Business blogs and advertisements. It is an interesting topic to ponder.
Ads are a reality in the publishing business. And a blog is simply a web publishing platform. And there are plenty of publications that run advertisement free.
So, should you consider advertisements on your business blog as a potential additional revenue source?
Before you answer lets look at a couple things.
Different Types of Ads
There are three broad general categories of advertisements that you can put up on your blog.
- Contextual Ads
- Contextual ads are the easiest form of ads for a publisher to put in place. Typically all that has to happen is to sign up with a contextual ad program. After your blog is approved you simply drop a script into your template and the ads show up automatically.
They are called contextual ads because the ad supplier takes a look at your content scanning for keywords and funnels ads to your site based on the keywords they find. That way the advertisements are (theoretically) always relevant to what you’ve written and in theory produce higher click-through rates and more money for both the ad network and for you as the publisher. With contextual ads you generally get paid whenever someone clicks on the ad.
Google AdSense is the biggest player in this category, but there are probably dozens of others as well including offerings by Yahoo! and MSN.
- Affiliate Ads
- Affiliate ads are also fairly easy to put on your blog too. Basically with an affiliate program you are advertising a particular product or service and get paid a percentage when someone actually makes a purchase as a result of clicking through from the link on your site.
There are probably even more affiliate programs than contextual ad programs out there. One of the biggies is Amazon.com. I do from time to time recommend a book and I’ll put up an Amazon.com affiliate link to make it easy for folks to buy the book if they want. When I do I try to make it obvious with one of their balloon pop-outs that clicking on the link will redirect folks to Amazon.com. But that is just one of probably hundreds of affiliate programs out there.
- Direct Ads
- The third category is what I’ll call direct advertising. Basically with direct ads you as the publisher get to do all the leg work. You have to find the advertiser, negotiate a rate, and place the ad on your site, ensure they actually pay you for your ad space, etc.
I say you are responsible for this, but of course there are services set up that can help you sort through all of it and do the negotiations for you for a share of the ad revenue. Text Link Ads is one example of a program like this.
The advantage of direct ads is that you have the control over what ads appear on your blog. From a business blogging perspective that is a huge thing.
There is a bunch of overlap in the different types of advertising. For example Amazon.com now offers some contextual advertising. And AdSense offers affiliate links to earn money referring folks to their contextual ad program.
The reasons in favor of advertising on your blog are obvious. Ads generate revenue. You are already putting in the effort to publish the blog. So why not earn some easy extra money for your efforts?
Not So Fast
Before you rush out and sign up with some advertising programs take a moment to think about the down side.
Do you really want to be referring your potential customers to someone else’s site? If advertising is about finding customers, do you want to get paid pennies to help find business for other businesses?
And what about contextual ads that end up advertising for your direct competition? Do you want that on your company site?
Would that be good for your business?
Of course that is just the argument that some businesses use against having any outbound links on their blog. There is a mindset that persists especially among traditional web development folks, that the best thing is to have your site be a dead end that traps folks in.
I strongly disagree with that view from an outbound link perspective. The more value your blog adds to the reader, the more likely they are to come back. And outbound links are one way to add value.
Does the same reasoning apply to advertisements?
Which is the Right Way to Go?
I’ve talked before about how I’ve chosen to skip the advertisements so far (for the most point) and instead earn primarily indirect income. I’ve had my reasons for not significantly “monetizing” SuccessCREEations. I have occasionally had a sponsor blog with some direct ads that were worth my time. And I just mentioned the Amazon.com thing.
But I’m at the point where I am actually considering placing ads here at SuccessCREEations in a bit of a more prominent way.
I’m curious to hear what your views are about blog advertising. Do you think it is a good idea or a bad one for a business blog?
Leave a comment and we’ll talk it through.