I think we all ask ourselves this question, and I think we all know the answer (even if we don’t want to admit it).
Of course ads are worse for user experience (duh!)
Of course ads slow down our sites (duh!)
Of course ads lower our affiliate sales (duh!)
And, of course ads lead to a higher bounce rate and lower time on page (duh!)…although just a tad.
I don’t think we need to read a study on this. We already know it’s true…just from logic!
So then WHY do we use them?
Because it’s easy money. And, it’s passive! (my favorite type of income)
For me, I’ve been earning well over $7,000/month from ads! (I use Monumetric, BTW and as you’ll see, I don’t have them plastered all over my site and still I make $7,000/month from it). That’s some serious income!
Thankfully, it’s only a portion of my earnings (generally around third or less of it), so I’m not completely dependent on it nor the whims of traffic nor RPM fluctuations throughout the year. (So glad January is behind us…but we will have a serious dip again in July, esp the 1st 2 weeks (so be prepared and don’t shoot the messenger when January comes back again).
I wanted to share a few thoughts on ads and ad networks as I see a LOT of misinformation in the Facebook groups.(and, it’s really starting to annoy me.)
First, let me just share that I’m okay with ads. While I don’t love them, I’ve gotten used to them the last 5 years and it appears that our audience has, too. And, yes, there are ads almost everywhere, even on huge blogs and well respected publications like the New York Times.
If you use ads, I support you. If you choose to avoid them that’s cool, too (just recognize that it’s going to take a lot more time and effort to monetize and make money).
And, please don’t look down on bloggers who use ads and carry a holier than thou attitude. We each choose our strategy and methods. What’s right for me may not be right for you and vice versa.
This can vary based on niche, monetization strategy, income goals, traffic, etc. Please don’t judge others. Many of us are making a living from our blog, and in my opinion, I love that I have a valuable asset that I can leverage and that I earned it by providing valuable content and advice to my readers. Yes, it is my real estate, and I can rent it out as I see fit. And, yes, it is real estate and it is valuable.
I’m currently using ads. I don’t use a ton of them…I generally put 3 in the side bar and a sticky at the bottom. I personally don’t like ads within my content as that distracts the user more and leads to lower affiliate sales (and affiliate sales are more important to me than ads, and they earn more money for me than ads do).
On many of my affiliate heavy articles, I delete all of the ads. I also delete them from my landing and product pages. These landing pages are very valuable and I don’t need my readers distracted like a squirrel who has shiny object syndrome. I’d rather they sign up for my email list or buy my SEO ebooks.
It is all a matter of balance!
Limiting the ads is one of those ways to create balance, and so is deleting them on some pages.
Over time, I intend to reduce ads (gradually) as I earn more money in other places. And, when I can reduce them, I can get higher page speeds which can result in more pageviews and higher SEO placement (as well as higher preference in Pinterest). Maybe I will eventually delete them all (but I think it will be years before I get to that point).
So now let me share my point of view on some misperceptions when it comes to ads.
First, more ads does not necessarily mean more income.
It may mean more ad income, but it often means lower income in other areas (e.g. affiliates, services, products), etc.
It may also mean slower page speed which leads to lower pageviews and higher bounce rate. Ironic, right?
Find the right balance.
Second, wait until you can qualify for one of the premium ad networks
Personally, I would wait until you can get into Monumetric, MediaVine or Adthive. All 3 of these companies are EXCELLENT so you will get paid MUCH more which helps with the “balance” making it worth it to show ads. And, IMPORTANTLY, they serve up the ads asynchronously so they don’t slow your site down as much.
The entry point places like adsense, media.net, gourmet ads, ezoic all pay way less (like may 10-33% as much), really slow down your site and often have spammy ads that redirect your readers and help you lose your traffic. Because of this, ironically, it will take you longer before you quality for a premium network.
Personally, I use Monumetric, and have been very happy with them. I applied when I had 120,000 pageviews/month (as this is when I started to monetize). I was also accepted by Adthrive. While I don’t use Adthive, I have many friends that do and love them as well. And, most likely on our new blog, we will give MediaVine a try (I believe in diversification and learning from different sources). All 3 are great!
All 3 of the premium ad networks are great – don’t expect better results by choosing one over the other…or by switching…you are NOT upgrading when you do this.
This comes as a big surprise to most bloggers, especially those that have been blogging for 3 years or less. Many mistakenly think that if a place has a higher threshold that they will have higher RPMs.
I have news for you. This is WRONG!
Here are the thresholds, just so you know:
* Monumetric allows bloggers in at just 10,000 pageviews if you pay a one-time set up fee of $99 (you do not pay this upfront…it just comes out of your first month’s earning and usually pays for itself within a month).
Once you are in one of these ad networks you earn the same RPMs, all things being equal (and of course they never are…and this is what causes people to draw erroneous conclusions).
All 3 premium networks are great. None of them has a media buying advantage over the other two. It is all about bidding!!!
Some people mistakenly think that they can “trade up” by switching networks. This is FALSE. As I said, the are all participating in the same bidding process.
In fact, if you switch among any of these 3 networks, expect to see LOWER ad revenue. Yes, lower. Why?
Because with any ad network, there is a ramp up time period for the first 3 months or so as the ad networks get to learn your site learn your site and as ad budgets are reset for the month and quarter.
So what about people that said they moved from ad network A to ad network B and their RPM increased? Well there is a very simple explanation for this. (because remember I told that all are subject to the same bidding war and get the same rates…all thing being equal).
Generally, when the RPM goes up, it’s simply because they change the ad strategy, especially by adding more ads. And, guess what? You can do the same thing (if you want) with your current ad agency. (and avoid the drop off during the first 3 months).
Also there are other factors in play here (such as time of year – yes, RPMs fluctuate throughout the year) and source of traffic (yes, they pay more for SEO traffic, so if your SEO traffic is starting to grow that may be the cause of growth). And, finally, some ad networks quote the RPM per pageview and others by sessions.
So my advice to you is if you are happy with your ad network, stick with them and ask them for how to improve the RPM. I’m pretty sure you’ll get some good advice from them.
Those are my thoughts on ad networks, and I hope it’s helpful and makes sense.