Does It Still Make Sense to Run Ads on Your WordPress Website?

Posted on June 22, 2018 by in Editorial | 13 comments

Does It Still Make Sense to Run Ads on Your WordPress Website?

Online advertisements have always been one of the most popular ways to monetize your website. However, the rise of adblockers threatens to change that. At this point, anyone starting a new site needs to seriously consider whether running ads on WordPress is still a good option from a financial perspective.

Some websites still make good money from ads. However, plenty of others are looking elsewhere when it comes to monetization. In this article, we’ll talk about how adblockers have impacted ad revenue during the past few years. We’ll then discuss whether it makes sense to run ads on WordPress and look at some alternative methods of monetization.

Let’s get to it!

How Have Adblockers Impacted Ad Revenue?

The AdBlock Plus homepage.

Adblockers are growing more and more popular everyday and with good reason.

If you were browsing the internet a decade ago, you’ll remember it used to be a wild west of ads on almost every website. You had image and text ads, auto-playing videos, pop-ups, and more in almost every corner. Back then, blocking ads required you to be tech-savvy, which meant most people just had to put up with them.

Some browsers, such as Firefox, enabled you to block specific images from websites as far back as 2003. However, real adblocking extensions, such as AdBlock didn’t become commonplace until the start of this decade. From that moment on, adblocker usage has climbed exponentially. In 2016, a survey from the Interactive Advertising Bureau found that 26% of desktop users installed adblockers on their browsers of choice. Mobile users lagged behind, with only 15% using adblockers, which is still a significant figure.

The number of people that used adblockers grew 41% in just the twelve months before April 2017. That’s over a billion people worldwide using adblocking software, out of over 3.2 billion internet users.

In 2017 alone, adblocking software cost the advertising industry over $15 billion in lost revenue. That trend is likely to keep climbing as more people begin to use adblockers, which are remarkably easy to set up nowadays. Moreover, popular browsers such as Chrome and Safari have taken steps to block ads on websites that break their guidelines. So far, only a tiny percentage of sites has been affected by the tech giant’s decision to block ads. However, the move sends a signal that there’s little tolerance left for websites that choose to display aggressive media ads.

Does It Still Make Sense to Run Ads On Your WordPress Website?

There’s a reason why a lot of websites still use up some of their space with ads. They can be profitable if you’re raking in massive amounts of traffic. However, traditional ads on WordPress might not work as well if you’re running a small website.

To give you an example, if your blog is getting around 1,500 visitors per day, you might earn around $10 a day using Google AdSense. If you can pull in that kind of traffic each day, you’d be looking at over  40,000 hits per month on your website.

Ten dollars a day equals $300, which is decent money. However, it’s a small level of revenue for a website with that amount of traffic. Keep in mind that this is a back of the napkin calculation, and a lot of factors can affect revenue from platforms such as AdSense. However, given those figures we don’t recommend you use ads as your primary monetization method. Running an ad or two might be effective, but we recommend that you perform A/B testing for to see which ones work.

One option that some websites have implemented is adblocking-blocking software. These are tools that prevent users with adblockers from browsing your site. It’s easy to see why some people would find them attractive, but in most cases the extra revenue they might help bring in pales with how many people they’ll drive away. Instead, we recommend that simply politely ask users to disable their adblockers on your website. You should also look to complement or replace your ad usage with alternative sources of income.

What Are Some Other Ways You Can Monetize Your WordPress Website?

In the past, we’ve written a lot about several ways you can monetize your WordPress website. However, let’s recap some of the best methods:

  • Affiliate blogging. If you can drive purchases through your site, plenty of platforms will pay you commission on those sales.
  • Selling online courses. You can turn your WordPress website into an online classroom, where you can sell premium courses and pocket the earnings.
  • Publishing sponsored posts. This is a tricky subject since it can lead to websites publishing content they wouldn’t otherwise. However, if you can strike a balance to create sponsored posts that your readers would enjoy, it may be worth it.
  • Promoting your own services. A lot of people use WordPress websites to sell their own services online, such as web development and design.

Let’s return to our earlier example of a website pulling in about 40,000 visitors a month. If you can convert even 1% of those hits into customers, any of the monetization methods we mentioned earlier can make you a lot more money than ads. For example, if you’re selling an online service for $10 a month, that 1% would translate to 400 subscribers and $4000 in revenue.

Keep in mind, though – building an online business isn’t simple and neither is growing a blog to that level of popularity. Both take time and serious effort. However, if you do succeed, you need to be smart about how you monetize your online projects. With the growing sentiment against online ads, it makes sense not to rely on them as your only source of income.

Conclusion

For a long time, ads where the go-to monetization method for a lot of websites. If you had enough traffic, ads were an almost guaranteed source of income. However, as ads became more obtrusive, people began to look for ways to get rid of them, and that’s when adblockers were born.

