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Digital Advertising Is Broken: Three Alternatives For Businesses Looking To Monetize Their Website


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by Max Emelianov, CEO of HostForWeb

I’m equal parts baffled and agitated when I see someone complaining about how adblock is killing the Internet. Websites, they claim, need advertising revenue to survive. Without clicks and impressions, they can’t pay the bills – and with that in mind, anyone who uses adblock is a dirty, no good thief.

There are several things wrong with that perception. First and foremost is the fact that Internet ads haven’t been relevant for a very, very long time. When’s the last time you clicked on something through a banner ad, or were reminded of something important through a click-under billboard?

Second, there’s the fact that, for all intents and purposes, content creators can’t be bothered to properly police their ad networks. More than being vehicles of marketing and revenue, this means that resource-hogging advertisement networks are often vehicles for malware. The use of adblock isn’t just a matter of convenience – it’s a matter of safety.

Forbes learned that the hard way.

The fact is that Internet advertising is suffering a slow death, and until advertisers clue in and start policing the content they serve, that isn’t going to change. In the meantime, your website does have to make money – what can you do if not advertise? A few things, it turns out.

The Subscription Model.

If your website regularly creates high-value content, why not think about implementing a subscription model? The Harvard Business Review does an excellent job of this. An anonymous user gets to read ten free articles a month, registered users can read fifteen, and anyone who wants to read more can pay a small, monthly stipend.

You might also consider applying paywalls to thought leadership content like white papers, or offering a stream of special, unique content that’s only available to subscribers.

Sponsored Content.

You’ve probably seen those little blurbs at the bottom of articles from Taboola or Outbrain – light recommendations for further reading. What you might not know is that those links are actually a form of unobtrusive advertising known as sponsored content.How it works is pretty simple:

“Advertisers create headlines and sometimes images designed to attract clicks, then pay to have these headlines and images appear on other, unrelated sites,” reads a piece on Monetize Pros. “Each time a visitor clicks on one of those links, the referring site earns a bit of revenue.”

Go Native.

Somewhat similar to sponsored content, a Native Advertisement is designed to look like a natural extension of your website. It’s meant to blend well with all of your other content, and gently push people towards a particular product or brand without being obnoxious about it. It’s sort of a ‘happy medium’ between intrusive ads and no ads at all.

“Native advertising has an easier time getting in front of consumers, because they blend so well with a host’s website,” reads a post on Search Engine Journal. “These ads are usually long-form, and their purpose is brand promotion. Generally, you want your advertorial to persuade an audience—which means your ad includes a distinct call to action (CTA) and clear links to your promoted brand.”

Closing Thoughts.

Digital advertising is fundamentally broken, and until something changes, people are going to continue using ad-blocking software. That might hurt the bottom line of some websites, but it’s a storm you can weather with a bit of creativity. As we’ve shown here, there are far more revenue streams at your disposal than just ads – you just need to be willing to seek them out.


Max Emelianov HostForWeb

Max Emelianov started HostForWeb in 2001. In his role as HostForWeb’s CEO, he focuses on teamwork and providing the best support for his customers while delivering cutting-edge web hosting services.