Digital marketing is a very diverse industry. From earned, owned, and paid media, there are tactics and practices within all three that greatly vary in strategy and execution. In the past, you may have heard it referred to Internet marketing, online marketing, or web marketing, but it is one in the same. One of the oldest channels in digital marketing is display advertising, which includes online banner ads displayed on many websites. Once clicked, some of these ads live up to your expectations and provide valuable content, whereas some may leave you either disappointed or annoyed with the content of the ad’s landing page.
Example of a website using ad placement to get more clicks. Google updated its algorithm in the past to decrease the ranking of websites that were ad heavy above the fold. However, many sites like this now resort to social media as the main driver of traffic. This is accomplished by developing an audience who would be enticed to click on the shared pages.
Who Makes Money from the Click?
Advertisers don’t make money, they spend it. Digital marketing can be used by anyone, ranging from large companies to small business owners. Businesses use digital marketing to help increase popularity, improve branding, create demand, and improve sales revenue.
Agencies & Digital Marketing Consultants
Digital marketing agencies and freelance consultants have the same objectives as business owners. However, their main concern is the success of clients. To optimize clients’ success, it is imperative to ensure every cent they spend on an ad click, returns profit.
Affiliate Marketers & Ad Publishers
Lastly, affiliate marketers and ad publishers benefit from the use of digital marketing. Their main concern lies within themselves, hoping to increase their revenues by being the middleman in the sales funnel. It is possible that their efforts help increase sales and awareness of a company, as long as they benefit as well. Their goals may or may not be aligned with the company they are serving, and are often behind the ads that trick to click to gain them instant returns.
In this example, the objective of the ad publisher is not to earn right away from the clicks, but to entice visitors to watch a video at the price of a Facebook like or share. The more shares they get, the more visible the site becomes, the more traffic the site gets, and the higher the chances of getting clicks on ads elsewhere on the page.
3 Ways Affiliate Marketers and Ad Publishers Earn Commissions Online
- Sale – Making a sale is often the most difficult way to earn a commission. An affiliate marketer only earns if a sale is made, which requires high levels of effort. Affiliates must develop creative content and use persuasive language to entice an online buyer to purchase a product. Only once a sale is made can an affiliate marketer earn commission.
- Lead – Leads are easier for pulling earning commissions, as the site visitor is not required to make a purchase. Upon a visitor completing a lead form, an affiliate is paid a commission. Though the process sounds easy, it requires more work than it seems. Leads that come in must be qualified, which is determined by the quality and validity of the information provided.
- Click – One of the easiest ways to earn commission is through clicks. All that is needed for an ad publisher to make money is a click on an online advertisement or link from a site visitor. However, this approach is often the lowest-paid form of earning, where earning can sometimes be lower than $0.01 per click. This low payout can still be beneficial if ads are placed on a site with high traffic, and some people have been known to reach 6 to 5 digit earnings on a regular basis. Personally, I have friends who have earned as high as $16,000 per month running this approach on special, niche topic sites, and on some entertainment related blogs who make $3,500 a month. Since clicks are easy to get, but earnings are small, many ad publishers have resorted to tricky methods to obtain more ad clicks.
Example of one of the trickiest ads. These are very common on websites with file sharing and downloading. Ads are designed to mimic download buttons and trick for a click. Tip: the official download links are typically smaller, less noticeable text links.
