How to Monetise your Website

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This year (2008) my web hosting provider doubled his hosting charges, and to be honest he was the last of his competitors to do so as my provider (lchost.co.uk) is techies-only and thus has very low overheads so long as you're happy with no more than a Unix shell prompt. Web hosting in 2008 in the UK is now a minimum of £60 a year - we can thank the new European legislative requirements for keeping months of access logs (supposedly for anti-terrorism purposes - hah!).

However it has turned my mind towards getting this web site to pay for itself. Back when it was first online, nedprod used to have adverts but I never made much money from them - this was back in 1998 and advert providers tended to go bust about as quickly as it took for your advert revenue to hit the minimum payout amount. However, I still had all the machinery in place, so I knew it wouldn't take long to re-add them.

A LOT has changed in the last ten years. I found I spent most of this past week reading all of the internet about how to do advertising, because the good old days of $5-$10 per 1000 impressions are long gone. As the mainstream advertising industry has come onboard, there has been huge price pressure and prices are vastly lower than they used to be - equally, there is massive proliferation of advertising with many blog & search engine pages being 80-90% advertising on the page, which obviously greatly reduces the value of advertising to the advertiser, so to be honest this is what Economics calls a "tragedy of the commons" problem where each actor self-optimises to the detriment of their peers.

Despite these longer term trends, there have been major changes in web advertising just in the past year (2007/2008). Google Adsense used to pay very well, but as competitors have caught up with contextual advertising products, Google has very much lost its lustre. Also, just recently Google like most others has stopped with the CPM (Cost per Thousand Impressions) model and gone with CPC (Cost per Click) and increasingly CPA (Cost per Action) which substantially changes how websites should do advertising - and all this has happened just in the last six months!!!

This page attempts to sum up what I have learned during the past week in the hope that it helps others. I'm not doing it purely for altruistic reasons - I am strongly hoping that this page becomes the most visited page on how to monetise your website on the entire internet, and I am thus hoping that you dear reader right now are earning me a few cent. Thank you in advance, and I hope you find this content useful!

Before we begin ...

I should firstly warn you about a few things. Firstly, the following advice is for small websites (less than 30k unique visitors per month) - if you're bigger than this, you should sign with the big advertisers directly and if you're bigger than 100k per month, you should probably directly sell your advertising slots by inviting your readers to place adverts and/or using an advert auctionhouse like Etology.

Secondly, the following advice is for non-commodity websites ie; like this one. What do I mean by "non-commodity"? Well, I mean those many personal websites which contain just the ramblings and assorted crap of some individual or other and aren't obviously targeted at some sellable item or other. For example, if you're gay and you write even just a few times about gay issues, you'd be FAR better off advertising gay-specific adverts than following any advice on this web page. Or if you're into skydiving, or model trains, or any form of habit or hobby which someone somewhere could sell stuff to people like you, go for the niche advertising.

This obviously means that if you're looking to develop content purely as a money earner, it's a FAR better idea to generate hits, links & references which are very closely aligned to the best earning advertising topics. Before you think you should email me to ask what those slots are, I'll tell you now: I DON'T KNOW, so don't bother asking - but see below about the stats on ad share spend in the US. Furthermore, like most things, advertising campaigns tend to follow fads & fashions, so you gotta learn to be flexible and bend like the reed in the wind.

No, this webpage is purely about getting your personal bit of the internet to pay for itself, no matter how random & pointless your crap is (and this website is pretty random & pointless). This therefore means you won't be writing anything which helps earn you money, just kinda hoping you can generate a fraction of a cent per visitor and that will generate about €60-70 a year.

The Prerequisites

  1. Your own website for which you pay (and therefore there aren't restrictions on adding adverts). Some blog sites let you add adverts though - but they NEED to let you embed Javascript.
  2. You'll need at least 10-15k unique visitors per month - if it's less, it's not worth the effort with current payment rates unless you really hate your readers and don't mind firing lots of popups at them.
  3. You'll need a Paypal account (for US based advertisers), maybe a Moneybookers account (for EU based advertisers), and preferably a cheap way of cashing US dollar cheques like a US dollar denominated bank account. Those US dollar cheques are extremely painful to work with if you're outside the US - not helped that the paranoid US government won't easily let foreigners open bank accounts. I have some solutions for UK residents below.
  4. You'll need some sort of auto-insert mechanism, or else managing the adverts is painful. Suitable auto-insert mechanisms are (server side) PHP or SSI, or (client side) Javascript. If you don't know what I'm talking about here, go google the terms and learn. An alternative, and it's what this website uses, is to use the auto-insert feature Microsoft FrontPage (or Expression Web) - simply add the following magic HTML:
    <!--webbot bot="Include" u-include="../promote/webpromote.html" tag="BODY" -->
    Obviously you replace the URL with the correct one. This simply causes FrontPage or Expression Web to insert the HTML between the <body> & </body> tags in the insert file into the containing file - this is extremely useful as it doesn't require fancy PHP magic, nor does it require Javascript - also, MOST importantly, you can see exactly how your adverts look while you edit your pages because it's very easy to get image inserts to clash and utterly wreck your layout.
  5. An awful lot of patience! Because it can take many, many months before individual accounts earn enough to pay past the minimum.

