You know what’s tougher than having a blog with decent traffic?
Most bloggers are probably afraid to say this out loud, but they spend a lot of their waking hours racking their brains trying to solve the big puzzle of blog profitability.
The short answer is having a high click through rate on ad on your blog, which lead to increased sales and profit.
The long answer? Advertising does work but how well it works is usually left as an afterthought by most bloggers.
A lot of this has to do with the weirdest mix of ads and content that is driving your readers away every minute.
Simply put, you experience lack of relevancy – a proliferation of mismatched ads on your blog.
Here’s one example: your keyword traffic display ads related to motorway traffic or a rock band when your content is about blog traffic.
(I’m sure you can come up with a bazillion more.)
In other words, chances are that the ads rendered on your website are only moderately relevant to what the reader is expecting.
Your readers are likely going to be turned off with those ads and soon you start losing money.
And here’s the real kicker… your readers will also start to lose trust in you.
How can you have ads that are highly relevant and enhance your reader’s experience while consistently increasing your sales?
Enter contextual ads.
The Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Small Business
What are contextual ads?
As the name suggests, Contextual Advertising is a content-based approach to display ads on your blog. A contextual advertising network or platform makes sure that when a reader lands on your blog, they will only see ads that are deeply relevant to what they are reading.
These ads are not only non-intrusive but if done right, can also enhance your reader’s experience. There’s a natural tendency for your readers to click on such ads because they easily blend with the content being read.
Of course, what also matters equally is the traffic on your blog. The more the traffic, the higher your earnings. You can then set an income goal and develop strategies to achieve that goal through your chosen contextual advertising network.
Google AdSense is one of the bigger names amongst advertising networks that can monetize your content. However, only working with AdSense may not be the best thing to do for a blogger looking to create a winning mix of ads that can generate incremental revenue.
Expand your horizons.
But wait… Can I really make money outside of AdSense?
Here’s the thing… while AdSense is a lucrative way to earn money, there are definitely a few downsides to it:
- No dedicated support: AdSense is a blackhole of sorts when it comes to seeking answers and help, unless you have all the time in the world to scour online forums to find what you’re looking for. Without an Account Manager, you may find yourself fumbling every now and then.
- Banner blindness: AdSense has no upper limit to the number of ads you can display on your site and that tends to make many a blogger go overboard with too many ads. This could result in banner blindness, a less than satisfying reader experience, or worse yet, your readers installing an ad blocker.
- Banning and suspension: AdSense is notoriously strict in adherence to its guidelines. To be fair, all good networks are. But with AdSense, bloggers are often ousted with their only source of online income abruptly terminated.
Now I’m not saying AdSense isn’t worth a go, but it’s a no-brainer to explore other ways to supplement or complement your earnings alongside AdSense.
How to use contextual advertising for your blog
In human behavioural coaching, there is an interesting concept known as “behaviour modelling.”
It simply means that you copy what’s working for others by modelling their behaviour.
Of course, you will tweak things as per your own criteria and situation, but on a fundamental level, you do what someone else is doing, someone who has what you want.
In this case, we’re talking about monetizing your blog.
When you have several options to choose from, the ideal route is to look at those advertising networks that have proven to offer big bucks to other bloggers like you.
In other words, model what they are doing and test it out. Make tweaks, and test again. Rinse and repeat. (That, by the way, is a formula for success in any endeavour.)
You’re a publisher who needs an advertiser to provide relevant ads matched with the content you serve.
The advertiser, on the other hand, is looking for a decent amount of traffic for itself and high quality content to help you earn.
Now, all we need to do is find you the best contextual ad provider, that’s a match for your blog based on what’s working for other bloggers.
Pretty simple, right?
3 contextual advertising platforms to choose from for your blog
Media.net is the 2nd largest ad network in the world after Google AdSense and it powers the exclusive Yahoo! Bing Network Contextual Ads Program.
They are the original creators of the display-to-search (DS2) ad format – a highly sophisticated method of monetizing display ads by identifying what the user intends to search.
