In the DR (direct response) world, also affiliate marketing and so forth, the advertisers are only buying ads in so far as they generate sales/signups/whatever. More and more brands are jumping on the "our ads have to actually produce results" bandwagon, but most of the brand advertising you see out on the web is not held accountable in ways you'd expect.
[ctrl-F "advertising expenses"]
For all we know, they got a bunch of extra clicks just for looking different. (Remember the story about the banner ad made in MS-paint?)
If your ad is next to an important button you will get a higher CTR. If you advertise on a site that gets a lot of mobile visitors and your ad is next to an important button you will get a very high CTR.
I don't know that much about online ads. How do you make money buying "impressions" like this? How does this work?
So this guy is probably talking about affiliate marketing.
My best guess:
1. He has access to lots of CPA (cost per action) offers from various CPA networks. Example: "We'll pay you $3 for every person who fills out this info request form about our product."
As an affiliate marketer, he's always hunting for offers where the payout seems high or the offer seems attractive, basically an arbitrage mismatch.
2. He has found some gaming offers that he thinks pay out pretty well and convert nicely. Good landing pages, good product, etc.
3. He buys ads on these womens gaming sites late at night because they are click happy and the impressions cost less due to it being night time. This sends people to the gaming site where they convert at a profitable rate.
Affiliate stuff is all about arbitrage.
This would probably be an interesting area for more academic research. How do you measure accidental clicks? Do some non-ads receive higher accidental clicks than others? What if it was a blank black ad? What if you mimicked actual ads but with the 'why did you click' question? There are lots of ways this phenomenon could be further explored, and I agree with the author that for a multi-billion dollar industry this exploration is warranted.
Then I looked at it without the text, and there was… something there.
So I did a poll on my blog as to which version people felt they'd click on. Things were split very slightly in favor of the one with the text, but I wasn't convinced. So I dumped 'em both into the same Project Wonderful campaign, and told PW to do the thing it does where it displays them at random, and starts changing the percentages based on which one gets more click-through.
A couple days later, the one with the text was almost never being displayed.
Of course, if everyone starts doing this then eventually people will get sick of ads with "important" information missing. Maybe I'm glad I got in before the rush.
My stats suggested that a pretty decent percentage of people read a good chunk of what's online and subscribed to it. Which ain't paying my bills yet but the ads are self-supporting now, and slowly growing. Or they were until I had to take the site down because malware. (Any HNers interested in building me a site that's more secure than "a Wordpress theme designed for comics"?)
Good question. Last month I was starting a comic and couldn't find an easy way forward, so I whipped up some Perl and served it from Dreamhost. About half the time I spend on the comic goes towards extending that software (so that features I'm going to need will be in place by the time I need them).
What kind of infrastructure would your comic need? Was it using everything Wordpress had to offer?
For the direct response ads I've been running, each campaign has a totally different average. One product has a 0.02% CTR average over 3 years and ~200k spent, another has a 0.155% CTR over 1 year and ~45k spent.
Different messages garner different responses, so take the typical FB CTR with a grain of salt :)