My experiences with both Amazon Widgets and Google Ads is simple: they don’t work – all they do is ruin my sites. I’ve not made a penny with them, keeping in mind I run about 20 sites which amounts to plenty of traffic. I believe we as surfers know what an “unhelpful” ad looks like and we automatically blank it out – much like billboard ads, TV ads or newspaper ads. Sites like Facebook and eBay don’t use them either, indicating they’re a waste of time.
Advertising should supports your site, not destroy it. Say you’re writing about technical aspects of web design, then ads for web hosting and domain registration are helpful – and supportive. But ads about rather unrelated material are not, especially if they’re generated by contextual algorithms. Which products and services work best is a matter of trial and error I’m afraid, and there’s no set formula.
Here’s another example:
Imagine you’re writing about music and bands, then maybe iTunes is a good ad to have. Say you’re writing a post specifically about Alexandra Burke’s new tour, why not have “Buy her album on iTunes” at the bottom – if someone makes a purchase via that link, you’ll get a cut. This link has to go diretcly to one song or one specific album, not to “iTunes in general” though.
Getting your hands on specific ads and banners is fairly easy by joining some of the big advertising affiliate partners. Amazon and many others have their own affiflate scheme, but larger brands often outsource this business to companies like
Let’s look at some vocabulary:
You as an “advertising displayer” are called an “affiliate”. The other side of the business is called a “merchant”, which is you have a product or site and ads that you want other affiliates to display. For now, you’re an “affilate”.
You’ll get paid into your bank account once you reach a certain threshold of cash (say £50 or £100). You’ll make money either by people clicking on those links (that’s called “pay-per-click”), or if people actually buy something on the advertiser’s site (that’s called “pay-per-lead”). The money comes from “merchants”, who in turn pay people like you and me for having adverts displayed.
The list of programmes above – like many others out there – provide text links and banners in all different sizes to suit your posts and sidebars. A banner is usually part of a “campaign”, which can change from time to time. Ads in a campaign will dynamicaly update to the next campaign so you won’t have to get involved – unless you’d like to of course.
The way to display ads is either as a text link like this or banner (usually used in a plan text widget in your sidebar, or hard coded say into your header). Some theme developers leave comments in their code to indicate where to put an ad, and which dimensions will work well. An example for such a theme is Aerodrome by Joe Fishler.
Navigating the affiliate programmes can be a tad cumbersome though. They’re fairly complex and provide a LOT of data. Your first step is to join one of those sites above, say Link Share. They approve or decline you as an affiliate.
But someone like Link Share has thousands of merchants on file. To display a specific advertiser’s links (say iTunes for example), you’ll have to “join” that particular merchant. That merchant will then have a look at your site and either approve or decline your application. There are plenty of spam sites out there, and of course big brands don’t want to be associated with those. Once a merchant has approved your site, you’re ready to display their ads. It can take a day or two until you hear from them, but sometimes the decision is made in minutes.
In a nutshell:
Someone like Link Share is only the “delivery platform” for adverts and deals with tracking those ads and giving you payouts. But the actual adverts and campaings come from merchants (like iTunes or Sky) who have also joined.
There are MANY other affiliate schemes you can join, and it’s about finding the one(s) that are right for you, or have the products/brands you’d like to promote. If you like a particular site, have a look at the bottom and look for something like “webmasters” or “make money promoting us”.
The key is to use these affiliate links casually – you can use them in a post, or even tweet them when it’s relevant. Don’t overload your visitors though. Nothing is worse than a site cluttered with more adverts than content!
One last thought to consider:
if you’re running an e-commerce site (i.e. you have products for sale, and the website is primarily there to sell them), why drive customers away to other services? Amazon and eBay do this sometimes, and there’s really no need for it. An e-commerce site makes money by selling products, not by advertising.
Good luck 😉