Economics of Blog Advertising

I had a friend recently ask me about the big picture of blog ads. He was thinking of putting ads on his site, but he legitimately didn’t want to annoy his readers if he wasn’t going to make enough money from it to make it worthwhile. (“Enough” being one of those relative terms, of course.) I gave him a little background on my setup, with Amazon and Google ads, but I think he was also looking into Project Wonderful.

I admit, I don’t know much of anything about that company or their ads. That’s why I found a couple of recent articles so interesting. Matthew Skala crunched some numbers to show that many sites will make more money with alternate systems, while Reinder Dijkhuis postulates the system eventually running down to a free ad-swap effort.

Personally, I like the comfort of sticking with a big brand name. Users know what to expect, and I’m confident I’ll get paid when due.

15 Responses to “Economics of Blog Advertising”

  1. Barry Says:

    Plus, your ads are very non-intrusive and while they’re noticeable, they don’t get in my face.

  2. Guy LeCharles Gonzalez Says:

    I was using and then on my old site (and PCS has signed on with the latter), which offer a variety of affiliate programs that allow you more control over your ads than Google does. They’re generally higher-quality images than many of the Google advertisers offer, and one or two of them would be a nice complement to your Amazon display and Google text ads. You can even monetize your new eNewsletter with text ads.

  3. Charles LePage Says:

    Plus, your ads are very non-intrusive and while they’re noticeable, they don’t get in my face.

    Also, Amazon and Google ads often display something useful to the reader.

    Your friend should look into Feedburner. They offer a lot of services to bloggers and also offer the potential to generate advertising revenue.

  4. Johanna Says:

    Barry: I’m glad to hear that. I’ve always said that ads are there for my convenience (from a certain perspective); if readers want to ignore or Adblock them, that’s their right.

    Guy: Thanks for the recommendations, but I think, at this point, if I add/swap any ads, it will be for individual advertisers.

    Charles: It’s true. I’m sometimes surprised by how good the Amazon graphic novel recommendations are.

  5. roche Says:

    Too bad you aren’t interested in Project Wonderful. One of the tradeoffs for (potentially) less money is a huge amount control and transparency for buyers and sellers.

    I would take Reinder’s analysis with a grain of salt. Like many web based businesses, it has peaks and valleys of interest and enthusiasm as different communities discover it. Right now it’s shrinking a bit, but because the financials are transparent, you can actually see it. Extrapolating future prices based on this is problematic.

    I’ll note that the Foglio’s Girl Genius, Jeph’s Questionable Content, and Burns’ Websnark are all using P.W. It might be worth shooting them an email asking them how they like it.

    Accepting ads can be quite granular, btw. You can hand approve each ad, or set it to auto-approve based on advertiser, previous approval, or all ads. Webcomics that are designed to be family friendly (e.g. the crowd) could definitely use that, but that feature is buried in the FAQ.

    (I’ll also note that the threshold for payout is 10$, decreasing the exposure to risk to the adspace seller.)

    disclosure: I do not buy or sell ads via Project Wonderful, but I expect I will in the next 6-12 months.

  6. Johanna Says:

    I think you’ve given me more of the basics about PW than I found reading through their entire site. :)

    Most of the conversation I’ve seen about it has been from people using it as a swap service more than a revenue generator. I’ve yet to find anything about how effective it might be for someone who just wants to make money without placing ads of their own.

  7. Lyle Masaki Says:

    Guy, I just wanted to make a small correction and note that Commission Junction is found at I tried looking for and only found cybersquatters.

  8. roche Says:

    Heh. Thanks Johanna.

    Effectiveness at making money? Hard to predict. I don’t know how many of the advertisers – usually webcomics creators – know you exist.
    P.W. is non-exclusive, so you could trial it along side other ad networks.

    I think you are quite right about the social aspect; giving back to the community seems to be a motivator. I’m interested in it because if I want to get an audience for my own work, I can target a specific similar readership. No sloppy demographic work: if I’m doing swashbuckling adventure, and I want to find people who like swashbuckling adventure, I can look and see how much it costs to advertise for a day on Girl Genius. No guesswork there. (Today, it’s 21$ for one of the larger ads. Link.

    I’d suspect there’s a number of people who’d really like to get on Comics Worth Reading, for obvious reasons.

  9. Guy LeCharles Gonzalez Says:

    Lyle: Oh, right! Thanks.

    Johanna: Unlike Google and Amazon, you can choose individual advertisers or products via both and In fact, for many of the better ones, you have to be approved by the advertiser themselves.

    Case in point, when I posted my earlier comment, your Amazon banner was listing a “maternity thong”.

  10. Guy LeCharles Gonzalez Says:

    PS: Because of your status in the comics industry and Project Wonderful’s penetration therein, I think it would actually be the best route for you to go.

  11. Johanna Says:

    Roche: If anyone wants to advertise here, they’re welcome to contact me and set up a flat rate deal for a defined length of time. But it won’t be as cheap as 2-8 cents a day.

    And yeah, I think if I knew more about webcomics and their community, this might make more sense to me.

    Guy: I don’t want to do that much work. (And the Amazon ads run based both on what I’ve plugged in as keywords and the viewer’s history, so the maternity thong might be what Amazon thinks you’re likely to buy. :) )

    As for your last comment — why? What would make it “best” for me? That’s the basic question I can’t find a good answer to (along with “how much money am I likely to make when?”). I don’t run ads out of the goodness of my heart — if I want to give something exposure, I write about it. I can’t help feeling that there’s something basic here I’m missing… or maybe it’s just not a good match.

  12. Guy LeCharles Gonzalez Says:

    “Best for you” in that PW offers a solid platform that many comics-related advertisers are using, and you have a site that many of them would love to sponsor. It’s not an altruistic thing at all; just a more targeted group of advertisers.

    The downside, as with Google, is that the quality of the ads themselves varies wildly.

    …so the maternity thong might be what Amazon thinks you’re likely to buy.

    LOL! With as much as I buy via Amazon, that’d be a real flaw in their programming!

  13. roche Says:

    Do you see what you are writing here?

    Blog advertising isn’t comics. There is no fandom for web advertisement networks. You (and I) may think Project Wonderful is, well, wonderful, but that doesn’t mean that it is the right choice for her.

    Do you see that you are asking her to risk money and devote time to something that doesn’t make economic sense to her? This is not like recommending a favorite comic, this is about money.

    What is it about fandom, that we are so ready to tell people “Go ahead and take a risk on this new economic model I’ve cooked up. I’ll watch from over here.” Didn’t Hibbs or Deppey say something like that in TCJ a few weeks ago?


  14. Guy LeCharles Gonzalez Says:

    Roche, what in the world are you talking about? How am I telling Johanna to risk money? Devote a little more time than she currently is, perhaps, but risking money?

    PW is simply an advertising network that many comics-related advertisers happen to be using to promote their products, and unlike Google, it gives the content-provider the flexibility to control exactly who gets to advertise on their site. Because of that, it’s my opinion that it could be the best solution for Johanna’s advertising needs.

    I’m not a “fan” of the service, but I am someone who knows a bit more about advertising than you think I might, considering it’s what I do from 9-to-5.

  15. José Carrilho Says:


    I’ve been using PW for a while and I like its system.
    Of course that there aren’t prefect ones, but I’ve been getting along well, namely because it allows low budget advertisers to show their product.
    I don’t expect to get rich with it, namely because at this moment what I earn is invested in advertising.
    I do try to provide good ad spots for my advertisers and keeping an ethical relation with them.

    Best regards,





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