I’ve been trying to make money online for as long as I can remember – whether through finding freelance gigs, uploading to stock photo databases, or building blogs. When it comes to blogs, I’ve monetized them through display ads, affiliate offers, and even by selling my own products.
Today, I want to talk about the first of the blog monetization methods, display ads. About the banners that I’m sure you’ve seen on many websites around the Internet. They’re how I made my first cent online years ago. And even now, the money I earn from display ads makes up a large part of my online income.
As such, even though I see many people stay away from them for one reason or another, I have no intentions of removing them. In fact, for a number of reasons that I’ll talk about further in this article, display ads are probably my most favorite way to monetize a website.
The Three Arguments Against Display Ads
When talking about display ads with website owners or reading stories of bloggers, one or more of the following three arguments against using them usually pop up from the naysayers:
- Display ads pay very little.
- Display ads ruin the user experience.
- Display ads cannibalize affiliate revenue.
All of those arguments are certainly valid to some extent. Display ads often do pay relatively little per page view. They make the user experience worse compared to the same site without any ads. And, they might cannibalize affiliate or other revenue if used improperly.
That said, I also believe that bloggers who don’t use – or, in fact, haven’t even tried using – display ads tend to underestimate how much they can make from them, and overestimate how much their fans will hate them for putting the ads on their site and how much their other revenue will decrease because of the ads.
As such, I don’t think any of the three arguments is a good enough reason not to at least give display ads a shot.
5 Reasons Display Ads Are My Favorite Monetization Method
Now, don’t get me wrong. If you tried display ads and they didn’t work for you for one reason or another, I am by no means trying to convince you otherwise. Each blog is different, and each blog is best monetized with a different combination of methods.
However, if you haven’t even tried displays yet due to one of the above (or some other) reasons – or if you are just starting to consider how to monetize your blog – let me explain why I believe display ads are a blog monetization method that you should certainly try.
1. They’re an Easy Way to Monetize All Content by Default
While many different types of online income can be quite passive (meaning you can have recurring income from the work you did in the past, definitely not meaning you don’t have to work hard at some point in time), display ads are about as passive as it gets.
Just to give you an example, if you want to make money doing affiliate marketing, you will have to spend a lot of time getting affiliate links, putting them into your articles, fixing old links pointing to products that are no longer available, and so on.
Sure, you can use a service like Skimlinks that automatically turns all your relevant links into affiliate links. But even then, you still have to insert the non-affiliate links into your articles in strategic places in the first place.
On the other hand, with display ads, you (or if you have enough traffic to use one of the premium ad providers like Monumetric, then they) will set up your ads once, and the ads will appear on all of your posts by default – earning you money right away both for your old content as well as for all your future content.
Because of that, you will be able to spend more time writing and producing valuable content, and less time messing around with affiliate links.
2. They Give You the Freedom to Write About What You Enjoy
This is by far the main reason I like using display ads – it’s a monetization method that will give you more freedom in terms of what you can write about without having to feel “guilty” that you are not doing something that directly grows revenue than any other monetization method.
Let’s say you run a website about car repair and really want to write an article about the ten cars that you think are the most reliable (and thus hardly need any repair). You also know, though, that while the article will get a lot of visitors, it will not make you any money.
Because of that, you will write an article about the five best torque wrenches for changing tires and spend hours describing what are essentially identical tools with some minor differences instead.
In other words, you will sacrifice writing about a topic that you want to cover for writing about a topic that sells.
Having display ads on your site, the difference between writing the two articles won’t be nearly as bad.
Almost certainly, the article about torque wrenches would earn more per visitor than the article about the most reliable cars. But, if you are able to drive traffic to the article about the most reliable cars, the revenue it will earn from display ads will add up to a significant amount over time.
And so, you’ll be able to both write about what you enjoy and earn some money along the way.
3. They Reliably Generate Income from (Almost) All of Your Site’s Visitors
Just like display ads are able to monetize pretty much any article as long as the article gets traffic, they are able to monetize the vast majority of people that come to your website and consume your content.
You might miss out on some revenue if a person using an ad blocker comes to your site. But, you can be sure that as long as a person sees a display ad on your site, you are going to make some money – regardless of how small that amount is (assuming you use a pay per view rather than a pay per click network).
