Calling it like it is when it comes to the effectiveness of using banner ads to monetize your blog. If you’re going to use banner ads on your blog, you MUST go into it knowing what the deal is (and what you’re giving up).
So, you hear that blogging can be a good way to make money. Maybe you’ve seen images like this one…
That’s Shoemoney. This image was pretty famous of him. And others even followed suit to post photos of a similar nature (not usually with as big a dollar amount on it).
And so we think… banner advertising. That’s where it is at. Couldn’t be any simpler, really. Start a blog, talk about some stuff, throw some banner ad tags onto the site, sit back and collect checks and take photos of them to brag. Right?
Not so fast.
Truth be told, while banner advertising is certainly the EASIEST way to make money with a blog, it is also the LEAST EFFECTIVE.
My Experience With Banner Ads (And How Things Have Changed)
While I’m sitting here telling you how it isn’t very effective (and I’ll fully explain this below), I want to be clear:
I’ve made a lot of money with banner ads.
I don’t run any ads here at the Blog Marketing Academy – and for a very good reason – however I got my start in the technology niche. And, yes, I most definitely ran ads. I used to routinely make around $3,000 per month from Adsense, another $3,000 (give or take) from Kontera and some others. It was good times.
But, it all went away. And I am SO THANKFUL that I had huge dips in my ad revenue early on so that it FORCED me to explore another business model – specifically that of information marketing. I went on to create my own internal revenue streams that eventually overshadowed banner ad revenue, and even though ad revenue bounced back for a little while (before dying again), the fact that I had my own internal revenue happening meant that I wasn’t reliant on the ebb and flow of the banner market.
And things have changed today. Back in this time period, my tech blog was a pretty big player in the space. But, the internet grew up. The tech niche grew up. Big corporations came in and gobbled sites up and conglomerated them and the niche changed into one which is primarily news driven. Sites like mine were almost a commodity in this new reality.
This story has echoed across the Internet. As the net has matured and more and more sites come online, banner ad inventory has become a commodity. There’s no shortage of it at all.
As with any commodity, the only way to make good money with it is to run a LOT of volume. Sites like Huffington Post, DrudgeReport, TheBlaze, various other news sites… these sites run serious volume. In the tech space, you have certain key players running most of the traffic volume. So, that’s where advertisers go. Advertisers would even seek out those properties.
For most blogs, you’re just a commodity if you’re competing in this market. Your ad inventory is just a tiny little drop in a very large pool and you’re going to get the attention such a drop deserves.
So, with the perspective of things as they are today, let me tell you the 5 reasons why banner ads are just a dumb way to proceed today….
#1: It Doesn’t Make Any Money
According to MonetizePros, the industry average CPM for display ads (aka banner ads) is $2.80. CPM means “cost per thousand”, so essentially 1000 displays of an ad would cost the advertiser, on average, $2.80.
Now, you are the publisher. Most likely going through an ad network which is paying you a revenue split. Let’s say you’ve got a publisher split of 70%. So, for those same 1,000 displays of the ad on YOUR blog, you’d make $1.96.
So, you put that nice big 728×90 banner ad at the top of your blog and you rack up 1,000 page views. Congrats… you just made $1.96.
Takes a lot of work to rack up 1,000 page views when you’re first starting out. 1,000 page views doesn’t just fall on your head. A lot of work goes into making that traffic. And, for all your hard work, you can just barely afford to buy a cup of coffee.
Now, in reality, you’d probably put several banner ads on each page. So, even if you really screw up your reader experience by putting 4 banners on the page. AND let’s assume they all paid you roughly the same. So, those same 1,000 page views just earned you $7.84.
To put this in perspective, if I ran 1,000 people into a blog profit funnel here at the Academy, do you have any idea how much money I would make? 🙂 Trust me – plenty. Your measly little $7.84 is tiny compared to what you can do with that traffic otherwise.
So, banner ads just aren’t a money maker for most. Many bloggers play hell even getting over the payment threshold to collect their checks. The only way to make this pay off is to build up to SERIOUS traffic numbers. Enjoy!
#2: Banner Ads Send People AWAY From Your Blog (For Pennies)
Traffic is the #1 challenge for most bloggers, when you ask them. Bloggers spend a lot of time trying to get more traffic.
All that work… then they’ll throw a banner ad on there which has one, single purpose: To distract your reader enough to make them click and leave.
That’s the odd part… the purpose of that banner ad is DIRECTLY contradictory to YOUR purpose. The advertiser doesn’t have your interest in mind. They’re trying like hell to STEAL the attention of your readers!
And if they succeed at stealing your reader, they’ll throw you a few pennies for your troubles.
#3: Readers Hate Them.
I’m going to state the obvious here, but…
Banner ads are annoying.
Do you agree? 🙂
Ads interrupt the user experience. They get in the way. They make it harder to concentrate on your content. They’re a distraction.
