If you run a business, you probably have a website. A website is the digital shop front of the modern age, the place where you showcase what you have to offer, and try and entice customers in to explore further or make a purchase.
Usually, a website is seen as in investment. You pay for website hosting, for a domain name, perhaps for someone to design and maintain it for you (and even if you do this yourself, it still costs you precious time). The website is a drain on your funds which you hope will repay itself through the extra business it generates. But did you ever think that a website could do more than just generate custom for your business, that it could be a source of revenue in its own right? How? By serving as an advertising platform.
Online AdvertisingOnline advertising is not some minor fringe activity. In recent years, it has seriously eaten into the profits of traditional advertising platforms, such as television and newspapers. In Britain, online advertisements are now worth more than advertisements in national newspapers and are predicted to outstrip television advertising revenues within a few years.
Some companies have found that running adverts on their website brings in a useful stream of income as a sideline to their main business. There are even companies which see online advertising as their principal, or even only, source of income, putting up web content primarily for the online advertising revenues it will bring in.
How Do You Get Advertising On Your Site?Although it’s possible to negotiate with individual advertisers on your own, and agree prices with them, most website operators run adverts through one of the large online advertising companies.
Typically, you would sign up with one of these companies, supply some details about yourself and your website, then indicate your preferences about which kinds of advertisement you want to display. The options will cover things like size, whether the adverts will be graphical or text-based, what colours they will use, and what kinds of business they will relate to. For example, you could say that you don’t want to accept any adverts from companies offering adult entertainment services.
At the end of this process, you will be given a HTML code which you need to insert on your website to display the appropriate advertisements. This code will contain a number which identifies you uniquely, so that you will be properly credited with any responses which result from the adverts you display.
How you will be paid for the adverts you display differs from one partner firm to another. Some will pay you each time the advertisement is viewed, some per click, some each time a transaction results from your advert. Google’s pay per click model is currently dominant in the marketplace.
Disadvantages of Online AdvertisingWith all that’s been said above, it might seem like running adverts on your website is an unqualified good thing. But there are some disadvantages, too, and it’s important to be aware of them. For one thing, many people feel that online advertisements are visually unattractive, and tend to deface a website. The aesthetic aspect of your website is undoubtedly part of what attracts customers to it, otherwise no one would pay website designers to do what they do, so you should expect your website to become slightly less appealing.
The advertising firms you partner with may also impose restrictions on the website’s content. For example, they may forbid anything which could be construed as offensive, and their definition of this may be a broad one, so you may suffer some loss of your freedom of speech.
Some of the adverts displayed on your site may be for competing companies. So you might have a customer who is thinking of making a purchase from you, but is lured away at the last moment to a rival firm!
Some people think that online advertising makes a website, and the business behind it, look unprofessional. It suggests to them that the business isn’t making enough money from its main line of work and so needs to squeeze out every little bit of revenue it can.
It’s up to you to decide whether these disadvantageous aspects of online advertising outweigh the revenue it can bring in.