Arguably the easiest way to make money from a blog is with display ads.
Here’s how it works….
- Firstly, you sign up to work with the network of your choice.
- Secondly, you add the code that they give you to your website.
- Thirdly, you sit back while adverts start to appear on your website.
- Every time one of your visitors clicks on an advert, you make money.
Here’s a screen capture of a blog I just stumbled across, showing some display ads on their site:
Little wonder why ad networks are such a simple way to monetize your website; adverts can be added to (almost) any page of your website and just keep on attracting clicks (and earning you money) on autopilot.
This makes display ads an ideal form of passive income.
For the beginner, they’re an ideal way to start making your blog pay for itself, but there are two problems…
The first problem with display ad networks is how to add the code to your website. More experienced bloggers and authority site owners shouldn’t have a problem; for newbies, however, the process can be a little complex. As a result, we’ll cover exactly how to do this shortly.
The second issue that is that unless you’re generating hundreds of thousands of pageviews each month, while you should make some money from display ads, you probably won’t make a lot.
All too often I hear of site owners getting frustrated at their lack of results, bringing in just a few dollars each month from their work.
Luckily, there are some techniques that we can apply to grow your display ad earnings, which we’ll also cover in this section of the course.
Let’s start, however, with an introduction on display ads…
What are the Best Display Ad Networks for Bloggers?
There are numerous display ad networks, with new companies cropping up regularly while others shut down or are bought up by bigger rivals.
As a result, attempting to produce an exhaustive list of all the options out there would be near impossible.
Instead, it perhaps makes sense here to consider just a handful of the better-known and more highly regarded ad networks for bloggers…
I have been using Adsense on a range of websites for as long as I can remember.
According to my account I’ve now sent over three million ad impressions to them, and I always get paid on time – every time.
With so much experience of their operation, it’s fair to say I’m quite an Adsense fan.
Overall I find the quality of their ads to be pretty good and I like the huge range of options when it comes to selecting adverts that match your site.
Potentially most important of all, the revenue-per-click that you earn with Adsense tends to be at the higher end, meaning more money for you when compared to the majority of other ad networks. While Adsense has it’s haters, it’s still my favorite network.
Media.net is regularly touted as one of the better Adsense alternatives, and in some verticals it may even earn more than Adsense.
According to people that have extensively split tested Adsense against Media.net, the “better” option tends to depend on how “commercial” your content is.
It is claimed that the higher the buyer intent of the keywords that you rank for, the more you’ll generally earn with Media.net.
If you’re trying to decide between the two networks then it might be worth mentioning that Media.net and Adsense can be used together on the same site.
It is therefore nice and easy to sign up for an account with both companies, then try split testing their ads to see which arrangement brings you the most revenue.
Monumetric – formerly The Blogger Network – has gained a lot of attention in recent years, claiming that they help bloggers to earn considerably more than other networks.
It seems that you have the potential to earn not just from clicks, but even for impressions – such as from video ads loading in your sidebar.
In the past, Monumetric had some pretty strict rules for acceptance; only sites receiving over 100,000 monthly visits were applicable. More recently, however, these rules have been relaxed, and Monumetric currently accepts blogs with 10,000 monthly pageviews or more.
There are a few elements that make Monumetric quite a different offering from Adsense or Media.net. For one thing, Monumetric offers a range of training materials (a “comprehensive learning platform”) to help smaller bloggers to grow their sites, and Monumetric ad managers also proactively manage the ads displayed on your site to maximise revenue.
In terms of downsides, be aware that smaller sites will be required to pay a one-off setup fee ($99 at the time of writing) and that you’ll need to display at least six ad slots on each page of your site. Some bloggers are willing to “clutter” their site with ads in exchange for increased revenue, while others complain at how “ad heavy” it can make a site.
First the good news: AdThrive is a premium advertising network with a strong track record of results.
Their website claims that the average site sees a 249% increase in revenue after moving to the AdThrive network: something not to be sniffed at.