And that’s EXACTLY their intention! Banner ads are interruption marketing and, as the effectiveness has dropped, they just get more annoying so that you’ll notice them.
So, if you are trying to have a good user experience on your blog, trying to provide value and build a community… then throwing ads all over the place is pretty contradictory to your stated intentions.
#4: It Delivers No Value.
Money isn’t something one sucks out of the ether of the universe because of tricks and tactics. Money is the result of delivering VALUE.
You provide value to somebody who wants that value… and they’ll pay you. Simple.
Now, what value does a banner ad give to your blog readers? Answer: none. In fact, “value” is the least likely thing to occur to them if you’re interrupting them with other people’s ads.
The only exchangeable value you’re providing, in this situation, is to the advertiser. So, whether you see it or not, the advertiser is your customer and your readers are caught in the middle.
Blog posts aren’t exchangeable for money – which is why blogging doesn’t make money. If all you do is blog, then the only exchangeable asset you’re building is your audience themselves. And you’re literally selling your audience to your real customer: the advertiser.
#5: It Makes A Mockery Of What You’re Trying To Do.
In most cases, it really does make a mockery of your work because it is so at odds with your stated intentions.
- You do all that work to build your audience, yet you try like hell to make them leave with all those banner ads.
- You concentrate on “providing value” to your reader, but in reality you’ve turned your reader into a commodity and sold them to your advertiser.
- The advertiser is the real customer, not your readers.
- You’re not building any exchangeable value… except your readers themselves.
- You do all this for “bottom of the barrel” revenue.
There’s only one situation where any of this makes sense…
When Banner Advertising Is Your Only Option…
The absolute best niches to monetize with a blog are the ones which focus on delivering a TRANSFORMATION.
Now, I talk about transformations alot in my training inside the Blog Monetization Lab. Understanding this one concept is SO important to your ability to generate real revenue. Your readers are trying to accomplish something (solve a problem or transform their current reality in some way). And you enable them to do that by way of your content, products and services.
THAT’S the makings of a real business right there.
However, if you’re in a niche which doesn’t align around any transformation, then you’re in an unfortunate position where banner advertising is really going to be one of your main (if not only) way to generate revenue. Such niches would include:
- News (and this would include any niche which is focused primarily on news. The tech niche, today, is very much in this category).
- Personal blogs (since they’re based on the whims of the author and not on a real market, usually)
The problem with these niches is that the people who would be your audience aren’t trying to accomplish anything. There’s really nothing actionable which unites them and turns them into a real market.
If you’re on a news site, you’re there for news. That’s it. And you won’t pay for it because you can get your news from any of about a million different places. Same goes for politics. People come there to get riled up and follow the election, but that’s it. Entertainment? Again, no transformation. They’re there to get a chuckle and leave and they won’t pay for it unless you’ve done a stellar job of branding.
In such niches, banner ads are the main game. The REAL customer here is the advertiser – NOT the reader.
Personally, I would never enter a niche like that again. It is far too much work. It is too commoditized. The chances of failure – high.
Should You Remove Banner Ads From Your Blog?
If you’re in a niche which has no real transformation… where your audience isn’t trying to accomplish anything… then you might as well keep any banner ads you currently have. That… and really put some thought into your niche and be open to a pivot in a new direction.
I can help you with that, with the Finding Your Niche course and the Discover Your Business Model course inside the Blog Monetization Lab.
Simply put, starting a blog just to talk about a topic and hoping to monetize with ads and Amazon affiliate links…. its just foolish. I’m not going to try to make that seem glamorous. You are going down a road which usually goes nowhere at all.
So, on the flip side, if your niche is oriented around a transformation or a desired outcome of some kind, then – yes – I would remove banner ads.
And if you’re selling your own stuff (or intend to), but you’re currently running banner ads for the extra revenue – stop that. It is short-sighted. You’re sending all your prospects away, and annoying the rest of them. I cringe whenever I see a person who has a product for sale on their blog… and Adsense ads in the sidebar. Just stop it.
Instead of selling your audience off at commodity pricing, start concentrating on building your own internal assets and providing REAL VALUE to your readers. Value that is exchangeable for money.
Then, you’re building your own assets while also respecting your reader and what they’re trying to achieve.
You Have A Choice
Inside The Lab, my approach to monetization is exactly that: building your own assets while also respecting your reader and what they’re trying to achieve.
It is a business approach to blogging. It happens to be FAR more effective than the usual fare (banner advertising). It is also better for your readers because you’re providing them what they asked for. You win (financially) and they win.
Isn’t that what business is supposed to be? Business is a delivery mechanism for solutions for people who are asking for them. Pure and simple.
We just happen to use the internet to do it and a blog as our main marketing channel. And, it is highly effective when you do it this way.
Need the guidance and support as you do it? That’s what the Blog Monetization Lab is all about.