Revenue ideas for online publishers in the ad-blocking age

Tuesday, 29 September, 2015

Online publishers and writers, independent content producers, and bloggers, are no doubt wondering what the future holds, following the recent move by Apple offering greater support for ad-blocking applications, with the roll out of its latest operating system, iOS 9. The main goal is reducing data usage on mobile devices, that Apple reasons is better utilised elsewhere.

It’s something that plenty of people will be in favour of, after all, who hasn’t had enough of websites that more resemble billboards, so choke full of advertising, they are. And as someone who values their reasonable, though modest, mobile data allocation, the little extra bang for the my dollar, that the absence of ads might occasion, will be more than welcome.

But what’s an independent content producer, such as myself, to do when a fair proportion of their incomes derives, in some way, from the revenues generated by online advertising? Depending on the sort of following, or readership, your website has, and focus of the content you write, then there are a number of options to explore and give consideration to.

Context, and content, are key

As an independent operator especially, context is key when it comes to the inclusion of advertising on your website. While certain technologies may help filter out ads, as US author and entrepreneur Seth Godin points out, people have been blocking ads forever, by ignoring them. In other words, only advertising that is directly relevant to a reader stands to be noticed.

John Gruber, publisher of Daring Fireball, goes a step further when he says present ads to readers (and podcast listeners) that you yourself would not be annoyed by. That, for one, would probably exclude many cost per click, or pay per click type formats, that can generate advertising that is not always compatible with the direction, or content focus, of your website.

A word from our sponsors

Sponsored posts, or advertorial type content, are articles typically written in partnership with an advertiser, on a topic that is related to the outlook of the website it is published on. Indeed the go-to option for many an online publisher. The goal here though is not to merely spruik a product or service, but provide a reader with something of value.

Although articles or posts of this nature can potentially blend in seamlessly with the rest of the content on your website – depending on how well written they are – to the point they may not be recognised as “advertorial”, in the interests of disclosure, and maintaining your integrity with readers, this sort of content should always be declared as sponsored content.

Our sponsor today, this week, or month, is…

Obviously not an option for everyone, as a rather large readership is required to attract would-be advertisers on a regular basis, but there is revenue to be made from having someone sponsor your website’s RSS feed for a given period of time, as the aforementioned Daring Fireball does, along with publishers such as Tina Roth Eisenberg and Stephen Hackett.

Subvert the system

Did I catch your attention there? And that constitutes nine-tenths of good advertising, does it not? Of course I’m not talking about countering the will of the world’s biggest tech companies, but rather self crafting banner style advertising that is directly pertinent to your website. In other words, a private, direct, advertising arrangement between you and someone else.

If ad-blocking apps are targeting a certain type of code that is associated with cost per click, or pay per click type advertising, then relatively simple banner ads, that do little more than link directly to an advertiser, may still be an option. Of course you’d forego much of the analytics data that is otherwise collected by way of this code, but it’s possible that may not be an issue.

Sell your services and expertise

When you start writing regularly on a certain topic you become more than a writer, you become an expert, an authority, even an influencer. You may find you eventually generate more revenue as a result of your reputation and knowledge, rather than through website advertising. It’s not only an exciting prospect, but also one that’s far from vulnerable to ad-blocking.

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We’re not in it for the money, many movies are a labour of love

Thursday, 5 July, 2012

A movie may win week after week at the box-office but that apparently has little bearing on what sort of profit, if any, that it will ultimately make:

The reason a majority of movie studios still turn a profit most years is that they have found ways to, as they say, monetize the ancillary stream by selling pay-TV and overseas rights, creating tie-in video games, amusement-park rides and so forth. And the big hits, rare as they may be, pay for a lot of flops. Still, the profits are not huge. Matthew Lieberman, a director at PricewaterhouseCoopers, expects growth over the coming years to be somewhere around 0.6 percent.

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Movie revenue is too important for me to allow you to jeopardise it

Tuesday, 24 January, 2012

Stanley Kubrick devised a method of tracking the box-office revenue of his films which many people believed was based on the technology of the HAL 9000 computer, which featured in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Word quickly spread that Stanley had a computerized system to track theaters and grosses based on technical information he had acquired while developing HAL 9000, the all-knowing computer in 2001. For months these stories persisted in the trades as the roster of Clockwork cinemas was refined. They were neither confirmed nor denied.

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Why pay to see movies that differ little from each other?

Friday, 6 January, 2012

US film critic Roger Ebert offers his own reasons as to why box office takings were down in 2011 compared to 2010. It’s no surprise that he cites the limited selection of titles on offer at most multiplex cinemas as one factor:

Lack of choice. Box-office tracking shows that the bright spot in 2011 was the performance of indie, foreign or documentary films. On many weekends, one or more of those titles captures first-place in per-screen average receipts. Yet most moviegoers outside large urban centers can’t find those titles in their local gigantiplex. Instead, all the shopping center compounds seem to be showing the same few overhyped disappointments. Those films open with big ad campaigns, play a couple of weeks, and disappear.

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Good content makes good films, the penny drops in Hollywood?

Wednesday, 4 January, 2012

Box office takings for 2011 are down by about five percent on 2010 – at least in North America – prompting some studio executives to consider the possibility that the quality of some releases may not have been up to scratch.

One more thing: “You have to go back and look at the content,” said Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution for Warner Brothers. “Good movies always rise to the occasion. Bad ones, not so much.”

I’m not sure that this actually means film-goers can look forward to a greater number of high quality, original, titles in 2012 and beyond though.

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Music industry revenue, an ever decreasing slice of the pie

Tuesday, 6 September, 2011

Music industry revenue pie chart

31 pie charts stitched together as an animation illustrate the changing sources of music industry revenue from 1980 through to 2010.

Notice especially the CD’s growth from 1984, to almost total ascendancy in 2002, and then its sharp decline thereafter.

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David Byrne and the six models of music distribution

Thursday, 9 June, 2011

An extensive guide to succeeding in the music industry today, for both new and established recording artists, by former Talking Heads songwriter David Byrne.

Where there was one, now there are six: Six possible music distribution models, ranging from one in which the artist is pretty much hands-off to one where the artist does nearly everything. Not surprisingly, the more involved the artist is, the more he or she can often make per unit sold. The totally DIY model is certainly not for everyone – but that’s the point. Now there’s choice.

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Visualising the declining turnover of the music industry

Monday, 21 February, 2011

A chart visualising the recent decline in music industry turnover after peaking in the late 1990s… in straight dollar value terms though revenue is still far higher than it was 40 plus years ago.

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Charting the 2010 movie blockbusters and their revenue

Monday, 10 January, 2011

An infographic based on US box office takings which charts the success or otherwise of 2010 film titles by way of their revenue streams in the weeks and months following their release.

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Pursuing your passion is easy, monetising it is another matter

Friday, 31 December, 2010

Kevin Smith, the US film producer and director, gets to the point when it comes to taking the plunge and pursuing your passion in life. Basically the idea is to go ahead and do whatever you choose.

The real challenge however is to monetise, that is, find a way for whatever you’re doing, to generate revenue. Hmm.

Here’s the “secret” everyone always asks in regards to how I “did it” (whatever “it” is when asked). It doesn’t even take TALENT to do what I did; I’m living proof of that. All you need to do is identify what you love to do and monetize that.

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