Which Traffic Source Generates the Most Money?

On one of my sites I have been running Google Analytics and have some custom JavaScript installed to allow me to track which visitors click on the ads on my site. On this site I run a combination of AdSense and YPN ads. I have also been running some AdWords and Yahoo Search Marketing campaigns. Here is a chart showing the percentage of visitors who click on ads broken out by the major sources of traffic. Note that this isn’t a page CTR, it is the CTR of a user in the entire visit.

Traffic Source    Click Percentage
YSM 19.99%
AdWords 17.89%
AOL 17.56%
MSN 16.02%
Yahoo 9.84%
Google 9.01%
All Traffic 14.64%

Not surprisingly, people who come to the site by clicking a YSM or AdWords ad have a greater tendency to click ads on the site. What did surprise me was the huge variance between the search engines. People coming from AOL are almost twice as likely to click on ads as people who use Google. MSN users are also as likely to click on ads as AOL users, while Yahoo users were similar to Google users in click behavior. I think this is because AOL andMSN users are not as Web savvy as Yahoo and Google users, and less experienced surfers tend to click more ads then experienced web surfers.

This data is important in running CPC advertising campaigns. I can easily figure out an average Revenue-Per-Visitor (RPV) for my site, but I had no idea how much more valuable visitors from pay per click campaigns were from regular surfers. I can now take into account how much more money I make from visitors from the ad campaigns to adjust my minimum bids. For example, lets say my RPC is $0.10 (it’s not). I also know that AdWords visitors are 20% more likely to click on ads then regular visitors, so I make an average of $0.12 from them. This allows me to bump up my minimum bids a little in AdWords while still being confident I am making money from them.

I’m also thinking that this type of data might be good for fine tuning ad placement. If AOL and MSN users are more likely to click on ads, why not adjust the placement and color of the ads to make them more prominent for these users? Since Google and Yahoo users are a little more ad phobic, it might make sense to make the placement and color of the ads a little more subtle.

Digg This


  1. Bob Said,

    April 21, 2007 @ 10:28 pm

    Hey, I’ve been trying to find a reliable ypn/adsense code to track clicks in google analytics. Could you point me in the right direction?

    I’ve tried all of them: seo book, shawn’s from digitalpoint, etc. Tks, Bob

  2. David Allen Parizek Jr Said,

    February 24, 2009 @ 9:48 pm

    To me those seem like amazing CTRs. I have only seen like 0.05-1% CTRs. Wow.

  3. Toivo Lainevool Said,

    February 24, 2009 @ 9:58 pm


    Remember the CTRs I showed were Click per Visitor, not clicks per page view. So a 10% click per visitor is a 1% click per page view if the average visitor views 10 pages.

    Also, CTR varies greatly between niches and even between sites in a niche.

  4. Hello Online Said,

    July 1, 2009 @ 6:56 pm

    I have found that I get real low click rates like Dave when I am getting traffic from sites like stumble upon, but that when I am getting my regular search engine derived traffic I get CTRs like mentioned in the article.

RSS feed for comments on this post