Of the several ways to monetize your site, one of the most effective is to provide a free service or content and support this offering with ads. Some of the most notable websites, Google, YouTube, facebook and twitter, are pursuing this route.
To help monetize better with ads, its often useful to think about your website as a marketing vehicle for advertisers. What are users doing on my site – searching, sharing, browsing, viewing? From this user behavior, what marketing objectives could your site really help advertisers achieve? To this end, what’s unique formats and targeting would you need to develop to help advertiser achieve those objectives?
Following the marketing objectives continuum from direct response (DR) to branding, Google is so incredibly successful because its users are searching for goods or services, and therefore accurately targets users lower in the purchase funnel. This makes it an incredibly powerful DR tool. Like millions of other advertisers, if I want to sell something, I would go to Google. Naturally, its targeting, formats and pricing model support this objective.
Twitter, in my opinion, will ultimately sit slightly higher in the purchase funnel but still leans toward DR. Information sharing is the primary activity here. Consequently, the site is best used for promotional marketing. If I want to promote a limited offer with some viral flair, I would go to Twitter. I suspect the targeting, formats and reporting will evolve to support this aim.
Facebook is one step up the funnel, fulling brand response and some branding objectives. Users browse, search, share and communicate on facebook. If I want to let a specific group of people of people know about my service, facebook is the site. It’s targeting is beautifully simple and enables you to reach specific audiences with little wastage. Moreover, with the introduction of the like button and the collection of data from other sites, look for facebook’s to one day become a potent ad network..
YouTube is a branding vehicle – enabling advertising to achieve awareness peppered with a little bit of coolness. Users are consuming, creating and sharing video. If I want to broadcast my message to whole load of people, and keep my brand fresh and cool, YouTube is my site. Its formats – especially the home page ad – targeting, and reporting has evolved to best support branding goals.
If you are aiming to build a killer ad supported website, its critical to ask: what are my users doing on the site, and what marketing objective will this support? And from this, what formats, targeting, reporting will it need to support that objective.