Monetization of traffic and data (non-PII) — in a word — audience, is essential to unlocking the doors to new revenue sources for publishers. Today, from bloggers to media groups, every outlet is looking for new opportunities to monetize their websites. Irrespective of the niche and audiences, you can find a monetization platform that works for you.
Yet we get queries from hundreds of small and medium-sized publishers who are confused about monetization and standing at the crossroad trying to figure out how to maximize ad revenue. So, in this article, we explain different website monetization platforms available for publishers and how to get started with the one that suits you.
Before we begin, note that this isn’t a post where we list 50+ ad networks for the sake of it and ask you to just sign up. While it’s necessary to be aware of the options, we want to help you narrow down the available platforms so that you can pick the right one.
Table of Contents
Best Website Monetization Platforms
I. Online Advertising
Yeah, let’s start with the familiar method. Online advertising. The idea is quite simple. You can make money by selling the remnant space on your webpages and place ads in exchange. Your job is to find buyers who want to display their ads on your website and are willing to pay you when a user views an ad, clicks on the ads, visits your website, gets converted, or even for brand awareness.
In recent years, an increasing number of publishers have started focusing on driving revenue from online advertising. Besides, advertisers are expected to spend $384.96 billion on digital advertising worldwide. Moreover, with the evolution of the advertising industry and various ad technologies, now publishers have more options than ever before. For example, display advertising, video advertising, native advertising, CTV advertising, and many more.
So, How it Works?
Unlike traditional advertising where magazine or newspaper publishers have to step out and reach advertisers, in online advertising, all you need is to partner with an advertising provider and that doesn’t even require to reach out to buyers in person. However, for online advertising, you must have to meet a few requirements to get started:
- Minimum Monthly Traffic, and
- Content Quality.
Let’s assume a few cases to find the best suitable platform for your website:
Up to 500k users/mo:
If your website has less than 500k visitors per month, then you can start with Google’s AdSense platform. AdSense is an ad network that can help you to get connected with Google Ads (formerly, AdWords) advertisers, and sell the ad spac0es (also known as inventories) based on CPC (cost per click) model. Every time a visitor clicks on the ad, you get paid.
Once approved by Google, AdSense can place contextually targeted ads on your pages so that the users get relevant ads based on the important keywords 0f the page. So, you will not be annoying the users by irrelevant ads and thus better user experience.
But, is AdSense the only network you can partner with? No. There are plenty of ad networks in the market and you can choose to work with them as well. Here are the quick links that can help you find the best ad networks suitable for your business:
Want to connect with multiple ad networks at the same time? Then, you need an ad server and a perfect set-up to increase your ad revenue. Here’s how you can do it.
A million users/mo:
If you get monthly visitors between 500k and 1 million, then you should consider an ad server. A majority of publishers use Google Ad Manager (GAM) as it is free and comes with hundreds of features, tools, and services. Ad Manager is an ad server that can help you manage and sell ad spaces to multiple advertisers/demand partners/ad networks/ad exchanges. So rather than relying on Google AdSense, why not increase the competition and bring display ads via multiple demand partners?
Moving forward, Google offers two variants of Ad Manager i.e.:
a) Google Ad Manager – To have an account in Google Ad Manager, you must have an account with AdSense. Once you have access to the AdSense account, you can sign-up for Ad Manager easily. Since this is the free version of the ad server, you will be getting limited features and services. However, with the amount of traffic, the limitations will not be an issue. Besides, you can upgrade to the premium version via an Account Manager once you’re eligible.
b) Google Ad Manager 360 – To get access to the advanced features of Google Ad Manager (GAM), you need to talk to Google’s account manager and get approval for the Google Ad Manager 360.
One thing you need to learn is, Google Ad Manager is an ad server and it’s up to you to find and partner with advertisers, ad networks, and ad exchanges. For instance, if you have an advertiser who wants to run ads for a month on your homepage, then you can let that advertiser run ads while selling the rest of the ad spaces to ad networks like AdSense. Not only the ad server will enable you to set up direct campaigns with advertisers, but it also enables to serve programmatic ads on the website.
More than 1 million users/mo:
Since publishers can charge advertisers based on the number of impressions, with a million users, you should be having a few millions of ad impressions per mo. Though you can use the Google Ad Manager to run direct deals with advertisers and sell the rest of the impressions to ad networks, you wouldn’t get the maximum revenue out of it. Why?
