Why do the terms of service prohibit AdSense publishers from sharing any of our account data, specifically click-thru rate (CTR) and per-ad value (eCPM)? I can sort of understand discouraging the wide dissemination of gross revenue, but even that seems like it’d naturally be something people would be private about anyway…
Thanks for asking what has always been a puzzling question for me too. Most ad networks don’t really seem to care if you as a publisher reveal your pay or revenue from the network. After all, I think they figure that if the number is small you probably won’t say anything, but if it’s big, well, then you look like you’re cool and smart, all in one neat package.
Google views it differently, though, and not only does the company make it clear that you shouldn’t be sharing any of your results or payment with others, everyone who knows about the AdSense program also warns you if you share anything in a public or private forum.
Heck, I have personal experience with this: I shared my aggregate click-thru rate (CTR) with some colleagues on a very private mailing list just to get email from one of the list members warning me not to tell anyone those figures in the future.
These are my results, though, so why should it be such a big deal? To find out, I asked someone on the Google AdSense team, and here’s what he explained:
“Because we’re unable to ensure the accuracy of account information printed online by our publishers, we have asked that certain specific information not be printed.
“For new publishers, the best way to get a sense of how their account might perform is by testing the AdSense ad code on their pages. Since user traffic and behavior vary so greatly from site to site, gaining first-hand experience is a great way to understand how the AdSense program may fit their needs.”
I’m not thrilled with this answer as it seems a bit evasive at best, but given the prevalence of counter productive efforts like “made for adsense” (MFA) web sites and other so-called marketing gurus ready to tell you how to trick and exploit AdSense for a quick profit, I can also understand their desire to be coy.
Nonetheless, it also seems to me that if I could learn about specific design techniques or tactics that would improve the relevance and value of the adverts to my readership (and therefore increase my per-visitor revenue) wouldn’t that also increase Google’s per-displayed-ad revenue commensurately and be a win:win?
What do you think? Would you be interested and perhaps even inspired if Google AdSense publishers were allowed to share the relative “scope” of their results with the program? For example, to be able to visit a site, see its design, and then find out that it has a 2%, 0.04% or 0% click-thru rate would surely be useful?
Wanna talk with Google about it? You can reach the AdSense support team at firstname.lastname@example.org , and I’ve found them to be quite responsive…
Oh, and the obligatory link: if you haven’t yet gotten started making money – which, presumably, some people are doing. 🙂 – with AdSense, I suggest you start here: get started with Google AdSense.