My Experience in Ad Publishing & Affiliate Marketing
I currently work at Internet Marketing Inc., a digital marketing agency in San Diego. My goals and objectives when using Internet marketing are aimed towards the success of the clients we serve. However, after 10 years in the industry, I have also been in the shoes of the affiliate marketer and ad publisher. From my experience, I have seen both good and bad practices in ad publishing, and I have tried both. The main motivator behind getting clicks on ads is the earnings it generates. Between 2006 and 2008, I was earning the most from ad publishing and affiliate marketing. Since then, I have lost interest in my own personal sites, and have started to focus more on working in an agency. In the past, I had many set-it-and-forget-it websites that made a decent amount of money, but revenues decreased as time passed, making me lose focus. Today, the set-it-and-forget-it approach does not work as much as it has in the past. There are many search engine algorithm changes designed to prohibit sites from ranking high with questionable content. The only way around the algorithms is to create an authoritative, credible, trustworthy website that will go live to the world. Dedicated and genuine work is necessary, and the sites employing this practice correctly are the ones deserving the better ranking. I still have some remnants of my old sites that continue to earn small amounts of revenue, about less than $500 a year, but they are no longer a main source of income.
In this example, the ads are designed to blend into the site by riding on the topic theme and attempting to appear as other options on the site that can be clicked on.
Should You Resort Tricky Methods to Make People Click on Your Ads and Make Money Online?
If I wanted to earn money online from ad publishing, should I resort to these tricky methods to maximize my online income? In my opinion, no. I understand some people will greatly disagree with me, and I respect their opinion, but using these methods is not the best approach to making revenue. The main reasons why I would not go into these deceptive tactics are:
- You create distrust to your audience
The less people who trust you, the less people who want to create relationships with you. This can mean other sites will not want to mention or link to you, your visitors will not return, and any potential audiences will not visit.
- You will not have a high search engine ranking
There are many updates to search engine algorithms that carefully consider the quality of the content, engagement of users, ad-to-content ratio, above-the-fold content, and much more. Most of these only apply to Google, but with 60 to 70 percent of search queries being made in that search engine alone, it is an important factor to consider.
- You contribute to banner blindness
Being in the internet marketing industry, we know the effectiveness of display ads. Our objectives are to increase conversions from clicks, to improve branding to gain more fans and followers, to be ubiquitous, and to be an industry leader. If the ads do not accomplish any of the previously stated, and/or displeases the audience, they will begin to learn to distrust ads, regardless of the quality or authenticity. This will lead them to avoid clicking, or worse, ignore ads completely in the future. I have several personal blogs I now rarely maintain, but banner blindness is the main reason I have no ads on my SEO blog. My site’s audience, which is made up of other people in the SEO industry, know what is and isn’t an ad. Because of this, they will never click on the ads.
Examples of two websites displaying ads that appears to be navigational elements in order to blend in with the websites’ normal navigation.
If I wanted to be an active ad publisher, how should I do it?
Before I can answer this, I must give a disclaimer. I am not the Display Advertising expert of the company, I am the SEO guy. This advice is not to tell you how to advertise well and gain the best conversions from display advertising, it is my take on how I would use display advertising on my own websites if I decided to earn from them for my primary source of income. This is how I would suggest you approach the situation:
- Choose a topic/theme/niche you are passionate about
To create a great site, it must have great content. Without passion on the topic, it will be difficult to create genuine content. If you see a great opportunity in a specific industry topic but lack the passion to pursue it, you should partner up with or hire someone who is passionate.
- Keep the ads as relevant as possible
Depending on the type of ads posted on your site, you may or may not have control over the relevancy of the ad to your site’s content. Choosing your ad network is extremely important. For example, smaller players may not have much inventory of ads to display, resulting in the display of unrelated ads. Generally, Google AdSense is a good ad network to use, because there are many advertisers using AdWords from a wide array of industries. The ads posted in AdWords are what appear in publishers’ AdSense.
- Don’t be obstructive
The reason people are visiting your website is because they are interested in the content on the page, and will be looking for a reliable landing page. Keep ads in good places such as the sidebar or near the end of an article. Great content will encourage a better following with a loyal audience who may decide to come back to your site, which makes it important to provide them the best experience possible. If ads are relevant enough to their interest, chances increase of them clicking on the advertisements, thus generating revenue. If you would like to make a living and optimize gains, improve your site by including more quality content, and make ad placements tasteful. Obstructive ads interfere with the experience on your website and prevent visitors from visiting or returning.