Making money from content in the age of the ad-blocker

Remember when websites relied on pop-ads to reel in income? Those days are disappearing quickly with PageFair and Adobe revealing that during 2015 ad-blockers were estimated to have cost online publishers in the region of $22 billion.

It seems that some website owners have got desperate too: with some even going as far as to pay the blockers to actually unblock ads. However, very few online publishers can afford that sort of effort leaving many scratching their heads as to what can be done to get the money motoring in once more. That’s why we have come up with a few potential solutions that might help you reel in the cash in the ad-blocker era.

How to monetise your website solution one: sponsored articles

It is perhaps the simplest way to make money from articles – allowing a third party to write its own content that is published on your website, or to sponsor articles that you are writing that perhaps mentions the name of a certain company and therefore gives them exposure. You might think that it undermines the value and legitimacy of your content to include sponsored pieces – but this is actually an industry-old tradition. In the newspaper sector, for example, it is common for the feature section of a publication to be filled with a series of directly or indirectly sponsored pieces.

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Of course the possibilities with sponsored articles have entered a whole new level since the explosion of email newsletters and social media. The advertiser now has many different ways to see their article promoted: which sweetens the deal for them and should help you secure more money.

The key, however, is to make sure you’re not negatively impacted by sponsored pieces. Make sure you stay within the guidelines Google outlines – disclosures are usually recommended. Make sure you’re using a tracking URL too that will ensure Google doesn’t consider the link to be natural and therefore there will be no negative effects to your SEO performance.

How to monetise your website solution two: native advertising

In theory, native advertising is right along the lines of sponsored articles with advertising meant to perform the same function as the overall theme of the publisher’s website. Indeed there are many big names using native advertising currently – look no further than a major publication like The New York Times, for example, which has used native advertising in a subdomain for more than two years.

In addition, there are ad technologies such as StaMedia which present interactive advertising and email sign-ups within a native ad. These are generally seen as less obtrusive when compared to usual advertising forms.

Of course, native advertising will not be noticed by an ad-blocker because it is taking the form of editorial content. Just make sure that this native advertising is of a high quality so that it doesn’t damage the reputation of your website. There are a host of established vendors out there, including the likes of Movable Media, Revcontent, Taboola, Zemanta and Nativo which can be used to place content on to a website.

How to monetise your website solution three: email newsletters

The idea behind an email newsletter is to draw people towards your website. As long as you don’t lose sight of their purpose from a consumer’s standpoint then they can be highly effective by keeping readers engaged, informing them of fresh content, and offering them useful advice.

From there you can look at monetising the newsletter. This could be done in a number of ways – perhaps by targeting an audience via Launchbit, which is similar to Google AdWords; re-targeting customers via Meteora and AdRoll in an effort to remind them about a service or product; or even charging subscription fees for “premium content”. Subscriptions work well as long as you have a wealth of free content on your website too: we’ll look at this in more depth in the next point.

How to monetise your website solution four: subscription and freemium models

Have you ever downloaded a “free” game via iTunes or a similar format? Chances are you’ve reached a certain level and then found out that you can’t go any further without paying money; or maybe you have to pay for additional elements of the game. Or what about a music website like Spotify which allows you to stream music for free: but then asks you to pay a fee to remove the ads. This format can be applied to most publishing websites too.

Among the popular methods is to present a wealth of free content and then charge extra for something special and unique that can’t be found on the ordinary website – specialist articles, or podcasts for example. Alternatively you could allow free readers a limited number of views per day before they have to pay extra to see any additional content. Several websites, including the Financial Times’ FT.com, follow a similar format.

How to monetise your website solution five: affiliate partnerships

Another option is to use affiliate marketing which allows you to be compensated based on driving traffic, sales and leads across to a merchant. So, for example, if you were working with a retailer such as Amazon you might write a review of a product which contains a unique link. When a visitor clicks that link and goes on to purchase something from Amazon you receive a small commission.

How to monetise your website solution six: crowdfunding

A recent innovation into this space is the crowdfunding model where website users agree to make one-time or regular pledges of financial support to the website. Crowdfunding Platforms such as Patreon have become a popular way to try and generate regular revenues in the ad-blocker era. Similar in many ways to the subscription model outlined above, the difference here is that the website in question remains accessible to all visitors. Many websites that use crowdfunding offer additional incentives to regular donators, such as early access to new content, access to the creative team as well as a variety of other incentives.

The traditional methods may no longer be there to monetise your website – but as you see, there are still plenty of options if you’re willing to be innovative.

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