How Much Traffic Do You Need For Ads To Make Money?

How Much Traffic Do You Need For Ads

On today’s FAQ post, we’re going to cover Display Ads, and more specifically, how much traffic your site needs to get for them to make you some decent money.

Display ads have been, and are, a fantastic way to monetize ANY site.

They do require A LOT more traffic than affiliate, pay-per-lead or other more “direct” ways of monetizing a site (and you’re going to see exactly how much more traffic that means) but they have other serious advantages to keep in mind.

Enough generic blabla, let’s get deep into this.

1. How Ads Work

I wanted to start quickly explaining what’s the logic behind ads and revenue so everything else makes sense for you. When you run ads, you get paid per impressions or clicks, but most typically it’ll be impressions.

Meaning, the more times you SHOW the ad, the more you’ll get paid. And there’s typically a “payout” per 1,000 impressions called RPM (revenue per mile) that’s made out of what the advertisers inside of that network are bidding to get the ad space.

Let’s say there is only 20 advertisers on a given network. No one is willing to pay more than $2 usd for 1,000 impressions of their ad. That’s going to be the best RPM you’ll ever get.

But thankfully networks are a lot bigger and there are huge amounts of advertisers bidding for the ad space in your site (I’ll also depend on the niche, some are more competitive, some have less advertisers, we’ll get to this in a second) so the general RPM will be higher.

2. No Advertisers=No Money. Understanding Both Sides.

To understand why two sites getting the EXACT same amount of traffic, using the exact same network (let’s say Google AdSense) and one makes more money than the other one, I’ll tell you what happens on the other side of the marketplace (Google AdWords)

On AdWords, as an advertiser, you can choose several types of targeting, aka who do you want to show your ads to.

It can be as generic as saying “show this ad to anyone interested in “cooking” on any website” to “show this ad on this website in particular and only to people who’s already been on my website and triggered more than 3 pageviews, and are on the top 20% earners in the country. Also please exclude people on my email list”

So, since there are thousands of advertisers, your site will land on the criteria of X amount of advertisers, who are willing to pay X amount of money per 1,000 impressions, meaning you’ll end up making Y money.

The more advertisers want to show their ads on your site, meaning, they directly bet for it, or it contains specific keywords like “victorinox kitchen knives” in the actual website copy, or they are running retargeting ads and you share a lot of your audience with those advertisers. All of this equals more money. Also, the more they’re willing to pay for those impressions, the more money you’ll make.

3. Unavoidably: Keywords

If you’ve done ANY keyword research on ANY tool in the past, you’ll know there’s always a “cpc” column which some people mistake for how much money they’re going to make per visit or god knows what other things people take that for.

That essentially means, how much are advertisers paying for a click on search ads for that keyword.

Before you go all wtf:

This is a search ad:

And this is a display ad:

We only care about the latter here BUT, this is what matters to us:

The more we know advertisers want to pay to show their ad for a keyword in the search results, we know that if our site ranks for the keyword and we have display ads, we have a high likelihood of matching the display logic criteria with many advertisers, so the content makes more money.

4. Stop It. Tell Me How Much Already

Ok cool, short answer: It depends.

Long answer: It depends. With AdSense, you can look at $2 to $5 per 1,000 impressions on most niches, depending on all the previous + ad optimization. If you run your adsense through a network like Ezoic (which optimizes ads and adds features and whatnot) you may be on the higher end. Some people make $12 per 1,000 impressions with, but I’d say those are the exception and it’s people who likely combine other things like Taboola, Ezoic, Outbrain, AdThrive and have ad-heavy pages on lucrative niches that have been thoroughly optimized over time.

But for the sake of staying where most people will be, let’s say its $5 per 1,000 impressions. You need about 100,000 pageviews per month to make $500. We’ve seen sites getting 300,000 pageviews per month making barely $1.2k.

We’ve also seen sites getting 40,000 uniques making $600/mo… because the RPM is something stupidly high like $21. A combination of a highly paying niche (high-end home renovation) and a highly paying ad network (that’s private and hard to get into) and an ad-heavy display logic.

5. Tips to increase your ad revenue.

So if you’re a bit discouraged about the prospect of $3 per mile, here are a few things you can do to make more money from ads:

  • Join several networks. You can have AdSense, Taboola and AdThrive on a site for instance
  • Test your ad placements thoroughly.
  • Get an ad-optimized theme
  • Lengthen your content. The more ads that fit on a single page, the more money you’ll make.
  • Enable a sidebar and join a network that allows to have sticky ads (AdSense don’t allow for that, but does. That’s why you join multiple platforms)
  • Test the s**t out of everything. Do CPC vs CPM ads, try different layouts, annoy your ad rep so you get your ads optimized, etc.
  • Go for high search volume (even if the topics are dumb to you. But you’ll pull in good traffic and that makes up for you having to cover maybe “how to clear dark spots with salt and olive oil”)
  • Go for high CPC keywords (meaning, the placements advertisers are bidding the heaviest for.)

6. Final Thoughts

So you probably got by now that, yeah, you need quite a lot of traffic to make good money from ads, but there are multiple ways for you to make more from the same traffic. Better keywords, better ad layout, better ad networks.

Ads aren’t all that good for UX. No one likes ads unless they’re integrated in a way that's non-obtrusive and are very highly relevant to the visitor. The more your ads look like native content, the less it’ll hurt the relationship with the visitor.

You also want to play it cool from an SEO point of view. Google has demoted ad-heavy sites in the past and when Ads hurt the user experience in a significant way, you can expect having some ugly dances in your ranks.

But if you do things right, ads are a PERFECT way to monetize your info content. If you integrate ads AND affiliate offers on a site, in a way that they don’t mess with each other, you’ll be on a much better position as a website owner.

More revenue sources, more money in your pocket, and a higher multiple when it comes to selling as the points of failure reduce.

SO, if you have a site with non-money content that’s ranking and getting traffic, get yourself moving and join some networks, place some ads, monetize that content and get another win for yourself!

And like always, likes, questions, kudos and angry comments please leave them down below!

9 thoughts on “How Much Traffic Do You Need For Ads To Make Money?”

  1. Thanks for the post. I’ve been looking for better Adsense alternatives. They claim they can bring up RPM but I don’t understand. Adsense is already the biggest adnetwork on this planet and how could they – Adsense alternatives, be able to optimize more ads than the big G.

  2. I am using adsense on my blog. You have said, adding ads from several networks improve the total earnings. My doubt is if I put ads from another network, won’t it dilute the earnings from adsense and reduce total revenue ?

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