Yes, you are saying ‘what the f…’ now, seeing this post nicely embedded in Google Adsense (biggest contextual ads network) from all sides and Kontera in between, yet I come and advice you not to use it? You got me wrong then, I will not advice you not to sign up with Adsense, Yahoo Publisher Network or MSN (I actually do advocate it in general) and most definitely I will not advice you to get rid of your existing account, but, I want to bring to your attention some down sides of monetizing your website with contextual ads.
First of all, what are contextual ads? These are just link to other websites on the body of your pages, related to site’s content, and since you get payed per click (PPC model) you have to place the ads on so-called prime positions of your website and spare a lot of space for them, otherwise they might not be noticed. And all this you are doing to… to make people leave your site. Did you think about it? You get paid for loosing visitors. If contextual ads are your only way to make money off the site, and you really don’t give a damn if your content will be read / viewed, – then it’s perfect. But what if you have other ways of income, such as affiliate sells, subscriptions, donations? Once your visitor left, the chance of him coming back and continue bring you revenue from other sources or clicking other ads is very slim, and I am sure you do realize it. So think about it, you get a few cents compensation for every visitor you wave good bye to.
Secondly, niche plays a significant factor. Some relevant keywords pay a few dollars per single click, while others (and actually many of them) pay a few cents for a click. This means, if your website is targeted to low paying keywords (or better said – created for the niche, where ads are paying low and the competition is small), you can’t possibly make much, unless you have really crazy traffic. This, however, does not mean your content is bad or not interesting or not worthy, it can still potentially make a lot of money (from donations, subscriptions, affiliate marketing, direct ads sales etc), but not from contextual ads.
Lastly, PageRank does not matter when it comes to contextual advertising. PR8 sites that choose to place PPC ads can still get 1 cents off each leaving visitor, while another PR0 websites can easily generate a few dollars per click… Having said that, contextual ads are better for beginners who can’t sell direct ads to advertisers yet (due to low traffic or lack / low PR), while the sharks out there, with high PR’s, are practically wasting space. Just imagine how many text links you can sell directly to advertisers in the place where your skycrapper is located, and how much can you earn monthly…and does your PPC network cover it..?
Main problem with contextual ads (and I faced it myself), is you have no real control over your income. Yes, traffic = revenue, but there is no guarantee that this very traffic will click your ads, the chances are bigger, but there is no solid base for it. Another reason why you cannot have control over the income, is because prices per click vary, so this will drive you crazy – how to adjust to higher paying keywords, why yesterday the clicks brought 1$ and today only 0.01$? There is really not much you can do except for working on content and then spamming your site across the globe hopping for traffic…
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