How it all works

You sign up with an advertiser as a publisher by filling in a form on their website. After a few days, they will accept or reject your application after checking your website for suitability. Note also that many advertisers (especially the big four) won't accept any website with less than 50k unique visitors a month - but don't worry, there are ways around this by going via a middleman who takes a cut of your earnings for getting you access to the big four (more shortly). Just for reference, the big four are Google (google.com/adsense), Yahoo (see below), MSN and AOL (advertising.com) and they take 88% of the total web advertising spend in the USA. Outside the US though, things are very different regionally.

You then fill in some more forms specifying which kinds of advert you'd like (size, content, keywords, whether to allow adult content etc) and you'll get some HTML which usually invokes some Javascript on the advertiser's servers. You then insert this HTML into each page of your website (see now why auto-inserts are useful?), and when a visitor visits, they see the advert.

There are four main ways of adverts paying you: Flat Rate (they just rent the space for a day/week/month etc), CPM (per thousand impressions), CPC (per click), CPA (per action eg; when a visitor clicks and then buys whatever product the advert was selling). Obviously enough, CPM pays the least, CPC more and CPA lots more - but also obviously enough, getting visitors to buy whatever the advert is selling is extremely tough. And oh - you're not allowed to ask, incentivise or require visitors to click on or purchase anything, and there are robots scanning your pages run by the advertisers and they'll cut off your account if they find anything (this is usually automatic, so even by talking about it like I am right now can accidentally invoke getting cut off).

As this page is about websites whose visitors will rarely, if ever, click on any advert within them, we're obviously going to focus on CPM and to some extent, CPC. We'll be ignoring flat rate (my site is of no interest to most advertisers), revenue share (I don't make enough revenue to make it worthwhile) or CPA (no one visiting this site would ever really click an advert). If you ran a site which reviewed say lampshades, you'd really want CPA all over the shop as they tend to pay a percentage of the sale price. Even on this website, many of the people visiting the Multiple Intelligences Test will happily pay for an online IQ test so I do have Google Adsense based CPA earnings just for that page, though most of the earnings are from CPC.

Most of the smaller advertisers pay some range of rates for CPM or CPC and will specify these in their FAQ or publishers section. The larger advertisers simply do a "revenue share" system where you get between 10-70% of whatever the buyer pays them. Of course, you have to trust that they really are paying you this proportion because there's no way of finding out.

Lastly, eCPM means "effective CPM" and it's a way of converting CPC and CPA into CPM. Basically, you simply divide the CPC + CPA earnings by total impressions - you'll see this on Google Adsense a lot. Of course, it's not TRUE CPM because CPM pays whether the visitors click or not - also, eCPM is unstable because some months you'll get lots of clicks (eg; run-up towards Christmas), other months you won't - whereas page views per month stay fairly constant. What you really want is a dual CPM and CPC system which pays well for both - this is precisely what the larger advertisers tend to do, whereas the smaller ones it's either/or.

Now how it doesn't work!

Of course, it sadly isn't as easy as just inserting some HTML and money starts poring in. Here are the big problems with the above:

  1. Most advertisers only pay certain rates for certain visitors from certain locations
    This one really irks me, because really it's a way of scamming publishers. Here's the current (Mar 2008) payment schedule for one of the biggest popup advertisers:
    $1.80 cpm (cost per thousand) for US Unique PopUnder windows
    $0.70 cpm (cost per thousand) for UK/CA Unique PopUnder windows
    $0.30 cpm (cost per thousand) for INTL Unique PopUnder windows
    $0.05 cpm (cost per thousand) for INTL BAD Unique PopUnder windows
    $0.30 cpm (cost per thousand) for US NON Unique PopUnder windows
    $0.15 cpm (cost per thousand) for UK/CA NON Unique PopUnder windows
    $0.05 cpm (cost per thousand) for INTL NON Unique PopUnder windows
    $0.025 cpm (cost per thousand) for INTL BAD NON Unique PopUnder windows
    Believe it or not, despite that European traffic earns one sixth of US traffic, this is one of the best schedules out there - most advertisers will pay ONLY for US traffic and nothing else. However, such advertisers do show regionally targeted adverts eg; British ones with pound signs in the UK, so basically they get the revenue for all British visitors while you get diddly squat. This pisses me off a LOT!

    I should explain the above a little more - again, this advertiser is very generous and pays for non-unique traffic ie; when a visitor looks at more than one page on your website, they'll see a second or third advert. Most advertisers only pay per one unique IP address per 24 hours, so basically once again they're scamming you as they double or treble their advertising space while you get diddly squat. Just to fully explain, the "BAD" items are the payment for when the popup doesn't fully load eg; because the user closes it as it loads - again, this is a very generous advertiser compared to the norm (don't worry, this advertiser is in the recommended list below)

  2. Almost no advertiser has a 100% fill rate
    Put simply, almost every advertiser will supply X% of adverts for Y cost. What does this mean? Well, basically they allocate how much money they are willing to spend on giving you adverts per hour - this is their budget they allocate you. They then give you that many adverts per hour, and if you exceed that number they will give you PSA's (Public Service Announcements) for which you earn NOTHING. Note that I use "per hour" as a convenience - it's actually a rate adaptive algorithm which computes your instantaneous usage.

