I think that the ad model revenue model is chaotic given the whims of all its participants, but more pointedly, as competition has gone up in the ad space* then rates have come down. At the moment I think that one ad network is overpaying me and the other has it about right, so guess which I'm showing preferentially on key page views? And guess how long I expect that arbitrage opportunity to last?
* On the way to FOSDEM I found sitting opposite me on the train a guy into the ad market / platforms / broking in a big way, and I get the picture that most of the significant ad networks (and bigger advertisers) are interconnected in real time bidding on *each* space that is available, so margins and prices for some are simply bound to (have) come down by orders of magnitude. It's that invisible hand of the market, etc, etc.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/25/2012 05:50PM by DamonHD.
When I shake up my pages, eg formatting or new features (though not necessarily new content), I seem to get a distinct boost in traffic for months, mainly from Google I guess (but that's not completely clear to me from the stats).
Consider a re-jig of the format to freshen the pages. You may not have to do much to content itself, though a tweak or a tidy-up shouldn't hurt I suppose.
I think that we know that G likes and promotes 'fresh'.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/25/2012 08:20PM by DamonHD.
So, don't do a *stupid* revamp; take the opportunity to add a little real value, such as improved headings or better compatibility with newer browsers or whatever. You don't really need to support IE5.5 quirks fully any more... (Not that I suggest you are!)
I agree with Damon. My Google earnings (which of course didn't start out as high as yours, Ian), haven't dropped anything like as much. They HAVE dropped, largely due to CTR drop, like you. But I'd say the current monthly average is maybe 2/3 of what it was before the recession, and that is after a Panda sideswipe in the autumn that reduced my traffic by 1/4.
And I think that's because I do add new content to the site from time to time, and I do tweak periodically, and try out new ad locations or formats. I am careful not to overload the pages--except for a few very long articles, I only use one adblock per page.
I'm afraid that I've taken to loading up with more ads than before, especially at low-traffic times to try to stabilise revenue a little over the week, but it does not seem to have yet done any harm in terms of visitors or revenue or time on site.
Maybe Google will stop pestering me to put more ads on my page as very occasionally I now hit the max of 3 ad blocks and 3 link blocks! (Depends on page, time of day, visitor stickiness, etc.)