Balancing Affiliate Revenue With Ad Network Revenue

As web publishers, when money doesn’t find us as we expect it to, we are fortunate enough to have fairly straightforward solutions to fix the flow. The solution just doesn’t always come to us right away. If you’re experiencing monetization issues, frustration can blind you. So instead of pulling out your hair, wondering, “why?!” turn your attention to your monetization strategies. Every now and then, our strategies fall out of balance, leading to a decrease in overall revenue.

But as long as you have an open mind and are flexible to change, switching up your strategies is a piece of cake. If you’re fortunate enough to be successful with both affiliate revenue and ad network revenue—two of the most common monetization efforts—that piece of cake just got even tastier. 

What is Affiliate Revenue?

Affiliate revenue is the commission you make when you resell items through your blog. For example, say you run a lifestyle blog that promotes the benefits of taking a bath every night. If you join an affiliate program—which could be an online marketplace—you can market products that improve the benefits of the bath: bath bombs, loofas, shampoo, etc. Your blog post about how important it is to put rose petals into your bath water could suddenly turn into an opportunity for you to make money.

Working on affiliate revenue takes time. Depending on your level of involvement, you could be clocking in decent full-time hours on multiple affiliations. Although it’s a fantastic way to monetize your blog, you shouldn’t go crazy affiliating yourself with third-party websites. You can do whatever you want—who are we to judge—but ideally, you won’t want to go over three affiliations.

If you spread your work too thin, you’ll end up burning out. Burnout can impact your productivity and the quality of your work. Then there’s the basic fact that some affiliate programs won’t let you join more than their program, too. 

If affiliate programs are your “thing,” choose your program wisely and work hard at it. You’ll be doing plenty of research, writing, and monitoring—but all your hard work can pay off, even if you just stick to one. 

How is Ad Network Revenue Different?

On the other hand, ad network revenue is money you make off of selling ad space on your website. It can be a more passive revenue stream than earning with affiliate marketing since you’re not directly promoting anything. If you haven’t worked with an ad network before and are considering it, you’ll want to assess the type of traffic you have first. 

Getting started with ads is very easy to do, even for publishers who aren’t the most tech-savvy. The most effort required will typically be finding an ad network to partner with; there are many options out there and vary in terms of quality. Once you are accepted into a platform, starting can be as easy as placing ad units on your website. 

However, you do need to watch out for how those ads ultimately look on your site. What makes ad revenue so attractive can also make it unattractive. Because ad revenue is a simple way to monetize your blog or website, people tend to go overboard with advertisements, but what they may fail to realize is that it’s not always the most lucrative way to earn money. If you overload your website with ads thinking you’re going to pile on the cash, it will make your website heavy and slow with little return. This is unattractive to visitors who just want to navigate your website in peace.

Finding a Balance

The way to avoid overworking yourself with affiliate programs and overworking your website with advertisements is to find a balance between the two. Multiple streams of revenue will bring you a better chance of successful monetization, anyway.

Think of it this way. If you own a store that sells shirts, you only appeal to a clientele that only wants shirts. But if you also sell pants, you’ve increased your outreach. Not only can you bring in people who want shirts, but pants as well. Talk about increasing your chances of conversion!

Monetization strategies work similarly. If you only use ads, you miss out on an opportunity to make money through affiliation programs and vice versa.

A happy relationship

Ad revenue and affiliate revenue work really well together. Neither strategy distracts visitors from the other. If placed correctly, ads won’t take away too much attention from what you’re trying to sell. And what you’re trying to sell won’t take away from the advertisement flashing on the screen.

In fact, if both the ad and the affiliate link bring the visitor to the niche in which you’re working, you could see click-throughs for both the ad and the link. Plus, when you place ads, you aren’t necessarily relying on clicks to generate revenue. If you are working on cost per mile, it doesn’t matter if you have one million views per month or 500,000 views per month. It’s the views that count. This way, you can still make money on ads and leave the clicks for your affiliate programs.

Look at your numbers—and ads

To balance your revenue so you can control the amount of work you’re putting in towards monetization, take a close look at your existing revenue numbers.

First, see how much you’re bringing in between both avenues. If you make more money through your affiliate program than ads and know you have the resources to expand to two affiliate programs, why not take on a second program? Again, don’t go over three—that’s a quick way to exhaustion. 

However, if you are making more money through ads, it doesn’t mean you should always take on more ads. Ads slow down your website and can get in the way. Too many ads could result in a drop in revenue, which isn’t good for anybody.

Prioritize the user experience. If you make a decent amount, keep it that way. If you aren’t making as much money as you’d like to, maybe you actually have too many ads, and people are navigating away from your website as quickly as they entered it. Check your website’s load time as well. There are plenty of analytical tools—both free and paid—that you can use to check how long it’s taking your website to load.

The internet may be virtual, but greed will still impact you the way it does in real life. If you start selling more ad space to increase your ad network revenue, you could end up crashing and burning. 

Walk the line

You’ll also want to balance what you advertise, not just the amount of ads you have on your webpage compared to affiliate links. Finding the sweet spot between what will bring you money and what your readers want is a little more trial and error. There are some common-sense practices you can try, however.

  • Remember your niche. Don’t promote dog food on a website about skateboards, for example.
  • Understand your audience. If your audience appeals to college-aged students, don’t include affiliate links to $1,000 full-sized sofas they won’t be able to afford. Plus, I’m not sure they’d be able to fit a full-sized sofa into their dorm room anyways!
  • Limit your calls to action. Don’t be forceful when trying to sell a product. Don’t bombard the reader with a sales pitch. Suggest they purchase a product sweetly and no more than twice.
  • Find unique ways to integrate affiliate links and offers.
  • Know who you are. If you know what you’re trying to accomplish on your website, you’ll be able to better choose which ads and affiliate links you include in your posts. The readers who visit your website will also see the logic in your page’s ads and will be more likely to trust them.

Put yourself in the reader’s shoes. How would you feel as a stranger visiting your website? If you can’t relate to your ads and affiliate links or are annoyed by the amount of unrelated content you have, it’s time to make some cuts.

Newor Media

The next step up, header bidding, facilitates live auctions on your ad space. These live auctions provide advertisers an equal opportunity to bid on ad space every time your page loads. This simultaneous bidding can ultimately drive up the ending bid of the ad space you’re selling—more money for you.

Newor Media is a premium header bidding provider. Beyond giving you an increase in your network stack, we can optimize the ad revenue experience for you as you start to transition to a more serious commitment to your website. We offer a wide range of services such as ad layout optimization, a consent management platform, revenue-generating solutions, and more to take care of your ad units. Working with our expert AdOps team can guarantee a balanced and optimized ad strategy so that you can focus your efforts elsewhere. 

The balancing act takes practice—and it’s easy to fall off the balance beam. So be flexible with how you handle your monetization strategies. Adapting to change and finding the balance between strategies will optimize your revenue stream. If you’re ready to maximize your ad earnings without disrupting website integrity, be sure to contact us today.

Dario Osowski

Senior Account Manager, Publisher Development: Newor Media

Dario is an ad tech superhero who is innovative and has solved complex technical and business matters that have generated high revenue growth for publishers. He has a strong technical background, provides technical concierge support, is highly analytical and solution-oriented. Dario currently works at Newor Media, where he provides technical and business support and solutions to publishers to generate the best revenue growth outcome in yield optimization management in the programmatic universe.