    This means THREE big things: (i) Don't send traffic to an advertiser if you fill rate drops below 95-100% as you're wasting advertising space (ii) Never, EVER, send too many adverts of the same type & size to the same publisher in quick succession - the rate adaptive algorithm will tend to max out and allocate you a PSA and (iii) Watch your advertisers like hawks, because they will happily change how much money they're giving you if you become too successful! [Once again, do you see why auto-insert functionality is so useful? You need to be able to alter all your adverts easily when advertisers stop paying]

  3. Advertisers will adjust the quality of adverts you get according to your success
    Yes, that's right - advertisers have tiers of adverts. The most successful publishers get far higher quality adverts than less successful publishers - not that anyone tells you this. If you have never heard of this before, or think it's uncommon - well, this is how Google Adsense works!

    Many people will notice with Google Adsense (the most popular advertising provider for small websites) that when they sign up, their eCPM is very high and they earn quite a few dollars a day. Then they notice after a week or two their eCPM drops significantly - why? Well it's because the CTR (click through rate) has dropped, so Google decides that advertising on your website is pointless, so it sends the better quality ads off to better CTR rated websites. In other words, the more Google adverts you show that DON'T get clicked on, the fewer quality ads you will receive - and thus, the less chance of getting ANY clicks!

    If you want the best quality ads, and thus the best chance of getting clicks, ONLY show adverts on pages which get lots of clicks. Make SURE your average CTR stays over 1% - the industry average is currently 0.5%.
  4. Advertisers will only pay if the advert stays open for a certain period of time
    This is yet another way of scamming the publisher - now, don't get me wrong, it's important from the advertiser's point of view that someone actually sees their adverts. However, many advertisers impose limits like 30 seconds which given the browsing nature of most internet users is basically equal to free advertising. Always check the fine print of your advertiser to see what tricks they may employ.

All these issues will greatly lower your earnings - so much so that it's pointless to take the naive approach ie; choosing an advertiser and sticking with them when they'll be trying to screw you out of as much earnings as possible. What you need is a better way ...

Niall's better way

What us small website owners need is a way of beating the system outlined above. We need some mechanism that serves ONLY adverts that pay, keeps CTR high for the CPC ads, and prevents PSA ads wherever possible. As I mentioned above, I mostly ignore CPA advertising completely given the small, non-commodity website like this site nedprod we have in mind. [see above for the acronym explanations if you skipped the earlier part]

Now I spent a lot of time investigating options for this - a custom PHP script was the most obvious, and indeed there are several out there which can be programmed - however, you need a full GeoIP database (this maps IP address to their geographical location) on your webserver and the lite edition is some 80Mb! I only have 200Mb of space, so I needed another option.

After a great deal of searching and testing options, I initially settled on Right Media Exchange which is owned by Yahoo (however I changed - see below). This is basically an auction house for advertisers (of which there are many), so you register your website and then request links with various partner advertisers some of which are part of the big four - the cost is you won't get the full commission because Right Media take about a 10% slice. However FAR more important is the "third party networks" section - and this part is UNIQUE amongst advertising auction sites - because you can add your own advertisers.

In other words, you can go sign up to a long, long list of advertisers, each of which may offer excellent (> $1 CPM) rates but only for very limited geographies (eg; just Australia). You then feed in their details and eCPM rates to Right Media Exchange and then set the geotargeting and frequency (eg; 1 time per unique user per 12 hours). Right Media Exchange then doles out the best paying adverts to each visitor in turn, and even if your visitor visits multiple pages on your website, Right Media Exchange will keep handing out adverts until it has exhausted all its options, after which it will display any advert of your choice - simply add a custom advertiser (say called "Foo") with each of the advert sizes you serve and have the tag being something like:

<div style="width: 728px; height: 90px; border: thin; border-style: inset; text-align: center;">
<span style="color: #ff0000;"><b><br />
Hello! We seem to have run out of adverts for you or your country. Thank you for visiting nedprod.com, we're glad to see you here!</b></span>
</div>

Set the CPM to $0.01 and it'll show that rather than some silly non-descript PSA. This is more useful than it looks - it proves Right Media Exchange is definitely working as advertised, but it also shows if your fill rate isn't 100% because you want to see zero impressions in all ad categories. Via this trick, I recently discovered that nedprod's popunders were being fully utilised and therefore I needed a supplementary popunder provider.

