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Revealing Ad Income

© December 2005 Tony Lawrence

If you read Google's terms of service, you'll see that you are prohibited from revealing details about the actual performance of ads on your site. Other ad programs have similar restrictions.

I think it's all rather silly. We are allowed to reveal gross revenue, so if I tell you that my sites brought in about $1,300 last month, how hard is it for you to piece together the rest? You can get a very good idea of traffic volume from Google Page Rank, Netcraft, Alexa, et al. and by observing the ads served, can get get very close to the click value. A little backward math fills in all the unknowns, and you know whether you do a lot better or a lot worse than I do. So why all the secrecy and prohibition?

I suppose Google is afraid of being compared head to head against Yahoo and vice versa. There may also be sweet-heart deals in place where certain publishers get better treatment, and the ad suppliers don't want you to notice that. But the other side of that is that both of us, the ad suppliers and we publishers, want to do better at this game, and comparative information helps us improve. If you knew that a PR4 site with x amount of traffic and a mix of type y ads should be grossing around z dollars per month, you'd work hard to improve if you aren't doing z. Without that comparison, you don't know if improvements make any real sense: if you are already doing better than most, it's your ideas that should be copied.

I generally think openness and honesty is better for everyone, but the ad providers don't seem to agree.

Links: Why Reveal Your Blogging Income?

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