In last week's post, Streamlining Your Blog (and Making It Look Good!), I had a lot of inquiries about ad networks. What are they, how they work, how do you join them? I first touched on the subject in The Money Myth of Fashion Blogging (and How to Monetize Your Site), but didn't go in to great detail about ad networks.
If you're a regular reader of the IFB Professional Blogger Spotlight, you'll notice that many of the bloggers featured mention ad networks as a revenue stream for their site. Ad networks come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with various terms and stipulations to be a member of.
Cheat Sheet on Ad Networks:
- Ad networks function by selling off advertisement from a collection of sites, aggregating the combined pageviews from those sites as a means of selling premium advertising space
- Most ad networks have a minimum size requirement to join. Many require you to have between 500-1,000 unique visitors per day before they will consider you.
- Typically ad networks will pay you per impression (CPM or CPI). This means for every 1,000 impressions (or pageviews) your site has, you will be paid $X rate. This rate will vary based on the program. The standards appear to be between $1 and $3.50 per CPM (meaning for every 1,000 views, you will earn between $1-3.50).
- Networks typically offer ads in a small selection of sizes: a rectangular box (350×200), a header ad (728×90), and the skyscraper ad (160×600) are the most common.
- Ad networks prefer premium placement on your site– ideally “above the fold” (the top 800 pixels of your website).
- Ad networks also prefer great, original content-– and many flag “adult content,” which means you'll need to be cautious covering sex, pornography, sex toys, or even nude imagery on your site!
In The Money Myth of Fashion Blogging (and How to Monetize Your Site), we also talked about the pros and cons of banner advertising, including:
- Most blog layouts contain the ability to host many ads.
- You can hand over your ad work to a network– where you put in the code, they generate the ads and you passively earn income.
- But are banner ads becoming irrelevant?
- You’re competing with more bloggers for limited ad budgets– advertisers are going to want to stretch their budget to reach the most readers and the most active communities that they can.
- Ads can be cluttering, decrease the load time of your site, make it look cumbersome and overloaded.
Now you've weighed through the pros and cons of ads on your site. If you've decided that an ad network is a great way to monetize your site, now is the time to find the right ad network for you.
Some Popular Ad Networks
- Google Adsense can be a great resource for beginning bloggers. The CPM is quite low, so if you're a smaller blogger, it can be ages before you actually earn any income! If you're a power blogger though, it's not unusual to earn between $2-4 or more per CPM.
- Blog Ads typically likes bloggers who receive 2,000 views a day and have a sharp focus. They represent bloggers such as Gala Darling and …Love, Maegan. You can price your ads the way you'd like to be compensated for them, which is a huge bonus!
- Blog Her is a large social network for women bloggers, and their ad network is a small facet of the site. BlogHer has some tough rules to follow regarding ad placement, content, and writing reviews, but it is a popular network for many bloggers.
- Style Coalition is a fashion and beauty network started by Yuli of MyItThings.com. Like BlogHer, it is first a network of bloggers, and the ad network is a feature of the community. To be considered for membership of Style Coalition, you need at least 10,000 monthly viewers and be more than 6 months old.
- Halogen Media is a US-based ad network that specializes in custom campaigns, they look for bloggers with quality content, an engaged audience and a good design layout. In 2010 their average CPM for just standard banner media was $9.70, for rich media average rates usually fall in the $12-$15 range.
- Handpicked Media— an option for UK bloggers! Like BlogHer and Style Coalition, the network is small and female-focused. Handpicked Media looks at traffic, engagement (both on your blog and in social media), and for regularly content, along with clean, professional design and minimal advertisements. Ads run on a CPM, and I found many networking events and opportunities for members.
- Glam Network loves the high profile blogger (who has 100,000 pageviews per month) with a strong voice and community. That doesn't mean they don't accept smaller bloggers though! They have a tight review policy for sites submitted. Their site offers little information about how their ad campaign works; an old review on Celebitchy says that they only pay per click (each time a person clicks on an ad) and only for third party ads (so not for any Glam ads that would run on your site!).
- IndieClick: I first heard of IndieClick in The Style Sample's Ad Networks: Getting Paid Starts with Getting In (which is a great resource!). According to this guest post by Holier Than Now, they request a minimum 1,000 pageviews per day to gain membership. Information on their site and publisher FAQs are hard to come by on their site.
Ad networks, in many ways, are a bit elusive. Many of them don't tell you what the earnings are like at the outset; many have contracts, guidelines, and stipulations for participation. Most of this isn't just available looking at the FAQ on their sites. They look for larger sites with well developed voices, content, and communities.
Ad networks of it may become moot in the next few years, as more and more companies are looking for other, dynamic ways of interacting with the blogging community. For the blogger who is hoping to go pro, they may be a rite of passage in monetizing your site and learning what works and what doesn't for your site. For the hobby blogger, they may be a nice means of some extra cash each month. Or for either, they may find that they're irrelevant for their site.
Are you a member of any ad networks? Share your experiences with them to the IFB communtiy!