Monetization strategies – selling advertising

(Sarah Hawk) #1

I am interested in talking about how people handle advertising on their community sites (as part of a wider investigation into monetization). I’ve been burned in the past with badly managed advertising strategies so I’d like to hear from people that are seeing success.

What works and doesn’t work?

@seniorhousingforum Steve, I notice that you sell ads on your community. Do you have a defined strategy?
What about you @julesstanden?

Paid promotion strategies
(Steve Moran) #2

Sarah by paid promotions, you mean paying a bounty for one person or
company to generate a sign-up . . . or something else?

(Sarah Hawk) #3

My question was ambiguous because I posted the reply in the wrong thread!
I’ve now moved it and so I’ll try again!

I was referring specifically to your paid ads. I see on your site that as well as selling ad spots, you partner with organisations to write about/endorse their products.

I’m interested in hearing what works/doesn’t work, and how your community responds.

(Steve Moran) #4

So . . . I will start by saying that is not
strictly a community platform but more of a blog.

It does though make me a good full-time living. When talking about my
business model it is a content marketing site. I have a series of
partners (sponsors) who pay on a quarterly basis (generally) and for that
fee, for each partner we publish one article a month that talks about how
they are helping senior living operators do a better job.

You might think infomercial that is light on the commercial part or maybe
you would call them advertorials. The idea is that while highlighting
what the partner does, each article will provide solid usable, interesting

The small banners are provided to support partners. The side banners are
mostly used to promote events. At some point I will create a banner Ad
program probably, but I am not a big fan.

(Gear Buzz) #5

So a large part of what I do is to do with ads.

I decided to just run “private” ads on my main community and I don’t “sell off” remnant inventory to ad networks.

Network ads I find a little creepy. People I know that run them spend a lot of time trying new ones out but they all seem to be basically the same garbage.

Retargeting (showing you the same camera you bought 3 months ago)
Cheesy “shop at Tesco” messages.
Some unsavoury ads creeping through

So I recommend private ad sales.

I also do a lot with affiliate ads (and have just set up an agency for helping forums with that)

I could probably branch out to provide an ad sales service too. (Might get round to that one day)

PM me if you want to see my forums private ads media kit I don’t mind sharing it off line with members.

There are specialist ad networks (one for mums blogs, car enthusiast forums etc)

(Gear Buzz) #6

I am happy to Skype with you on the subject.

(Sarah Hawk) #7

Thanks Jules, much appreciated. I’ll get in touch further down the track.

(Jit Nagpal) #8

Yes, I would like to see the private ads media kit please. Could you please share with me if you do not mind.
I have used AW before and find, a targeted approach of direct ads is better.
We are in the process of building up IT communities at

(Gear Buzz) #9


(Jit Nagpal) #10

Thanks a lot.

(Sarah Hawk) #11

Welcome @jitnagpal – are you building several communities?
What are you finding the most challenging at the moment?

(Jit Nagpal) #12

The biggest challenge we have - how to ensure the user engagement?
We have rich content, value and excellent functionalities for users.

(Darren Gough) #13

One thing I saw done quite nicely by Stuart Wright at AVForums is their advertising info page here

I really like the way it clearly states the benefits of the community to the advertiser, exactly what they do, what the options are and exactly the type of benefits that might appeal to 3 different types of advertiser.

(Andy McIlwain) #14

Back when I was helping manage some large fan communities we looked at a few different monetization strategies re: advertising:

AdSense was the big one, and what covered a lot of our base costs. It’s been a standard for the community since the earliest days (2000-ish). It’s worked quite well for us, but doesn’t go far beyond (barely) covering costs.

We toyed with selling ad units directly, e.g. via BuySellAds, but didn’t have the manpower or experience to pull it off effectively. Unlike AdSense there was a deeper back-and-forth negotiation around placement, CTR estimates, creative, etc…

We also looked at an in-between, having specific units sold at a specific price point managed through DFP, but again, we didn’t have the manpower for it.

TL;DR = Unless you have someone on point to manage advertising, AdSense / display networks are an easy bet. But you need the traffic for that to really pay off. This can be difficult for volunteer/fan communities.

(Anton) #15

From what I’ve read to date in many articles where people share their real experience, ads only makes sense in two cases:

  1. You are really a BIG community with million views daily, so views and clicks can be converted to considerable income.

  2. People from your community buy sometging a lot and often, in which a case you can automatically convert links to affiliate links and earn commissions.

In all other cases the small amounts earned do not worth the effort and pollution of your clean discourse space.

(Adrian Speyer) #17

Direct sponsorships & affiliates sponsorships were most effective to me, but I guess it all depends on your niche. If your audience has value, it makes things easier. Without the critical mass of influence, it becomes harder, but in that case there are other strategies to use, like monetizing the existing content.

(Sarah Hawk) #18

Can you elaborate?

(Adrian Speyer) #19

So you can use things like GumGum (for images) or Viglink (for links) – or other similar services. The revenue is not going to help you retire, but it can be a good start to get going. You will of course, potentially have some backlash in the community so it’s important to be transparent if you do it. Maybe even offer a way for people to opt out.

Personally, if you have the option, sponsorship to me, is really the way to go. If you are in the right niche and the right audience, this is so much better than using Adsense.

I was able in a couple of occasions make a healthy bit of income using this strategy. The downside is it takes time to build the relationships, create reports and be ready to have other sources of income if the sponsorship ends.

(Gear Buzz) #20


We launched the beta of the monetization service my developer and I have been working on.

As well as my own two communities we now monetise 2 others in the beta (a car enthusiast forum and a musical instrument forum)

If you are interested please contact me.


(Darren McKay) #21

Hi @julesstanden - certainly interested in your private media kit and, also, your affiliate agency as I run a community with 23,000 members and 3-5m page views a month.

As an aside, I’ve long been frustrated that I’ve not found a nice off-the-shelf affiliate programme which will allow me to select the sites I wish to promote, and that would automagically create a “Shop via these partners and help fund us” type page.

I’m willing to give up a slice of my affiliate pie in return for an easy implementation.