The Hidden Treasure in Your Website: The First Professional Guide to Monetizing Your Website with In-Text Advertising

The Hidden Treasure in Your Website: The First Professional Guide to Monetizing Your Website with In-Text Advertising

by Tomer Treves

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781450288996
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 05/18/2011
Pages: 120
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.28(d)

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The Hidden Treasure in Your Website

The First Professional Guide to Monetizing Your Website with In-Text Advertising
By Tomer Treves

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2011 Tomer Treves
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4502-8899-6


Chapter One

The Site Monetization Challenge and the In-Text Advertising Answer

Why Put Ads On Your Website? To Make the World a Better Place

I like to wake up in the morning with a smile, knowing that my work contributes to the positive side of the world's delicate balance—don't you? Well, as strange as it may sound, I feel like I'm doing just that when I monetize websites. When we find ways to cover the costs of websites and blogs, we help make more information readily available for everyone. Now isn't that a nice thought to wake up with each morning?

But the bottom line is that websites need to make money. There are three typical ways of making money from a website: (1) charge visitors for usage, (2) sell something to visitors, and (3) expose visitors to ads. From these three methods, only the third—placing online ads—keeps the information available for free to the world.

I know, I know. Exposure to ads involves indirect costs and blurs our delicate minds, but unless you're ready to move to Mars it's already part of everything we do—the Internet included.

So, when we place ads on a website, we pick up the bill for the website's cost, and by doing so we give our site visitors more free information and make the world a better place. Recently, however, revenue from ads has shrunk, and many people claim that they don't provide enough money to justify free websites. Is that true?

Out of Sight, Out of Site—Why is Revenue from Online Ads Dropping?

After several happy years of sharp angle graphs with numbers that grew at an insane rate, the trend began to change. Theoretically, the positive growth should have kept going up, but the recent economic downturn caused a decrease in advertising budgets in general. Nevertheless, online advertising budgets are still out there. Advertisers are seeking measurable and direct ways to communicate with their potential customers, and online advertising is the leading choice.

So what's the problem? Online ads have "disappeared" from websites. Okay, not literally ... the ads are still technically there. But site visitors no longer notice them. Just as with other media formats, people's minds began to screen the ads out of their consciousness. And what did the online marketing industry do to regain the consumers' attention? It created ads that disturb visitors and fight with the website's content for their attention. Wonderful companies like Eyeblaster pushed the evolution of banners forward and, in fact, saved the monetizing business. Banners began jumping around, animated characters walked onto our screens, full-page ads covered sites entirely, and when moving the mouse away from the content, we mistakenly activated sound from banner ads. Even the relatively quiet Google AdSense ads are now mostly replaced by animated banners. It seems like all efforts to withdraw the visitors' attention away from the content and onto the advertising is now legitimate.

But ads can't win this battle over the minds of people. As readers, we learn how to focus our attention on what we're looking for. And since it's the content we're interested in, not the jumping ads around it, we've evolved into human filters, reading content without noticing the ads. The truth is that exaggerated-reach media annoys visitors who then look for alternative sources of information. Only a very few will choose to pay a subscription to avoid ads, and most will simply move on to another site. With growing concerns about too many ads, serious online publishers choose very carefully which types of ads they put on their sites. But then readers give quieter ads less attention, which brings the advertising revenue down.

In a survey I ran regarding online readers' acceptance of a certain type of ad, I discovered that more than 30 percent hadn't noticed the ads. In fact, the multiple-choice answer that was chosen most often was this: "What, there were ads on that page?" According to younger online dwellers, they automatically disregard the commercial frame that usually surrounds the content. In fact, they don't even see it anymore.

While this behavior has not diminished revenue from online ads entirely, it has certainly reduced it. This is why I believe it's absolutely necessary to turn our attention to the hidden treasure in our websites.

The Hidden Treasure In Your Website

The solution to the ad problem is right there in the middle of your website. The content of the website can serve as a layer for placing subtle in-text ads. When used correctly, in-text ads appear as double-underline links within the content of a website. They don't interfere with the flow of reading, and they don't fight for the reader's attention. Your site's visitors know that these links lead to ads, but they don't have to be distracted by them. When a link interests the reader, he or she can hover over it with the mouse. Then a bubble will appear with a relevant ad inside. If interested, the visitor can click on the ad and continue to the advertiser's landing page. If not interested, the visitor simply moves the mouse away and continues reading.

