Use advertising to add value to your site

by Martin Reed on 17 May 2007 in Articles

Advertising. Adverts. Ads. Whatever you call them, for many sites they are a necessary requirement to pay the bills (and hopefully turn a profit). Most visitors accept the odd ad here and there as a necessary evil in order for them to consume your content – however, have you considered that advertising can actually add value to your site?

Provide for your visitors

Consider the type of visitors that you get at your site – you should have at least a basic understanding of the demographics and interests of your site’s visitors. If you run a website on Himalayan mountain trekking, it may be safe to assume your visitors enjoy the outdoors, are keen trekkers and love to travel.

Perhaps you could include live airfare prices to the Himalayas as a content unit on your site, or publish product reviews of hiking boots with embedded affiliate links.

The quiz fans

Quizzes as a revenue generator

Screenshot of the Just Chat quiz page (click to visit site)

Over at Just Chat, our members hold their own online quizzes each Monday night in the chat rooms. They are hugely popular and strengthen the community. In May of last year, I implemented a quiz section on the site for our users. They have proven to be extremely popular and for every user that registers to play the quizzes, we are credited with a small commission.

Additional benefits

Not only do the quizzes add further value to Just Chat, they appear in a ‘quiz window’ which means the user never leaves our site. Additionally, we are even allowed to run our own ad inventory in the quiz windows.

More value = less money?

The online quizzes make a negligible contribution to Just Chat’s revenue, however they add a high level of value to our visitors. We benefit from additional revenue and more features for the site, and our users benefit from an additional service. Sometimes this is more important than high commissions alone.

Ads can be positive, too!

I hope this article, in combination with the one I wrote at the beginning of the month entitled ‘Use advertising as a motivator‘ help you to see that not all advertising is bad.

If you take the time to really get to know and understand your visitors, you may well find that certain types of advertising can actually add value to your site and generate additional revenue at the same time.

What are your opinions on this article? Do you disagree and think all advertising is negative? Do you think specific forms of advertising can add value to a website? Leave your comments below!

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{ 20 comments }

Smiley May 17, 2007 at 6:32 pm

I have a negative view of ads – but I also understand that they are indeed a necessary evil to, as you put it, pay the bills.

I’ll never allow ads on GC, personally. It’ll always remain ad-free.

We’ve come up with a different way to pay the bills for GC. As you might already know, we’ve simply bought our own resellers account where we can have as many domains as we like, quite cheaply, too! We’ve bought scripts in bulk and are building up a network of differing sites reaching to different tastes. All these ads have advertising on them – Which will easily pay the bills for our main concern, GC.

All the scripts etc are more or less self-run, very low maintainance. If you don’t mind me putting a link as an example (simply delete it if you do)

http://www.goodconfessions.co.uk is an example – it has two Google ads on it. This site actually gets MORE visitors than our main site – LOL – not sure how that works, but hey.

So, this is how we have avoided having to clutter up our main site with advertisements.

That’s a bit of trouble to go to though just to avoid putting ads on your site, so I wouldn’t really recommend it.

David Ledoux May 17, 2007 at 7:15 pm

I loved this article! So many bloggers have an outdated belief system concerning advertising. You took such an innovative view point…the ad as valuable content. Wow, maybe the internet is progressive!

Martin Reed May 17, 2007 at 7:16 pm

Hi Smiley: Firstly, never say never! Who knows what will happen in the future – you may well have to place ads on your main site at some point, and if you make a public statement saying that you will always be ad free you face a revolt if you have to place ads in the future!

I guess it is easy to stick to this policy whilst your satellite sites are generating more traffic that your main website – but remember this may change. What if 5 years down the line, all your traffic is generated by your main site and you end up losing money by sticking to your ad-free policy?

Martin Reed May 17, 2007 at 7:17 pm

David – I am glad you enjoyed this article. It does pay to sometimes step back and take a different viewpoint from others. Heck, that’s how we learn, right?

I look forward to reading more of your comments in the future!

Biscuit May 17, 2007 at 9:02 pm

For me i think its importent to ensure you have a good FAN base before introducing Adverts. I plan to to implement advertising for none registered users only. That way my loyal users won’t be put off, they will keep coming back to post new content for the other readers.

Chicago 2016 May 17, 2007 at 9:42 pm

But when’s the right time to actually place the ads on your site? Should it reach a certain level of traffic? To be honest, I probably wouldn’t check out a brand new site with ads on it.

