Digital Marketing

Website Monetisation – Publishers Get A Reality Check

Robert Tarantola / March 31, 2018

There are so many hopefuls on the Internet. They hear of the get-rich-quick schemes and think that they can do it too. And yes, it is possible to make your millions on the Internet, but you do need a pretty smart plan to get there.

Many of the ideas that are bantered around include starting a blog, a social network or community site. Many still think that if you build it, they will come. If you plan to become an Internet publisher, it is time for a reality check. It’s great having wonderful content on the site and when the community is passionate about the topics within, but at the end of the day, being an online publisher is all about the numbers…. if you want to build a business empire or just make a living from it that is.

Ways of generating revenue from a site are in the forms of banner advertising, pay-per-click advertising, sponsorship, licensing your content to a media marketplace, selling products or services or participating in affiliate marketing programs (where you get a small commission if you recommend a product and people buy it).

Let’s just say that you want to generate $10K per month from advertising on your site. To reach your target revenue, you need to work backwards to understand how many people are actually required to visit your site and the number of pages they need to each view.

Most banner advertising programs are sold at varying CPM rate cards (cost per thousand impressions). Banner advertising is good for brand building, but not necessarily the cheapest way to drive traffic to one’s own site since click rates are quite low. Banner display ads can be bought for as low as US$0.25 CPM, with an average being US$5 CPM in the US market.

In Australia, CPM costs vary between NZ$0.50 and NZ$80, but typically only a few sites in this market enjoy the traffic levels that are required to employ a team of people and hopefully generate some profit.

Based on a CPM of $5, to reach $10K per month you would need approximately 200,000 to 400,000 visitors to the site per month, viewing approximately 5-10 pages each, with all inventory sold. By placing more ads on the page, would mean a smaller number of visitors or page views required to reach the target.

For a community site, banner advertising is a good way to monetise this opportunity, because members are less likely to click on ads and therefore a pay-per-click performance ad network may not maximise revenues.

From my own personal media sites, we have generated between US$0.09 to US$0.46 per click. Our average is approx. US$0.20 per click with approx. 1-2% click rate. This is dependent on the type of advertiser that is on the site. Some industries like insurance are likely to pay higher per click costs, but click rates may be much lower due to the type of product being advertised.

Participating in a pay-per-click performance ad network is beneficial when visitors are searching for something. For example, they land on your site from being found in search engine result pages, and then they see an ad that meets their needs, so they click and leave again. A site that is built to reach a searcher’s needs inevitably gain higher click rates on their ads if they are highly targeted. For every click, you make some coinage.

These are just a couple of ways of generating revenue from website advertising, plus there are numerous others that can be explored.

With any type of business you are juggling several balls at the same time and you must not drop one. For publishers, activities such as content creation, community building, marketing of the site (including natural search marketing, paid search, link building, online pr and more) plus the monetisation all must be managed simultaneously in order to reach your targets. Without this, a website is merely just a hobby.