This has four big advantages:

  1. You only have to add ONE set of HTML inserts to your website ie; those pointing at Right Media Exchange.
  2. Your visitors only ever see adverts for their specific region - how often have you visited a site and seen nothing other than US adverts? That pisses me off, cos it's just ignorance and laziness on the part of the webmaster. A nice message like the above is better if I have nothing to show.
  3. You don't give free slots to your advertisers - they get to pay for each and every slot you supply because you don't show their adverts to people without getting paid for it.
  4. You can tell Right Media Exchange to pace how quickly you request ads from a specific supplier, so that rate adaptive algorithm I mentioned above never maxes out and thus you get a very high fill rate - no PSA's!

It does however have one big disadvantage:

  1. All that complexity at Right Media Exchange's end of things, never mind that each ad may need contact an individual network each, makes ad loading very slow indeed. Normally this isn't a problem - Opera and Firefox will render the page as fast as they are able to, so your users can get on with using the page and it will adjust itself as the ads come in.

    Unfortunately, there is ONE web browser which will sit there and hang until every single advert has been fetched - and worse still, it's the most popular one in the world ie; Microsoft Internet Explorer. It was so slow in fact that nedprod was seeing 10-14 sec page loading times which made it like you were on a dialup modem. Sadly, the only solution is to use iframe tags rather than script tags - these reduced page loads to less than a second, but with them go the ability to contextualise adverts thanks to over zealous security in web browsers. Some advert providers eg; Google, with serve only PSA's in this situation which means you earn absolutely nothing. Most providers though will simply give you a much lower eCPM.

So first thing you should do is open an account with Right Media Exchange, add your "Foo" zero CPM custom provider and place their advert slots on your website - you don't need to bother with adding custom advertisers for now, because before anything else you need your visitor's geographic profile. I would immediately request a link with all the big advertisers on the Link page as they take over a week to approve (or deny) your request. Oh, if you think I'm being paid to promote them, feel free to search Google and find any better alternative out there - and email me with it, and I'll happily change this HOWTO.

Run with your "Foo" empty adverts for three or four days to get a good profile. Just for reference, here are the advertisers currently available for direct linkage in Right Media Exchange: Kitara, Revenue Science, Xtend, Directa Networks, Bannerconnect, Active Response Group, Adtegrity, CPX Interactive, Remix Media (Right Media Networks), Oridian, Rydium, Vizi Direct. I give my experiences and eCPM of each below.

Just as a side note, Google are in the process of launching their Ad Manager service which does exactly as Right Media Exchange does except maybe better. However it's still in beta and is currently invite only - so, for now, I don't cover it here.

Niall's Better Way Mk. 2

Something weird happened towards the end of August 2008: Direct Right Media were busy taking care of my advertising and the money was rolling in, though annoyingly into separate accounts each of which had a minimum payout. However, as is usual during the summer months, the eCPM remained high while the revenue dropped quite noticeably as the number of web site hits dropped for the summer months. Then suddenly CPX Interactive emailed me to say that they were cutting off my account because my volume was too low - this effectively halved my revenue as CPX had been my biggest earner.

This basically meant that Direct Right Media had to go. All my earnings were sitting at around US$20-30 each account (making a total of over US$100) yet they were all untouchable - it was wasted revenue. The last six months of advertising had been for nothing!

By this stage, the Rubicon Project was accepting public applications. They are basically an identical concept to Direct Right Media except with one, very important difference: they bill the advertisers for you and combine all the revenue into one, single payment to a paypal account. This makes a VERY big difference.

I switched over about a week ago and it mostly works. There are bugs: the 728x90 leaderboard just won't earn any revenue and seems to mostly be blank whenever I visit the site - this is despite it being my best earner with every other advertiser. Also, they keep displaying US dollar product prices to me despite that I live in the UK which shows shoddy geotargeting. The revenue is also about half to a third of what it was with Direct Right Media, and the web interface is very buggy - it often forgets that I am on the site and just starts displaying blank pages which requires a logout & login to reset. So all in all, it has problems.

However, on the plus side, the combined payments appears to be working and actually getting paid a third of the revenue is better than nothing. So, it's good for now. I've tried replacing the 728x90 with a 300x100 and we'll see if that works around their billing bug.

nedprod's geographic profile

Taking the last four days of data off Right Media Exchange, my visitor's geographic profile looks like this (29th Feb 2008 to 2nd Mar 2008):

nedprodGeoProfile

Language Region Impressions Percentage
English United States 4,634 58.82%
  United Kingdom 664 8.43%
  Canada 242 3.07%
  Australia 179 2.27%
Indo-European Western Europe 963 12.22%
   Eastern Europe 491 6.23%
Assorted Asian Asia 408 5.18%
Spanish/Portugese South America 142 1.80%
Assorted African Africa 12 0.15%
Other   143 1.80%
Total   7,878 100%

I think it's fairly obvious now why most webmasters and advertisers simply ignore anywhere outside the US! Obviously nedprod is English language only, but most of Western Europe's educated classes have good reading English - the simple reality is that despite poor broadband availability in the US, American citizens spend an awful lot of time on the Internet compared to anyone else in the world.

