If you are looking for ways to monetize your website, selling ads is a convenient and potentially profitable way to do it. You surely have questions about how to start, requirements. Also, should you sell the ads directly or join an ad network?

Don’t worry, the CodeFuel team prepared this guide to answer all questions you may have for selling advertisements the right way.

What to Do Before Starting Selling Ads?

Before you sell ads on digital property, you need to be sure your website is attractive for high-paying advertisers. Whether you plan on selling directly from your website or sign up for an ad platform, there are some common requirements.

1. Basic Requirements for Selling Ads

Each ad platform has its own requirements, but  there are three basic factors that determine your quality as a publisher for advertisers:

Traffic

For Google AdSense for example, your site must be active for at least six months, attract 250 unique visitors a day and the majority of the traffic must come from the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and Europe. Traffic that goes against Google policies (fake impressions, invalid click activity) are prohibited.

Content

The content of your website needs to be unique, relevant, and provide value to users. The more niche the content, the better for advertisers because it means the website is highly targeted to their audience. Your site needs to have enough pages for a reasonable dwell time (20 to 30 pages) and allow visitors to browse, with rich, value-based content.

Design and Usability

Look at your site design. Is it clean? Entices the visitors to learn more about your content? It should be professionally designed and visually attractive. To attract conversions, it needs to be easy to navigate, with a simple structure, and fast to lead to provide a great user experience. Make sure the page is mobile-friendly so visitors can reach your site (and its ads) from any device.

What Are the Requirements for Selling Ads on Your Properties?

Two of the major programs are Google AdSense and Bing Network Contextual Ads Program.  If you want to expand your site’s reach, you are not limited to AdSense. Let’s review both networks characteristics:

Criteria Google AdSense Bing Network
Content
  • Unique, interesting, and helpful.
  • Comply with Google guidelines
  • Premium, high-quality original content.
  • Comply with Bing guidelines
Domain
  • Own site.
  • If using Blogger, different eligibility requirements apply.
  • Own site with a reasonable volume of traffic.
Site
  • Accessible, easy-to-use Readability
  • Functionality
  • Good navigation
  • Readability
  • Functionality

2. Understand the Current Site Audience

Before going on searching for advertisers first you need to understand who your visitor is. Look into your website analytics: what are the demographics? Check from where the traffic is coming. Do you have peak traffic times?

It is important that your audience is targeted, comprising visitors that are heavily interested in what your advertisers may offer. For instance, if you have a website about video games, while teenage gamers don’t have a high income as a collective, the audience is very attractive for game console companies and game developers.

3. Make Your Online Property Attractive

How to make your online property attractive to advertisers? We already mentioned some factors above but let’s explore this a bit more. The golden rule is that if your site is appealing and engaging to visitors, it will catch the attention of advertisers trying to reach those visitors.

A clean, engaging website design creates trust and enhances the user experience. So, here are 8  tips to create an engaging website design:

  • Keep the layout simple
  • Make navigation intuitive
  • Design clear calls to action
  • Minimal and impactful content
  • Whitespace is your friend
  • Use eye-catching colors in your brand palette
  • Attractive and easy-to-read fonts draw attention
  • Add media and images but keep tabs on the load speed.

4. Check How Much You Can Get For Ads In Your Niche

Including ads on your website is one of the most popular ways of monetization. Online advertising is a cost-effective advertising method for companies, compared to traditional advertising. While the average cost to reach 1000 people with online ads is $3.45, offline ads cost $22 and up to reach the same number of people.

The key to success monetizing with ads is to set your prices right. How much should you charge for ads? Your rates (Cost per Mille – or per thousand impressions) will depend also on your niche. You also need to take into account how much the ad network will pay you for every click on the ad (Cost per Click).

Related content: What is it, and How to Increase Your Page RPM?

So how much do you charge? We researched industry benchmarks for the highest and lowest cost per click:

Highest and lowest cost per click

The average cost per click for most verticals is $2 to $4, but top industries like lawyers, insurance, and loans can go by $6 per click.

The platform you choose to monetize your impressions is also important, with a significant difference in costs between search and display ads. Check the below table for average CPC and CPM costs per platform (including social media):

Platform Average CPC Average CPM
Google Search Ads $2.32 $38.40
Google Display Ads $0.67 $3.12
Social Media Ads
Facebook  $1.35 $8.60
Instagram $3.56 $8.96
Twitter $0.38 $6.46
LinkedIn $5.26 $6.59

How do you price advertising space?

Your rate should attract high-paying advertisers and at the same time help you meet your monetization goals. Here are some questions you should ask to find out your ideal rate:

  • How much is your minimum rate?

Define how much you need to charge for your ads to cover costs and make a profit. Take into account your business expenses and how much income you expect to make from sales. The remaining amount is how much sales you’ll need to cover from selling ads.

  • How much can you sell from ads on your page?

On the other side, you should find out how much you can actually sell from ads on your website. This will depend on your layout and how many ads you can fit on your pages without cluttering them.

Look at the ad placement and format. Will you include video or interactive ads? Banners? Check the size of the potential ads and the position on the page.

Here are the banner ad sizes that perform better in 2021:

Dimension Name Maximum size CTR FREQUENCY
300 x 250 Medium rectangle 150 KB 0.13% 40%
336 x 280 Large rectangle 150 KB 0.33% 1%
728 x 90 Leaderboard 150 KB 0.08% 25%
300 x 600 Half-page or large skyscraper 150 KB 0.23% 5%
320 x 50 Mobile leaderboard 150 KB 1.2% 12%
  • How much are your competitors charging?

Finally, it is good to know the market for ads in your niche. Look at how much your competitors charge for ads on their sites, the types of ads they display, their placement, and their frequency.

