Is the New HubPages Layout Killing Your Google Adsense Revenue?

Where Did My Google Adsense Income Go?

Ever since the new HubPages layout went live site wide, in June 2012, my Google Adsense revenue fell through the floor. To begin with I couldn't understand why. Technically my clicks should have increased.

The page was streamlined and the sidebar was effectively removed. This reduced competing ads above the fold, but also drew more attention to the content of your article. Basically, there are less distractions for the reader.

The individual avatar for each hubber is now a lot smaller, there are no ads in the slimmer sidebar, and there are no related hubs or any other information that was there previously. The only new addition to the sidebar is the floating sharing buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest and Hub Followers. This means the viewers eye can stay on your content and be fully committed to reading your hub.

However, my Google Adsense income disappeared completely with no explanation. I began looking for answers and was surprised at what I found. I think a lot of hubbers are unaware of why their Google Adsense revenue has been affected and hopefully you will be able to make informed decisions moving forward.

This hub is especially important for those hubbers that are on the HubPages Adprogram.


What Really Happened to Your Google Adsense Revenue?

If you are on the HP Adprogram, what has happened to your Google Adsense income since the new layout went sitewide?

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When the new layout was tested on a few HP domains, the Google Adsense API was suspended. This means the ad that you were getting paid direct Google Adsense income from previously wasn't getting credited to you. Instead, it was being credited to HP. So if you were part of their testing group, this is why your direct Google adsense income was nill.

However, this meant HP could see the total picture of which ads were performing best with the new ad layout. I would bet that the in-content ad clickthrough rate increased, because of the factors mentioned above. Moreover, if you stay on the HP Adprogram, you'll never know.

So it came as a surprise to me that when the new layout was rolled out across the whole site, HP switched the position of the directly paying Google Adsense ad to the last ad on the page, for those on the HP Adprogram. This means that 60% of the time the ad below the comments and above the footer on the right hand side of the page will be the ad that shows your Google Adsense code and 40% of the time it will be HP. All other ads on the page will be HP ads, which you will be credited for the impressions only by the HP Adprogram.

The picture below shows how the direct Google Adsense ad placement has changed.


I originally thought the direct API ad was in the content of our hubs but it turns out I was working on old information. HP moved it over a year ago.
I originally thought the direct API ad was in the content of our hubs but it turns out I was working on old information. HP moved it over a year ago.

Are You More Likely to Click on the Google Ad in the Content or at the Very Bottom of the Page?

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Yes there are more ads on the page when the HP Adprogram is activated. However, you are paid per impression on these ads and HP decides how much you receive. It's very difficult to see the true value of these ads as they are filtered through HP.

I don't expect all hubbers to agree with me, but I am left scratching my head wondering what is going on in the minds of HP. Why do they continue to move our Google Adsense code further down the page to what has to be one of the worst ad units?? Arguably it could actually be the worst unit on the page.

When it comes to advertising, advertisers pay more for units located above the fold. They understand that these are the ads most likely to be clicked on. Ads located at the very bottom are highly unlikely to be clicked.


Adprogram Revenue Increased but at What Cost?

If you are on the HP Adprogram are you receiveing more or less Google Adsense clicks since the new layout changes?

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Many hubbers have reported seeing an increase in their CPM on the HP Adprogram. I have also noticed a slight increase, but this has come at a cost; the loss of your Google Adsense click revenue.

Some hubbers won't really be affected. They received very little traffic and almost no clicks on their share of the Google ad. However, there are other successful hubbers that have thousands of views a day and had a handful of high value Google Adsense clicks too.

Now that the Google Ad that counts towards your direct Google payment is at the very bottom of the page, hubbers with substantial traffic will likely get far fewer clicks (if any) and will now probably see only a few cents a day in their Google Adsense accounts.

Since the layout changes, I have been receiving approximately 5 cents a day. I am now only receiving money from the impression based ads that Google has. I haven't had a single direct Google Adsense click since the new layout went live. The only way to make substantial money with Google Adsense is with clicks.


What Should Hubbers Do Now?

If you are NOT on the HP Adprogram and are receiving payments directly through Google Adsense how have the layout changes affected you?

