Q: I have read that the AdSense program through Google is proving to be more profitable than many affiliate programs. What do you think?
A: I think there is no rule of thumb for all affiliates. One key issue is how a given affiliate is promoting affiliate programs. There are many affiliates that rely on search engine arbitrage and e-mail marketing to promote affiliate programs, and they have no way to work with AdSense.
However, the affiliates with content sites can do quite well with AdSense. I am not going to cite my personal performance numbers, but I typically see a better clickthrough rate and effective CPM through AdSense than I do with any affiliate programs.
But even if you’ve got great content, you must have a site that can be crawled by Google, so that relevant ads can be displayed. If you have any sort of member wall (an area requiring a login), Google won’t be able to crawl that area and serve appropriate ads.
For example, I have an affiliate manager forum that is powered by phpBB.
Since members must login to access the forum, when I run AdSense on that forum, the ads do not pertain to affiliate marketing. Rather, they generally target phpBB related items.
Also, the topic of your site is going to dictate how much each click through AdSense is worth. Since you’re getting a revenue share of the money paid by Google AdWords customers to run their ads, your revenue is only as good as the bids on keywords within your site.
So basically, AdSense can be more profitable for some content affiliates, but there are lots of variables at play. I’d suggest testing AdSense against affiliate programs that are targeted to the content of your site.