Compare that with affiliate marketing or selling your own products where the visitor not only has to see your ad for that product on your website (whether it’s a link or a banner) but also click on it – and then, most importantly, make a purchase.
In the case of affiliate marketing, there are further obstacles between you and the commission including the user:
- Waiting too long to make a purchase and thus letting your cookie expire
- Cleaning his browsing history and thus deleting your cookie
- Clicking on the same affiliate link on another site between clicking on yours and making the purchase
- Purchasing from a different device than the one the user used to click on your affiliate link
With display ads, you will earn your fair share right then and there, when the visitor reads the article. Regardless of whether he is using his smartphone, laptop, or tablet, and regardless of what he reads or clicks on after exiting your site.
4. They Diversify Your Income Across Many Articles
Imagine two different sites earning the same amount of money each month and only relying on organic traffic from Google. Imagine one of those is earning all of its income from affiliate marketing and the other one from display ads.
And, for the sake of simplicity, imagine each of the articles is responsible for the same percentage of that site’s income.
Now imagine what happens to each site when one of its articles “dies” – i.e. loses its ranking in Google and stops bringing in traffic. When doing so, remember that revenue per page view tends to be multiple times higher for affiliate articles than for articles monetized with display ads.
So, the situation would probably look something like this:
- Site “A” monetized with affiliate offers: 10 monetized articles, each bringing in 10% of income
- Site “B” monetized with display ads: 100 monetized articles, each bringing in 1% of income
If Site “A” loses all traffic to one of its monetized articles, it will lose 10% of income. If the same thing happens to Site “B,” it will lose just 1% of its income.
You might be thinking “but wait, the affiliate site only has 10 monetized articles so it takes much less time to make.” And sure, you might need less monetized articles than you would need with the other site to get the same revenue. Chances are, though, that to get those 10 “money” articles ranking in Google, you will have to write tens of other unmonetized content, making the difference in the effort required to build the two sites minimal.
And, even if it took considerably more effort to build Site “B” (the site monetized with display ads), to me, the result of having a site that is not reliant on a small number of high earning articles and instead has its earnings spread across a large number of articles would well worth it.
5. They Diversify Your Income Across Many Customers
Finally, display ads not only diversify your income across more articles than other monetization methods, but they also do so across many different customers.
What I mean is that while with an affiliate site you might be reliant on a handful of companies (Amazon, ConvertKit, etc.) bringing in all your revenue, in case of a site monetized with display ads, that’s not the case even though it might seem like you are only getting your money from a single source (Google in case of AdSense, Monumetric, etc.).
That’s because companies like Google and Monumetric serve as marketplaces that countless companies use to find websites to display their ads on.
And so, while all your display ad earnings are paid to you by whichever network you use, that money comes from dozens and dozens of organizations – like Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, Expedia, and so on – that spent money to show ads on your website during the period you are being paid for.
And so, even if Coca-Cola or any other organization decides to cut its ad spend, there are plenty of other ones to fill that gap seamlessly, without your effort required.
That’s in stark contrast with affiliate marketing where one company that you are an affiliate for suddenly deciding to halve the commission rate it pays – or even to cut its program – would put you in a lot of trouble.
Similarly, if you were selling your ad space directly to the advertiser rather than through a display ad network, you might earn more per view, but at the same time, you would have a much larger exposure to the decisions of that one company.
I hope you found the five reasons above compelling enough to give display ads a try if you haven’t done so yet. What is even more important to me than all of the above reasons, though, is the fact that the display ads are just one piece of my income “puzzle.”
So, rather than thinking whether you should be monetizing your website with affiliate marketing or display ads, or with your own products or display ads, I recommend thinking about whether you can monetize your website with whatever you are doing already and display ads.
And, the likely answer is “yes.”
After all, you don’t have to use all of your monetization methods on all of your articles.
Going back to the car repair blog from reason #4, you don’t have to decide between writing about the most reliable cars and monetizing the site with display ads or writing about the best torque wrenches and monetizing it with affiliate offers.
Instead, you can write both of the articles, monetizing them in two different ways.
That way you can not only help more people by answering two different questions they might have but also maximize your revenue and better position your site for future growth.