So you’ve got your website and it’s been up and running for a while now, attracting a reasonable amount of visitors, e.g. moving from the hundreds into the thousands. Now you’ve got an audience, how can you monetise your audience?
If you’re in this situation, I’m sure you’ve seen many sites that have adverts on them. As you can imagine, there’s a whole host of brands out there who want to get their messages out there to their target audience; giving you the opportunity to become a ‘publisher’ (e.g. hosting ads).
Google AdSense is one of the easiest and most common ways of becoming a publisher – you simply sign up and install some code on your website, which allows advertisers to ‘automatically’ place ads on your website. The two most common methods of payment are CPM (cost per thousand impressions), e.g. the ad is simply displayed to the user, and CPC (cost per click). Google AdSense also allows you to decide which types (based on category) of ads you want / don’t want shown on your website, allowing you to somewhat control what is shown.
Additionally, for slightly more advanced publishers there is Google DoubleClick for Publishers which allows you to manage your Google AdSense account as well as host other ads, e.g. direct buys. Direct buys refer to purchase of ad space directly between advertiser and publisher – in effect, cutting out the middle man, such as Google AdSense. Why do advertisers do direct buys? It can work out cheaper for them by cutting out the middle man and can also allow them full control of all ad space available on a given website, known as a site takeover. Additionally, the advertiser may only want to buy from specific publishers, so for example, a shop selling sports trainers, may only want to advertise on select / relevant websites (most likely based on past data), e.g. select running websites.
The Google Display Network (GDN) is one of, if not, the biggest networks out there, thus maximising your chances of getting ads shown on your website. However, there are alternatives out there such as AdCompass, which is much more selective and allows you to control advertisers better, as well as it having some great premium brands as clients.
Don’t want to have ads on your website? Then alternative options include ‘outreach’ tools such as Outbrain, Taboola and Revcontent – which provide easy to install ‘widgets’ on your website, that usually sit beneath your content, pushing out (external) content from other advertisers. These are usually monetised on a CPC model. They almost embed in the website like a related content section. These tools are utilised by a wide range of publishers, such as Sky News and Daily Mail, on their article pages, as shown below:
Bear in mind, as great as it could be to monetise your website, be wary of rolling out big changes, e.g. advertising everywhere, which may ‘scare off’ your users and decrease your audience – small incremental changes are the way to go here. Additionally, adding code to your website is always a risk, so make sure it is thoroughly tested. It’s also important to keep in mind the speed of your site, as you’re effectively connecting to a third party site to load the ads. Even though ads can monetise your website, they can also impact user experience and potentially your organic search rankings, as site speed is a (small) ranking factor.