Martin Reed May 17, 2007 at 10:10 pm

Biscuit – Thanks for your comment. Generally speaking, I think it’s only worth adding advertising if the ads are going to generate enough revenue to justify their presence.

However, in the example I used in this article the advertising is there not to generate significant revenue, but as a service that adds value to Just Chat’s overall proposition.

Chicago – Well you ask the golden question. On one hand, if you place ads on your site from day one your users will get used to their presence and hopefully accept them.

If you have been ad-free for years and then decide to publish them, your users may be resentful.

My personal opinion is that sites should generally be ad-free when they launch. As the site becomes popular, advertising can then be incorporated on a gradual basis.

Smiley May 18, 2007 at 7:58 am

True, Martin. I’ll re-word – The plan is to never have advertising on the main site. We’re planning to stay around for a long time so you’re right, 4-5 years down the line, who knows?

Adverts don’t bother me that much. Such as in the case of JC. One little banner ad on top of the chat forum, it fits in nicely. It’s not flashing or flickering – it’s not doing any harm. It’s been placed really well. Infact, I think JC would look quite naked if you suddenly took it off !!

I’d just rather keep them off if I have the choice to. Just keep them on other sites.

Another great article, though. If more ordinary users read it, they’d soon realize that people don’t place ads on their site simply because “they’re greedy”.

Martin Reed May 18, 2007 at 10:43 am

Smiley – I think in some cases, quality advertisements can add authority to a site. When we see those flashing ‘Paris Hilton – Is she Guilty?’, or the ‘Animated Smilies’ ads we may automatically assume the site is of relatively low quality.

If you are able to publish ads from blue chip and well respected companies, it can add an air of authority to your website.

I am glad you enjoyed the article.

Smiley May 18, 2007 at 10:51 am

That’s true. I often judge the quality of a site on its ads.

Chicago 2016 May 19, 2007 at 2:52 pm

I’d love to see you write about a good process of introducing ads on one’s site, using, say, Google ads or something.

Is something like this in the works? If not, could it be…? :-D

Martin Reed May 19, 2007 at 8:42 pm

Hey Daniel – that’s a good idea for a future article; I will add it to my list :)

Chicago 2016 May 21, 2007 at 3:30 am

Don’t worry, I got your back.

Math Worksheets May 21, 2007 at 5:11 am

There are still so many small websites out there in non-tech niches that get good rankings in Google, plenty of visitors but have no advertising whatsoever, simply because the owner thinks they are ugly, irrelevant and would only return pennies anyway.

A few months back I was able to buy one such website from one of these hobbyists. With Adsense alone, I got my money back in just three weeks and have seen no drop in traffic. Some people just don’t realize what they are sitting on! If they at least tried, and saw good returns, you know they wouldn’t go back to an ad-free policy!

Martin Reed May 21, 2007 at 12:56 pm

I agree with you on this one – I bet there are many sites out there that will give ads a try, realise the huge financial benefits that can be found, then completely scrap their ‘no ads’ policy!

Biscuit May 27, 2007 at 11:20 am

I’m still in the starter block as far as where I’m going with my site so one of the thinks I have done to keep an eye on whats going on with my site; Blackberry. My site emails me with a Spam update, Comments update etc. This is turn has bogged my down with emails however it gives me better control over things like setting up my spam filters, also as Martin keeps saying “Reply to your comment”. I can reply to any post on the Blog or Forum straight from my blackberry (not that I always do this). It is a nightmare getting as many emails as I do, but I feel it important to have TOTAL MONITORING until I get additional user/posters on board to help with the spam replying etc.

Martin Reed May 27, 2007 at 12:01 pm

Hey Biscuit – have you read my article ‘Avoid getting swamped with emails‘? It sounds like it could really be relevant to you!

Smiley May 31, 2007 at 9:40 pm

Well, you were right, Martin.

Never say never. I’m creating a brand new community, from scratch, on my own this time, on my own budget, without funding.

I have just now applied for Adsense!

Good job I read this article afterall, huh? Now I have an advantage over many others as I know how to impliment the ads sufficiently.

Martin Reed May 31, 2007 at 11:04 pm

Good luck with your new site, Smiley. I hope this blog helps you successfully develop your community – keep us updated with your progress.

Martin Reed - Blog Author November 22, 2007 at 8:27 pm

Eric – I assume you are asking where I get the quizzes from? I get them though 43 Plc.

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