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Are Adsense Publishers Earnings Decreasing due to Adwords Remarketing Campaigns?

Updated on April 24, 2013

What is an Adwords Remarketing Campaign?

As an Adsense publisher, I enjoy earning extra income from displaying Adwords ads on my sites. As an Adsense publisher, I find Adwords remarketing campaigns annoying.

An Adwords remarketing campaign is what Adwords advertisers use when they set up a certain type of advertising within their Adwords account. They place some code into a page of their site and when somebody visits that page, and then leaves that page and visits other sites on the Internet, that site owner's Adwords remarketing advert will "follow them around."

If an Adwords remarketing campaign advertiser has set their remarketing ad frequency cap quite high, their ad will display quite often to people who previously visited their page - the ad will often show up on other sites that display Adwords ads. Sites that display Adwords ads are the sites of Adsense publishers.

If people don't like the idea of ads "stalking" them wherever they go, they can disable their cookies, but how many regular Internet users are aware of being able to disable cookies, know how to disable cookies, or would bother to disable cookies if they knew how to do it?

What is an Adsense for Content Adsense Publisher?

An Adsense for Content Adsense Publisher is a site owner or blog owner who writes content for their site or blog, possibly having done some keyword research and Search Engine Optimization research first - or even paid somebody to do the research or writing for them - and then selects "Adsense for Content" within their Adsense Publisher account so that the ads code they insert into their site results in ads related to their content appearing on their site. If people visiting their site click the ads, the site owner earns some money.

However, if a person visits the site of an Adsense publisher after having just been to the site of an Adwords remarketing campaign advertiser, the person is likely to be shown an ad representing that site instead of an ad that is related to the content of the site they're now on.

If you're an Adsense publisher, what's so bad about people being shown ads that do not relate to the content on your site? Well, nothing if the visitor to your site is so intrigued by that ad appearing on your page, even though it doesn't relate to the content on your page, that they click it and return to the site from which the ad first started "following" them around. As an Adsense publisher you earn money for that click.

What is Bad about Remarketing Campaigns - for Adsense Publishers?

A number of things about remarketing campaigns may reduce the previous earnings of an Adsense publisher, and even more so as more people start to use Adwords Remarketing Campaigns for the advertising of their sites.

When you visit your own site to check what kinds of ads are displaying for the content you wrote, other people who visit your site may not be seeing those same ads. Other people may be visiting your site with an Adwords remarketing ad or two "following" them around, and they will see those remarketing ads instead. This is great for the Adwords remarketing advertiser, but if those ads have nothing to do with the content on your site, and you are trying to earn an income as an Adsense publisher, this is not good for you - unless the remarketing ads are so good that the visitor to your site is enticed to click them and re-visit that site they once visited before - you earn money for that click.

Having an ad follow you around is not such a bad thing, but having an ad stalk you is something else. Adwords remarketing advertisers may have set their frequency caps quite high, and people may be getting sick of seeing the same ad all over the place, wherever they go online, until, instead of clicking the ad, the people start to simply ignore it.

People are also likely to ignore an ad that follows them around for more than just a few days if they have already clicked it and have already returned to the site they first visited and have bought the product or used the service that is advertised on the site - although I think there are settings in the Adwords Remarketing campaigns to have more than 1 list of people the ad follows around - for example if the person has now bought any products or made use of any services, but the advertisers may not bother to do these settings and the ad continues to follow somebody around after they have already done whatever the advertiser desired be done.

Also, an Adwords remarketing advertiser may have failed to do location or geographical settings in their Adwords campaigns account settings. Ads advertising a site that is only targetted at US citizens are appearing on your site that has content that only targets a completely different country. People visiting your site don't want to click an ad that goes to a site that is of no value to them.

Looking at that last sentence again, you may point out that the visitors to your site would not be seeing the remarketing ad on your site if they hadn't visited that other site in the first place, but who is to say that they were really interested in that site? People do not just visit sites because they want to buy a product or use a service that the site owner is selling or offering - thousands of school kids and university students use the Internet for topic or project research, as do writers looking for more info for their next article. And how many Internet marketers or Search Engine Optimization specialists are out there visiting sites because it's part of their job they do for their clients - keyword research, competitor website analysis? These people do not care about what the site owner is selling or offering, but if the site owner has a remarketing campaign code in the pages of his site, and if these people do not disable their cookies, they will have an ad "following" them around, an ad even appearing on your site, when those people visit your site too.

Why did Adwords Remarketing Campaigns start Annoying me?

Doing some work for a client, I visited a site I wouldn't have otherwise visited. For over a month now, that site's remarketing ad pops up in my face on every site I visit that displays Adwords ads (on the sites of Adsense publishers.) I don't want to disable my cookies because they help me log into sites I own or belong to more quickly, and also improve other Internet-user-experience things - but I must put up with these remarketing ads in my face all the time.

