pennies on a table thumbnail hero image pennies on a table
July 6, 2019

Why Ads are an Awful Way to Monetize Your Blog

After getting some initial traffic, many bloggers immediately turn to ads to start making money. And ads have some great advantages, they’re

  1. Easy to set up.
  2. Work with international traffic.
  3. Begin making some money immediately.

So why avoid ads when it comes time to monetize your site? Let’s get into it.

Ads Do Not Pay Well

To understand why ads aren’t the best monetization method of all time, we have to understand how much they pay. The short answer is $10-$30 per 1,000 pageviews ($10-$30 RPM). The long answer is “it depends.”

It depends on the ad network you use, your traffic levels, ad placement, your niche, what country your traffic is from, etc. There is no official data out there to pull from to answer this question, but anecdotally you don’t see many site owners that claim to make lower than a $10 RPM or higher than a $30 RPM with a premium ad network.

RPM's of various ad networks like adthrive, mediavine and google

For the purposes of this discussion, let’s give Ads the benefit of the doubt. Pretend you’ve maxed out your Ad revenue at a $50 RPM. Meaning that at 100,000 page views your blog would be making $5,000 per month!!!

That’s a full-time income for most people from an attainable level of traffic. How can I sit here with a straight face and tell you that’s a bad thing?

Because Your Own Products Will Outperform Ads.

Here’s a quick thought experiment.

Pretend instead of ads you created your own product. Your product can be anything really. E-books, Merch, Print on Demand, Physical products, Software, Apps, courses. Any or all of these ideas will work roughly the same for this.

various ways you can make money from your website.  Eg Selling books, e-books, merch, print on demand, digital courses, software, apps etc.

Say you create a course, and you sell it for $200. Even with an abysmal conversion rate where only 1 out of 4,000 people (0.025%) bought your course, you’d match the $50 RPM you were getting from ads.

Compared to the more likely $10 RPM from ads, only 1 out of every 20,000 visitors needs to buy your course to outperform ads. This should be easy to do.

Building Your Own Product Won’t Be That Hard

Building a reputable digital course would take you a lot of time and energy. I get it.

Maybe you don’t have the spare time to work your day job, raise a family, and create a kick-ass product. This is a very common situation.

So let’s pick something easier to get you out of that day job and free up 8 hours per day of your time. I want to see you crushing ads with your own product by tonight.

If I were in this situation and needed a product fast but didn’t have the time. I’d likely sell print on demand items or custom t-shirts through my website. Those options would have the least shipping and quality control problems.

Another model that will accomplish the same thing that I’m more familiar with is dropshipping via AliExpress, Oberlo, and Shopify.

how to dropship with aliexpress, shopify and oberlo.

This isn’t a great business model long term. It’ll be impossible to build a brand around the horrendous shipping times. But we’re not concerned with creating the optimal business right now. Right now, we just want something that can beat ads as quickly as possible. This model will allow you to sell pretty much any generic product you can find on Amazon to your audience.

What would the RPM’s look like if you did this?

If you were selling a $40 product and making a $20 profit on it, you’d only need 1 sale from every 300 visitors (0.3%) to make an RPM of $60.

Informational blog posts won’t have the types of conversion rates you’ll see on e-commerce product pages. Still, you should easily be able to sell a $40 item to 1 out of every 300 people who visit your site. Particularly since the product will match your niche.

A 1% conversion rate should be attainable. That would give you an RPM of $200. You’d now be making $20,000 per month from your 100,000 page views with something you could build in a weekend. Ads aren’t looking so great now, are they?

Advertisers Are NOT Paying You What Your Traffic is Worth

I come at ads from a different perspective than most bloggers. Before I got into blogging, I was in e-commerce, making money through Google Shopping and Google Adwords advertising.

The way Google Shopping works is that I target keywords, and every time somebody clicks my advertisement, I pay Google. Typically, every click would cost me about $0.30 to $1.20.

cost per click of search queries.

At $0.30 per click, your 100,000 page views should be making you $30,000. That’s what advertisers are paying for the same amount of traffic. You also know the advertisers are profitable at that price. If they weren’t they’d go out of business.

Warm Traffic is More Valuable -> Your Audience is the Warmest Traffic Gets

If you’ve read this far down the post, then I like to think of us as good friends. We share similar interests and over the past 1000 words we’ve bonded a little bit.

Which makes it orders of magnitude easier for me to sell something to you.

At least compared to a sketchy advertisement on my website. A sketchy advertisement does not have the type of relationship that we do.

why you have a better relationship with your readers than advertisers do.   Difference between warm and cold traffic.