This now tells us what advertising to bother about: 70% is covered just by US/UK/Canada but we can up that to 89% just by adding in Western and Eastern Europe. Thus, we now know for which countries to go searching for specialised custom advertisers. This is the key - watch your demographics, and find and add customised geotargeted advertisers wherever it makes sense.

Some interesting advertising facts

I thought that some of you may find some facts about advertising interesting - say for example you do have a commodity website, knowing where the advertising bucks go would be very useful. Note all of the following are for the US only.

  • Out of the top Fortune 250 companies, the only companies who don't spend at least 2% of their sales on advertising are the big four advertising companies themselves: Omnicom, WPP, Interpublic and Publicis who get 57% of all US advertising. This tends to suggest that they don't think advertising actually works (it probably doesn't except to maintain market share when the competition is advertising eg; when tobacco advertising is banned, the entire cigarette industry makes a fortune not paying for advertising and loses no sales!)
  • The top advertising segments:
    Automotive: 3.1%
    Beer, wine & liquor: 8.6%
    Computers & software: 2.8%
    Cosmetics & personal care: 16%
    Drugs: 8.9%
    Fast-food restaurants: 5.8%
    Food: 5%
    Retail: 2.1%
    Soft drinks: 7.2%
    Telecom: 3.7%

You will find that certain banner sizes earn more than others. Here's a list from one provider:

Type Size CPM
Button 125x125 $0.15
Vertical Banner 120x240 $0.35
Full Banner 468x60 $0.65
Skyscraper 120x600 $0.75
Wide Skyscraper 160x600 $0.85
Leaderboard 728x90 $1.00

Furthermore, the very traditional 300x250 advert tends to earn less than a skyscraper. Bear all these in mind when choosing your advert sizes!

Cashing US Dollar Cheques

What I am about to say applies to UK residents only because I don't know the situation elsewhere.

  • The Halifax/Bank of Scotland currently charges £5 per batch of US cheques, so if you submit three or four it works out okay. It takes about five working days to clear.
  • Citibank will give you a US$ account if you're already a customer or can bank US$2000, otherwise at US$20 a month
  • Lloyds TSB probably have the cheapest US$ account in the UK at only US$7.50 a month. The interest rates are pretty pathetic though, so watch out for inflation eating away your balance.
  • You can get US dollar, Euro and Sterling denominated accounts in the Isle of Man (a protectorate of the UK but which is sort of neither in nor outside the EU). However, watch the fine print in the terms & conditions: they may not charge a maintenance fee for the account, but they may charge to withdraw funds.

Watch the bid/spread difference like a hawk! This is the difference between the buy & sell price which banks use to charge you a few percent commission on the transfer whilst pretending it's commission free! To calculate, simply average the buy & sell price, then subtract from the buy price and divide by the average price. This will give you the hidden commission - some banks are as low as 0.5%, others as much as 5%! Worse still, some banks even vary them over time (according to "expected volatility" apparently!).

Transferring Money from one place to another (eg; Donations!)

Depending on the kind of website you have, you may be able to persuade people to buy you a beer or a coffee. Certain kinds of blog, especially if humourous, are particularly suitable for this kind of monetisation.

As we all know, the primary way of moving money around the internet is sadly Paypal whose parent also owns eBay. They really don't care about their customers much - if your account gets hacked (they frequently do) and money stolen (again, frequently) then tough titties for you. They have also stolen money from me several occasions in the past, have high transaction fees (especially high if a currency conversion is involved) and are generally speaking crap. Search Google if you want to hear lots of horror stories. Currently for UK residents, Paypal charge 3.4% + £0.20 per transaction if in Sterling, 2.5% + 3.9% + £0.20 if foreign currency. Quite frankly, that's appalling antismiley

Sadly, almost everyone in the US will only use Paypal and nothing else because they aren't familiar with anything else - and as noted above, US citizens will be the biggest proportion of visitor for most English speaking sites. There are better alternatives nowadays - Moneybookers is especially popular in Europe and is far cheaper especially for foreign currency conversions and vastly (in fact, annoyingly so) more secure. In particular, Moneybookers will happily present a native language interface to most non-Western as well as European peoples - the unfortunate limitation is that you must create & verify-by-email an account before Moneybookers will let you send money to anyone. Moneybookers currently charges just 1% of the transaction amount up to a maximum of €0.50 - and it charges this to the sender, not the receiver. It adds a 1.75% charge if foreign currency - as you can see, this shows just how extortionate Paypal are.

A new entrant to this field also requiring an account creation & verification is Google via Google Checkout which charges 1.5% + £0.15 for UK residents, 2.0% + $0.20 for US residents. It performs no foreign currency conversion at all, so the sender's bank does the conversion and charges whatever it charges (usually 2.5% for most banks, but it'll be hidden in the exchange rate). I think that most US visitors would prefer giving their bank details to Google than Moneybookers, but Paypal will still be the most recognised.

A really new entrant is Amazon Payments, but they are so new they are US only for now. When they expand to the UK, I'll add more here.

