This is the second in my series on Blog Monetization Options.
Previous Parts: Your Blog Monetization Options: Part I - Pay-Per-Click Ads
In the comments for the previous part, Ivy asked me to discuss affiliate ads next. As I considered it I realized that this was a pretty broad area and that I needed to break it down further. In this part I’m going to look at a few popular programs that provide widgets where you can earn commissions based on product sales or aggregated product sales. (In looking at the previous part, both WidgetBucks and Shopzilla should have gone in this part instead.)
Here are some of the companies that provide Affiliate Ad Widgets.
Chitka was one of the first of these companies to use this model with their mini-malls and they’ve had their share of controversy. You can Google for these and decide if they’re reasons to not use them on your blog.
The Chitka ads are on a Click Through Revenue basis, not a direct commission/lead basis. This means to you get a portion of the aggregated sales that the Chitka widgets made for a advertiser based on the number of clicks on the widget on your site. As you might guess, this often isn’t that much.
Chitka is highly targeted toward technology and a few other niches. If you aren’t heavily into one of those niches you probably won’t make much money from the widgets.
Also, Chitka does require you have over 10K page views a month and are rather stringent about who they’ll allow into their program. All of the sites I’ve submitted have been rejected so I’m not going to bother to submit any others.
I wouldn’t recommend it as a viable monetization strategy for low to mid traffic level blogs although it should work well for higher traffic blogs and review sites. Let me know if you have a different take on this.
Auction Ads / Shopping Ads
Auction Ads, a way of aggregating and presenting eBay auctions in a widget, started out with a bang, had growing pains and now isn’t seen as much. Shopping Ads, by the same team, attempt to do the same thing with products beyond eBay. These widgets pay out a direct commission on sales made through the widget.
Auction Ads worked well for me on niche sites, at first. Unfortunately, with their numerous glitches this income was a short lived spike. Earnings since September have been almost nonexistent while prior to that $50 a month was common. I think the concept would have worked had it been executed better, especially for niche product sites.
Shopping Ads is their second go-round at an advertising widget. They not only aggregate eBay but several other shopping venues. It’s still in private beta at this point and I tried it briefly here on OpTempo. I didn’t find them to be worthwhile here because they earned less than Adsense in the same slots.
While I like the concept of these ads, sadly, I think that various glitches and controversial payout policies will prevent them from being effective earners for quite some time.
The Amazon.com associates program is a good bet for blogs that have a clear product orientation. While the commission pay out is on the low side, repeat visitors to your site may choose to do their shopping through your widget in order to support you.
My take is that like the other product widgets, you’ll get the best results when you have a large and loyal audience along with consistent search visitors who find your site while looking for product information prior to a purchase. Otherwise, your results may be disappointing.
TTZ Media is the brainchild of dotcom mogul John Chow. It’s much like Chitka although John and his team have managed to have a much more personal touch with their approval process. Like Chitka, they prefer tech oriented sites with 10K or more page views a month.
My experience with it on a site that hovers around 10K hits a month hasn’t been that great. Adsense out performed it in the same slot although it beats other widgets I’ve tried in the same position. I don’t see this widget being a money maker for most bloggers although I suppose that there is some ‘coolness factor’ having John Chow’s widget on your site.
There are a few other such widget around, such as Lemonade that I reviewed earlier. I haven’t heard anyone saying that they’ve made significant money with any of these so either they aren’t or they’re keeping it to themselves. If you have a widget that should be mentioned, please let me know.
If it is appropriate for your blog I now highly recommend using eBay Partner Network (EPN) sniplet widgets. The performance of this advertising has been outstanding on every blog I’ve tried it on.
Based on my experiences and those I’ve seen around from others, these widgets are inferior money makers for most bloggers. Some niche blogs may do well with them, but for the most part, you’ll make more cents with Adsense in the long run.
In Part III, I’ll be covering other affiliate marketing options for blogs. Meanwhile, if you have any thoughts on affiliate ad widgets, let me know by leaving a comment.