WordPress.com’s DailyPost ran a Q&A on WordAds. You can read it here.
As WordAds sites likely saw, in September we began to report ad impressions together with your earnings. Previously, WordAds sites looked at their page views to make a rough calculation about how many ads they were serving.
Some sites have asked why WordAds does not serve ads on every page. We share your interest in running as many ads as possible, however, there are a few reasons we cannot.
1) Ad blockers. The number of ads blocked by ad blockers that site visitors have on their computers varies, but we have seen estimates that 20% of ad impressions are blocked by ad blockers.
2) Ads not viewed. Some site visitors might bounce from your site quickly after arriving. This will count as a page view for you but if they don’t scroll down to see an ad it won’t count as an ad view.
3) Normal ad server discrepancies. There is always a few percentage discrepancy between site stats and what the ad server counts. Usually your site stats are a bit higher.
4) Mobile phone impressions. WordAds serves ad impressions on many smart phones but there are other visits to sites that count as page views where we do not serve ads because the phone type does not accept ads.
5) Ad partners default to blanks. WordAds runs a ‘waterfall’ of ad partners from the highest payers to the lowest. If the lowest paying partner hits a cap on ads for your site they will stop running ads.
For WordAds sites, there is not much if anything you can do to increase the number of ads served, other than to get more traffic. It’s our job as the ad operations team to do our best to leverage ad partners to increase the fill rate of ads.
There are many great sites on WordPress.com that cover sexuality or that use profanity to make a point or express a personality. We don’t want these sites to change their blogs for WordAds. However, we do want to be helpful and explain why such sites cannot earn advertising income from WordAds and what criteria advertisers use to ‘blacklist’ sites that they don’t want their ads to run on.
Who Defines Family Safe?
WordAds is a technology, support and accounting liaison between your site and advertisers. We don’t create the ads or define the advertising goals, that comes from the brand and their agency. There are a huge number of sites on which these companies can advertise. If there is a chance that their brand will be embarrassed to be on a site, they will take their ad campaigns elsewhere.
Advertisers generally use software to both track where their ads appear to and scan those pages looking for ‘brand offensive’ content. This can be a blunt instrument that doesn’t take into context where the blog publisher is coming from. WordAds can and does champion sites that are black-listed by advertisers but we generally find that they err on the side of caution.
What Is Family Safe?
Google Adsense, which is the world’s largest online advertising network and one of the WordAds partners, has published their definition of family friendly here. In short: “When in doubt about whether an image or text might be construed as adult content, our rule of thumb is this: if you wouldn’t want a child to see the content or if you would be embarrassed to view the page in front of colleagues, then it’s probably not family-safe.”
The WordAds team has had a number of discussions with advertising partners where we have noted that the definition of family safe changes greatly from country to country. What we hear back is that family-safe is mostly applied based on the norms of the Internet’s largest advertising market – North America.
Other Categories That Can Cause Blacklisting
We see other sites that get black-listed by advertisers for the following reasons:
1) Illegal downloads or copyright violations. More on that here.
2) Comment spam that is not family safe. WordPress.com’s Akismet will filter comment spam for you but some sites over-ride those recommendations. We recommend that you trust Akismet as we find many comment spams that are offensive.
3) Extreme violence or hate – even if its of a historical nature. Advertisers don’t want to appear next to images related to genocide, cannibalism, etc.
4) Content is not unique or valuable. Some sites are created with content copied from others sites with just a minimal number of changes. Advertisers generally feel such sites are not a good complement to their ads. More on that here.
Since launching WordAds earlier this year we are proud to have launched advertising on thousands of WordPress.com sites. Our goal has been to free bloggers from the weight of managing the complex and fast moving online advertising arena. Thanks to our negotiation leverage with advertisers and technical resources, WordAds is delivering returns that bloggers would not see on their own.
There is much that we want to accomplish in the remainder of the year. Here’s our road-map as well as common requests that are not on the road-map:
There are some other frequent requests from WordAds users that we do not plan to add this year.
We look forward to your feedback and comments about what matters most to you.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself including when and why you launched MyNintendoNews.com?
I was studying Web Design and Internet Management at University and participated in a module entitled Writing for the Web. One of the aims of this course was to create a blog on a subject we were passionate about. For me, this was Nintendo. Since then I’ve concentrated on building the site up and have made it my number one priority to provide the users with the news that they want to read.
