Is Google Adsense Worth it? How Much You Can Really Make.

I have a controversial opinion to share with you today on whether or not Google Adsense is worth it and if it’s worth it.

My general opinion is that it isn’t and while I will share with you a few case studies, of people who have made a lot and very little with it, the real bottom line (thesis) is that there’s WAY more money to be made to be made on your site/blog if you use the other options. In many cases, I’d even argue that this network may actually cannibalize your profits if incorrectly used (which it often is).

So let me give you the basic and quick overview of this program before I give you the case studies on people who have made A LOT with it and others who haven’t…

What is Google Adsense and how does it work?

is google adsense worth it

It is a program designed by Google itself which allows you to place their ads on your blog or website. Each time a visitor to your site comes and clicks on one of the advertisements, you get paid by the Google Adsense program.

Now how much you get paid per each click varies on certain things, but the biggest factor is how much the advertiser is paying Google to display those ads on your site. Usually, the amount varies between a few cents to a few dollars in rare cases.

Do people make good money with Adsense? The yes case studies:

The first case study I want to share with you is from a personal friend of mine who used this network many years ago and actually grossed $20,000 a MONTH through it. I talk about him (Eddy) more in the following article where I cite other success stories if people making money online.

He had a very good website at the time which was receiving a lot of search traffic and I estimate it was in the 1,000’s daily in order for the $20k a month to be possible. But in any case, this actually occurred and while his site eventually did tank for personal reasons, I want you to remember this case study because very shortly, I will explain why it was still a mistake for him to use this program despite these sick profit numbers I just told you about…

Next is just Googling case studies on this subject. You need not go far to find them. In fact, here is a screenshot (and link) the search results which talk about success stories from using this program:

adsense success stories screenshot

There’s definitely a lot of success stories out there, but even in spite of all this YES evidence to Google Adsense being worth it, I will still argue against it and give you very good reasons why shortly.

The “no” case studies:

I doubt anyone would argue with me if I made the claim that MOST people who use Google Adsense don’t make a lot of money with it. It’s not really a matter of the program itself being the issue (it’s actually not that), it’s just that most people:

Have no idea how to monetize websites. Here’s a program called Wealthy Affiliate that teaches you how (with personal earning reports I share).

In every industry that requires effort and ambition, every single time, very few people will succeed in it, whether it be business, sports, competition, ect… 

I find that most people I interact with who try to make money off their blog or website and think of using Adsense think they can just set up a site with little work, register with the program and make bank easily (this is 100% false). These are some of my personal experiences from talking with others who have tried it.

But I do want to share my own history regarding this program (yes I have used it a few times). The first was on a weight loss site I had (this is the case study on the website itself, not the program).

There came a point in that website’s history where profits started to fall (I was selling a diet program at the time as an affiliate) and because I had become a bit “bored” of working on it, I decided to leave it alone and focus my energy on another site. But it was still getting traffic (It still does today), so I figured it would be beneficial to put up some Adsense ads on it to at least somewhat monetize the page…

After being approved for the program and putting up the ads, the first click I received on that site earned me a little over $1, which I found to be amazing and though the trend would continue and that I’d make a lot of money. Well several months later, the estimated earnings were…$20+. Isn’t that amazing? No…

The lessons I learned. If you want to succeed with Adsense, do this:

First and foremost you need to have a website that gets A LOT of traffic. I’m talking the kinds of numbers I referenced from my friend above who grosses $20k a month through it. To reach that point is EXTREMELY difficult and time consuming to say the least, but it’s the only way you’re going to get there.

I find the only websites/blogs which TRULY benefit from this program are those which target broad topics on their site. So generally websites on say anti aging topics, weight loss topics, food recipes and making money topics in general are in my opinion those who would benefit from this network.

However, even in the best case scenarios, I still don’t think it’s worth it. Here’s why:

The bottom line is that you can make FAR more money than you can imagine if you don’t use Adsense. Let me explain using math…

Let’s say a website which targets a niche topic on getting clearer skin. The website gets a 100 visitors a day, doesn’t use Adsense and promotes an affiliate product which earns the owner $10 a sale. It makes 5 sales a day and this makes the person $50 a day, and subsequently $500 a month.  

Now if that same person stops promoting that products and starts using Adsense (ONLY), I guarantee you they will NEVER reach the $500 a month mark. Let’s say out of the same 100 visitors, they get 10 clicks a day on the ads they run, they’ll likely, at best earn a few dollars a day and at the end of the month, AT BEST, maybe break $100.

Now you may be thinking, OK Vitaliy, why not just run Google ads AND promote the product that earns them $500 a month? Wouldn’t that be the best scenario? Wouldn’t that earn them the most money?

