To make money out of your website you basically have three options: sell products or services, charge for access to your site, or use online advertising. The first option is great if you can do it, the second is bad for the web (in our opinion) and the third is difficult. Luckily for you, you are on a site which aims to make the third option less difficult with a simple answer – outsource the hard work to ad networks.
But why use ad networks and let them take some of the profit? Well, the reason for this is just that to sell ads on the internet yourself is a difficult and comparatively unrewarding task. For example – if you have a small bodybuilding website, you may be able to convince your local gym to buy a few hundred pounds worth of advertising on it, but you probably only have one local gym – so that few hundred pounds isn’t going to keep you supplied in dumbbells and tea for very long. If you want more advertising revenue, then you will need to get larger advertisers to pay to be on your site, and regularly. Unfortunately for you, a large advertiser will most likely have hired an ad agency to deal with their advertising needs, as they can’t be bothered to deal with small fry like you themselves.
Ad agencies, also will probably not be bothered to deal with small fry like you unfortunately, as there are just too many websites out there for them to sit and listen to every single one about why they should send advertising dollars their way. Which is why ad networks exist – so that agencies can buy huge amounts of advertising from a variety of websites all in one go. Ad networks are kind of like a supermarket of websites, which saves agencies the effort of having to go every individual website to know what they are about.
Or more formally – ad networks are companies representing groups of sites, and it is their job to try and get as much money as possible from agencies for the sites they represent. They do this all day every day, they take agency reps out to expensive meals, become their friends and aim to make sure that the agency reps only think about their sites when deciding where to put an advertising budget. This is a multi-billion dollar industry, and so ad networks are of course very serious and intent on what they do.
To try and break into this cycle on your own, even with your own sales team is a massive task. Without thousands of visitors to your site per day (at the very least) and a great proposition to offer, most agencies wouldn’t even take a meeting with you. So why risk the difficulty and heartache when there is already an industry set up to do the hard work for you? Sure they’ll take a cut of the profits, and yes they can be a den of snakes, but they will earn you money in a way that you are unable to, at least until your site is pretty big. With many of them you can now even sign up to online without having to deal with any of the snakes anyway, so it is basically a win-win situation for you.
And before you worry about any small advertisers you have already won over being wasted, don’t. You can most likely either continue your deal with them as before, and just add the ad networks you use on top. They usually aren’t that intent on forcing you into an exclusive relationship with them (especially when you are small) so you can just think of them as extra revenue generators.
On top of this, most ad networks will be able to analyse your site’s data more efficiently and effectively than you, and what they come up with will be more trusted by the agencies they tell it to (as they have history and it’s hard to trust a stranger – especially in the online world). So without the effort of tracking your user numbers and then trying to convince advertisers/agencies that you are telling the truth about them, you will have more time left to you to actually try and increase that user count.