Movie Vault’s AdSense Mystery: Can You Solve It?. […]

  5. […] to be, and what ad networks returned. I had first started to suspect a problem when I made my Movie Vault’s AdSense Mystery: Can You Solve It? post from a year ago (I can’t believe it’s been that long already); in short, Urchin […]


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