The answer is no and this is where I go back to using the word “cannibalize” to describe what is likely going to happen…

The problem with running ads on a website which pay you very little is that they often distract the visitors who come to your site. It doesn’t take a lot for someone who visits your page to click away from it and if they see an appealing ad, click on it, 99% of the time, they are gone and never coming back.

Now what I am trying to say here is that there will be a portion of the daily traffic to this blog/site I’m referencing that will click on the ads and leave, which if they DIDN’T, they could have stayed and purchased the product the person is promoting.

In layman’s terms…

Ads that pay little lead people away from your site and lost profits. You could be making A LOT more by not having these ads and funneling your traffic where you want it go to, where you get paid more.

And basically, having Adsense ads can often times eat the profits you would have had, were you not running them on your website.

Let’s go back to the $20k a month case study and why he could have made 10X more:

If you use the example I used above with the simple math, you’ve probably already jumped ahead a few steps and already saw why my friend who was earning $20k a month from JUST Adsense could have been earning even more if he didn’t use it. 

In fact, we had this conversation when he first told me about this story. We were eating lunch and discussing past history with our websites when this topic came up. When I heard about the $20k a month, my jaw almost dropped, but then a split second later, it actually did drop because I though to myself…

“Oh my goodness, do you even know how much you could have been making if you DIDN’T have Adsense!?”. 

And then I vocally said it and he told me “I KNOW!” while shaking his head. But if you aren’t with on what’s going on, let me explain exactly why he could have been making A TON more money…

My friend was only running Adsense ads at the time and getting over a 1,000 visitors to his site every day. 

If he turned that program OFF and promoted a program he is promoting now as an affiliate marketer, he could have been earning $20-$30 a sale, and also earning it every single month because it’s recurring commissions. 

Meaning 1 person who buys from his offer could have been earning him $20 a month, every single month for that SINGLE sale. Multiply that by 100’s and 1,000’s…

As a result, if he changed up the promotion on his site, turned off Adsense and enabled this promotion while his site was hot, he could have been cracking $100,000 a MONTH, and furthermore, that would have added up to $200,000 the NEXT month and that’s because the first $100,000 he made would have paid him again next month (because they were recurring) and he would have added a NEW $100,000 in sales. This would have snowballed into him breaking a million EASILY.

But because he used Adsense, that $20k a month was coming from 1 time clicks with people who would have never come back to his site. You could say that he wasted tons of potential money to be made. 

Believe me, he knows this now and I also want to say that I’m not exactly a genius at this either. I’ve made similar mistakes in my time doing online marketing (like when I was making $100k a year from 1 site) and this is me speaking in hindsight to you right now. Don’t make these mistakes people.

In fact…

Stop thinking about front end profits, it’s the back end is where it really counts:

It’s so easy to get distracted by the thought of easy money. Just set up ads, run them, get paid, BOOM, I’m making money quickly.

Compare that to setting up a sales funnel, letting your website grow, not running ads or promoting anything until a certain amount of good time has passed. That’s a hard thing to sell to people because waiting and investing in your website doesn’t sound as appealing as “start earning now”, but when you look at the numbers and see how much you could be making in the latter experiment, I think you would reconsider the front end profits.

Would you rather make a few dollars on the front end or switch it up, wait a few months and be making a few $1,000 a month on your website? I would easily choose the latter option had someone laid it out that way to me.

That is basically what happens when people elect to use Adsense vs when they don’t and this is really why I don’t think it’s worth it.

There’s really only 2 time I would say you should use the Adsense program:

1) That’s when you’re passionate about a blog and writing for it often, getting a lot of traffic, but not really interested in trying to make the blog/website more money. If you are, then you should 100% reconsider and try a different method of making money through.

2) There are some people out there who prefer to have a blog and let it run however it should run without caring much about anything else. Those are the type of people who would and should use this program. I have some websites right now that I simply have no time to work on and grow, but they are getting traffic. These sites should use Adsense if there is no better option. 

My final thoughts:

The bottom line in this whole topic is that YES, you can make good money with Google’s program, but you could make MUCH more without it, as long as you know how! 

Google Adsense is a completely legitimate program and you can make money from it, but if you reach a point where your website is getting a lot of visitors, then I honestly think it’s foolish to only rely on that program to monetize off that traffic and you really should be thinking about the other various ways (90% of which are more profitable) to be monetizing your site through. 

I am making a full time income on THIS blog here and I know for certain, if I started using Adsense in addition to my current sales funnel, my profits would fall at least 50%. 

And if I switched to ONLY using Adsense, I’d probably lose 90% of my existing profits. It just doesn’t appeal to me personally, but perhaps it will appeal to you if you’re in the group of people who best benefits from this program.

I don’t know, those are my thoughts and experiences, what do you think?

Update: An ad platform that beats Adsense by a large margin.