Your traffic has grown from around 100,000 pages per month a year ago to over 1 million pages per month now as well as lots of comments. What would you say accounts for that growth?
I was fortunate enough to jump onto the social networks at just the right time. Due to this I have built up a substantial following on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to take advantage of the free social networks that are at your disposal. Another factor is that the news I publish is clear and concise, and I believe that’s important when you take into account the audience and the demographic that the blog is aimed at.
You were one of the few WordAds bloggers to launch in its first month. What has been your experience thus far?
There were initially a few teething issues with WordAds when it was deployed on the site, as it was still in its infancy. I’m pleased to say that the adverts that are currently being displayed are of an extremely high quality and are also appealing to the users. The
adverts aren’t intrusive and ultimately they don’t get in the way, or detract from the blog’s content – which for me is the most important thing.
You have the option to leave WordPress.com. What are the reasons that you are staying?
I strongly believe that WordPress remains the number one blogging platform for anyone considering starting up their own blog . The great thing about WordPress is it’s simple to use and yet there’s so much depth. I love the fact that you guys are continuously improving the service and adding new features. The support you can get is phenomenal considering the service is absolutely free. I’m extremely happy to be a WordPress.com user.
A number of WordAds bloggers have indicated that they would like to learn more about what should expectations be for their WordAds income and what they can do to earn more. I heard a number of different perspectives and can see that I can’t address this question in a way that everyone can agree with. But I can explain my own mindset to
earning income from blogging.
Blogging For Its Own Sake
In January 2005, I launched a blog in the technology category called alarm:clock. I had previously been a journalist covering technology but had transitioned to working on the business side of technology so welcomed the advent of blogging so that I could continue on with my craft. I found that blogging was a great way to cut up my business day with creative bursts. I also found that I was learning things that I wouldn’t if I was just reading other blogs. Moreover, I enjoyed meeting with other bloggers.
Blogging To Enhance Your Career
A surprise benefit of blogging was that people I didn’t know had heard of my site and so we got off on the right foot. They felt they could trust me because I was in the public. I could also introduce myself to top tech entrepreneurs and investors who might have less time to talk with me if I had just emailed them with no other context. I also heard from people that they held me in higher regard because of my commitment to the site – it signaled that I cared about technology and wasn’t just a mercenary.
Blogging For Beer Money
In 2006, Federated Media (FM) launched a blog ad network. I applied and was in the first group of Web sites that we accepted by FM. I was interested because I wanted to learn more about online advertising, I knew that I would like the ads from FM, and as one professional blogger told me, when you have good ads on your site, your site looks professional. It would be better to have non-paying ads on your site that look good than no ads. With the first $40 earned my co-blogger and I spent the beer money on martinis.
Meaningful Income Is Possible
In 2009, I had more time than usual to work on alarm:clock. I was posting a lot and wrote some unique posts that drove a lot of traffic. As a result traffic grew very nicely. That translated to a spike in income and one month I received a check from Federated Media for over $8000. It was pretty exciting, although I honestly can’t recall what I spent the money on. I even considered working as a full-time professional blogger. However, online advertising and traffic are fickle. The month after you receive a big payment and you think you have hit a plateau your traffic and ad payments might fall the next. So it’s always good to be conservative with your expectations.
Working on ads on WordPress.com has been interesting as I am working again with Federated Media and many bloggers who I feel a kin-ship with. Some bloggers financial expectations are not realistic. Unfortunately advertisers do not pay hundreds of dollars for 2000 or 3000 monthly page views. We have also heard from bloggers that they expect to have strong earnings from Amazon.com type affiliate programs. We have tested any number of affiliate programs and have found that the impression-based ad programs that we are working with pay much better than affiliate programs, which only pay bloggers after an item has been purchased.
As we have communicated to a number of WordAds sites, it’s challenging to forecast revenues with a simple metric because we are always looking to improve payouts from partners, sometimes ad performance will surprise, and payouts from country to country vary wildly. The best way to produce a forecast is to get a couple of months under your belt and then see how your changes in traffic effected your payout.
On behalf of the WordAds team, we are enjoying this endeavor and look forward to helping you to achieve your blogging financial goals.