If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Should I monetize my site with advertising?” then this article may be able to provide the answer.
Advertising is one of the easiest monetization strategies for any form of digital content, but it’s not the only one. Keep reading to learn the pros and cons of monetizing with advertising, how to find the right ads for your site, and a few best practices that will help you earn more from your ads.
Ad-Based Website Revenue: Pros and Cons
Pro: It’s easy to use. For the most part, advertising simply involves inserting some code into your website. When you use a large automated network such as Google’s AdMob, the ad network automates the ad’s content based on your website’s content. It truly is “set and forget.”
Con: The easier it is, the harder it is to control the content. On the other hand, these types of ads don’t give you control over what appears. This can be problematic if, for instance, you run a conservative dog-sitting website and ads for shock collars keep appearing.
Pro: Immediate income. Once people start viewing and clicking your ads, you start to earn money. It can happen on the same day or the same hour; if you’ve got the traffic, you’ve got the potential.
Con: You need lots of traffic. Yes, traffic is a must if you want to earn from this type of advertising. The more you have, the better, since many ads earn less than a few cents. More competitive ad spaces can drive up the price and your income, but to get that far ahead, you’ll need to be able to compete with some big time affiliate marketers and bloggers.
Pro: You can optimize to improve results. Not all ad networks take complete control away from you. Some networks or individual advertisers give you control over what you display and how you display it. And, of course, it is your website, so you can tweak the front end and place ads wherever you see fit.
Con: The deeper you get, the more you have to learn the curve. Some analytics are easy to understand, but some aren’t. Some contain metrics that are rather esoteric, and if you want to improve those metrics, you’ll have to spend a certain amount of time learning them.
Find the Right Advertisements
Pick your niche, then your network. Some networks, such as CodeFuel’s DisplayFuel cater to specialized niches – in this case, software advertisers. If you are creating a video game, for instance, it would make sense to sign up with one of the many ad networks that specializes in video games.
Choose appropriate ad formats. The right ads should come in the right format. Most people tend to block out banner ads and display ads that aren’t well-done or relevant. The more intrusive the ad – think auto-play video and audio ads – the more likely people are to tune it out or leave your site.
Find relevant ads that will appeal to visitors. Web users are goal-driven, and they want to find answers to their questions as soon as possible. Find ad providers that deliver value to the user and answer the user’s question. Anything that doesn’t will get ignored and could even drive people away.
Best Practices Make Perfect
Choose the right real estate. Test various parts of your site. Studies have shown that people’s eyes move in an F-shaped pattern: they scan the first couple lines, then skim down in search of more valuable content. Anything to the right gets less attention, unless the images are immediately relevant to the user’s goals and the content they are reading.
Think engagement. To continue the above line of thought, think about engaging users as much as possible. Ads that are interspersed throughout articles, for example, tend to do well because they are included directly in the path of the engaged user’s eyeballs.
Don’t make ads too obnoxious. As mentioned above, anything that looks or sounds like advertising and “marketese” will be ignored and can have a detrimental impact. To be effective, ads should be as seamless as possible. If you can add value by providing ads that fulfill the user’s goal, then you will see increases in conversion rates.
Blend, but don’t blend too well. Native ads are the sponsored articles that you see in major news blogs. These ads offer up advertisements that look and sound like articles, which they are, but they are also paid for by advertisers. Studies have shown that people actually trust these ads less, because they often look a little too much like the rest of the site.
Strike the right balance between content and advertising if you want to earn the most from your ads. Don’t be obnoxious, but don’t be sneaky. Add value with your content and your ads and you’ll start to see more users sticking around and increasing your bottom line.