20,107 Impressions and No Clicks

One of the reasons I make projects like Get a First Life and Dear Rockers is because they’re experiments in idea viruses. What spreads and what doesn’t? What is the epidemiology of a meme? How visitors behave on the site? And so forth.

In any case, Dear Rockers has gotten a bit of attention–about 12,000 visitors–over the past couple of days. This was one resulting statistics that amused me:

Google AdSense - Reports

That’s from my Google AdSense account (disregard the ‘187’) for Dear Rockers. It means that despite people viewing 20,107 pages on the site, nobody ever clicked an ad. I’ve only got one little block of ads on the site, in the sidebar under the heading “Pay For Our Rockin’ Server”. Still, you would have thought that at least one of those 12,000 visitors might have clicked it.

Why Hasn’t Anybody Clicked?

Obviously, it’s a tiny set of ads. Also, there’s the reason that Seth Godin often points out that ads are distraction machines. People didn’t come to the site to click the ads.

Most of the traffic came from StumbleUpon, MetaFilter, Mental Floss, Neatorama and other sites frequented by, shall we say, more sophisticated web users. Almost none of it comes from search. Of those veteran netizens, 67% of them use Firefox, and 8% use Safari. They know an ad when they see it, or they block ads and they don’t see them at all.

I’ve seen and read about similar results from the Digg and Slashdot effects (in fact, 12,000 visitors is a typical pay-off for getting to the front page of Digg). Lots of traffic, but no revenue.

The lesson? If you’re trying to make money from online ads–and I’m certainly not with Dear Rockers–don’t cater to the smart, veteran users. Seek up the newbies and the late adopters–they’ll click your ads.


  1. Darren, have you tried moving the ads around on the page or using some CSS entry to make them more obvious? After I read this post I went to your site and it was difficult to find the Google ads as they just blended into the page… and they were not your typical ads like on this blog they were just one-liners so there was no compelling reason to click them and they were not obvious. I would imagine that many of your savvy viewers would be happy to help pay for the site by clicking some ads but they are hard to find.

  2. It astounds me that online ads even work. I’ve never clicked an ad, but I must be the minority, given how many people are getting rich from those clickers.

    I’ve never had a computer virus either nor been deceived by spam. I wonder if tech-minded people have that same tendency. As you mentioned, maybe seasoned computer and internet users know better.

  3. When one of my entries “got Dugg” earlier this year, I noticed exactly the same thing. 60-some-thousand impressions in a day, and zero ad clicks — just a server that almost dropped to its knees. Again, I didn’t have many ads on the page, but anyone who thinks being Dugg/Slashdotted/Farked means adsense bucks is gonna be sadly mistaken, and paying bandwidth overage (thank god for sucking off the employer’s bandwidth pipe).

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