Advertising Income – Earning Money with AdSense

Second Monetization Strategy – Advertising

Advertising is the second strategy you can use to monetize your site. Including advertisements on your site is a simple way to derive an income from it. Ads can come in the form of text ads, banner ads, link ads, feed ads or video ads. The most popular web advertising service is Google AdSense. Other providers include: CrispAds, AdBrite, Chikita, Kontera, BlogAds, ValueClick media, Tribal Fusion, Text Link Brokers and Text Link Ads. You also have the option of doing private ad deals with other websites or companies.

Google AdSense

Google AdSense is a free service that provides text, image and video ads that are automatically chosen to match the content on your pages. With its online relevancy matching, the AdSense platform has no close rival.

You get paid when someone clicks on your ads. How much you earn per click depends on how much advertisers have bid for your keywords by using the Google AdWords service. Each click may pay you anything from $0.01 to $10, or even more in profitable niches. You can get some idea of how much clicks are worth in your niche with the Google AdWords Traffic Estimator.

In addition to including AdSense in your content, you can also earn money by adding AdSense to your website’s search, your mobile site and to any videos you may have.

Quick AdSense – This plug-in provides a flexible way to insert Google AdSense code into a WordPress site.

AdSense Income

There are three factors that govern how much money you earn from AdSense.

  • Click-through rate (CTR) – The percentage of visitors that actually click on your ads. Average click-through rates can vary greatly, from as low as 0.5% to as high as 10% or more.
  • Revenue per click – The percentage of the cost per click (CPC) paid out to publishers is 68% for content ads and 51% for search ads. For other AdSense services the percentages vary and they are not disclosed by Google.
  • Page impressions – Average number of page views for a period of time.

Using these terms, the formula for AdSense earnings is simply:

  • Click-through rate * Revenue per click * Page impressions per day = Income per day

For example, if you have 100 Content pages, each receiving 100 page views per day, you would have 100×100 = 10 000 daily page impressions. With an average CTR of 1%, paying an average of $0.50 per click, you have an income of 10 000 * 0.01 * 0.50 = $50 per day, or $1500 per month.

Increasing Revenue Per Click

Here are some tips on how to increase the payment you receive per AdSense click.

  • Higher paying keywords – By writing keyword-specific Content pages for high paying keywords within your site’s niche, you will earn more money for each click.
  • Focused content – The more focused your Content pages are, the better Google can determine which ads are most relevant to your readers. This in turn increases the chance that someone will click on them.
  • First ad – The first AdSense ad displayed in your site’s HTML will contain the highest paying ads. Aim to position this ad where you have the highest click-through rate.

Increasing Click-Through Rate

There are various ways of tricking users into clicking ads, but that does not give a good user experience. Have a look at this site for a list of the most hated advertising techniques. Such techniques – such as pop-ups and blinking ads – can severely undermine a site’s credibility and likability, and it is not worth using them. Some far less annoying ways of increasing your CTR will be covered here.

AdSense Formats

AdSense offers a variety of ad formats. All things being equal, the relative click-through rate of these formats is different, as can be seen in the diagram below.

Best performing AdSense formats
Relative click-through rates for various AdSense formats. Source: DoubleClick.

In short, larger ad formats typically outperform smaller formats. Similarly, wider formats have a higher click-through rate than their taller counterparts. Keep in mind that while such ad formats tend to perform well, they may not always fit the best with your site design.

AdSense Positioning

You want to place the ads where they get the visitors’ attention without annoying them. AdSense ads can be displayed anywhere on your site, but certain positions are better than others. The heat map below shows locations where visitors are more likely to see them and therefore more likely to click on them. The colors fade from orangedark-gray (strongest performance) to white (weakest performance).

Google AdSense heatmap
A heat map showing which ad positions are likely to generate higher click-through rates. Source: Google AdSense.

The top left of the content is one of the highest performing areas together with the main content on the page. Integrating ads into the content often gives the highest click-through rates.

Ads placed near navigational aids also usually do well, because many users will focus on these areas when they are ready to navigate to another page. For the same reason, ads below the content will perform well, provided that your content is good enough to keep the visitor reading. The end of the content is a natural stopping point where the visitor is ready to click to go somewhere else.

Another good spot is right above the content. Most visitors will naturally see this ad and thus are more likely to click on it. In general, ads that show up above the fold perform better than ads below the fold. However, be sure not to crowd out the content with too many ads above the fold. If a reader arrives at your site and has to scroll to see the content, they are more likely to leave right away.

To track your results, be sure to create separate AdSense channels for every ad location. This way you can see how each ad performs.

Ad Integration

Savvy Internet users will not even look at anything that looks like an advertisement, a concept known as banner blindness. The key to overcoming this and getting people to pay attention to ads is to make them appear less like ads and more like content. By making the advert appear to be part of the content you can improve your click-through rate significantly. Here are some suggestions on how to achieve this.

  1. Content inlining – Wrapping text around the ad makes it appear to be part of the content.
  2. Alignment – Positioning the ad on the same line as content will make it look less like an ad.
  3. Style blending – The ad should use the same font and color as the rest of the site with a transparent background and no borders.
  4. Repetition – Including text ads near text links and banner ads near images is an effective method of integrating ads with content.
  5. Random placement – Inserting ads randomly into the content can help defeat banner blindness.

Ad Quantity

Google allows you to place up to 3 ad units, 3 link units and 2 AdSense search boxes on each page. However, displaying this many ads on a single page is seldom appropriate. How many ads you want to display depends on the amount of content a page has and the overall site design. Sites that have too many ads appear spammy and unprofessional. As a result of this, they may attract fewer visitors and thus earn less revenue, not more.

Ad Blocking

Ad blockers are browser extensions that block advertisements from showing up in the user’s browser. The most popular one is Adblock Plus, a Firefox extension. Chrome and IE similarly have their own ad block extensions. A comprehensive study performed in 2012 by ClarityRay showed that 9.26% of Internet users in US and Europe use ad-blockers. These blockers are most common for web users of technology and news sites.

Ad blocking is a very controversial issue, since most websites rely primarily on advertisements for their income. One strategy, which for example Google uses, is to not bother ad-blocking visitors in any way. They are after all still a minority, and there are many other ways of making money online.

If your site relies heavily on ad income, you can use JavaScript to display a message only for ad-blocking visitors. The message can for example contain a polite request for the visitor to donate, subscribe or to disable the ad block software for your site. This notification commonly takes the form of an image that replaces the blocked ads, or a discrete pop-up message.

Anti-AdBlock – This WP plug-in displays a customizable one-time message for regular ad blocking visitors.