Expectations on Affiliate Ads Often Over-Blown

We hear from many sites that they want to run affiliate ads or links on their sites. For example, a site that reviews books might want to include links to those books and Amazon.com will pay that site when someone clicks to link and buys it from Amazon.com.

We can follow the logic of the blogger who reviews books and believes that their traffic will convert to book sales.

In our experience, however, many bloggers often have outsized forecasts for earnings potential from affiliate advertising. We see it from personal experience as WordPress.com is the largest blogging platform and yet we earn relatively little from affiliate programs.

For most sites it’s tough to get a conversion and when it happens the affiliate partner will pay around 4% of the sale.

For sure there are real case studies of sites that have done very well with affiliate programs. Generally, they are sites created for affiliate programs and are in high end niches like travel and electronics. An example is the WireCutter which reviews tech products.

If you think you can bring in a large viewership for high end products like this which can be monetized via affiliate links we would encourage you to try. For other categories, we don’t think its worth extra work. Rather, WordAds uses software to automatically insert affiliate links so this is something you don’t have to be concerned with.

Broad Brand Campaigns and Multi-pronged Approach

So, if affiliate ads are not for everybody, what works? In our experience broad brand campaigns, often click to play video ads, perform the best and have good ad quality. Additionally, we like to run a dozen or more ad types at once. These include mobile ads, ads in images and videos, related content ads, and more. Each ad type might not be significant on its own, but when combined, you get more meaningful earnings.



  1. Interesting. I understand about the broadband approach. But WordAd videos always perplexed me because wouldn’t the ad only work (get money from) if someone wanted to click on it and watch the ad? I never met anyone who liked to watch commercials before.

  2. Actually, we are paid by impression for the video ads, not by click. Of course the advertisers want views and we get a very high click through rate on the videos, by online ad standards.

    1. Ah, yes, I see. Thank you. I think WordAds now is a good choice because of the ad impressions. Thanks so much. Now all I have to do is wait for approval.

    1. Yes they are included. Unfortunately it generally take hundreds of thousands of impressions in online advertising to get to meaningful earnings.

  3. Is there an opportunity to run more than one ad. Many food bloggers have one at the top and 2 or three running on the side. Is that a possibility without self-hosting? I’d probably need to switch themes, but I’m willing to do that for more ad space.


    1. I enabled Optimized Ads on your site but your theme doesn’t have hooks for those ads placements. If you switch you will see them. Please get in touch with us by email at support@wordpress.com if you have questions.

      1. I have asked about this before there seems like so much more opportunity other than just an at the bottom of each post, although I have not heard the term optimized ads. Is this different to the normal one placement ad ? as they say two ads have gotta be better than one. ?

  4. Actually, I’ve been thinking of switching to a theme which is able to accommodate more ads, while trying to keep my present design more or less intact (aside from larger photos which I would like). Is there a list somewhere of which themes are available that can do that? As for affiliate ads – I run music during the evenings and weekends, but I am not sure running a link to Amazon.com for example would benefit all that much – the promises from the Affiliate Program on Amazon are a bit more optimistic than reality, I have found. I already link to whatever bands’ site I feature on any given evening, so they get the traffic which is the point.

  5. I think you’ve convinced me that the WordAds program is probably best for an ordinary blogger like me. I have no desire to spend my time on the advertising end. I think people do click on a video if it catches their interest, and if they’ve come to expect the videos to be entertaining. I need to focus more on good content to get more traffic.

  6. I love the idea of optimized ads too. When I get approved, is it possible for me to have them as well?

  7. “If you think you can bring in a large viewership for high end products like this which can be monetized via affiliate links we would encourage you to try.”

    Well, can I put Amazon links (or links from a similar the bookstore, like “Livraria Cultura” in Brazil) when I write a post about a particular book?

    1. Yes Thiago. Our terms of service are against sites that don’t have real content but are just posting affiliate links but given real content and that you are in WordAds those work. Our point is that you shouldn’t expect to earn much.

  8. I am quite a fan of the program. I tip my hat to the quality, placement and feel of the ads that are selected and run on my site and appreciate that the WordPress staff seems to take as much pride in each indiviual blog, where WordAds run, as the indiviual bloggers do. Although, I have no questions or challenges at time, I am glad I stumbled upon this informative post and blog. Thanks again for the work you do for us all. You are appreciated.

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