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Content Monetization: Making the Most from Your Content

Whether you’re running a blog, niche website, or a large content portal, your website can generate profits from advertisements. It might seem simple, but there are various methods to make the most profit from those ads. So, where do you start? How do you add advertisements to your site? And most important – how do you do it right?

According to a survey made by W3Techs, about 37% of all active websites and more than 62% of content websites are built on WordPress, and the numbers are increasing each year. On eCommerce and corporate websites, the profit model is quite clear: the owners of the website are interested in selling something to the users, whether it’s a product or a service.

Meanwhile, content websites rely on banner ads to earn a profit. Despite their bad reputation, advertisements are essential for publishers, now more than ever.  In this article, we will explore the various methods that could help you find the most profitable advertising for your website and the different ways you can implement them easily and maximize the revenue generated by your site.

Location, Location, Location

Before you start embedding ads on your site, stop for a moment and think about your site’s layout. By simply looking at the data you have in Google Analytics, you could identify the most viewed pages on your website. Usually, for small and medium content websites, most of the traffic reaches the internal content pages, while the homepage and category pages receive fewer views. If this is the case on your website, don’t waste time implementing ads on pages that won’t produce revenue, because adding unnecessary scripts will only slow down the browsing speed and hurt the user’s experience.

Planning ad layout for a website

Photo by Kaleidico on Unsplash

Once you have figured out which pages will have ads, you need to decide where the ads will appear on the page and what sizes to use. Don’t try to invent the wheel. A quick look at some of the major content sites will reveal the most common ad locations and sizes, which indicates which are the most profitable for the website owners.

Here are some examples of banner sizes and placements you might want to consider:

Leaderboard – 728x90px
Leaderboard banners usually appear below the title of the article and between paragraphs. Because it is located within the content, it is considered a high visibility banner (“Ad viewability” in professional jargon) that yields relatively high profits. It is a very effective banner for your site’s desktop and tablet layouts.

Medium Rectangle – 300x250px
This is another very common banner. On desktop sites, you usually see it on the site’s sidebar, next to the article, while in mobile it tends to replace the Leaderboard and appears between paragraphs.

Half Page Ad – 300x600px
The Half Page Ad appears on the sidebar of desktop sites. In many cases, it is common to place it alongside the Medium Rectangle so that both compete for the same position.

Wide Skyscraper – 160x600px
The Wide Skyscraper is another banner that only appears on desktop sites. It typically appears next to the sidebar, but many sites place it as a floating banner that scrolls along the screen to increase visibility.

Mobile Leaderboard – 320x50px
This banner replaces the leaderboard banner on mobile websites. Another popular ad placement for the Mobile Leaderboard is at the bottom of the screen as a sticky banner that increases its viewability, making it a very profitable opportunity for mobile sites.

Large Mobile Banner – 320x100px
The Large Mobile banner often replaces the Leaderboard in various locations in the body of the content. Due to its size, it is highly popular with advertisers and often competes with the Medium Rectangle for ad placements.

Comon ad banner sizes

One of the most important things in content site monetization is Ad Viewability. In other words, the more views your ads get, the more demand there will be from advertisers for that piece of real estate. The same logic applies to all the ads on the page, meaning that an ad that appears at the bottom of the page and has very few views will have zero visibility and its demand will be low.

Keep in mind that no matter how many ads you place on your site, they won’t make money if no one sees them.

Let’s Get Technical

Like any other actions on WordPress websites, adding ads to your site can be done by implementing the code directly to your site’s theme or using a plugin. We recommend using a plugin because it is more convenient to keep up with ongoing ad maintenance. There are also the features the plugins offer, apart from injecting the ads scripts to your site.

The two most popular ad injecting plugins today are Ad Inserter and Advanced Ads. Both plugins offer a free and a pro version. The pro versions have some more advanced options, including tracking ad clicks, advanced ad placements, and more. These plugins help you create ads and put them on your pages without disrupting the site’s code too much.

We recommend Advanced Ads for less savvy users because it offers a more user-friendly and intuitive interface than Ad Inserter. The free version of Ad Inserter includes more placement-level options, but it is limited to a relatively small number of scripts that can be added to the site and may deter users with a slightly less accessible user interface.

Ad placements

Screenshot: Advanced Ads

Now that we’ve covered the “how,” it’s time to discuss the “what.” More specifically, what advertisements would you like to display on your site?

Affiliate Advertisements

Many bloggers and small-to-medium publishers focus on monetizing their websites by marketing affiliate products. For those who don’t know, affiliate marketing is an approach in which the affiliate partner advertises the product of a brand, and if the products are sold, the publisher receives a small commission from the sale.

This type of advertisement is great for niche websites that have a specific target audience, such as gadget review websites or cooking blogs. These kinds of websites can direct the users to products that are most relevant to them, significantly increasing the number of ad clicks. This approach assumes that you know your audience best and can find the products that interest them. If you know how to use the approach properly, you can generate significant revenue. The only downside is that you only make a profit if the product is purchased, so you have to be particular about which products you publish on your site.