Google Ad Manager doesn’t allow multiple ad networks to compete simultaneously. To put it simply, even when you connect to AdSense, Media.net, etc. the ad server won’t make them compete with each other to buy your ad space in real-time. Because, by default, the set-up follows the traditional waterfall method. And, this inefficiency leads to header bidding.
Header bidding enables publishers to run auctions in real-time and allows the advertiser who willingly pays the maximum to place an ad on your website.
In simple terms, header bidding is the next step after Google Ad Manager. With header bidding, you can get bids from multiple ad exchanges or networks. The bids from these exchanges/networks are made to compete against bids from AdSense and Google Ad Exchange. Increased competition results in better ad prices, which, in turn, leads to better ad revenue.
If this is what you’re looking for, then check the list of top ad exchanges and SSPs available in the advertising industry:
How Much You Can Earn?
The revenue you generate from advertising depends on the platform you choose to partner with. Here are the approximate numbers you can expect with the respective advertising platform:
- AdSense – CPM (cost per 1000 impressions) value varies from $0.03 to $3 based on the site’s content, audience geo, demographics.
- Google Ad Manager and Header Bidding – There’s no maximum or minimum in GAM as it is up to the publishers to bring in the best demand partners and advertisers.
II. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is quite simple. Join an affiliate program and place product links on the web pages and get paid for every sale/click. You don’t have to manually place the product links or target them to your users. The affiliate network will do it for you — all you have to do it add a script to your site.
How does it work?
In general, via affiliate marketing, the publishers get paid based on PPC (Pay-per-Click) model. That means whenever a reader clicks on the affiliate link on the site and takes the desired action, for example, make a purchase or either sign-up or register, you’ll earn a percentage of commission of the sales.
So, is there any minimum requirement to join affiliate programs? Yes, a few such as you should have:
- Your own website, and
- The content on your website where you want to add the affiliate links, must be recent and published in the last 60 days*.
*Not all affiliate programs have this criterion. Some of them can allow you based on the content and traffic quality you have, regardless of the recency.
Want to give it a try? Here’s the list of some of the best affiliate platforms that can help you get started with affiliate ads:
- Amazon Associates,
- Skim Links, and
- Commission Junction.
You can log-in to their websites and apply for the affiliate program. Primarily, the biggest advantage of affiliate marketing is that there is no restriction on the number of programs you can join. But consider user experience before cluttering the page with affiliate products.
If you don’t want to place ads or affiliate links on the site, then you can try paywalls. With the rise of ad blockers, publishers have started to focus on growing revenue by digital subscriptions and membership programs. Users who want to read your content will be converted to paying subscribers if you have quality and unique content behind a paywall.
Different Types of Paywalls:
There are different types of paywalls available for you:
Metered paywall or Soft paywall:
Soft paywall allows visitors to view a certain number of pages/articles before asking them to subscribe. Some of the top publishers like Wired have been using metered paywall for years. Here’s an example of the metered paywall on The Atlantic website:
This allows publishers to put their entire content behind the paywall and a user can only read the headline, not the page’s content. Hard paywalls are quite risky as there are no free articles for users to read. Yet, some of the top publishers including the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and the New York Times have been generating revenue with hard paywalls.
Dynamic or Smart paywalls enable a publisher to put the content behind the paywall based on the users’ engagement, behavior, interests, etc. This enables the publisher to show paywalls at the right time to the right user. For example, when there is a visitor who is continuously reading Sports related content on your website, you can identify the user and display a paywall for that particular user. The NYTimes has been doing this for a long time by leveraging machine learning algorithms and a few other technologies.
So, if you think digital subscriptions is the right fit for you, here are some of the paywall providers that can help you get started:
- Leaky Paywall,
- MediaPass, and
These paywall service providers offer different types of subscription models and you can select the one as per your requirement.
Freemium paywalls are a pretty popular type of monetization strategy amongst digital publishers. It involves offering free content to everyone, but rewarding those who become subscribers with more premium features, ranging from extended videos to full access to a publisher’s services. There are also sometimes other features such as an app available for subscribers only, or extra discounts and the like.
Consumption of online media is exploding and it will continue to grow. It is, perhaps, the best time to start with the website monetization. However, every method has its own benefits and drawbacks. So, we would recommend you to do an experiment, analyze, and then settle with the right one. In case, you need help to get started with the display or video ads, feel free to connect with us.