With Media.net, you get access to the exclusive Yahoo! Bing Network’s keyword targeted ads – over $6 billion of search demand from some of the world’s top advertisers. Search demand has far more valuable clicks than pure display, and hence the D2S format promises to significantly boost your blog revenues.
Simply put, Media.net offers highly relevant ads for your blog and adds value to your reader experience while letting you consistently earn incremental revenue. Despite such sophisticated technology, this platform is very easy to use and integrate.
Media.net ads function the same way as AdSense link units and are ideal for both small and large bloggers with targeted and quality content. So, when you maintain a decent amount of traffic from the US or Canada, you’ll be surprised to see how fast your revenue grows.
One of their biggest differentiating factors is that, as opposed to AdSense, Media.net has a dedicated Account Representative to answer each one of your questions and make meaningful suggestions to improve your earnings. You will find that dedicated support is one of the biggest factors contributing to success in content monetization.
The ads take a while to optimize to your site; however, once they do, you have complete control over the look and feel of how they are rendered to your readers. The degree of customization is high and you can make the ads comfortably native to your content.
Media.net Desktop ads
Media.net Mobile Docked Ad and Mobile In-Content Ad
Like most services, their minimum pay-out is $100 via wire transfer or PayPal.
Here’s an account of how Jon Dykstra of Fat Stacks Blog has reported earning $350+ per day (reaching up to $700 per day) with Media.net.
Raman Sharma of AUI (All Useful Info) reported making $200 from one article by Media.net in 7 days. If you do a simple Google search, you’ll find plenty more examples of success with Media.net.
You can sign up for Media.net (as a publisher) here.
Used by about 350,000 bloggers and website owners to monetize their content, Chitika’s advertising partners include big names like Yahoo!, Superpages, Shopzilla, yellowbook, ServiceMagic and more. While it doesn’t compete in popularity with Adsense, you shouldn’t disregard it due to its high earning potential. It is a smart, legit ad network which is quick and easy to set up.
The platform is a recognized name in both mobile and local advertising.
You can use it alone or with Adsense. It’s a worthwhile platform if you’re thinking to supplement your Adsense earnings. It promises great results with high traffic or a very high click-through ratio.
Here’s how a Chitika slider ad looks:
Chitika has a quick approval process (even for bloggers with low traffic) and doesn’t require a lot of time to set up.
Their minimum payout is $10 by PayPal and they no longer accept payments through cheque.
ISeenLab has reported earning $760 using Chitika in their very first month.
One cause of concern though is its not-so-high ad relevancy. Also it provides only a handful of advertisers to choose from. So, although Chitika seems like a smart ad network, it still has a long way to go.
Sign up for Chitika (as a publisher) here.
One of the leading companies in in-text advertising, Infolinks allows you to turn keywords from your post into links instead of taking space on your website to display ads. You make money as soon as a reader hovers over the link.
Being the 3rd largest ad marketplace, the platform welcomes you even when you are just starting out and have low traffic. Just like other networks, it works with any other advertising platform while offering you the customization options and control of your ads.
You can easily install the plugin on your WordPress website without any need for any extra software or codes which makes it super easy even if you’re just starting out.
The minimum payout for Infolinks is $50 via PayPal.
The downside is when Infolinks ads are run with other tools such as Adsense, it can easily contribute to ad clutter.
Sign up for Infolinks (as a publisher) here.
Over to you now
Let’s face it… finding the right advertising platform isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.
Where one blogger reports higher earnings with one platform, another may not nearly get the same results. It’s a matter of testing which advertising network works the best for you.
All in all, these networks are worth checking out because they are promising allies to AdSense.
Go on and give these a try and let us know how you go with them.
Or perhaps, you’re already using contextual networks – what’s been your experience? Yay? Nay? Tell us in the comments below!
Guest Author: Pooja Lohana is an Online Business Coach + Writer & Editor. She helps entrepreneurs shine their blog and copy, and simplifies online marketing so they can make more sales and live the Un-9-5 life. Check out her step-by-step course on breaking into freelance writing.