While I am “against” the idea of using Adsense, I recently learned of an ad platform that pays you substantially way more than it does, and it pays for every visitor your site gets, not clicks, so you can make way more. That ad platform is called Mediavine.

This kind of program pays you FAR more for ads on your site than Adsense would and it is recommend, but read the above link to see why to be eligible for Mediavine, you need to have certain quotas set up to be eligible.

In fact, the very same friend I mentioned in this case study uses it on multiple sites and generates about $5k a month in ads, WHILE also doing affiliate marketing, and at the same time, this ad display project does not interfere with his affiliate commissions.

Another update:

There is a drone and mud running niche site that I run where I rarely do anything to update and grow it and for those situations, I have found that adding an Adsense promotion to it has slightly helped the website make a little bit of money.

I would say only in these circumstances does it make sense to use this platform, otherwise, try to do affiliate marketing and/or reach a level of traffic to be eligible for Mediavine ads.

28 thoughts on “Is Google Adsense Worth it? How Much You Can Really Make.”

  1. I have to agree with you Vitaliy that Google Adsense is a joke these days. Even well-written articles about health or finances do not convert. I started to focus on affiliate marketing instead and private sponsored posts. At the moment I’m just experimenting to see what works best.

  2. This is really cool. I am a complete beginner and I just started my online business and it has been a real struggle trying to get conversions on my site.

    So I heard how about how you could use Google Adsense to make some extra cash by the visitors that come through your site.

    This article cleared all my doubts up for me. Definitely sharing this article on Facebook. Do you have any recommendations on where I can learn the fundamentals of internet market online because I’m struggling right now.

    • Conversions are things that can only come with traffic Garrett, once you have a solid flow of this coming in, you can begin testing sales funnels, affiliate links and all of that. Until then, your goal should be to write enough content on the site to get the rankings on Google to make all of this possible. In regards to your question about learning the fundamentals, go with Wealthy Affiliate, it’s the best.

  3. Hello Vitaliy,

    I agree with most of the facts you mentioned on this post, One most thing about Google AdSense that I dislike is how easily they shutdown accounts that violate their regulations without minding the amount you have on it. 

    One of my Adsense accounts was terminated by Google because of clicks I didn’t have any idea about. Though I’ve not sold affiliate products before, from reading the post, it will be nicer than running Google ads.

    • Yes, Google can be absolutely merciless in their termination of accounts. I’ve had my Adwords account shut down twice with no chance for restoration. In your case, I assume they believed you were getting fake clicks from some source and based on that, shut down the account, but honestly, good luck trying to prove you had nothing to do with this, they hardy ever listen.

      But at the same time, moving to monetize your website outside the Adsense realm can truly be a better option for you now and I would focus on this moving forward.

  4. I’ve seen a lot of opinions for and against using Google Adsense and other Ad programs, but I agree with you Vitaliy, Adsense will cannibalize your more targeted and probably better offers which also makes for a poor user experience.

    I think many people also over-use affiliate links on all their pages instead of funneling to reviews or specific offer pages.

    • Yes, this is a major mistake review sites make. I have always believed that a site which isn’t an eCommerce site, but one which reviews products cannot and should not promote everything it can because it devalues the authority of the review itself. Regarding Adsense, if you add that into the loop, it’ll hurt affiliate sales even more.

  5. Great article. I’ve done some similar research and it just seems Adsense is like icing on the cake for high traffic websites. But it also can be distracting from what you’re really promoting. If you get a 1,000 visitors a day, but a percent clicks on ads instead of your promotions, it’s like you mentioned, less profit. Thanks for breaking it down for me.

    • I wouldn’t even call it icing JB, I would honestly say in many cases, Adsense can actually be the one ingredient you don’t need on a website if you want it to make more money.

  6. Great read and interesting points, Vitaliy. I especially enjoyed the case study examples and the financial analysis comparisons. I personally have not done Google Adsense but have worked with social ads before. I’m curious, what do you suggest on doing display ads in general. Whether you use Google Adsense, Facebook ads or MediaVine?

  7. HI Vitaliy,

    I didn’t think Google Adsense was worth it either. Especially as a newbie. It’s a waste of time to fill out the application honestly. There are definitely too many ways to make money on the internet. You just have to choose the best option for you and your niche. 

    • Hi Jaime, it just so happens that even if you have numerous options to monetize a blog or site, you will want to experiment with the different options to see which works better. You may not be able to find that best option right away, but through the evolution of the blog/site and it’s traffic, you’ll find through experimentation that one way works better than the rest and that will come through testing, and once you hit that point where one method works better than others, stick to that one and scale it.

