An interesting tidbit from Guy Kawasaki's wrap-up of his first full year blogging. The key part is bolded. Note that his blog has been consistently between the 35th and 45th most popular in the world, according to Technorati. Here are some of his stats:
- 2,436,117 page views for an average of approximately 6,200/day. 21,000 people receive RSS feeds via Feedburner and 1,457 receive emails via FeedBlitz.
21,000 people receive RSS feeds via Feedburner and 1,457 receive emails via FeedBlitz.
- Total advertising revenue: approximately $3,350 = $1.39 cpm. (This assumes that I can get Google to pay me. I’ve tried several times during the year to get my snail mail PIN so that I can get paid, but I’ve never received it. I don’t mind Google getting the float...)
So just to review, that's:
A best-selling author and genuine tech celebrity writing a thoughtful essay nearly every workday on a top-50 blog for an audience of around 30,000 people/day.
And the pay for that is about $280 a month. If Guy can get Google to write a check at all.
Just another reminder that the reason to be a Long Tail producer is not direct revenues. Instead, it's exactly what Guy uses it for: marketing for his books, VC firm, speeches and consulting. For which he's exceedingly well paid. Indirect revenues rule!
(Note that he has since switched from Google Adsense to John Battelle's Federated Media, presumably to get higher CPMs. Although why a wealthy VC like Guy cares about such trivial ad revenues at all is not clear; perhaps it's for the first-hand learning experience in the web ad economy, a land of skim milk and honey flavoring.)
UPDATE: Many interesting comments, including from Guy himself. The general theme seems to be that Adsense is for suckers, and that most people with a little effort can do better (more stats at the Data Mining blog). That's clearly true from the commercial operations with their own ad sales forces, such as Gawker and Weblogs Inc, and it's true for those high-profile, high-traffic bloggers who can interest the boutique ad networks such as Federated. But it's not much of a solution for the Long Tail producer, which I would define as the anyone outside the top 1,000 or so. BlogKits has a good post on this that offers some alternatives, but I still think that there's a lot of opportunity for ad networks that offer the scaleable, automated DIY appeal of Adsense but the higher CPMs of a boutique network.
Also, one interesting thing to note is that Adsense is mostly text ads, which I suspect people are starting to tune out, while the boutique ad networks tend to use banners, which have enough visual variety to still catch the eye. Banners have traditionally been part of the pay-per-impression model (best for branding), while text ads are pay-per-click (best for transactions).
In our excitement over the transaction-based Google model, we've tended to overlook that branding is still about half the ad market, even though it's hard to measure the performance of those ads. The old problem with banners is that it's hard to create enough variety ("inventory") to do proper targeting, the way Google does with easy-to-create text. But maybe the market has matured enough since the dot.com era to allow banners to scale down the Long Tail without becoming random clutter. Could the growing recognition of Adsense's limitations lead to the comeback of the banner?