In the past people have commented that their ROI from clicks from Google’s Adsense content network didn’t match performance from Google search-referred clicks.

Smart Pricing, a click-discounting system for AdSense, was meant to help address this – so how’s it working out?

Google introduced Smart Pricing back in 2004. Google’s smart pricing feature automatically adjusts the cost of a keyword-targeted content click based on its effectiveness compared to a search click.

This should be good news for advertisers as it should ensure they don’t overpay for clicks from sites within Google’s content network.

At the same time, it is arguably bad news for site publishers, many of whom have told us that they’ve seen their Google ad revenues dwindling away as a result of Smart Pricing.

Many sites now seem to be designing their Google ads to be much more integrated with their site content. Some might say these sites are, in fact, tricking users into clicking. The other day I was looking at this page on Seniority – a site for the over 50s – is it clear to you what is content and what are ads? Do you think it would be to all over 50s?

It seems that not all advertisers are happy with their AdSense performance, so Google discounts the clicks. In return the site owners react to shore up their dwindling ad revenue by further ‘integrating’ the ads into the content. This confuses users who don’t then buy. Which means Google has to reduce the click revenue to make up for it.

Doesn’t seem to me to be a positive loop going on here?

Are there clear guidelines anywhere about how a Google ad should / should not be displayed on a publishing site for the good of the user, advertiser and, in the end, the publisher?

How are you finding Smart Pricing working for you as a publisher or site advertiser?

Ashley Friedlein, CEO,