Ads have been a given throughout generations, but that’s because of the ”captive audience” factor. When reading a newspaper or magazine, ads are seen by anyone scanning the page. Where the eyes are, that’s where the revenue seems to be. And revenue is how you stay in business.
Back in what seems like aeons ago, the Internet was regarded as free, and free-range ads were everywhere. Banners blinked, popups popped, and the occasional midi welcomed website visitors with the dulcet, digital tones of a melody that was almost recognizable. But patience with an overabundance of ads could, and did, only last a while.
Websites are different from print publications in more ways than the most obvious. There are choices. If readers don’t like an experience, there are many other options just a click away. If the not-so-captive Internet audience doesn’t want ads, they’ll find a way around them. The question now is how to leverage website monetization in an age where ads are avoidable.
The Effect of Ad-Blocking Software
One out of every four Internet users has ad-blocking software, according to DazeInfo . That means an estimated one quarter of your visitors might be blocking ads, and revenue takes a direct hit. Depending on your audience, the number could be much higher. A tech audience is much more likely to block ads. The projections are worse, as the number of users with ad blockers is expected to increase by nearly 50% each year.
If you wonder about just how dramatic an effect ad blocking has, consider this. TechCrunch reports that Google pays AdBlocker to allow its ads through. It’s not a unique situation, since other large companies do the same. But if you don’t have the financial resources of Google, then you need other plans.
Options for Generating Revenue
Ditching ads altogether isn’t necessary. In fact, Inc.com recommends asking your audience to whitelist your site with ad blockers, which allows ads to filter through. Users are more likely to do so if the ads on your site are relevant and engaging, and don’t slow down page loads. After all, no one would care about blocking ads if they weren’t perceived as annoying. Noisy ads and popups are part of what prompted ad blockers in the first place.
Native advertising has had its share of controversy lately, but it seems to work. Buzzfeed hosts scores of them, but so does Forbes. They just look a lot different depending on which site hosts them. The controversy sparks over whether the approach is too deceptive, since by nature they don’t look like ads at all.
A Buzzfeed native ad for Glade might never strike you as advertising, especially when it’s a post with photos of smiling goats. Forbes approaches native advertising differently, with their Brand Voice section that’s nothing but advertorial content. For example, a CenturyLink ad might really be an article about tech trends. What makes them work is that they engage the audience.
Paywalls are also controversial, but for different reasons. Circling back to the old, free Internet, some facets of your audience might take umbrage at paying a fee to access content. That’s where good judgment comes in. If the content is worth it, meaning you can’t find it on 12 other websites without a paywall, then your audience is more likely to find the value. You can even have a partial paywall, which lets readers access some content for free but pay a subscription for the rest.
Custom job boards often serve as another online revenue source for many niche and local publishers. If your audience lives in a specific area or works within a particular industry, this opens up an opportunity to become a career partner for your audience. Provide relevant and interesting content surrounding the local/ trade job market and add a job board solution to your site to easily open up your advertising real estate to HR managers and recruiters looking to fill positions with your subscriber base.
Revenue depends on the audience. And since a website audience isn’t captive, you have to take their needs and wants into consideration. There are too many other options, too many other websites that are just a click away. The age of ad blockers calls for creativity, but that’s always been what helps a publication grow.