Monetisation of your Online Content

Monetisation of Online Content

As a regular participant at the Sydney Wordcamp Meetup I presented the topic of Monetisation. Not a Get Rich Quick topic but any means no suggesting that established business put banner ads on their website. It does happen, businesses selling a product or service include banner ads on their website hoping to make a few dollars without realising they are opening their door to competitors.

For monetisation I focussed on content based website such as blogs or news sites that are information based. The ability to generate revenue streams depends on traffic and quality. The three main methods discussed are Google Adsense, (direct) Banner Advertising and Affiliate Partnerships. Depending on the website content and audience other methods were noted including Member Subscriptions, Paid Content, Member Donations, Merchandise, Advertorials and Commission based promotions / partnerships. Though this is a non-exhaustive list, lets looks at two of these, Google Adsense and Member Subscriptions.

Google Adsense if typically the first method used by young websites as the setup is relatively easy and means that ads are served onto your website, but not just any ads. When you do a standard google search, the ads that appear on the right side are typically relevant. They are context sensitive and when you setup google adsense on your website, your site is ‘crawled’ by google and typically ads are displayed that are relavant to the content. It is even more powerful as google provides localisation as well meaning that a visitor in the Los Angeles may see an ad that is geographically relevant to them, likewise for a from Sydney.

It doesn’t stop there either. Have you ever had the feeling that an ad is following you around the internet. Perhaps you visited an online retail store at some stage and since then, on different websites all over the internet you see banner ads for that same retailer. This is known as retargeting and  also means that if you run google adsense, visitors to your website can also be ‘targeted’.

So how much money can you make? Unfortunately no easy answer. Considering you have a quality website with quality traffic, typically there is a correlation between the number of visitors and revenue. If you welcome 500 visitors a month to your website you may be lucky to scrape the cost of a coffee out of the revenue.

Adsense for advertisers is typically a bidding process where the highest bidder gets the best advertising placement and in some competitive industries such as insurance the bids are high as companies compete for customers. After much secrecy, Google revealed in 2012 that ‘adsense publishers’ take a 68% cut of the banner revenue.

While this is an extremely brief overview, the main advantages of Google Adsense is that it is relatively easy to start with compared with other strategies and is also low maintenance. On the flip-side, Google takes healthy cut of the revenue and most importantly, particularly for larger websites where the revenue stream is crucial to keeping the website online, the revenue from google adsense is typically lower than the revenues from running direct advertising (where you place a banner for a specific advertiser).

More information on Google Adsense:

Member Subscriptions is next inline and more straight forward. A basic concept where paying members have access to special content or sections of a website. Most websites with subscriptions need to lure visitors in to become members with goodies or snippets of information.

Not every website is cut-out have a successful paid membership business model. In fact, most are not. The Sydney Morning Herald for example started subscriptions for their web content some years ago and it wasn’t paid membership, visitors could no longer access more than a few articles without having an account. This didn’t last long until the content was opened again as it slowed traffic to the site. While Fairfax and the Sydney Morning Herald have announced that they will start this approach again, it is likely that visitors will simply seek other news sources and abandon this website.

The Sydney Morning Herald are challenged in that they are not providing content that isn’t available elsewhere, though the reporters are different, other news sources will present similar news so the content is not unique enough. A renowed wine critic however who has already established themself as a personality can delivery unique content with a subscription model likewise a financial consultant recognised for reliable and useful information can also build a community who will pay for exclusive access to this knowlegde,

There are exceptions to the rule though more often than not, Member Subscriptions work best when the content caters to a specific niche and the information isn’t readily available elsewhere as well when there is an allure of exclusivity or a sense of belonging.