  8. I’m really glad I read your post. It’s honest and too the point.

    Although adverts do annoy me when I land on any site, I’ve still been deliberating for a while as to whether I should use Adsense or not – and after reading this, my decision has been confirmed. There are drawbacks to using it but I definitely don’t want it to cannibalize my profits! Thanks for the informative read!

    • No problem Teresa! You will find that when you have valuable traffic coming to your website, that traffic can be monetized with through smarter methods than Adsense.

  9. For entry levels, the Google Adsense program is the ultimate ground for training. I totally agree with most of your opinion, but looking at a newbie’s perspective, I would say that the cradling part is best experienced in this program. Anyway, one must literally start off with pennies before millions.

    • Hi Ernst, I respectfully disagree. People need to learn right away about their options for monetizing a blog and the pros and cons of each method. I don’t think it’s good for everyone who gets involved with blogging to have to go through the Adsense route first, then realize they could have been making way more if they knew of other methods, which is why I always like to mention the options early on.

  10. Sometimes it really depends on the niche. For my personal niche, I think a majority of my earnings will come from Adsense just because of my niche which is badminton. The good badminton stores that I recommend don’t have any affiliate programs and the badminton affiliate programs out there are pretty bad. Their equipment is overpriced a heck ton more and I want to give my readers the best experience. So I’m stuck with Adsense and Amazon (which is also not the most reliable place to sell badminton equipment).

    • Interesting though Kevin. As I was reading your comment, I considered suggesting Amazon to promote the products through and I would still advise that over Adsense. You’ll still get paid more per sale especially for rackets. Another option to consider is starting an email list and then selling the most legitimate, high priced rackets to the email list in bulk notifications.  

  11. I have experimented with Adsense and I was making very little from the ads on my site. When I removed the ads the time people stayed on my site increased. 

    I am especially against ads in the middle of the text, I have used an ad space after the first paragraph and I know that it ruined the user experience. I am not planning to use Google Adsense anymore on my sites now. The best sites don’t have ads on them, at least not so much.

    • This is an experience most people share when they use Adsense. It can affect the stay time and user experience which can actually lead to lower rankings eventually. There’s smart ways to do it but in most cases, I’m on the side which says that there’s more profitable ways to monetize your site than through this program.

  12. When I started in affiliate marketing back in 2004, Adsense was the new kid on the block. Since people weren’t familiar with it, they often clicked ads to learn more.

    Adding a strip of 4 photos above a 728×60 ad worked wonders for getting clicks. But Google clamped down on that, probably because of complaints from advertisers who were just getting window-shoppers but still costing them advertising revenue.

    Up to 2010/2011, I used to make $600-$1200 each month in Adsense revenue from a handful of websites. The most visited site got maybe 20,000 visitors a month. But it wasn’t the highest earning site.

    Today, I make less than $10 per month in Adsense from my sites. It just doesn’t convert any more.

    Visitors are blind to ads. There seem to be far fewer advertisers too, especially since Google pretty much killed off small-guy advertisers. Plus we people are jaded from seeing the same ads appear all the time.

    And the kicker is that Google treats its affiliates with absolute disdain. Because, if you put Adsense on your site, you are a Google affiliate. On a whim they can say your site now violates their policies and it gets kicked out of Adsense. They give you a list of non-specific reasons for the violation and it’s up to you to figure out where you’ve gone wrong. And if your interpretation of the rules is different to theirs, there’s no one to talk to to identify what they think is the problem and how you can fix it.

    You are far better off promoting affiliate offers on your posts that are a good match for the post content. Yes, it’s more work, but there’s not much point in handing over space in your post to a network that frequently displays ads totally unrelated to your content.

    So I’m with you in thinking that Adsense is not worth it.

    • Hi there Gary, I appreciate you sharing your Adsense experience and have to say, I agree with everything you said, especially with how Google can be difficult to figure out in that they can suspend your account for whatever reason they deem. This was actually me experience when I got booted from their Adwords program for vague “policy violations” I did my best to prove weren’t going on, yet they still did it.

      I have to say that Google is an amazing tool, but man they can indeed be ruthless to the people who pay them for ads. What you said about being hard to reach them was also the same experience I shared when I first got my account suspended, it was literally impossible back then. They did make updates to this though, which is good, but still, I wish they were more lenient and gave some sort of strikes/warnings instead of a 1 strike, you’re banned policy basically…

  13. Hello and thanks so much for sharing. I have also heard the seem story and that is with Adsense you can make money but not the kind of money that can be made by using some other program. Hopefully, many who have questions about Adsense will read your post and choose to go with a program that can earn them 3-5 times as much.

    • Thanks Norman, truth be told, I just believe that people need to know the different ways they can make money off their sites besides just using Adsense. It works, and there’s even times when it’s the best option, but for most cases in my experience, something other than Adsense should be used on a website.


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