However, Paypal does have one upside - they accept credit & debit card payments without the person having to open a Paypal account beforehand - this is only because unverified credit card use is illegal in every other civilised nation on the planet, so no one else will provide that without you (the merchant) having to fill in several forms and register them with the financial services regulator first.

One BIG problem you'll find when running multiple E-money providers is moving money between them. It turns out that the solution is dead easy - simply go to www.moneyswitch.com and after verifying your identity, you can move money between accounts for low charges. Enter 'ned14' as your referrer when signing up if you appreciate this tip. This can save sending and recharging via a bank account with all the associated clearing waits and fees.

How do you integrate Paypal, Moneybookers and Google Checkout payment into your website? Well, the Paypal code looks something like this:

<form name="_xclick" action="https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr" method="post">
<div><input type="hidden" name="cmd" value="_xclick" />
<input type="hidden" name="business" value="THVBALDNCU2DU" />
<input type="hidden" name="item_name" value="One coffee or beer for Niall" />
<input type="hidden" name="currency_code" value="GBP" />
<input type="hidden" name="amount" value="3.07" />
<input type="submit" name="submit" value="Buy Niall a beer/coffee (£3.07) via Paypal (also takes debit & credit cards)" />
</div></form>

This is the standard Paypal code except upgraded to be XHTML compatible. You may be puzzled with the "business" field - it contains some random numbers and letters instead of the destination email address! Why? Because I don't want spammers deluging me with spam, and it turns out that you can hash your recipient address - not that the Paypal website tells you this anywhere.

Where do you get this code from? Well log into your Paypal account, click on "Referrals" at the bottom of the page. In the middle it will show you your referral link which looks like this: https://www.paypal.com/uk/mrb/pal=THVBALDNCU2DU. Simply replace your email with the pal= code.

The Moneybookers code looks like this:

<form action="https://www.moneybookers.com/app/payment.pl" method="post" target="_blank">
<div>If you prefer Moneybookers, type
<img src="moneybookersaddr.png" class="style12" /> into
<input type="text" name="pay_to_email" value="<here>" size="32" /> then 
click<br />
<input type="hidden" name="language" value="EN" />
<input type="hidden" name="amount" value="2.69" />
<input type="hidden" name="currency" value="GBP" />
<input type="hidden" name="detail1_description" value="(at St. Andrews, Scotland prices)" />
<input type="hidden" name="detail1_text" value="One coffee or beer for Niall" />
<input type="submit" value="Buy Niall a beer/coffee (£2.69) via Moneybookers" />
</div></form>

This hassle of having to display the email as an image and have the user type it in is sadly unavoidable without running through a CGI script. Shame they couldn't copy Paypal's unofficial feature.

Now as you'll see below, I have rolled up all of the Google, Paypal and Moneybookers payment options into a custom insert which also displays the price of the beer/coffee in US$ and EUR€ according to current exchange rates using Javascript to screen scrape the returned output. Clever eh? You can yank the latest versions from here and modify them to whatever you find suitable - note that these are LIVE copies of the ACTUAL scripts used on this website, I have some PHP yank them in and syntax highlight them for you:

donate.html:

donatesrc.html:

The Advertisers!

Now here's the bit that most of you probably arrived at this webpage looking for: a current list of advertisers and their pros & cons. I have added in quite a few features which no other list of advertisers has such as a subjective rating, which ones are currently in use, and most importantly how much I personally earn from them. With all the gotchas, caveats and other ways they try to screw publishers, max CPM or CPC rates mean nothing in a real world scenario. Note though that your site may gain far more from CPC than CPM than mine, or maybe even vice versa - but at least you have a real world guide unlike most other lists. Also, I'll be keeping this up to date as the situation changes so please revisit! You may find this other website full of advertiser listings useful.

I have included advertisers who rejected my application just for reference but obviously I don't know anything about them. I have placed various current rumours about various advertisers that I have gleaned from posts made since Jan 08 - but no warranty is given express or implied that any of these rumours are true.

BTW an Interstitial is one of those very annoying full page ads that pops up in between moving around pages on a website. I personally find these SO annoying that I don't use them anywhere on nedprod - though in a few places I do use some popunders due to the very high CPM. Also I have completely left out those horribly annoying popup boxes when you move your mouse pointer over a double underlined word - I HATE those, and would never help anyone suffer them.

Niall's Ratings are purely subjective and are based on (in this order): (i) Earnings (ii) Low Min Payout (iii) Ease of Use (inc. paypal option, non-stupidity of website etc). I disable any advertiser not paying me at least US$0.12 eCPM after a week - the market average is about US$0.25-$0.30 for untargeted ads right now.

Earnings for the month of April 2008
(total unique visitors = 11,627; 54,858 ads served):
   
Advertiser: Earnings: eCPM:
Google Adsense US$19.26 US$6.35
Kitara US$4.34 US$0.27
Right Media Network US$3.95 US$0.56
CPX Interactive US$3.85 US$0.19
ItsPTP US$2.07 US$1.10
Xtend US$0.68 US$0.37
Others US$1.10  
Total US$35.25 US$0.64
   

 

Last updated: Friday 2nd May 2008. If it's much out of date, chances are the info won't be much use.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS SECTION IS NO LONGER UPDATED SINCE AUGUST 2008 AS I HAVE MOVED OVER TO USING THE RUBICON PROJECT. YOU CAN ADD CUSTOM ADVERTISERS TO THE RUBICON PROJECT BUT I HAVEN'T BOTHERED.