In-text advertising is a great way to monetize a website. In-text ads complete other types of advertising without affecting them. If the in-text ads are relevant, they enrich the content with information that visitors find helpful and interesting. Yes, they are still ads, and readers would prefer that they weren't there, but the fact is that these ads generate the revenue you need to keep your information free. And this is something that your site visitors appreciate. Compared to jumping banners, in-text ads are the least intrusive method of advertising. Yet they are also highly relevant and yield good conversion rates for advertisers. This means that the online publisher is well paid.

With website revenue dropping, in-text advertising could save the day. If you look around, you'll see more and more in-text ads on the websites you visit. That's because now, several years after it was introduced, in-text advertising pays very well and has become a legitimate method of both advertising and monetizing.

From Absence through Protest to Legitimacy—The Advertising Penetration Cycle

I generally dislike discussions about new media that start with ancient history and the development of the Internet in the previous century. We're beyond that. However, the fact is that there's much to learn from comparing the media of the past with the Internet's evolution. If there is one clear pattern that has repeated itself in all media—newspapers, radio, broadcast television, cable television, and now the Internet—it's the penetration of advertising.

We've seen it before. First, there is a medium where ads are not allowed. Then there are organizations that protest against the appearance of first ads. Then there is the understanding that advertising helps reduce the costs of media access to the general public. From absence through protest to legitimacy, advertising penetrates all media.

This pattern was the same when ads first appeared in newspapers, and then on TV, and then on the web, and whenever a new type of advertising appears, it goes through this same cycle. Instead of looking deep into history books, the best example can be found by flipping back just a few pages to the introduction of ads on the e-mail service from Google.

In its early days, Gmail was available by invitation only, and when the ads showed up, early adopters actually liked the idea of a free service financed by the exposure to ads. (Before that, except for Hotmail perhaps, we had to pay for most good e-mail services. Remember that?) When Gmail started to spread, the ads surrounding the e-mails became the target of privacy organizations and concerned citizens. "The new Big Brother is reading our personal correspondence!" they complained. A short few years later, however, these ads became the standard. The advertising within the e-mail service from Google has become legitimate, and millions of people and businesses use Gmail worldwide, enjoying a good free service that is sponsored by ads.

In-text advertising is no different from other forms of advertising, and it's going through the same cycle. At first, as a new and exciting method, it was the talk of the day. Online leaders looked into it, and online giants Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo all attempted to use the technology. Then, it was deemed intrusive. The same type of people who were once against ads on TV and Gmail found the new form of ads "too much" because the ads rode on portions of the website's content. During 2008 and early 2009, in-text ads began to become legitimate. From absence through protest to legitimacy, in-text advertising now penetrates more and more websites.

CNNMoney.com published a Fortune magazine article in February 2009 about in-text advertising that called it the "one bright spot in online advertising":

"It's hard to imagine a news site like the New York Times (nytimes.com) signing on (to in-text ads) without some uproar from readers and staff. Then again, the newspaper recently decided to sell ads on its front page to attract more revenue. And that, too, was once unthinkable."

Many other top websites are already displaying in-text ads: Fox News, MSNBC, Squidoo, Britannica, iVillage, JPost, BookRags, and eHow. Not convinced yet? Here are some more: esnips, The Hollywood Gossip, Ask The Builder, Money Control, Answer Bag, and many others.

By now, I can roughly estimate that 100,000+ websites have tried in-text ads, including major websites with substantial traffic. This significant number means that most surfers have seen an in-text ad somewhere by now. It also means that in each vertical content category, at least a few sites have implemented in-text ads, sowing the seeds of legitimacy that spreads on quickly.

On the other hand, there are more than 150 million websites worldwide, so 100,000 is still only a fraction. Take this fact, add the legitimacy factor, multiply it by the crazy-fast growth rate, and you have the phenomenal potential of in-text advertising. I bet you that the Internet giants will join this party soon. In-text advertising is on the verge of showing up everywhere online.

Interruption Advertising vs. Permission Marketing

What makes those double-underline links so promising as a method of advertising? It's the crucial difference between interruption and permission. Although this concept still seems very fresh, the idea was presented by Seth Godin a decade ago in his marvelous book, Permission Marketing. If you still haven't read it, it's never too late.