Selling Ad Space: 4 Top Ways for Selling Ads

Selling ads on your website is a great way to monetize your site’s traffic. Still, it is not that easy to achieve a reasonable income from it.

Sell directly

This model doesn’t require an intermediary (ad networks, ad exchanges, affiliates) and potentially enables a publisher to earn more by being in direct contact with media buyers. However, this method requires a lot of time and effort.

Pros

  • Publishers retain 100% of the advertising revenue.
  • You can set your own rate and control who advertises on your site, and how they will pay.
  • By choosing the brands to work with, you establish unique and potentially long-term business relations.
  • It is simple without hassling over clicks, conversions, and impressions.

Cons

  • It’s a ton of work finding advertisers manually and negotiating terms with them.
  • It requires you have an established website, with lots of traffic, good conversions, and a community of visitors that regularly browse on your pages.
  • Requires manually controlling your ad sales and performance.

Affiliate advertising

This is one of the fastest ways to earn money with your website. This method involves promoting a product or service in exchange for a commission.

Usually, publishers place affiliate links, text ads, or banners on their sites. When a visitor takes the desired action through the affiliate link (making a purchase, opting into a newsletter, etc) you get paid.

Pros

  • Easy to enter. Most affiliate networks have minimal requirements: your own domain, an email account linked to it, and a website layout that supports different ad formats.
  • Free for publishers
  • High commissions per purchase. The average purchase commission for a user clicking on the affiliate link and purchasing through it can range from 30 to 50%.

Cons

  • Generally, you only get paid when the visitor completes a purchase from the link. Very few affiliate networks will work on CPA (pay-per-action) or CPC (cost-per-click). Learn more about pricing models: CPC vs CPM Explained: What’s the Difference in 2021?
  • You need to promote your site and the products to encourage sales. That means investing time and effort in social media posts and posting content on your site to drive visitors to click on that link or ad.

Ad Networks

The easiest option is to join an ad network that takes care of selling your impressions, track your earnings, and arrange placement on your site for a commission. Most ad networks set minimum monthly traffic you need to meet. CodeFuel is an example of a complete platform that leverages data management and artificial intelligence to maximize revenue from ads for publishers.

Pros

  • Once you sign on to the network, the platform takes care of everything, dealing with the impressions via real-time bidding (learn what is real-time bidding).
  • Niche or premium networks can offer more revenue for ads since they attract higher-intent customers, which in turn attracts higher-paying advertisers.

Cons

  • Large ad networks have strict requirements for publishers to join their networks.
  • The traffic minimum can be high for some publishers.

Native advertising

With this method, you create ads that blend with the surrounding content. Sponsored posts, content, and reviews are examples of native ads. Native advertising can be more effective than display ads since they integrate with the content. For instance, native ads can have 18% more purchase intent than display ads.

Native Ad Click Through Rates

Source: eMarketer

Pros

  • Builds brand awareness because
  • They integrate into the customer experience, enhancing it.
  • Can be used to target specific audience segments.
  • Increase click-through rates

Cons

  • Time-consuming. Requires creating content, like articles, reviews, social media posts.
  • It is complex to measure performance. You need to combine measuring impressions, clicks, and CTR with website metrics like time on site, engagement rate, views, and cost per action.

What’s Better – Sell Directly or Through an Ad Network

Selling ads directly can be tempting. It may produce a high revenue but it comes with a few caveats:

  • You need to have a top-performing website. That means, from the traffic to the design, it should be optimized to generate maximum conversions.
  • It is also extremely time-consuming. You’ll be handling all the advertising sales and negotiation yourself.

So if you are not ready or you want to save time, it is better you join an ad network.

Still not sure? Let’s do a quick test.

Should I sell ads directly on my site? Checklist 

  • Do you have significant traffic? If your site gets over 50,000 unique visits a month it may be worth it to target direct advertisers.
  • Is your audience highly targeted? Advertisers want their ads to go as directly as possible to people who will buy their products. So, if you have a high-intent, interested audience it may be valuable for advertisers.
  • Can you find active advertisers in your market? Your success will depend on clients that will actively (frequently) place ads on your website. If your website is suitable for a dynamic market that releases updates and new products all the time, check this item.
  • Do you already have direct relationships with companies? If you are an expert on your niche and already have relationships with companies it will give you the advantage to get them to place adverts on your site.

Results: If you checked all the items on the checklist above there might be a chance for you to generate money from direct ad sales.

Still, remember you need to invest time and effort. First, putting your site in shape to attract advertisers, then investing time in contacting potential clients.

Using an ad network takes all the hassle of chasing advertisers. The right ad network increases the value of your website by placing contextual ads that enhance your user experience. Thus, you gain for the performance of the ads and you also make your online property more valuable.

How much can you make on selling ad space on your website?

This will depend on the pricing model you choose. If you sell by Cost per Mille (cost per thousand impressions). If your CPM is $2 and your site generates 200,000 impressions per month, you can expect to make $400 a month.

If you sell by Cost-Per-Click (CPC), you will get paid according to the number of people that actually click on the ad.

Can you sell ad space with low traffic?

The short answer is yes. It will depend on the level of engagement of your audience. If your site boasts a highly engaged audience it may be a valuable asset for advertisers.

Think about it. If you were an advertiser, would you prefer to present ads massively to an audience that may or not convert? Or get your message directly in front of a group of highly engaged potential customers? The answer is clear. While traffic is a basic requirement, having an engaged audience is a good asset to attract advertisers.

Where to start?

As a publisher, you have a great opportunity to generate revenue and earn passive income from placing ads on your website. The easiest and most effective way is to sign with an ad network.

CodeFuel combines the advantages of a large reach with the enhancing of the user experience through contextual ads. You can leverage search, shopping, and text ads in a single monetization platform to maximize revenue and increase engagement.

Start monetizing your website today with CodeFuel