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If you are on the HP Adprogram then it's probably because it was making you more money than when you were just on direct Google Adsense click revenue. However, the game has changed now.

With the new page layout it is conceivable that your clickthrough rate may have increased. You may find it beneficial to turn off the HP Adprogram for a month to see if you would make more with direct Google Adsense income. Results will vary from hubber to hubber, as one size will not fit all.

I am not saying that you will make more money with only Adsense, but I feel it would be better to know than to not know. This hub isn't about whether Google Adsense will make you more than the HP Adprogram. It's more about hubbers searching for an answer to why the Adsense portion of their HP income is likely to have fallen in light of the recent layout changes that have taken place here.

For those that have high click values, retrying the Google Adsense revenue stream fully may be a better fit and may earn you more than before, now that the page has been streamlined.

On top of that, it will be important for those staying on the HP Adprogram to optimize your page differently going forward. Before, hubbers tried to optimize the in-content ad by making it as close to the top of the hub as possible. Now, it's beneficial for you to try to optimize the ad at the bottom of the page.

Some experimentation will be necessary to encourage your readers to reach the bottom of the page. Limiting the number of comments appearing at the end of the hub could be one way of doing this.

How your comments appear is another factor. Do you want readers to read the comments from the top down, ending at the bottom of the page and seeing the ads at the very end? Or do you want them to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to read the first comment and have to scroll back up to follow the comment thread? Which of these tactics will result in more ad clicks will take time to test.

However, I have to admit I never check past the comments on most sites. I really don't see the point and I find it hard to imagine that other people scroll to the very bottom of a page to click an ad, especially when they have passed four other ads on the way down the page.

Also, those hubbers who are nearing their Adsense payout threshold may find it beneficial to switch back to just Google Adsense to receive their payout. Otherwise it could be years before you get a payout on the new layout, if you have the HP Adprogram activated.


The Real New Layout

I signed out of my HP account and looked at some of my hubs in Firefox and Google Chrome.

In Firefox and in Google Chrome, the ad which is supposed to appear below the title of your hub actually appears in the sidebar instead. This sidebar ad (which isn't supposed to exist) actually scrolls down the page as the viewer scrolls down through your article, just like the Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest and Hub Followers button moves down the page.

This means, even when the reader gets to the bottom of the page, you will still have 2 other ads competing with your direct Google Adense unit. This might also add further support to why my direct Google Adsense clicks have disappeared.

It doesn't matter if the other ads that appear on the page are Google ads, if you are on the HP Adprogram. These will be credited to HP and they will redistribute some of the wealth in the form of impressions. You will not be paid directly by Google Adsense for clicks on these ad units.

See the picture below to see what the ad layout actually is in Firefox and Chrome and how it differs from what HP says the actual layout is.

Also, I never use Internet Explorer, but I just opened it to check. It's doing the same thing as Firefox and Chrome. I have found that the ad layout as listed in the HP FAQ section is incorrect.


Decline in Adsense Clicks Since the New Layout Went Sitewide

Month
Page Click Through Rate
January
0.16%
February
0.14%
March
0.11%
April
0.11%
May
0.09%
June
0.05%
July
0.03%

The new layout was rolled out sitewide at some point in June 2012. There is a clear decline in direct Google clicks in June.

The first full calendar month of the layout occurred in July. The number of clicks declines yet again. To have over 35k adsense ads on my account for the month and only have 11 clicks is ridiculous. To make over 2/3rds less than what I used to make with Adsense is also dissapointing.

I agree that my traffic has declined over the last month, but not by enough to account for the reduction in clicks and earnings from adsense to the extent of 1/3rd.


Has the New HP Layout Benefitted You?

When did you first discover the movement of the direct Google Adsense Ad?

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HP wanted to change the layout to increase revenue. However, I have to admit I haven't seen an increase in my HP income at all. Instead I have seen a redistribution. Instead of getting some of my income from my direct Google Adsense ad and the majority from the HP Adprogram, I now simply get all of it from my HP Adprogram income.

Instead, I feel as though HP has reduced the transparency of the site. By moving our Google Adsense code to the very bottom of the page it limits the information hubbers gain from the new layout, unless they switch back to solely the Google Adsense program.

