Many bloggers and site owners often turn first to Google AdSense when looking for ways to monetize their site. And for good reason — it’s one of the easiest initial steps to take when you’re looking to grow your site’s revenue.
However, many people quickly wonder if there are ways to do even better. If you’ve encountered some success with AdSense but you aren’t quite satisfied, there are additional ways to monetize your site.
I’ll share three ways to augment AdSense, and give you the shortcuts that will make each one just as easy as AdSense to implement. None of these are mutually exclusive, so you can opt to implement all three or just one.
1. Banner Ads
Banner ads are the most common way that web sites earn money, however banner ads have usually been used by larger sites because of the cost and complexity of selling ad space, managing creative, and optimizing ad delivery.
Just like AdSense text ads, banner ads reside in the white space around or between your core content. Banner ads however can be more effective than text ads since the graphic images and animations within the ads can do a better job of attracting visitor’s attention than text alone.
So how can you get banner ads on your site this very moment? Ten years ago it was very difficult for the owners of smaller sites to implement banner ads. It would have meant cold calling or emailing potential advertisers, creating a media kit, managing insertion orders, optimizing banner delivery, and invoicing and collecting payment from advertisers. Plus, many larger advertisers wouldn’t have worked with smaller sites due to limited traffic potential.
Today, it’s a very different story. Companies like iSocket and BuySellAds, along with many other ad networks, have created solutions that make banner ads essentially a self service business for advertisers and publishers. Site owners simply have to sign-up, approve the creative and the types of ads they want to run on their site, and then cash a check each month.
2. Content Monetization
Affiliate marketing is a way for online merchants to find customers for their stores by affiliating web site links on other company’s web sites. The merchants pay a commission on the revenue they earn to the sites that deliver sales to them.
Just like banner advertising, affiliate marketing used to be difficult for smaller web sites to participate in. The process was tedious, error-prone, and the number of merchants that offered affiliate programs was limited.
Today however, web sites can earn commissions from affiliate programs more or less automatically. Plus, more e-retailers than ever are offering affiliate programs.
Participating in affiliate programs is an obvious way to make money for site owners whose website contains links to e-commerce sites (common for sites such as blogs and forums).
Site owners now have several options that allow them to implement and optimize affiliate marketing links very easily. There are a number of options that automate this process and don’t require that you be an expert in affiliate marketing, so you don’t have to constantly modify links by hand or deal with managing a large number of affiliate programs on your own. VigLink (disclosure: I’m the CEO there), offers automated content monetization solutions and if you’re comfortable with more visible ad units inserted directly in your content, Vibrant Media and Kontera have also proved lucrative for certain publishers. The implementations vary a bit so it’s worth investigating each individually to determine which one is right for you.
3. Data Monetization
Who visits your site, and what they do when they stop in, is valuable information to advertisers. Data aggregators like BlueKai, Exelate or Chango deliver plugins that track this information on your site, and site owners can be compensated for the information gathered.
The information that is collected by these data aggregators is used mainly to serve more relevant ads to visitors on other sites. If the concept of earning revenue from visitor data leaves you feeling queasy, keep in mind that your visitors are going to be seeing ads wherever they go. Data aggregation is used to deliver more relevant ads to them. So instead of seeing an ad for an arbitrary product or service, they might actually see ads for products that they’re interested in. And of course, they are still welcome to ignore any ad that they wish to.
Working with data aggregators is also easy, and very little time is required by you no matter which service you sign-up with.
If you opt to use any of these shortcuts to earn more revenue for your site, you’ll only need to spend an hour or two of time on each to determine which are going to make sense for your site. The potential payoff could be significant for you, so it really is worth experimenting to find what options work for your site.
And because all of these options augment rather than replace AdSense, you can consider each one a building block in your broader monetization strategy rather than an either/or question.
Now — what to do with that extra cash each month?
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Written By: Rob D Young