Q: Of the billions of sites on the web, what is the one thing just about every site has in common? A: Almost every one is trying to make an extra buck off of ... in some fashion. I'm ashamed t
Q: Of the billions of sites on the web, what is the one thing just about every site has in common?
A: Almost every one is trying to make an extra buck off of advertising in some fashion.
I'm ashamed to admit it, but many years ago when affiliate programs seemed innovative, I too tried to cash in by linking to Amazon.com books and music. Did that actually work for anyone? Chances are most will say no. Didn't work for me either. Not only did I not make an extra buck, I didn't even make an extra penny. In fact, even my site mrcgiguy.com (shameless plug), which receives around 500 unique visitors a day does not produce particularly good results from affiliate programs. The bottom line is, most affiliate programs won't work for most web sites. Vague, I know. But from my experience, unless your audience is very general, you'll need to find affiliate programs that are very specific to your niche in order to produce even the slightest result. Though, these days, even well targeted affiliate programs don't seem to produce much.
Like myself, most modern day web developers have opted not to join affiliate programs and have instead turned to ad networks such as FastClick, TribalFusion, Burst, etc. I joined FastClick since it was said to have the highest CPM rates. And for a long while, I was pretty happy with the results. I was able to make a breath-taking 50 cents a day. Yes, I was happy with that. I wasn't expecting millions...reality sank in long ago...somewhere between the days of being an "Amazon affiliate" and having my job dissolved after the dot.com crash. So, 50 cents a day, or an approximate $15.00 a month was great. Every bit helps when you're self employed.
Now let me get to the point. Forget about affiliate programs! Forget about the ad networks (or at least reduce them to being a secondary form of ad revenue)! Google's AdSense is where it's at! What was once offered only to the largest of the web, is now available to those of us running smaller niche sites. And how could there be any form of advertising cooler than one that uses your own content to determine which ads to display? I mean, this is what we've all been waiting for. This is the answer. Highly targeted ads, non-intrusive, routinely shuffled to maintain freshness, and they pay well. And when I say pay well, I mean, the potential exists to make in one day what I had previously been making in an entire month via FastClick. While, I'm not allowed to discuss any particular figures (part of the agreement in using AdSense), I will say that it's not even been a month now, and I've already made more from AdSense then I made in the entire duration of running ads for FastClick. Needless to say, I've waived bye bye to ad networks and affiliate programs.
Don't get me wrong, AdSense is not perfect. There are some things that could definitely be done to improve the system. One of the biggest gripes I have, and I've noticed others with the same opinion, is the overall lack of tracking. It sure would be great to know which ads are being clicked and how much those ads are producing. But at the same time, I can understand why that information may be counter-productive for Google. The lack of control over the border color and link color is a bit undesirable too. All other factors aside, the purpose of the ads is to make some extra money. On this point, Google's AdSense are definitely successful and in my humble opinion should immediately replace any current 468x60 or skyscraper ads you are running via ad networks or affiliate programs.
The future for affiliate programs and ad networks has become very bleak. It's going to be very interesting to see how AdSense matures, as the initial product is already undeniably far better than said competition.
Mike Ramirez is a freelance web developer and is best known in the web community as Mr CGI Guy. Mike is the sole developer of several free CGI scripts as well as the popular commercial link management script Hot Links Pro. Visit http://www.mrcgiguy.com