If I visit your site and you are an Adsense publisher, I'm going to see this ad I don't want to see, on your site, no matter if your content is unrelated to it, and there is no chance at all that I would click that ad.

When checking what ads were displaying on my own sites, this ad was there too, totally unrelated to the content on my sites. Now although visitors to my sites won't see the ad unless they've also visited that site, just in case they have also visited that site, I have blocked that ad from showing on my sites - there are settings in your Adsense publisher account to block certain individual ads from showing on your sites.

The whole experience has annoyed my because my Adsense earnings have gone down a bit. Because Adsense earnings do tend to go up and down at times, I cannot be sure that Adwords remarketing ads are the cause of the recent decrease in earnings, but what I can be sure of is that I do not want ads appearing on my site that are not related to the content on my sites, especially when I've taken the time and trouble to research a topic, do keyword research, note down what words to include in my article for SEO, and then carefully write the article that was intended to help me earn some money by having related ads appear next to it.

What else annoys me is that I do not know which sites visitors to my sites have visited before they visit mine - as long as 3 months or more before visiting my sites - so I am unable to block the ads they might be seeing on my site. Even if I did know the sites they visited before visiting my sites, I'd have to check the coding of all those sites to see which ones have Adwords remarketing campaigns set up, to enable me to pick and choose between which ads I'd allow to display on my sites, and which I wouldn't. (If the sites had unrelated content to my sites, I don't want their ads showing to visitors to my sites.)

Possible Solutions to the Problem

Hmm. I don't know if there are any suitable solutions or possible solutions:

I don't want to disable cookies. Many people don't know how to disable cookies or couldn't be bothered to disable cookies, or also may not want to disable cookies.

I am unable to know which sites all visitors to my sites have visited in the last 3 months or so - this would enable me to check for the remarketing coding on those sites and block ads for those sites appearing on my sites.

Start striking, all on my own? What good would that do? If many Adsense publishers started striking (not displaying Adwords ads on their sites) - if there were no Adsense publishers, Adwords users would only be able to have their ads showings on Google search and not on privately owned websites - there would be less people interested in using Adwords and Google would have to find a solution to the problem. People (including myself) would also be reluctant to strike because they would lose the income they are making from being Adsesne publishers.

Give up on trying to make some extra income from Adsense and start using Adwords to market the services I offer on my sites instead? The Adwords Remarketing campaign? It's excellent, after all - if somebody has been to your site, but then leaves without contacting you, or without ordering or buying anything, it puts your ads in front of people's faces just about all the time, especially those who don't know much about cookies, and even on sites that don't have content related to your ad.

Add a message to every page of my site asking all visitors to please contact me if there is an ad appearing on my site that does not seem related to the content, and that they have noticed is following them around - and that they tell me which site the ad represents? (so I can block that ad from appearing on my sites)

Hope that more people will get upset by the Adwords Remarketing Campaigns until Google has to do something about it? Either cancel the service, or make the options to advertisers less intusive - eg only low frequency caps on the ads showing after somebody has visited their sites, targetted countries definitely having to be selected, stricter requirements about privacy policies appearing on their sites (the privacy policy must be in place before an advertiser starts using an Adwords remarketing campaign, and the page should be clearly pointed out to visitors to the site, and should contain wording warning the visitor to the site about how ads representing the site are now going to "follow" them around, and for how long, and how frequently, including the impact it may have on Adsense publishers, as well as an option for visitors to the site to do something other than disable their cookies - like only opt out from ads from that site following them around.)

In its Defence, is there anything good about Remarketing Campaigns?

Using an Adwords Remarketing campaign is a powerful method of advertising your site on the Internet, a reminder to people who have already visited your site, to return to your site, if it's done properly. If advertisers (or the people advertisers hire to do the work) set up the remarketing campaign:

  • to target only the people living in the same area that their site's content is targetting,
  • don't set the campaign's ads to follow people around for more than two or so weeks at a time,
  • don't set the ads to show too frequently,

less Adsense publishers may get upset, blocking ads from showing on their sites, and thus allowing the advertiser's Adwords Remarketing campaigns to run more smoothly, and effectively.

Poll ONLY for Adsense Publishers experiencing decreased Adsense earnings

Question: Do you think your decreased earnings could have anything to do with Adwords Remarketing Campaigns?

See results


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    • adventcom profile image

      Steve Cameron 4 years ago from Marbella, Spain

      Couldn't agree more... the sad thing is just how much money is being wasted by so many advertisers. As publishers you would make more money if their campaigns were well managed since their return would be better and they would be prepared to raise their bids and increase their budget allocation. Too many businesses running their own AdWords accounts because a) the feel they ought to have one - because everyone else does (always a good reason to do something - baaa, baaa) and b) because Google make it so simple on the surface. Got a website and a credit card? Five minutes and you're a Google client - paying for traffic you don't want and visitors you don't need.