One of the largest and best-known affiliate programs is Amazon’s Associates programs. Their main advantages are that it’s easy to join the program, and it allows you to advertise almost any product on the retail giant’s website, from children’s clothes to gadgets to appliances.

Amazon's associates program

Screenshot: Amazon Associates

But let’s say you want to target your advertising even further. In that case, you can try your luck at one of the major affiliate programs, like ShareASale, CJ Affiliate, or Rakuten Advertising, which offer access to thousands of advertisers divided by different verticals. This way, for example, if your content includes recommendations for trips to Greece, you could connect to the affiliate program of airline companies that offer flights to Greece, hotel comparison sites, car rental companies, and more.

But what if you want to add some good-old classic ad banners to your site? As with many other areas of the Internet, it’s time to head to Google.

Google It

If you don’t want to use the affiliate ads that generate revenue only after there was an on-site conversion and prefer to earn with the classic ad-viewing model, the simplest way is to join Adsense, Google’s advertising network.

Google owns one of the largest advertising networks in the world. Luckily, joining it is simple. When you sign up, you will receive a short script that you will need to copy to your website’s head tag. If you don’t want to touch the site’s code, the Advanced Ads plugin will help you with this.

After embedding the code, there is a short 24-hour waiting period until AdSense finishes the approval process. Once your site is approved, you can set up the ads you want to show and embed their code in the relevant places.

creating ads on adsense

Screenshot: AdSense

Yes, it is as simple as that. And as you can see in the next paragraph, it can get even easier.

Automatic Advertising

A few years ago, AdSense introduced Auto Ads, a new product designed to simplify publishers’ lives. Instead of manually figuring out where to place your ads, Google does it for you. All you have to do is add a short script to your website, and they do the rest. Google scans your website and decides what are the most profitable placements for their ads.

Google auto ads

Screenshot: Google AdSense

Once you give Google the responsibility of implementing ads on your pages, you don’t have to worry about the prep and planning and adding the code in relevant places. Additionally, Google’s Auto Ads are great for optimization. Google has all the information needed on your users and can find the best ads to show them, which will increase your profits. The system continuously learns which are the best performing placements and changes the behavior of the ads accordingly.

Proper Management

So, you set up a website, started growing and earning, and now you want to incorporate more advertising sources. You may even want to work directly with advertisers related to the content on your site.

Going back to the example of a travel site, you might want to contact local travel agencies and offer to advertise them on your website, or you could connect with other advertising networks like Media.net, Infolinks, and others to increase your profits.

To manage these sources, you have to go back to Google, or rather, Google Ad Manager (known widely by its previous name – Double Click for Publishers). Google Ad Manager gives you all the tools to manage the ads on your website. This is one of the most powerful tools on the market for ad management. Like many Google products, it is also free to use up to a certain level.

Anyone with an active AdSense account can use Ad Manager. If you already use Google’s ad network, you will have no trouble upgrading your management system and create an account in Ad Manager. Before you rush to do this, pay attention to the stage where you are required to indicate your time zone and currency. For Google, this is a one-time thing; once you have indicated them, you won’t be able to change them later.

Content monetization plan

Photo by Headway on Unsplash

Once connected to the system, you can create ad units to add to your website. Through the system, you can associate specific ads according to different campaigns, which will compete with each other for the position on the site according to the priority you set.

One of the major benefits of this system is its automatic integration with your AdSense account. Even if you did not sell a specific banner, the ad space wouldn’t be empty because Google will display its ads in that spot. Another advantage of Ads Manager is that it gives you the ability to manage the entire advertising operation of your site from the outside without needing to touch the site’s code, except during the initial implementation of the ads.

The main disadvantage of this system stems from its advantages. Because it is so powerful and has many options, it isn’t very easy to operate. It requires in-depth learning before you can understand it and get real benefits. Fortunately, Google is aware of the problem and offers a series of courses to help you learn. Another disadvantage is that Ad Manager does not support AdSense automated ads. But if you have gotten to the point where you’re interested in running your advertising set-up, chances are you can do well without them.

It’s All in the Header

Now we are getting into the real big league. If your website generates a high number of views per month and has several advertising sources, it may be time to change the strategy for selling ad spots on your website. That’s where Header Bidding comes into play.

As its name might suggest, this technology calls all your advertising partners in the site’s header, thus accelerating the ads’ loading speed. Additionally, it calls all your ad partners simultaneously and presents only the ads that return the highest bids for the ad spot. This way you can enjoy better page performance and higher revenue.

The simplest way to implement Header Bidding is with Prebid.org’s open-source technology combined with Google’s Ad Manager, which will allow you to run Google ads if none of the other advertising partners return a satisfactory bid. Although we said it was the simplest way, it is still not that easy, and requires you to interfere with the site’s code and establish complex settings in the ad manager. This guide will help you with every step and make the transition easier.

Bottom line: even if your site is not ranked at the top of the world’s most viewed websites, there is no reason for you not to profit from it, even if it will require a little investment in studying the subject.