Many clients have approached us for suggestions to monetize their site, and invariably there are questions about advertising. Although it’s easy to place ads on your site, there are reasons why it may not lead to the kind of revenue you might expect. There are also some drawbacks that need to be considered as well.
Of course, not every site is a good candidate for advertising in the first place. If your business model is about selling products or services through your site, incorporating ads could reduce your credibility (not always, such as if you place ads only on your blog for instance). On the other hand, if you’ve created a comprehensive site with an extensive library of content, advertising makes perfect sense.
When is the Right Time To Place Ads on a Site?
First and foremost, placing ads on a site is not a panacea for generating revenue. Chances are, you won’t see much revenue from your ads, and you can actually drive away traffic (and reduce credibility) by doing it incorrectly. Since each site is different, only the site owner knows the kind of expectations of its audience.
Take it slow: don’t place any ads on a site right off the bat (expect in a few circumstances). Instead, focus on building your audience. Increase the number of loyal users, get people to participate, and build your traffic levels. Use this time to establish credibility for your brand, and to become known as an authority in your field.
Once you’ve built a solid audience, then it’s time to start experimenting with advertising. But again, take it slow. Try placing some Google text ads in an unobtrusive place on your site and gauge the reaction of your users. Then, continue to experiment. Try some text ads in other places around the site, try alternating between text and banner ads, etc.
At every step, keep very careful track of your results: reactions from audience members, traffic levels and impression counts, revenue results, and of course the click-through (CTR) rate. Meticulously track all of this in a spreadsheet, and be sure to provide ample time for each experiment.
Over time, you’ll come up with a set of data in your spreadsheet that identifies the key areas of your site that are best for advertising: what pages and the placement on those pages that generate the highest CTR. You’ll also learn what spots don’t help and detract from the usability of your site.
Setting up carefully-constructed experiments and allowing plenty of time will give you the data to optimize your advertising: giving you the greatest revenue with the least distraction for your users.