      In my experience - and it is quite extensive - it's hard to make an Adwords campaign work well - which is why so many people give up on what is the biggest ad medium there is.

      Sad - because no one wins when everyone could win

    • Teresa Schultz profile image

      Teresa Schultz 4 years ago from East London, in South Africa

      Hi Adventcom and thanks for your comment and feedback. My feelings are that if all Adwords Remarketing Campaigners were like you and understood the settings in their account, and didn't set the frequency too high - and didn't target countries they didn't need to target, there would be a lot fewer upset Adsense publishers. Keep up the good work!

    • adventcom profile image

      Steve Cameron 4 years ago from Marbella, Spain

      Whilst I hate to rain on anyone's parade there is something you are overlooking in this argument. The slots you make available on your site are no longer yours - they belong to Google to resell to whoever is prepared to pay them most to them - and by extension - to you.

      I am a marketer (slimy, I know!) and I always cap the impressions of my remarketing ads - not because I don't want to upset publishers - but rather, because frequency caps that are either not set or set too high annoy more clients than they serve.

      The problem lies with the marketers who simply don't understand these principles. My remarketing campaigns are slick and blend seamlessly into the visitors internet experience - at least this is my intention. And they are highly targeted - I do not remarket to all my previous visitors. I remarket to segments. I remarket for specific time periods - again for my sake - there are identifiable windows of opportunity that remarketing opens.

      At an individual level you don't need to block or delete cookies - there are add ons for most browsers that will stop the Google Analytics code from executing. I have it activated on my computers so that my visits do not "pollute" the visitor data - I will often spend time on a client's site and my visit is best excluded. The advantage of this is that it also stops me being added to remarking lists.

    • Teresa Schultz profile image

      Teresa Schultz 6 years ago from East London, in South Africa

      @ Jenna - Yes, it's not fair - or if there is a way to be totally rid of remarketing ads showing on one's site, that lasts for as long as you keep a setting like that, that it be easier to find out how to do this - thanks for your interest in the topic, and for the links.

    • Teresa Schultz profile image

      Teresa Schultz 6 years ago from East London, in South Africa

      Hi Susie - I hope that works for you - I see on the Google Adsense help forum that some other people have tried this too, and I'm not sure if they are not doing something correctly or what, or if it doesn't actually help, or only helps for a little while, because some people who have made the change (turned off Internet-based ads) are still getting ads appearing that are unrelated to the content of their site - visit the Adsense help forum and search for some threads related to turning off Internet based ads, and you'll see what I mean. I do hope it works for you, though, and if it does, that it continues to work for you.

    • profile image

      Jenna 6 years ago

      I can't stand remarketing following MY visitors around on MY website. It's straight up stealing traffic that belongs to ME. Pehaps enough people have complained about it and Google now offers a way for Adsense publishers to turn it off. I wrote an article about it here:

      Then yesterday I came across a new video from Google about increasing revenue from Adsense. They discuss some settings in your Adsense account, but they stop short of explaining the very last feature in the Advanced Settings section, the VERY section that tells you how to turn off remarketing. It's like they don't want their advertisers to know about it. Here's that video:

    • profile image

      Susie 6 years ago

      Aha! Found out how to turn it off. Google's term for it on the Adsense side is 'internet-based ads.'

      To turn off these ads:

      Allow and Block Ads

      Advanced Settings (in the top left menu box under Blocking Options)

      You'll see choices for internet-based ads, 3rd-party ads, and social ads.

      Whoo Hoo! I've been trying to find out how to turn these off for a while.

    • profile image

      Susie 6 years ago

      I found a post on another thread that said you could disable this in your Adsense account. But I can't find where to do it. I posted in that thread asking for directions, but haven't gotten a reply.

    • Teresa Schultz profile image

      Teresa Schultz 6 years ago from East London, in South Africa

      Adsense publishers want their earnings to increase the more they write, not decrease the more people start using Adwords remarketing.

    • Teresa Schultz profile image

      Teresa Schultz 6 years ago from East London, in South Africa

      This Adwords remarketing thing is ridiculously bad for Adsense publishers' earnings! My boyfriend had to visit a site while doing research for one of our clients some time back (and was NOT interested in using the services or products offered at that site) and today he was simply looking for some veggie soup or veggie stew ideas, and on a page he found about veggie soups the poor author of that article who is obviously hoping that as an Adsense publisher she would be getting related content ads showing to her article's visitors has ALL 3 OF HER ADSENSE BLOCK ADS showing the same ad for this one website - and the ads are TOTALLY UNRELATED to the title or content of her article.

