I'm sure you've noticed it by now. Your super awesome content site with a billion visitors per day
is pulling in less than you hoped on ads. So much less in fact, that you'd have to wait
at least 5 days to save up enough money for a McDonalds meal. Why are the CPM rates
so low?, you find yourself asking. Even Google Adsense, which boasts the best revenue on content sites seems
to be performing abysmally. Well, we've got the answer. Tis the CTR (click through rate). Yeah yeah,
you knew that.
CONTENT IS KING
Well, not really. At least not to the advertisers.
What essentially happens is this: The user comes to your site, with your awesome content, and they find themselves
engaged. Great! That was what you were hoping for anyway. Unfortunately though, they become so engaged that they
become blind to *everything* else on your page, except those tools and links that will get them farther. They
stay there, on your site, attentively reading pages and pages until, for whatever reason, they become tired. They've
found what they need, and they click CLOSE. What happened here??? Your site showed tons of ads to
a visitor, but they paid NO ATTENTION to them. Once they were done, they left — clicked an ad?
The answer lies in the 3 different visitor phases:
Directed Search - Looking for information that meets their needs. They just came to your website, and are looking
2. Found it, reading intently/learning.
3. Done, satisfied, leaving.
In state one, the visitor is likely to
click on anything and everything that may seem to answer their questions. In the case of those “google
spam” websites, and their huge CTR, there is nothing on the page, so the visitor turns to ADS, thinking
they might answer the question. Sites like this turn in PHENOMENAL click through rates, not because they are valuable,
but because visitors are struggling to find what they are looking for.
In state two, they found your content.
Your content is great. In fact, it is so great that it answers their questions... after all, that is
why your site is popular... People don't need ads. The only ads here that could get them to click
are DISTRACTING ones.
In state three, they are done and are on their way out. The only
ads here that they are interested in are ones NOT ABOUT your content. After all, you just solved their
As a content site, you can see that state 2 is practically immutable as far as visitor attention, and
the content matching of state 3 is less successful. Since you are a content site, you have no chance
in state 1. People are going for your content.
- can't go back to an ad once an article
is done being read.
- ads are no longer in position for them to see - through over-optimization, ads
have nothing to do with content.
But Wait! CPM!
In recent times network ad allocation has become CTR based.
Because the advertiser has no idea about “your site”, the only metric for its value to him is
through the CTR! Even if your content site is running only CPM ads, the ad networks actively monitor
the number of clicks that each ad gets, and “optimizes” the highest paying ads to show on sites that get
the most clicks. This means that those spammer, low content sites that deliver high ctr will have an
absurd “relevancy” associated with them, and since you in competition with them for CPM ads in addition to CPC ads,
you lose out.
It is unfortunate as far as the branding advertiser campaign goes — they are looking for sites
with a strong brand presence and repeat visitors to associate their campaign with, not random frustrated clickers.
is even worse for content sites, since even if people are willing to click on an ad, they won't
do it until they are done with the content, and by then, the ad is gone, to be replaced
with another more useless one.
Back in the old days, a branding campaign meant that the advertiser bought all of
the inventory on a site, so that they could both be associated with the site's brand, AND so that there
was persistence of ad. A person could go back. Now with over-optimization, that is impossible. (driving
ctr per ad even lower)
So you see, “ctr” has erroneously become the metric for “interest”, and even it
affects your CPM earnings.
Solution - sort of
Well, there really isn't a solution, unless you are planning on
deleting most of your content and replacing it with ads. What you can do however is think about where
visitors are entering and leaving your page. If you can put ads in their physical mouse and eye pathway,
then you can increase your ctr rates.
1. Find where your visitors leave your page and put an ad
there. For forums, this means at the bottom of the page usually, or after a REALLY LONG post.
People get tired after reading, and leave.
2. Monetize your content in another way. The ad networks will not
sell you as any more than another line item in their category bucket, meaning they don't know anything about your
brand and visitors. Even if the networks tell them, it is not like they are going to read everything
about each advertiser directly.
This means, selling your content on CD, as membership, etc. Or try selling advertising