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

9 Reasons Ads are an Awful Way to Monetize Your Blog

Ads have some pretty great features.

  1. They’re easy to set up.
  2. They can be used to monetize International traffic.
  3. They start making money the second you add them to your site.

So why am I telling you to stop using ads to monetize your site? Let’s find out!

1) Ads Don’t Pay Well

The oversimplified version of what ads pay 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, number/position of ad placements, your niche, what country your traffic is from, etc. The numbers I’m giving you are purely anecdotal and I’ve met outliers in both directions. But, I find most site owners report earnings in the $10-$30 per 1,000 pageviews range when using a premium ad network.

A $30 RPM doesn’t sound half bad. That translates to 100,000 monthly pageviews earning you $3,000 per month. You’d be fast approaching a teachers salary from an obtainable level of traffic. How can I sit here and tell you that’s a bad thing?

2) Your Own Products Will Vastly Outperform Ads

Pretend instead of ads you created your own product. Your product can be anything. E-books, Merch, Print on Demand, Physical products, Software, Apps, courses. Any or all of these ideas will work as long as you’re selling something to your visitors.

what to sell online

You only need to sell one $30 item to one 1 out of 1,000 people to match putting 5 to 10 ad spots on your page.

The numbers can be easily shifted around as well. Sell a $300 course to 1 out of 10,000 people. Sell a $3 printable to 10 out of 1,000 people.

The point is that swapping out those 5-10 ad slots with your own products will make it easy to sell at least this much stuff. Heck, I experimented with a donation button on my website that nearly outperformed ads by itself.

3) Building Your Own Product Isn’t As Hard as It Sounds

Building a digital course takes a lot of time. You likely don’t have the spare time to work your day job, build your blog, AND create a kick-ass product. This is a valid reason to start out with ads for monetization.

However, there are easier products to create. You could set up a print on demand merch store, printables store, or dropshipping store by the end of the weekend.

The Dropshipping Model

Not that dropshipping is a great business model. The shipping times and quality control issues you’ll experience are awful. However, the point is that regardless of your niche I’m confident you’d easily get more than 1 out of 1,000 people to buy something. And you could easily have it operational within a couple of days.

If you get 1 out of 100 people to buy something with a $20 profit margin those same 100k monthly pageviews that were worth $3,000 earlier, are now worth $20,000. Not bad right?

4) Advertisers Pay What The Traffic is Worth

I spent years using Google Shopping, Adwords, and Facebook Ads to make money. And I can tell you that back in 2017 I was routinely paying about $0.30 to $1.20 PER CLICK.

Google Shopping Example

Multiply $0.30-$1.20 times your 100k visitors and that traffic should be worth about $30,000-$120,000. Are you making that much from your blog’s traffic? Almost assuredly not.

But, your advertisers are earning at that rate from your audience. If they weren’t they’d become unprofitable and be forced to stop running ads. If you’re making $30 RPM from your traffic, it means your advertisers are making even more.

5) Warm Traffic is Worth Significantly More Than Cold Traffic

If you’ve read this far down the post, I like to think of us as good friends. Which makes it orders of magnitude easier for me to sell something to you. At least compared to ads, ads can never have the type of relationship that you and I have.

warm vs cold traffic

Advertisers price that lack of relationship into the amount they’re paying for ads. Remember that $30 per 1,000 pageviews you’re earning is largely what advertisers are willing to pay for COLD TRAFFIC. They’d happily pay 5-10x as much for warm traffic.

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.

6) Ads Remove Visitors From Your Site

Once you leave my website, odds are that you will NEVER come back.

Should we cheer when visitors click our ads? Those visitors are gone forever now. We just built a series of exit ramps all over our website when the goal is usually to keep you on the web property longer.

ad clicks increase bounce rate

What if instead of ads we put advertisements up to our best content and our products? Our content would keep people on our site longer and please the Google gods. Our products would make us significantly more money than ads would have. Where’s the downside?

7) Ads Hurt User Experience & Drown Out Your Calls To Action

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 CTA’s and makes it hard to direct your traffic anywhere.

Calls to action get buried with ads.

Your brand also likely has a color scheme. With ads, you lose control of that as well. When the ads don’t match the look & feel you’re going for there’s nothing you can do about it.

8) Ads 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.

Ads load a large number of images and scripts from all over the web, which will slow down your website. Will they take your site from 2 seconds of load time to 4? If they did, your 100,000 pageviews would instantly become 83,000 pageviews because 17% of your traffic just bounced.

bounce rate per second of page load time.

Your results may vary, but remember to check your page load times when including ads on your website. If the time it takes to load your site takes a massive hit you may want to reconsider putting ads on your site.

9) GDPR Type Laws May Decrease Future Ad Rates

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

That said, your advertisements 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.

opting into ads is a ridiculous concept

In the event that laws like this become our new international reality it will sting. Without tracking cookies advertisers won’t know who is warm traffic and who is cold. It would decrease the rate they’re willing to pay for your traffic significantly and permanently. $30 RPM’s from ads (which aren’t all that high to begin with), may be a thing of the past.

Shaun Poore worked as a professional software developer for 15 years before transitioning into content creation and digital product businesses. Shaun's currently focused on providing as many people as possible with actionable advice and tools they can use to succeed online, without the fluff or BS that too often plagues this industry.