Online Advertising Answers: June 2021

Got questions? Get answers! I’m Justin Driskill, and this is the June edition of Online Advertising Answers.

This month I look at why counting is so hard on the internet, why more ad impressions doesn’t necessarily equal more money, and why buying links is a short term strategy at best.

Let’s dig in.

[Have a question? Go to my profile on Quora and ask me there – or email me at]


This month’s questions are:

[Click these links to skip down to the question]


Online Advertising Answers



Q: “How can I increase revenue using ad impressions?”


A: “Hi Van,

The simple answer is that more ad impressions will get you more revenue. Not all ad impressions earn the same amount of money but broadly speaking this is true. However, you have to work smart to maximise the revenue from each ad impression.

On average people earn around $10 Page RPM from ads on their site, but earning this much is not a given by any means. Many sites earn more than this, however, even more sites earn much less than this. To be on the good side of $10 RPM you need to position your ads well, and not annoy your users (see below).

Note: $10 RPM means that for every 1,000 page views you earn $10 (USD). If you have a good, trustworthy site then there is no reason you can’t hit this level or higher. (If you want to calculate low and high estimates for how much you could earn from your site, this is a good calculator to use)


How Do I Get More Ad Impressions?

The answer, surprisingly, is not to add more ad slots to your site. This will get you a few more ad impressions in the short run, but having too many ads on a page will drive away users and so actually decrease your ad impressions. (This is a good example of the Cobra Effect)

The best way to get more ad impressions on your site is to have more page views. While there are many ways to do this, with relation to ads on your site this means not overstuffing, and not using bad ad types.

I would recommend having no more than 3–5 ads per page. I would also recommend avoiding ad types such as overlays, pop-ups, and anything that auto-plays. If it annoys you, then it will annoy your users.

In theory, having more ads on a page will get you more revenue, but you have to remember that people are likely to click on one ad on a page at most. This means that adding more ad slots to a page will mostly just serve to annoy your users (and make your page load slower).

So don’t stuff your page with ads, to grow your revenue. Instead, grow your site.


Which Ad Impressions Are Worth The Most?

The ad impressions which are worth the most are video ads. If you have videos on your site, then I would recommend monetising them (but again, don’t overdo it – one pre-roll is reasonable).

For display ads, you should try to place them above the fold. This means that at least 50% of the ad is on screen when the page first loads. This image gives you a good rough guide:


What is looks like: Above The Fold


Ads that are above the fold perform best in terms of revenue because they attract the most clicks. While not all advertising is click-based, ad slots which get clicked on more often are worth more and so will attract higher-paying advertisers.

Ad networks will generally tell you that their most annoying ad types are the ones that pay the best (floating video ads for example). This is true, but again, they will drive away your users. This means you will make more money in the short run but will struggle in the long run. For ad networks, this is a viable plan due to the scale of their business but for an individual website, you need to do whatever you can to not annoy your users and keep your page views growing.

I hope this helps,



[This originally appeared on Quora]




Q: “Why is paying for backlinks not considered a black hat strategy?”


A: Paying for backlinks is considered a black hat strategy. Black Hat SEO simply means any SEO tactic that is against Google’s rules or guidelines, and paid for links are explicitly mentioned as being bad on their Link Schemes page.

What I don’t understand is why you would want to pay for links? Or honestly, do anything that is against the rules on the Link Schemes page? Putting aside for one moment the idea that you will get caught and punished, I still don’t think the benefits are enough to make any unnatural linking techniques worthwhile.

I’ll put it this way – I run a site and get endless requests for link exchanges and link insertion. I always say no because there is no upside to saying yes – for me, it’s extra work; for my site the SEO effects are either negligible or negative; for my users that link will mean basically nothing.

I always wonder about sites that say yes to these things. Do they have enough spare time (who does?), do they have the SEO equity to spare (who does?), do they have users who don’t care where their links go (maybe?). My assumption is that these are bad site owners whose SEO equity and user base are either artificially inflated (so they can be sacrificed), or are just poor to start with.

If you really want to get a link on my site (or other legit sites) – I (and others) accept well-written guest posts as they have benefits across the board. I don’t allow links to be crammed in for no reason (who does?) but if I check a link and it actually has value to my readers then I’ll allow it.

I’m aware that a lot of guest posts submissions come from an agency or freelancer, and those articles are written with the intent of getting a link on my site. Again for me, it’s all about the usefulness of the link to my audience.  As long as the agency sends a good post and the links in it are actually useful then it has value for my site and users. (In case you’re wondering – this isn’t against Google’s rules – I check all links and so they are very much “vouched for by the site’s owner”).

If someone asks to pay for a post though I always say no – as in my experience people paying for posts are generally terrible writers. I am interested in having a quality site, as in the long run that will earn me far more money than a few sponsored posts here or there.

From the buyer’s point of view – if an agency directly buys links then those are probably bad links. Good sites with good link equity are less likely to sell links as they probably earn enough without it (and selling links isn’t going to make you rich). So the links you can purchase are generally going to be worse as they’re on smaller (or worse) sites.

On top of that, sites that sell links are diluting their link equity – including for the people who buy from them. If you buy a link on a page then it may get you some traffic and link equity. But then someone else buys a link on the same page and reduces what you get from it. It’s not a good system.

Like all black hat techniques, buying links is mostly only useful in the short term. If you’re paying an agency to get you good guest post spots written by good writers, that’s possibly a good plan. When you do that though, you’re paying for outreach and content rather than backlinks. The backlinks are being earned by the quality of their work – and this is how the linking eco-system should work in my opinion.

[Expanded from a post on Reddit]





Q: “Why are the view numbers on my blog page and AdSense account page different?”


A: “The simple answer is that no two programs will get the same amount of view numbers.

With AdSense in particular you would expect the pageviews recorded to be different to that on a blog. This is because your blog will be recording every time a page loads, and AdSense will be recording every time a page loads with ads. With many people using ad blockers these days, the numbers will be lower.

If the number is much lower – then you may have a problem. Somewhere between 10–20% is ‘normal’ so higher than that and you should investigate.

If you want to encourage people to not use ad blockers, then don’t put too many ads on your site. 3 ads per page is about the right amount, and don’t have any annoying ads (like overlays) unless they only appear to users once per day.


Where to position ads on your site


You can also block categories that may annoy people in AdSense by going to “Allow and Block Ads” in the left-hand menu, then choose “All my sites”, then at the top clicking on the “Sensitive Categories” tab. By blocking sensitive categories you’ll lose a small amount of money in the short run, but in the long run, you’ll gain more visitors to your site.


Discrepancies in general

Even if two analytics platforms count views in the exact same way, unpredictable things happen when people load web pages. Sometimes people will close a page before it is fully loaded. Sometimes another program, plugin, app, or extension will make one set of analytics not work properly. Sometimes…something odd will just happen.

This isn’t anyone’s fault, it’s just what happens when there are different browsers, devices, ISPs, and a myriad of other factors that affect how a page loads.

This difference in reporting numbers is generally referred to as a ‘discrepancy’ – and as long as it stays roughly consistent then you have nothing to worry about. If a discrepancy between two sets of figures starts to get worse, then there may be a problem that needs investigating.


How Digital Stats Discrepancies Happen


I hope this helps,


PS You should use Google Analytics to monitor your page views, not a blogs internal stats, or Google AdSense. It’s just better!


[This originally appeared on Quora]



Until July,