      This poor author could block these ads showing next to her articles - from within her Adsense publisher account - but how can she possibly know where all her articles's visitors have been for weeks before visiting her article, and thus guess at what ads they might be seeing? She can't - so she has to put up with unrelated content ads possibly often showing up on her article pages, and then why bother with trying to write articles with keywords in them for the purposes of not only hoping that people will visit the site for the info, but that they may also click the related content ads?

      Some people put a lot of effort into the SEO and words of the articles they write when they are also trying to monetize their sites with Adsense, but what is the use when the ads showing up are not related content ads? Less people are going to click those ads! My boyfriend has NO interest in clicking any of those ads on that article - because he never visited the site (that the ads linked to) for the service or product - only for doing some research for a client - tons of people visit sites for reasons other than the services or products on those sites - and then the ads (remarketing ads) follow them around - even sometimes appearing 3 times all on one page - and the poor Adsense publishers who put lots of effort into writing their articles, start earning less from Adsense than they were before remarketing became available for Adwords advertisers.

    • Teresa Schultz profile image

      Teresa Schultz 6 years ago from East London, in South Africa

      Thanks for your very interesting comment, Sam. I would also turn off remarketing if I could do it in just one clean swoop. but at the same time I may be blocking ads I don't mind appearing on my sites - but not sure what you mean by NOT blocking the advertiser altogether - does that mean they could only use PPC Adwords for usual advertising like all Adwords users who don't use remarketing do? - Then Google would lose many remarketers - with remarketers having their ads appearing on publishers' sites, and all publishers being able to block remarketing ads, most would do so, and the purpose of doing remarketing in the first place is gone - so I don't think Google would offer a complete remarketing-ad-blocking-option to publishers - but something certainly needs to be done, because over time more and more publishers may rather turn to other ways of monetizing their sites instead - which in turn reduces the amount of sites remarketers will be able to have their ads appearing on - putting them off from using remarketing. Wish I knew of a solution, but as Google becomes more and more aware of any issues related to remarketing (and how it can affect both publishers and remarketers) I'm sure they'll think of some solution to keep everybody happy. Although tedious, one solution could be making an incredibly long and often updated list of remarketing sites available to publishers, and publishers can choose which sites they don't want the remarketing ads showing on their site - afterall, there may be some sites' remarketing ads that publishers may WANT appearing on their site (that DO relate to their content etc.)

    • profile image

      Sam 6 years ago

      This is absolutely a problem. I was just blogging about this as well.

      Remarketing may be great for advertisers since they are paying on a CPC basis, but it is terrible for Publishers. The extra impressions are just eating up my inventory with very few clicks.

      I think a solution would be if Google offerred a setting where publishers can opt out of serving remarketed ads- not block the advertiser altogether, but just the incessant duplication of ads served. I would turn off remarketing immediately if I could.

    • Teresa Schultz profile image

      Teresa Schultz 6 years ago from East London, in South Africa

      @Barbara - thanks for the comment - having an ad follow you around can be quite creepy, and certainly annoying when you are no longer interested in that site or need to make use of that site

      I really feel that people who use remarketing campaigns should do all their research first - some even pay marketing companies to run remarketing campaigns where they pay for a certain amount of impressions of their ads as well as for clicks of the ad - so if a remarketing ad is being shown to people for a long time who have already used the site, or if it is being shown too frequently turning people off that site or company, or if it is being shown on sites that target a different country, the person paying a marketing company for the service and the impressions is wasting a lot of money - if they haven't first made sure that all the above mentioned settings are set correctly.

    • Teresa Schultz profile image

      Teresa Schultz 6 years ago from East London, in South Africa

      @diogenes - Thanks for visiting this hub, and for loving my hubs :) I think the people making a lot of money from being Adsense publishers have really "gone to town" with the effort they put into it - which is admirable, but also scary when one thinks about how much work it might take - but at the same time, Adsense earnings can be mostly passive, once the initial work is done, so may very well be worth pursuing.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 6 years ago from USA

      We needed a new car, which we purchased almost a year ago and the car ads still follow me around. Same with home mortgage ads. We refinanced our home months ago and they are still following me. It is tiresome for not just the site owners, but for the customers too.

      My Adsense earnings have plummeted on both Hubpages and my website. I think it is because some of the ads that they place. Because it is November, my website is doing better than usual, but previously it was terrible. At Hubpages it still is.

    • profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago

      I'm not sure I want to disable my cookies, not anyone else's come to that...sounds vaguely testicular. I love your hubs. It's like reading Etruscan; the whole Google ad thing is Greek to me, if you'll excuse that mixed metaphor. I'm just too lazy and put off by the whole thing which makes a lot of money for some and practically nothing for thousands of contributors. Voted up Bob