Advertisers price that lack of relationship into the amount they’re willing to pay for ads on your website. If they had a closer relationship with you, they’d be willing to pay much more per click.

Except we’ve already established advertisers are very willing to pay $0.30 per click which would give you a $30,000 payday on 100,000 page views. I’m telling you that if an advertiser can squeeze that much out of your audience, then you can get a heck of a lot more out of them than that.

Pro Tip: If you’re looking for something to sell on your blog. Google the keywords you get the most traffic from and see what the advertisers are selling. Copy them if you can because we know they make money.

Ads Increase Bounce Rate and Decrease Time on Site

Once you leave my website, odds are you’re never coming back.

When a visitor clicks an ad on your website, a lot of bloggers cheer because “Hey, free money from an ad click.”

But that visitor’s gone forever now. You just built a series of exit ramps all over your website when you decided to use ads.

Why ads on your website is like throwing away your traffic.

Instead of ads, you could have linked to other articles or your own product. This would have made you more money, lowered your bounce rate, and increased your time on site.

Google doesn’t tell us how much bounce rate and time on site plays into its ranking algorithm. But they are factors you’re performing worse at when you put ads on your website. This will decrease your standing in Google by some non-zero amount.

Ads Hurt User Experience and Your Brand

We’ve all experienced a website where the ads made the site unusable. Particularly on mobile. Even if your ads are functional and classy, your users will find them annoying.

But it goes beyond annoyance. There should be essential calls to action on your website. When you start putting advertisements all over the place, you end up with as many calls to action as you have ads. This dilutes the effectiveness of your calls to action, making it harder to send traffic where you want it to go.

why call to actions are harder to see with ads.

Your brand also likely has a color scheme. With ads, you lose control of that as well. When the bright pink ads don’t match your brand’s colors, what are you going to do? There’s nothing you can do minus not using ads.

Ads Slow Down Your Website

Ads load a large number of images and scripts from all over the web, which will slow down your website.

Users bounce fast. According to Pingdom, after waiting 3 seconds for your page to load 11% of your traffic has already bounced. After just 5 seconds of waiting an astounding 38% of your users are gone.

Those 2 extra seconds of load time literally cost you 27% of your traffic. For 100,000 page views, that’s 27,000 people who clicked your link and won’t bother to look at your site because of ads.

rate at which you lose visitors due to page load time.

Is it a realistic scenario that your site took 3 seconds to load and ads increased that time by 2 seconds? Absolutely, particularly on mobile devices.

Your results may vary, but remember to check your page load times when including ads on your website. Remember, a significant increase is costing you serious traffic.

Low RPM’s Prevent You From Running Ads

It’s weird to mention how great Internet advertising is right after I told you to remove ads from your website.

But it’s true, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and Google ads can all be a great source of traffic to your website. There’s just 1 catch, the traffic coming in has to pay you more than what you paid to acquire it.

If you’re using ads to monetize your website, this will be impossible for you to accomplish. Eliminating an enormous source of potential traffic for you forever.

Ads (probably) Aren’t GDPR Compliant

Should you be worried about the GDPR?… It’s hard to say, I’m not a lawyer, and this isn’t legal advice.

But, your advertisements will each have tracking cookies associated with them. To be GDPR compliant, you now need a cookie consent banner on your website that your users can opt out of. You’re also supposed to be able to delete the cookie should the user request you do so.

How GDPR or laws like it may one day allow users to opt-out of ads.

Except what advertising platform allows for you to do any of that? No ad platform in the world allows for opting out of ads or makes it easy to delete their tracking information.

Who’s at fault in this situation? The website the user got the cookie from or the advertising platform who’s tracking the user?

Tough to say, but as more of these laws come into existence relying on advertisers will become a trickier business model than it is today. Don’t build your entire business model on top of an active volcano.

Conclusion And Aspirational Real Life Examples

Ads hurt your SEO, damage your brand, and pay you almost nothing for the right to do so.

I hope you now understand that you can EASILY beat Adsense with your own product. But for a little motivation…

Melyssa Griffin: sells courses and made $283,680 in 1 month.

Sunny Lenarduzzi: made $100,000+ from a single YouTube video.

Create and Go: made $115,441 in 1-month selling courses.

To make $283,000 in a month selling ads at a $10 RPM you’d need to get 28,000,000 page views. Game of Thrones doesn’t pull in those types of traffic numbers.

I hate to break it to you, but your Mom Blog won’t be pulling in those types of numbers either. The way this much money is being made is by increasing RPM’s, not traffic. And your RPM’s will increase when you develop a hit product, not when you find a better ad network.