On top of that, I didn't see any discussion before the layout was rolled out site wide about the change in the direct Google Adsense ad location. It only seemed to come to light when someone asked about it in the forums.

The real question perhaps should be, who really benefits from this new layout change?

Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below and tell us your experience of the new HP layout so far. Perhaps your experience is different from mine. Perhaps you have been on purely Google Adsense payments and can tell us how the new layout has helped or hindered in this area.

Update as of September 10th 2012

I have to add this update to this hub as my CPM has continued to fall since the writiing of this hub. Initially, CPM's seemed to increase across the site. However, as I thought would happen, this was a short lived phenomenon and CPM's have been crashing back to pre-layout lows and sometimes, such as in my case, even lower than they were before. So overall, the layout change did not seem to benefit hubbers. Perhaps it benefitted HP and not the writers.

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Comments 65 comments

Lauryallan profile image

Lauryallan 4 years ago Author

@Glenn. I see you're point but there's nothing you can do about that if you want to earn money with HP. They dictate the ad placements and you really only have a choice between HP adprogram placements or Google Adsense adplacements.

The only real options you in regard to that last question is to "suck it and see" by continuing to write for HP. Or write for another site like HP such as Squidoo or Wizzley etc, but again you won't have 100% control over ad placement. If 100% control over ad placement is what you want, then you really only have one choice - set up you're own website or blog.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 4 years ago from Long Island, NY

@Lauryallan,

You bring up many important points in your last comment.

My site is not the same as hubs here on HP. Each page is basically information for my clients and customers. No need for reader comments. I created a user forum for that. So the two AdSense ads are at the very bottom.

I realize your point, I would be very interested to see what improvement, if any, we have here on HP if the two ads were right above the comment capsule so they are seen after one finishes reading an entire hub.

And, yes, I also agree with the second thing you said. I am sure I am benefiting that I don't have ads anywhere else, except on the bottom. I think this improves my ranking because people stay on the page much longer. Seems to work.

We don't have that advantage here on HP because there are too many ads scattered all over. Including the ones that we don't see when we're signed in.

On the subject of the top banner ad, I can see how that would be the best position for ad revenue. But I'm concerned about the long-term effects on ranking due to people clicking away right away, increasing the bounce rate. What are your thoughts on that?


FSlovenec profile image

FSlovenec 4 years ago from San Francisco, CA

Good information thank you for the thoughtful analysis.


Lauryallan profile image

Lauryallan 4 years ago Author

@Glenn, when you say you put 2 google ads at the bottom... do you mean at the bottom of the content, before the comments? Or did you put the 2 ads below the comments? I don't even know if you allow comments or have many comments. I think that would affect income and clicks greatly though.

I can understand what you are saying about your analytics being improved, but that's not the case with HP. They have a number of ads at the top of the page. I think you are benefiting from just having the ads at the bottom and none at the top.

I know from my own personal experience on my own sites, that my best converting unit is the banner ad I have at the very top of the page. I have played around with ad units and location so many times, but nothing compares to the performance of my top performing ad unit.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 4 years ago from Long Island, NY

I found your hub very interesting and you gave me a few ideas that I need to experiment with. I think I will be willing to shut off HP ads throughout next month as an experiment. I've been with the HP Ad program since it started and I was somewhat happy with it, although I realized my Google ads were paying next to nothing.

However I have an interesting addition to all this. I basically duplicated the same layout changes on my own business site. I put two Google ads at the bottom. I found my AdSense revenue increase tremendously by doing that on my own site.

Following my Google analytics reports I was able to figure out that keeping the ads at the bottom gave people a chance to stay on the page all way through. Instead of clicking away, which has a good and bad side effect, the retention period is longer.

The good thing with having ads at the top or inline near the top, is that we get paid for the click. But the bad thing is that if the ad is near the top, the person clicks away too soon. Google may very well use that short visit to incorrectly determine that the page, or hub, has little or no value. Then they lower the ranking and eventually send less traffic overall.

So the bottom line is that the entire situation is extremely complex. But it's worth experimenting as you suggest.


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