By the way, most of the links to the advertisers contain my referral link (ie; I get paid if you sign up). If you liked this page and thought it was useful, then please use the links in here. If not, then feel free to google each advertiser and skip me getting my commission. Totally up to you!

A pint of beerA pint of beerWould you like to buy Niall a beer/coffee to thank him for writing & maintaining this page? A beer or coffee costs around £2.99 here in Cork, Ireland.

Thanks to recent donators: Keith P, Daniel H, Chris E, Mary P, Joseph S, Patricia S, Michael W, Adam K

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Niall's
Rating
Advertiser Type (in order) eCPM on nedprod
(prev week)
Payment Schedule Notable Pros Notable Cons Notes
1/10
(Removed from nedprod 3rd Mar 08)
Adbrite CPC, CPA, Interstitials, $0.10-$0.40 CPM $0.10
(3rd Mar 08)
Cheque only   Pays for US visitors only. Max 3 ads per page Make sure you set "auto approve ads" to No, then reject any ads which don't have a CPM. Otherwise you'll never earn anything useful - currently it's $0.10-$0.40 CPM but with a very limited banner set.

Note that this network seems to be on the decline - the adverts they serve seem very poor quality. Internet gossip suggests that Etology have stolen much of their trade.
  Adjug CPM, CPC   Paypal Contextual Adverts, Pays whatever CPM you set, but you lose fill rate if too high   Somewhat like Adsdaq in design, this is basically its European equivalent. Unfortunately the page to set required CPM won't load, so haven't used them on nedprod.
  Ads-click CPC         Despite a few thousand impressions, no clicks so no revenue. I dropped them from nedprod.
4/10
(Removed from nedprod 5th Mar 08)
Adsdaq CPM, CPC $0.31
(5th Mar 08)
Cheque only, min US$50 Contextual Adverts, Pays whatever CPM you set, but you lose fill rate if too high Pays for US visitors only Unfortunately they rejected the addition of ad.yieldmanager.com and yieldmanager.com to the Approved Domains - which meant that Right Media Exchange served ads wouldn't get counted. Hence, I reluctantly have dropped them from nedprod.
  Adtegrity (via Right Media Exchange) CPM, CPC, CPA (60% revenue share)   Paypal, Cheque, min US$50   Min 500k impressions per month Rejected my application, so I haven't tried this one personally
8/10
(Removed from nedprod 17th Aug 08)
Advpoints (formerly ItsPTP) $0.40-$1.60 CPM $1.10
(2nd May 08)
Paypal, min US$1   Pays high rate for US, Canada and UK, low rate for European countries. Requires 15 second viewing. Almost certainly uses visitor's browsers to rip off other advertisers. Often invokes lots of zero sized iframes and can stupidly redirect the browser to some other site. Sometimes opens a popunder.
  AOL Revenue, CPM, CPC, CPA       Min 2m unique per month I haven't tried this one personally
5/10
(Removed from nedprod 5th Mar 08)
ApplyAds $0.35-$1 CPM $0.11
(5th Mar 08)
Paypal, min US$10 $1 CPM is very good, and you get a bonus with 1k, 3k and 5k impressions per day Pays for US & Canada visitors only. Requires 30 second viewing to count. Only about 10-15% of my visitors stay on a page for more than 30 seconds, so this has an obvious strong effect on earnings. Only place these adverts on long pages requiring lots of reading (eg; this one!) - do this by adding a site for long pages into Right Media Exchange (naming it whatever), then choose only that site for the targeting. This should improve hit rate to 25%-50%.

Reluctantly removed as the eCPM dropped too much due to that damned timer.
7/10
(Removed from nedprod 17th Aug 08)
BannerConnect Network (via Right Media Exchange) CPM, CPC, CPA (60% revenue share) $0.34
(2nd May 08)
Paypal, min US$0.01     0.51% CTR, but I have left CPC turned off.
  Casale Media CPM (70% of their revenue)   Paypal, Cheque, min US$25 People speak well of them on the internet Min 10k unique per month. Content must be English or Spanish only. Rejected my application, so I haven't tried this one personally
5/10
(Removed from nedprod 17th Aug 08)
CPX Interactive (via Right Media Exchange) CPM, CPC, CPA (60% revenue share) $0.19
(2nd May 08)
Paypal, Cheque, min US$50 Pays for international traffic. Good click rate for US & Canada Pays considerably more for English & Spanish speaking visitors 1.33% CTR, so have enabled CPC. Seems to make no difference to earnings though, but probably would improve fill rate.
3/10
(Removed from nedprod 17th Aug 08)
Directa Networks (via Right Media Exchange) CPM, CPC, CPA (60% revenue share) $0.11
(2nd May 08)
Paypal, min US$50 Pays well for international traffic. Good click rate for US & Canada   1.08% CTR. Enabling CPC doubles the already appalling eCPM.
  Etology Flat-rate Marketplace   Cheque, Paypal, min US$30 Useful for commodity websites Useless for non-commodity websites You only get ads if a seller specifically sells ads to your profile. Otherwise it's all PSA.
  Global Interactive CPM, CPC       Min 3k unique per month. Content must be English only. Rejected my application, so I haven't tried this one personally
9/10
Used on nedprod
Google CPC, CPA $6.35
(2nd May 08)
Cheque, min US$100 Contextual Adverts, Many users will click on the search-related ads rather than returning to Google Pays for US, Canada, Europe and China only. It can take forever to reach US$100. Max 3 ads per page. Make sure you enter plenty of URL channels so you can see which pages perform well. Eliminate ads from all pages which don't perform. Watch the CTR, keep it over 1% at all costs!