Like Monumetric, AdThrive also aim to take a lot of the hassle out of maximizing your ad revenue, with account managers on hand at all times to answer questions and optimize your site on your behalf.
If there is a downside it’s the eligibility guidelines: you’ll need at least 100,000 monthly pageviews, of which the majority should come from the USA.
While this isn’t necessarily out of the question, this probably puts AdThrive out of reach right now – especially if you’re a relatively new blogger or authority site creator.
How to Place Display Ads on Your Website
Let’s assume for a moment that you’ve opted for one or more ad networks: for many beginners the challenge is then actually placing the advertising code onto their site.
If this is you, then I want to quickly outline two simple options available to you – that don’t require a whole load of technical mumbo-jumbo.
The first, and arguably the easiest, is to use an ad insertion plugin (assuming you’re blogging on WordPress).
There are a huge range of different ad insertion plugins, though my own personal preference is for Ad Inserter. Install it on your site as you would with any other WordPress plugin, and you’ll quickly be able to display ads on your site wherever you’d like them.
The second options, which we’ll talk about a little later on, is AmpedSense.
AmpedSense is a premium plugin that like having an an optimization expert working on your site 24/7. As well as allowing you to very quickly and easily place advertising code anywhere you’d like on your site, it also lets you test out different combinations of ad types to find the combination that produces the most revenue for you.
If you’re technically-challenged and/or want to earn the most possible from your site, then the small monthly subscription you’ll pay to use AmpedSense should quickly be repaid.
7 Ways to Earn More Ad Revenue
It’s so common to hear new bloggers complaining about display ad networks that it’s almost a cliche.
In many cases, however, these sites are doing a lot wrong.
After many years of using Adsense and Media.net, therefore, I want to provide some simple tips that many sites can use to earn more revenue from their display ads…
Display More Adverts
If you’ve only got a single ad block on your website then it’s logical fewer people will end up clicking on ads.
In general, therefore, try to include multiple ad blocks on each page of your website.
With Adsense, for example, this means you should test out including three different ad blocks on each page of your site; while your ad income won’t triple, it’s likely to go up a fair amount.
Move Your Ads Up
More visible adverts receive more clicks. I have extensively tested a huge number of different ad layouts on dozens of sites, and repeatedly found that the lower an advert is down your page, the fewer clicks it will receive.
If you want to maximize your ad revenue, therefore, you need to move these up high.
You want as many people as possible to lay eyes on them.
Remember that no matter how well-written your article is, only a small fraction of visitors will ever read all the way to the end of your content.
Any ads there in the footer, for example, are probably a wasted opportunity.
Put Ads in Your Content
Nobody likes advertising; we generally surf the web looking for information. Understandably, therefore, our focus tends to be on the written content on a page, rather than in all the other parts of the page – the sidebar, footer, header and so on.
The best way to ensure that as many people see your ads as possible – which will generally mean more clicks and revenue – is actually putting them into the flow of your content.
You want visitors to have to read past an advert to finish your article.
So remove them from anywhere that other than the actual flow of your article.
Split Test Your Advertising
We can all make assumptions but until you actually test your theories you can never be 100% certain of the results.
Split testing is the simple process of displaying different adverts to different people, in order to see which ads produce the most revenue.
As discussed earlier on, a tool that I have tested extensively and makes the whole process nice and simple is AmpedSense.
Assuming you’ve grabbed your subscription, here are some of the more important elements that you should be testing out…
Use the Most Profitable Ad Sizes
The more advertisers there are competing for a specific ad block, the more money you’ll make per click. This means that focusing on the more common ad sizes can result in a boost in your ad revenue.
There’s more: some advert sizes are simply more obvious to visitors: as an example, bigger ad blocks tend to receive more clicks.
So avoid those tiny little squares or old-fashioned banners and opt instead for the real big units.
Experiment With Ad Placement
Where should you place your adverts?
Should they be aligned to the left or the right?
Should your text fit around the ads, or should your display ads stand out in a section of their own?