Traditional advertisements—TV commercials, newspaper ads, telemarketing phone calls, and even online display banners—are based on pulling people away from what they're doing. Godin calls this "Interruption Marketing" and shows how it's much less efficient to continuously interrupt people. In fact, he says it no longer works. Instead of annoying people, marketers should offer their potential customers incentives to accept advertising voluntarily. Godin calls this "Permission Marketing," and by now, ten years later, it is widely accepted as the fundamental basis for successful marketing strategies.

When we add more and more display ads on a website, making them larger, animated, and jumpy, or covering the entire content with a full-page ad, we're only pushing the traditional interruption advertising that no longer works. Excessive-reach media ads perform poorly for the advertiser, and since they annoy the website's visitors, they are eventually bad news for the website publisher as well.

At first, in-text ads were also considered intrusive and disruptive. The double-underline links appear within the text and are very difficult to avoid. But the double-underline link is a subtle hint to the reader that there is paid-for content concerning the highlighted term. That's it. In-text ads are very delicate and don't consume the reader's time or fight with the actual text for the reader's attention. The bubble appears with advertising inside it only if the reader actively shows interest by intentionally hovering over the link with the mouse. Compared to an animated banner or any other form of advertising, it's the least intrusive type of ad available. This is permission advertising at its best, and it gets even better.

After the bubble appears, the reader views the advertising content and makes a choice: either make the bubble disappear by moving the mouse away or click on the ad to follow it to the advertiser's landing page. This choice is the second time that permission is granted for the advertising. So, in-text ads are a form of double permission marketing with only minimal interruption.

For the advertiser, who pays only for actual clicks, the visitors are only those who actively chose to be exposed to the advertiser's content. They gave permission twice to spend time with the advertiser, which is the best possible start for a business relationship. When advertising works well for the advertiser, the website publisher is also happy because the advertiser is willing to pay accordingly. The publisher is also able to limit the interruption to site visitors and improve the chances that they'll return.

As long as the hint for the advertising is clear and the ad only shows up for the interested reader, in-text advertising leans heavily toward the right side of the fight between interruption advertising and permission marketing. It could be very tempting, however, to modify in-text ads into formats that mislead potential readers to believe they aren't about to be exposed to an ad. For the short term, this can indeed increase click rates. But for the long term, this practice will move the ads to the other side of the delicate balance toward interruption rather than permission. There are better ways. To increase clicks, conversions, and revenue, the algorithm needs to be improved and the integration optimized. There is a lot to this, and I intend to share my experience with you in this book—if you give me your kind permission.

The Publisher's Point of View

When advertising agencies discovered the Internet, they gave the new medium's ads different names: digital advertising, online advertising, interactive advertising, etc. But whatever the name, the first references and discussions involving the new advertising arena always came from the advertiser's point of view, such as how the advertising budget could be allocated online. Only later did the publisher's point of view come into play, such as how and why websites should place ads. First, there were services like Google AdWords and Yahoo Sponsored Search (i.e., the advertiser solutions). Only later came services like Google AdSense and Yahoo Content Match—the publisher solutions.

Within-text advertising, it was the other way around. The technology was initially embraced as a strong tool to monetize content on top of display ads, so in this case the publisher's point of view preceded the advertiser's angle. The newly formed bubbles presented advertisements to viewers that were meant to be either responses to search queries or part of a contextual advertising display. Initially, no online advertising budgets were allocated for in-text ads. Publishers were the first to come on board because they were looking for monetizing solutions. Advertisers joined in later, wishing to target in-text ads separately, using creative content that was different from other ad formats.

I intend to follow the same path. First, I'll analyze in-text advertising as hidden treasure for website publishers—a great website monetization tool. Then only as a secondary subject, I will discuss in-text advertising as a solution for advertisers—a great advertising channel.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from The Hidden Treasure in Your Website by Tomer Treves Copyright © 2011 by Tomer Treves. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction....................vii
Chapter 1: The Site Monetization Challenge and the In-Text Advertising Answer....................1
Chapter 2: In-Text Advertising Explained—Terminology, Technology, Ideology....................9
Chapter 3: Technology Basics of In-Text Advertising....................19
Chapter 4: Advanced Website Monetization with In-Text Ads....................23
Chapter 5: In-Text Advertising Networks and Providers....................38
Chapter 6: In-Text Advertising Revenue and Earnings....................43
Chapter 7: In-Text Advertising Extras....................60
Chapter 8: Popular Questions....................75
Chapter 9: Conclusions and the $1,000 Coupon....................98
About the Author....................103
Index....................105

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