I get such a ridiculously high eCPM due to the intelligence test where the CTR for Adsense ads is something 8%, and thus earnings are about US$5 a week from this alone!
5/10
(Removed from nedprod 17th Aug 08)
Kitara (via Right Media Exchange) CPM, CPC, CPA (65% revenue share) $0.27
(2nd May 08)
Cheque only, min US$75 Pays well for international traffic. Good click rate for US & Canada   1.81% CTR. Have enabled CPC, makes for a slight increase in eCPM.
3/10
(Removed from nedprod 17th Aug 08)
Oridian (via Right Media Exchange) CPM, CPC, CPA (60% revenue share) $0.24
(2nd May 08)
Cheque only, min US$100      
  Oxado CPC, CPA   Paypal, Moneybookers Contextual Adverts, Very useful for filling non-US traffic ads   See Country List for countries paid. Remember though there's no CPM.

Despite a few thousand impressions, no clicks so no revenue. I dropped them from nedprod.
  PayPopup $0.35-$1.80 popunder, $0.10-$0.40 popin, $0.05-$0.19 CPM, $0.35-$1.80 interstitial   Paypal, min US$100 Pays for almost every country Min 5k unique per month. No personal websites. Only English speaking visitors pay well Rejected my application, so I haven't tried this one personally
4/10
(Removed from nedprod 11th Mar 08)
PopupAd $0.50-$5 popunder $0.50
(3rd Mar 08)
Paypal, min US$50 Pays EQUALLY for almost every country. Has bonus for high monthly views. Browser popup blockers knock the rate down to the $0.50 tier Website doesn't seem to log adverts being shown, so I have removed as I'm losing money
6/10
(Removed from nedprod 4th Mar 08)
PopupTraffic $0.05-$1.80 popunder ? Paypal, min US$25 Pays something for almost every country Only English speaking visitors pay well. Only US visitors pay top rate Website doesn't seem to log adverts being shown, so I have removed as I'm losing money
6/10
(Removed from nedprod 17th Aug 08)
Remix Media (via Right Media Exchange) CPM, CPC, CPA (65% revenue share) $0.56
(2nd May 08)
Paypal, Cheque, min US$50   Pays for US, Canada and UK only 0.51% CTR. Have left CPC turned off.
2/10
(Removed from nedprod 19th Mar 08)
Rydium (via Right Media Exchange) CPM, CPC, CPA (65% revenue share) $0.09
(19th Mar 08)
Cheque only, min US$100      
  TribalFusion CPM (55% of their revenue)   Cheque only, min US$50 People speak VERY well of them on the internet Min 60k unique per month I haven't tried this one personally
4/10
(Removed from nedprod 3rd Mar 08)
Vastgate $0.25 CPM $0.25
(3rd Mar 08)
Paypal, Moneybookers, min US$25 Pays no matter how many impressions or source of visitor Only English, German, French, Spanish content. Almost certainly uses visitor's browsers to rip off other advertisers. May try installing spyware on unpatched web browsers. Sometimes will open dozens of popunders.
3/10
(Removed from nedprod 3rd Mar 08)
WidgetBucks CPC, CPA, CPM $0.16
(3rd Mar 08)
Paypal, cheque, min US$50 Contextual Adverts, High eCPM for US visitors only Shocking non-US CPM rates Has these very clever interactive flash widgets for US visitors which try to sell discount electrical & insurance goods. Wish they'd roll it out to Europe. Make sure you add yieldmanager.com, rmxads.com, ad.yieldmanager.com, optimizedby.rmxads.com to "Domains/URLs on which you will display widgets", otherwise it won't count any from Direct Media Exchange
5/10
(Removed from nedprod 17th Aug 08)
Xtend (via Right Media Exchange) CPM, CPC, CPA (60% revenue share) $0.37
(2nd May 08)
Paypal, Cheque, min US$50     0.26% CTR. Have left CPC off.
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Contact the webmaster: Niall Douglas @ webmaster2<at symbol>nedprod.com (Last updated: 18 February 2013 20:38:59 -0500)