Looking back on the many posts we have made over the years, one market to which we have not directed enough attention is the online content market. By online content we are referring to websites providing information to a specific audience including sites offering text-based information (e.g., blog postings, news and how-to articles), discussion forums, and multimedia sites (e.g., video and audio content). For example, our site, KnowThis.com, is a good example of a content site targeted to those interested in marketing issues.
To maintain a business targeting specific issues, most websites need to generate revenue to help fund their operations. They primarily do this in two ways: 1) charge a subscription fee, or 2) display advertisements. As most of us know, most content websites choose the latter. While some websites will handle their own ad management, including finding advertisers and collecting the advertising fee, the large majority of online content websites rely on ad-serving companies to present ads and to collect payment from advertisers.
The most important ad-serving service is run by Google. Its AdSense product is used by tens of thousands of websites. We at KnowThis.com have used this for many years and have always found this product's performance, including their backend analytics, to be outstanding. While online content websites looking to generate revenue have many ad-serving choices to choose from, Google is often at the top of the list.
Once a company or individuals operating a content website has decided to display advertisements; ad revenue numbers are something they watch closely. For most sites, the amount of traffic on the site is a pretty good indication of revenue. That is, the more traffic, the higher the revenue. However, that is not always the case, as it may depend on how much an advertiser is willing to spend for their ad to be delivered on certain websites. But even this can be tricky, especially if there are visitors to a website who are intentionally looking to raise an advertisers' costs.
A good example of this has just happened to KnowThis.com and many other sites on the Internet. Someone, somewhere in the world set up a system in which ads on sites were automatically clicked on April 19 and 20. The impact of this was startling. For instance, the images below show, that while KnowThis.com web traffic was fairly consistent, our AdSense ad revenue showed a dramatic increase for these two days.
While Google has now addressed this issue, it is important for anyone running a website generating revenue from advertisements to understand they should not get euphoric when they see a nice gain in ad revenue. But even more important, organizations advertising online need to pay close attention to their ad delivery. Certainly Google will evaluate this situation and make amends, but less reliable ad-serving services may not possess the skill to handle this type of malicious attack.
In any event, if a marketer is going to spend money advertising on the Internet, it is a good idea to be well schooled in the good and the bad of this promotional method.