One of the biggest problems faced by a new web site when it comes to monetization is how to do it. You can use Google Adsense and make a few pennies a day. You can try hit and miss affiliate offers but most of these are geared toward highly targeted Pay-Per-Click campaign landing pages, not blogs or informational sites. PageRank passing income opportunities, such as PayPerPost and Text Link Ads, are no longer a viable route due to the recent Google crackdown on paid links. Other opportunities aren’t available to you until you get 10K, 100K or even 500k unique visitors a month. What can a new or small website owner do to break out of the 10 cents a day cycle? Behavioral ad targeting may hold an answer.
What is Behavioral Targeting
The idea behind behavioral targeting has been around for years, track where a user has been recently using cookies and display relevant ads to the user when they arrive on an “in network” site. The advertiser would by a campaign from a network and the network would pay out to sites where a targeted user clicked a related ad.
This is a bit different from Adsense because instead of depending on the content of the site, the displayed ad would fit the visitor’s profile. For example, if the visitor had been recently looking up info on vacationing in the Bahamas an ad for a hotel in the Bahamas would be displayed, regardless of the content of your site. If another visitor had been looking at Dodge cars, they might get an ad for a local Dodge dealer. The idea is to make the ad relevant to the visitor and not so much the site itself.
Remember the movie Minority Report where people are constantly bombarded by targeted marketing messages as they pass by? Did you think this would be rather annoying and invasive? I know I thought so. Do you want every site you visit to be pestering you like this?
Of course, many people block 3rd party cookies like this. However, one of the big pushes is to link behaviorally targeted advertising to services that a user wants to have, such as a useful toolbar or web widget. The hope is that in exchange for a service users will be willing to allow themselves to be subjected to individually targeted ads.
Aside from the privacy and ad blocking issue, I could see how such an ad program could benefit junky marketing sites more than your average blog. With carefully crafted feeder and dummy sites marketers could encourage clicks on high profit keywords. Essentially, such a system would probably be as gameable as the old Adsense arbitrage methods.
Another problem might be in who gets paid. Your blog article on your Bahamas vacation may have laid the groundwork but the click might go to the next blog the person visits. Would it be fair to give the payout to that site?
Some advertisers may feel that displaying their goods on your angst ridden personal web site may not be a good idea for their brand image. This may cause many of them to not use such networks.
Lastly, managing such a program across a network of 1000’s of sites might be rather daunting. We’ve seen several such heavily hyped large network advertising attempts run into trouble recently, such as Auction Ads and Widgetbucks. Can someone other than Google really pull off a large ad network?
Will It Work?
Would payouts be better than Adsense? Good question since this kind of advertising where a large network of sites is involved is a rather new concept. Currently such networks consist of a tight group of high traffic web sites. I would hope that such targeting would produce results comparable to well targeted mini-sites, roughly $30-50 a month.
Sadly, all of the providers of these kinds of services that I’ve been able to find are still stuck above the 100k/month uniques level. Will this trickle down enough to provide income to new/smaller sites that get less than 100k uniques a month? Perhaps even less than 10K? That’s another good question. Hopefully more providers will become open to offering micro-advertising opportunities. Google certainly could use the competition.
Ad targeting agencies say that behavioral targeting is just getting started. It will be interesting to see where it goes.
Do you think this kind of advertising will help, hurt or just ignore the “little guy”? Do the privacy issues of such ads concern you? Are their other problems you see? Do you think it will work? Leave a comment and let me hear what you think.