Display advertisements are typically one of the first ways that bloggers monetize their blogs. Getting started with display ads is very easy, and can be very profitable over time.
Are Ads Right for Your Blog?
A lot of bloggers are hesitant to put ads on their website because they worry it will diminish the user experience of their visitors. Other bloggers see ad income as easy money with little to no maintenance.
Personally, I recommend ads for content-based websites. If you are selling products, whether through affiliate marketing or your own digital products, then you may want to be cautious when implementing ads on your site. Ads could potentially distract your visitors from clicking the product links you want them to, and have them clicking an ad instead.
Getting Started with Display Ads
The easiest way to put ads on your blog is by joining an advertising network. Google AdSense is the most well-known advertising network that works with smaller bloggers. Other companies to look into are : Media.net and Ezoteric.
If you have over 25,000 sessions on your blog per month, I’d recommend looking into an advertising network like Mediavine, which specializes in serving ads on high-traffic sites. AdThrive is another ad network that works with blogs receiving 100,000+ pageviews per month.
How to Get Accepted to an Advertising Network
Applying to advertising networks is a fairly simple and straightforward process. You will need to show proof of your eligibility to earn income in the US and maybe provide a Google Analytics report of your traffic.
Most advertising networks that are based in the US want to see majority US-based traffic. They want to see websites that have a lot of unique and long content. I would aim for at least 20 different and well-rounded blog posts before applying to an advertising network. Lastly, they want to see a steady stream of new content.
How Display Ad Income is Calculated
There are a few ways that advertising networks measure the amount of money they owe you. The first way is called CPC: Cost per click.
Google AdSense pays on a CPC basis, meaning they will pay you for each person who clicks an ad they place on your website. Google uses contextual ads, and some are worth much more than others. For example, if you write about law or insurance, these types of ads are typically worth much more than an ad about clothing or lifestyle. Therefore, the cost per click on an insurance blog would likely be much higher than say, on a craft blog.
The cost of an ad is determined by how much advertisers are willing to pay. Typically advertisers “bid” on placing their advertisement on a website. The highest bidder wins and pays for the ad. This happens in the background of course, not live!
Keep in mind, it’s against Google’s terms of service to click on your own ads, or implore that your users should click on them. These behaviors could get you banned from the program entirely.
While you can’t artificially improve your earnings, you can optimize the ad placement on your blog for maximum chance of visibility, and thus clicks. It’s typically recommended to place your ads “above the fold” meaning above the place in your content where the user must scroll. Sticky ads – ads that stay in place while the user scrolls – also perform very well.
Other ad networks, like Mediavine, pay you simply based on the number of pageviews to your website. The network controls the ad placement and how often the ads appear.
How to Compare Your Earnings with Ads
If you decide to monetize a blog with display ads, you’ll want to keep track of how much money your blog is earning with advertisements. Especially when changing networks, this information will come in handy.
The best way to keep track of your blog income is by using the RPM – a figure that many networks will provide to you by default. RPM stands for rate per mille, or in other words: thousand. It’s the amount of money you earn per thousand pageviews to your site.
To give you an example, I earned an RPM of $.50-$6 while using Google AdSense on my blogs, and now I earn an RPM of $13-24 on Mediavine.
RPM isn’t wholly determined by the advertising network itself, which is why my RPM can vary greatly. Seasonal changes and advertising budgets fluctuate throughout the year.
Q4 is typically when RPMs are the highest due to the holiday season, when competition is stiff between advertisers.
Here are a few charts showing you my RPMs throughout the year from Google AdSense and Mediavine:
How Long Does it Take to Make Money with Ads?
Advertising networks typically pay out around 30-60 days after the ads appear on your blog on a monthly basis. This is much faster than the standard 3-6 month wait for affiliate programs to pay out!
Can You Really Make Good Money from Display Ads?
Many people are skeptical of display ads as a long-term viable source of blog income. The thing is: advertising has been around for decades. I don’t see it going anywhere any time soon. Even with the rise of influencer marketing and paid content marketing which doesn’t rely on traditional display ads, companies aren’t ready to give up the benefit of reminding potential customers that they exist.
The key to making money with display ads is traffic, plain and simple.
As a new blogger with low traffic, it’s really tough to earn decent money from ads. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try! Even if you earn $10 a month, that more than covers your hosting and domain fees for the year.
My advice for new bloggers is to push as hard as you can to get your traffic to 25,000 sessions per month so you can join Mediavine.
Honestly, my favorite thing about display ads is just how passive the income really is. As long as I maintain my pageviews, a deposit is reliably made into my bank account every month, on time. The stability of display ad income is unmatched by any other blog income that I’ve come across.
Here is a chart showing you the potential earnings from Mediavine with a variety of RPMs and monthly traffic combinations:
My average Mediavine RPM for all of 2018 was $18.55.
Based on a $40,000 salary, I could feasibly earn a full time income from 200,000 monthly pageviews and a $19 RPM.
As you can see from the last two columns, display ads can provide a good chunk of change for high-traffic sites!
I hope this post inspired you to consider using ads to increase your own blog income. As always, let me know in the comments if you have questions about monetizing your blog using display advertisements!