1. Banners hurt unless they are relevant
2. Filtering for banners that are relevant tends to reduce revenue rather than increase as there is a smaller pool of highly relevant advertisers
3. Removing all banner adverts significantly increased engagement by every metric
4. Some revenue is possible using affiliate links within the content (re-writing existing links rather than inserting awful links on a word match basis)
That last one is what I now do. Is it as profitable as running banners everywhere? No. But it is the highest possible engagement with some revenue, and if one focuses energy on reducing costs instead it can work well.
Sometime in the past month or two Amazon got rid of that feature and so I was only getting a generic Amazon sales banner. I'm not sure why they changed, but they did, and I removed the banner. Thanks Amazon.
One of my favorite channels is this super niche thing that only gets about 1000-2000 views per video and makes 2 vids a month. That adds up to maybe $4-8 in ad revenue using some rough estimates of youtube's payout rate. On patreon he's making over $500 a month. Which is really respectable for such a small audience.
Online ads have never generated that much money per user and were only profitable in large quantities. Given how scummy they are and this evidence that they repel users, they should be eliminated.
But then we have to consider that 95% of the costs/fees for running ad networks would still be needed for cost-sharing models too. You still need third-party JS.
I'm more of a fan for direct payments, though I think a lot of sites would struggle with just that.
How many people will subscribe to Android Authority directly? Lots of sites basically get views from searches , but little long term engagement. Those sites are still useful, but only have ads as a revenue model that's "viable"
And that's just not realistic. One-off purchases, maybe. Sustained 1k/hh/mth avg - I'd love to see a proof of that.
To a rough approximation, that's footed by the 1 billion wealthy inhabitants of the EU, US, Japan, Canada, Australian, and New Zealand. (I said rough, roll with me.)
That means that the per person costs of advertising are pretty much $100 annually online and $600 annually for all content (mostly TV). Keep in mind, those are real expenses expressed through household purchases.
(This means, by the way, that online content isn't free, you are paying for it, only, you're doing so indirectly, through advertisers.)
By contrast, total direct expenditures on print media run about $125/person in the US. (Audio/video may add to that.)
If you look at what is advertised, an awful lot is very high-ticket items. The FIRE industries (finance, insurance, real estate) were the largest chunk of spend as of a couple-three years ago. Electronics is another large segment.
The notion of some sort of universal content payments scheme, preferably indexed to wealth and income, has a great deal of economic justification. I've been exploring that for the past few years.
But yes, the dynamics are a tad bent.
There's no implication that every dollar they spend on marketing directly translates into $10 of new spending "that they would otherwise not get at all".
Much of it is brand spending. Procter & Gamble is the world's largest advertiser, and the goal of their ads is to make sure you keep picking up Tide every time you're in the detergent aisle. Coca-Cola's ads aren't trying to get you to buy $10 more of soda than last week, just to keep soda on your shopping list every week. Those ad dollars would need to be replaced by the subscription if you're going to remove the ads but keep compensation for the websites the same.
Many low-quality news papers, TV channels, and magazines died when ad revenue shifted online - consumers did not see enough value to justify the unsubsidized rate. Others survived because consumers saw enough value to pay the higher rates. The internet isn't any different... a large chunk of the internet is spam surviving off of wasteful advertising revenue. Soon, the cruft will die off.
None of us need unlimited access to everything out there, and I don't think it's a sustainable expectation.
And is probably precisely how this should work, indexed to wealth / income.
One line of thinking has a Neilsen or Arbitron-like rating system that pays based on readership. I think that is ultimately a false lead as it simply rewards popularity.
Another is to employ a basic income approach. Given the number of writers I know who write largely because they can't not, this might work, though it might not be fully sufficient. The prospect of a UBI and some achievements-based revenue might make this more viable: electronic distruibution is gratis, but live performances and physical media might generate additional revenue, as might various services or other arrangements, all on top of a UBI base.
A third way might be to treat creation something like research: it's an activity, and it's funded as a certain overall percent of national income. Divide that by what's seen as a livable wage, and designate that there are so many positions open, and so many to be filled in a given year, that will be paid. Sorting out how to filter out those who really aren't suited to it is the next challenge, though there are various models: guilds, professional recognition (see the Emmy's, Grammy's, Oscars, Pulizter, Peabody, Nobel, Royal Society, AAS, and similar recognitions).
One thing I don't think should happen is for there to be some sort of quarterly or annual "rank and yank", or the general fight over scientific grants funding we now have. There's an article I'd recently seen about productivity of scientists over their careers, and the distribution is ... almost perfectly random. That is, a given scientist might produce some great work early, late, or in the middle of their career, once only or possibly several times. But there's not much rhyme or reason to it.
Creative work generally is something that evolves over time, and takes time. Days, weeks, or months even for a good piece of journalism. Years for a story, play, or film. A lifetime for works of science or philosophy. Take Wittgenstein, who wrote one book and then spent the rest of his life writing another refuting the first.
(And yes, there are prolific examples as well, though often they are best known only for a handful of works. Attention is a zero-sum game. Alexandre Dumas. Isaac Asimov. There's a large literature on Gresham's Law effects in literature, painting, music, drama, and television as well.)
The inputs to writing are information, sources, and investigations. Otherwise, generally, a quite space and not having to worry too much about room, board, heat, water, and light. Excessive remuneration doesn't much seem to help in its production, and a certain frisson may actually help, but only to a point.
https://thenextweb.com/tech/2017/10/24/flattr-now-lets-pay-c... may be of interest too.
Patreon is also a good idea.
Sponsoring is also possible if you can find something relevant and willing: a lot of the podcast and YouTube channels that I follow have audiobook platforms sponsor them.
Apparently that model was a huge flop and people just didn't want it. The new version requires publishers to remove all ads (not just AdSense), which helps since many newspapers seem to have dropped AdSense & switched to Taboola & other ad networks. Which might be one reason Google is trying it again.
(I expect the new Contributor will fail too, though. I think the majority of people just don't want to pay for online content.)
We actually now survive more on donations from forum users than any advertising. About 2/3 revenue is donations, 1/3 from affiliates.
Affiliates work really well, but the rise of cash back sites mean that the revenue per sale is dropping. Affiliates work well for delivering new customers, but cash back is leading to retailers paying out for retaining customers which means the cost is shifting from acquisition to retention, which is traditionally where they make their profit. Hence cash back is leading retailers to make the terms far more strict, shorter cookie periods, lower %, etc.
Donations have been the saviour. As I'm running the sites as a platform, the larger sites effectively subsidise the young and growing sites.
Also, as a platform: 1 volunteer (me) runs all of the sites. Moderation is by communities, and has proven very effective whilst not requiring any additional cost. Though I did invest in some good lawyers for the T&Cs to make sure that approach kept the platform free of liability from individual sites on the platform.