When a website is starting out, the best way to monetise content is by using Google Adsense. It’s the default ad network for most of the internet for a reason – it is exceptionally low effort and pays reasonably well.
And low effort ad revenue is the key for small websites. Small websites need to focus all their efforts on growth rather than fiddling around with advertising settings, as growth is what will drive long term revenue more than anything. Google AdSense provides the freedom to do just that.
Easy Set-Up and Use
AdSense is incredibly old (in internet terms). That means there are endless guides on how to get the most out of it. It also means that the setup has evolved to be as simple and robust as possible as it has been tested on so many types of sites.
On top of this, it integrates directly with Google Analytics so you can see how much each page is earning you. This is convenient – especially if you are selling things through your site too as then page value really starts to take on some meaning!
Once you are set up, you get to choose how AdSense works for you. You can choose which ad sizes you use and which ad categories to block (instructions here). You can also easily set up an approval process for individual ads that run through it if you like. On top of this, you can save different types of reports, so, however, you want your information displayed is easily accessible in the long run.
The Best Starting Choice
Google AdSense is also a great starting choice because of the level of revenue it provides. That’s not to say it will provide a lot of revenue, only that it will provide good revenue for small sites. Let me explain…
On average, across all industries and countries, AdSense pays out about $10 RPM (this is in USD). This means for every 1,000 page views a website gets, it will earn you $10 (or $0.01 per pageview if you prefer). This may not seem like a lot, but compared to other ad networks it’s not bad at all.
Earning 1 penny (USD) per page view also helps bring into focus why having a low effort ad network is so necessary in the first place. Even if you earned double or triple this amount if you have very few page views per month you are simply not going to be able to earn much from placing ads on your site.
Do some quick maths if you don’t believe me – 10,000 page views per month would bring in around $100 dollars from AdSense. Now double that, triple it, quadruple it if you will – is it enough to live on? No probably not. A small website just can’t bring in enough revenue from advertising no matter how high the Page RPM.
“But why have ads at all to start with if they’re not going to earn me much money?”
Excellent question. You should add AdSense ads when you get past about 1,000 page views per month for two reasons:
- It will help your audience accept that there are ads on your site. If you grow your site without ads and then add them on then you will lose a lot of your userbase suddenly. If people expect ads on your site, then they will accept ads on your site. If you suddenly add them, they will possibly freak out about how you have ‘sold out’.
- AdSense takes time to get to its best. If you want to maximise your earnings from AdSense then you need to let it try out lots of different types of ads on your site to see what works. The better an ad performs on your site, the more money it will make for you, so it’s in your interests to do this. By running ads from early on you are giving AdSense a chance to grow with you. It will be improving the ads it shows all the time, so as your site grows your revenue from AdSense will improve too. The later you start this process, the more revenue you will be missing out on.
“But why don’t I just skip AdSense and start showing ads from an ad network that pays good money to start with?”
Also a good question – but I have a better question for you: how do you know how much is good money for your site?
AdSense Is Your Ad Revenue Benchmark
While the overall Page RPM average for AdSense is $10, this varies wildly from site to site. There are many factors that can affect this, even on sites which have exactly the same ad set-up. This is because each site is unique. The content it publishes, the services it offers, the users who visit, everything about it works together to create a mix that is different to other sites.
Correspondingly – ads don’t work the same on different sites. Some sites get all the clicks, some sites get none. That’s just how it is. Your site’s advertising earning potential is unique, and the easiest way to get a feel for it is through AdSense.
On top of that, bigger, better, ad networks don’t generally accept very small websites. So once you hit 25,000 Page Views per month (which will get you into more ad networks), you can take what you have learned from Google AdSense and start to shop around for a new ad network.
If you find a new ad network which can pay you a higher Page RPM than AdSense, then at least you know that you are making progress. If your new ad network can’t beat AdSense then you at least know that they are not the ad network for you. Either way, without learning from AdSense to start with you have no idea how much your site could earn in the first place.
Keep in mind that for some sites – AdSense is, in fact, the best ad network. It depends on the site.
You should note that many ad networks allow you to use Google AdSense as backups ads. This means that when the ad network you are working with runs out of ads to show on your site, then Google AdSense kicks in. This makes sense for the ad network as they are keeping you happy, and makes sense for you as you are not wasting ad impressions.
This again means that you should have your own AdSense account running before you get to the bigger ad networks stage. The learnings your AdSense account gathers from when your site was growing will help it to show better ads even when used as backup ads, and so will improve your revenue.
To summarise, small websites should use Google AdSense because:
- It’s incredibly easy to set up and use, so you won’t waste time fiddling with advertising that you should be spending on growing your website.
- You can choose ad sizes, block bad ads and categories, and set up reporting however you like.
- It pays well compared to most other ad networks.
- It integrates directly with Google Analytics.
- Most other ad networks aren’t available to small sites (under 25k page views per month).
- You can use your revenue from AdSense to work out if ‘better’ ad networks are actually performing well for you.
- You can often use AdSense as backup ads for other ad networks.
For websites with between 1,000 – 25,000 page views per month, I strongly recommend AdSense.