Historically bloggers have primarily done some pretty simple things with the advertising on their blogs.
Usually it’s Google Adsense. They paste the code into their template, and away they go.
While Adsense is definitely a good option, assuming it’s the one and only ad choice for your blog is probably a bad assumption. Here’s why:
1. You only get paid per click. Many blogs have a sophisticated audience that won’t click much on the ads. Sometimes it can pay better to have a display ad network that pays on a CPM basis so you get something for every ad impression.
2. Your topic area might not pay much per click. Different topics have vastly different payout rates per click.
3. Don’t put all your eggs into one basket. You never know what might happen with Google and Adsense. It’s never a good idea to be totally banking on one source of revenue.
4. Ad Blindness. Your visitors get used to seeing the same ads over and over, and they start to tune them out.
So if working with Google or just one ad network isn’t enough, what should you do?
1. Sign up with multiple ad networks. Here’s a list to get you started:
2. Get an ad server to manage your advertisers and networks. An ad server allows you to control your inventory. You can decide which parts of your site get advertising, rotate multiple advertisers into one spot, and do much more sophisticated things like geotargeting.
A basic ad server will allow you to at least manually decide how you want to allocate your impressions to the various networks you’re working with. A good free option here is phpadsnew. It’s open source, but you have to be prepared to edit a little PHP code, host your own data and ads, and pay for the bandwidth you use.
If you want more power in your ad server and want more of a plug and play solution, something like Yield Manager from Right Media is the way to go. Not only can you control you entire inventory, but Yield Manager can do a dynamic auction on every ad impression to determine which one of your ad networks will most likely pay the most for that impression, making you the most money possible. For CPC and CPA ads, it uses past history and user information to predict what the likely result would be and calculates an effective CPM to take part in the auction. Yield Manager has a ton of other features like being able to automatically link up with other ad networks using Yield Manager and get more competition for your inventory driving up your overall CPM. (Dislosure: I work for Right Media).
The bottom line is that if you’re just plugging in Adsense you’re probably leaving money on the table. But if total simplicity is what you’re after, that may be the best solution. If you’re looking at maximizing the amount of advertising revenue you can make from your blog, an ad server is the way to go.