Are you running banner advertising on your site? Are banner ads your primary method of making money? This might be the right time to reconsider this strategy and your business plans around monetization. Some bloggers can still do well with platforms like Google Adsense but for majority this is not a very effective way of monetizing. Several trends are pointing towards banner ads and other traditional display advertisements slowly but surely dying out.
Your site’s objective and its popularity
Two things to consider before deciding how to monetize: your objectives and the popularity of your site.
Are all sites created with the objective of making money? Not really. Blogging is not just a way of making money. Businesses use sites in addition to their social media marketing, to connect and be in touch with their customers. Professionals use sites to build their network. Some organizations use sites to acquire new customers and yet others use it to understand the changing trends of markets and initiate further research to develop newer products. If I am running one such business as described above, will I want to drive my readers away from my site to a competitors website? I would certainly, not. When the core objective of my site is to promote my business, why will I want to advertise and promote somebody else’s business?
Popularity of your site is an important aspect that decides whether you should consider banner advertising. If your site is not that popular, the ads that you place on it will only be for affiliate products that you are promoting, if at all you are doing it. This is because, there will not be too many buyers for your ad-slots and these slots will more or, less remain unutilized. Most of these banners you see in sidebars of blogs are not paid for by the advertisers. Majority of bloggers only have affiliate deals or pay-per-click deals to work with. I understand when people use banners if some company contacts them and wants to pay them a fixed monthly fee to display their banners. If your site is big enough to attract these offers, it seems like a fairly easy and simple way of earning income.
If your site is popular and you are getting a lot of page views or advertising offers, then you should certainly consider putting up a couple of banners at least. These might be a good source of income and can supplement your monetization strategy. Many of the biggest sites only rely on banner ads and page views.
Ad-blockers + banner blindness = No clicks?
If you are monetizing your site primarily with banner advertisements for affiliate programs, you are missing out on a ton of opportunities to make money online with your site. Do you know anyone who clicks on banner ads? When is the last time you clicked on a banner ad? Traditional banner ads take away from the user experience. They distract users and because of that users tend to ignore ads. Banner blindness is a very known phenomenon which was proven by several eye-tracking studies and has shown that readers do not fixate on ads at all.
The industry tried to counter banner blindness by making ads look like the content, having text ads based on the context of the content, placing the banner ads within the content area and much more. This initially helped but now even making the banner ads look and feel exactly like the content plus integrating them within the content area doesn’t give you more than a tiny percentage of clicks out of all the people that are actually consuming the content.
Another thing that affects the banner ads is the rising popularity of different ad-blocking browser plugins. An increasing number of people use these plugins which automatically block all banner ads. This trend can be clearly seen as these plugins are usually placed towards the top of most downloaded plugins for Chrome, Firefox and other browsers.
How to monetize without ads
For banners to get re-born and become relevant again there needs to happen a big re-think of the whole field and hopefully a full reinvention of how banners work and how they are presented. In the meanwhile the best is to minimize your banner ads and look for alternative options of monetizing your visitors. There are many ways you can monetize your site without using banner ads. Check out this guide: How to earn first $500 from your site.