With the right split testing tool like AmpedSense this is super-simple to find out.
Compare Images & Text Ads
Display ad networks like Adsense allow you to display banner ads (images) on your site or text ads: but which performs strongest? Should you focus on just one type, or try both on your site?
Try Out Different Color Schemes
With both Adsense and Media.net you have a large amount of control over how your ads look.
One of the most obvious elements to consider here is the color scheme.
As an example, will displaying ads in the same color scheme as your site help them to receive more clicks, or should you deliberately design them to stand out in a contrasting color scheme?
Waterfalling is a genius idea for boosting your display ad revenue, but it’s not the easiest of concepts to explain.
The reality of display ads is that some advertisers are willing to pay more money than others: this makes perfect sense as some advertisers earn more money from their traffic than others.
The problem is that not all advertisers exist on all networks, and furthermore some advertisers are very specific on which pages they want to appear on.
If you have pages that match those requirements, you have the potential to earn significantly more on a per-click basis.
But how do you know?
Waterfalling is the name given to using two or more ad networks together.
Rather than both networks displaying their ads separately on your site, software is used to figure out which network will pay the most for each visitor at that moment in time – then displays just that advert.
The end result is that you essentially have different advertisers and networks competing against each other for your ad space, and you’ll always show the most profitable ads to your visitors.
I appreciate that this all sounds rather complicated, but there is an easy solution: Sovrn. This company aims to make waterfalling as simple as possible, by taking care of all the technical stuff on your behalf. All you need to do is paste a few bits of code into your website.
From then on, the Sovrn software runs invisibly on your website, serving up only the most profitable adverts.
Drive Higher Quality Traffic
If you’ve read the other sections of this course then you should have a detailed strategy for promoting your website. You’ll know all my SEO tips for getting more search engine traffic, you’ll have mastered Pinterest marketing, content promotion strategies and how to use Twitter to promote your blog.
What you might not realize, however, is that some of these traffic types are more valuable than others to advertisers.
Most experienced affiliate marketers and bloggers discover that visitors from the search engines actually earn them far more than the same volume of traffic from social media.
As a result, while I suggest that all site owners participate in the traffic strategies I laid out elsewhere in the course, if you’re serious about making money from ad networks like Adsense and Media.net then the best long-term activity is growing the traffic you get from the search engines.
Target Keyword Phrases with Buyer Intent
Blog posts that attract visitors in a frame of mind to spend money tend to earn more from display ads than more “informational” pages.
While a website filled with nothing but buyers guides and product reviews is generally best avoided, it is smart to consider integrating such commercial content into your overall plan.
For best results, therefore, try to offer your visitors (and the search engines) a balanced diet of both informational and commercial topics.
Doing so will maximize your revenue from display ads while keeping your visitors happy.
I’m New: Where Should I Start?
If you’ve read this far I’m going to assume that you’re just getting started monetizing your website with display adverts.
If that is the case then I know there’s a chance you’re feeling a little overwhelmed right now.
What network should you choose?
Where should you place your ads?
What works best?
Here I have two answers for you.
Firstly, the only way to be certain that you’re earning as much as possible is to test and experiment; try as many different ad networks, styles, color schemes, sizes and placements as possible to find the combination that bring the most revenue.
Remember: each site is different so don’t assume someone else’s “ultimate guide” is going to give you the right answer.
That said, I also know that split testing all these different variables can take time and effort – especially if your site traffic is quite low. After all, the fewer visitors you get, the longer it’ll take to make an informed decision about what works best.
In light of this I want to give you a few tips for what I have personally found to work consistently well on my own sites.
Firstly, I would recommend starting with Adsense.
Secondly, I would use the following ad arrangement on my site:
While some testing and tweaking should allow you to see improvements, this above arrangement has performed reliably well on a large number of sites that I own or have worked on. It’s therefore probably a better arrangement than you might come up with at random.
Once you’ve got these ads in place, and have seen how they perform, I’d then look at investing time into AmpedSense and progressively testing out variations for maximum profitability.