There are still situations were running ads on WordPress makes sense. However, we suggest you don’t use ads as your primary monetization method. There are plenty of other options available, such as affiliate blogging, sponsored posts, and even selling online courses. In most cases, any of these will be less obtrusive than ads.

Do you think it’s worth it to run ads on WordPress? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below!

Article image thumbnail by Pinone Pantone / shutterstock.com

13 Comments

  1. I don’t run banners on my travel blog for many years now because, as a reader / consumer, I hate all these obtrusive pop-ups. I try to focus on good content and prefer to have a clean blog without ads – and I think that, if you build a good reputation, affiliate marketing might be the way to go on the travel blogging industry. It has been working for me.

  2. I have dropped all the “ads” and “ads-placement plugins” from my personal sites and from my client sites. There’s just not enough ROI (money) for the potential risk of annoying regular visitors.

    Not only that, but when on social media I see a post that links back to an overly-aggressive ads splattering site -including some of the “news” sites, I message the individual that posted and say something like “do you want to be branded with this type of site?” and then I block all posts from that site.

    That is especially true if the content if the original content is good but every 2-3 paragraphs is separated by an ad. I prefer to treat readers as smart, intelligent people that have seen enough ads already. As your post shows, there’s other ways to make money from your site(s).

  3. We are a home theater / smart home integrator. The primary purpose for our website is to promote that business to our local San Francisco Bay Area customers.

    Our pages that talk about the business are ad-free. We also write and post a significant number of articles. On our article posts we run one top of page banner ad, three sidebar ads, and two bottom of the page banner ads.

    The ads we run pay for the site — hosting fees, Elegant Themes, and a couple of premium plugins. You’re right that most sites won’t make a profit on ads. We don’t profit from them, but the ads pay our small web overhead and we’re happy with the results.

  4. 1.500 visitors per day = 10 dollars? W.T.F I have 5.000 visitors per day and just receive 3 dollars :S

    Running ads seems a sad business…

    • It depends a lot on the topic of the site(s), and quality. If I get 1500 visitors a day I’ll probably make $15 to $30 a day with my current site.

      I used to make over $1k a month from Adsense on 3000 visitors a day on another site (since sold).

      I run two other sites that I don’t use Adsense on because it wouldn’t make sense to.

      I disagree with this blog post. Advertising is necessary. If everyone was selling their own product or promoting affiliate products then everything would become too self-serving. Ads are a necessary way for companies to get their products exposed in the marketplace. Also, relying on search engines for traffic can be a fickle game. It takes time to generate rankings, not to mention the up and down nature of the beast. Advertising speeds up the whole process.

      You have to see online advertising as the equivalent of radio and TV ad.

      I don’t mind seeing ads provided there are few on each page (two or three). In fact, I would say it improves my browsing experience. Contextual and personalized advertising will expose you to products and ideas that you might not otherwise come across.

      While ad blockers might have been a fashionable thing to do, there is proof it is plateauing. Let’s not forget, online advertising is still increasing (in terms of ad spend, while Adsense itself is still growing in size in terms of revenue for Google).

      It’s horses for courses. Some sites will be suited to Adsense while others are better off selling own products (or affiliate products).

      Clearly, ads are not hurting WebMD (and some other very big companies out there). They have an immense amount of traffic (at a very good views/visitor). They sometimes run as many as 6 to 8 ads per page that I can see.

  5. I have a website with 2000-3000 visitors. I used to earn $1200-$1500 a month, but now $3-5 a day. That’s crazy. F* you adblocker?

  6. I have a film site that links to Amazon for people wanting to buy the DVDs – does that count as a pop-up ad? It used to be quite profitable but now it’s a trickle.
    But I see it as useful for those interested. I’m wondering if people are buying fewer DVDs now? ‘The kids’ prefer to download to their smartphones, I gather.

    • John Hughes

      That wouldn’t exactly be a pop-up ad, especially since it only appears if the user actively clicks it. 🙂

  7. The idea of giving people a reason to leave my site as soon as they get there has never appealed rom me.

  8. “I have a website with 2000-3000 visitors. I used to earn $1200-$1500 a month, but now $3-5 a day. That’s crazy. F* you adblocker?”

    Are you sure it’s the adblocker? I am finding my CTR has improved this year against the last 7-8 years on the same site with same ad placements. I get a higher CTR on mobile than I did on desktop.

    The number of adblockers is exaggerated. Ads generally make the browsing a better experience as ads are often a good complement to the content.

  9. About 60% of my revenue comes from ads. I still actively build websites just to place ads on them. Block adblock, publish quality content and you’ll be fine 🙂

  10. Sometimes ads can be helpful to earn money but when they are annoying you will earn nothing

  11. Annoying ads on your page doesn’t help your page. You will earn nothing when visitors leave immidiatly because of all the pop-ups.

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