The Five Ps of Planning your Website Monetization Strategy

Ad Servers, Selling Ads, Website Monetization

When creating your setting up an ad server on your site for the first time, there are a few considerations to take into

When you’re first planning your direct ad sale strategy on your website, there are a few key considerations to take into account. An ad server can make the process of setting up and serving your ads much easier, but having a clear plan of action can streamline both your setup process and your workflow.

Here are a fey factors to consider:


Where on your site will you be placing your ads? Typically, the desktop version of your site might have a sidebar, ad space at the top and bottom of the page, and between articles on your homepage. The mobile version is typically simpler, with ads between articles and within articles.

There are also some more advanced options, like popups, ads that stick to the top or bottom of the page, or native ads, which look like articles and often get a higher click through rate. So review your site and consider what ad opportunities it holds, and think creatively of places where you can fit ads while still providing your readers with a great user experience.

Pro Tip:

In AdvertServe, you first set up your ad sizes in the settings area. AdvertServe comes with dozens of pre-defined ad sizes based on the IAB’s recommend ad dimensions. You can always add new sizes as well though, based on your specific needs.


Once you know where you want your ads to appear, you can probably begin to get a sense for what those ads might look like. Often, the ad dimensions reflect the technical limitations or advantages of a specific ad spot. For example, the sidebar is a great place for square or vertically rectangular ads. The space between articles on desktops often contain ads that are wider and thinner.

A few key factors to keep in mind are simplicity and versatility. Some ads are easier to design and look great in so many places. There’s a reason why the 300×250 almost-square banner is such a mainstay of display advertising – it looks good almost anywhere. Consider also, that having too many ad dimension choices can overwhelm your advertising clients and can make the process of selling and setting up campaigns more difficult.

Pro Tip:

You can then define the placement of your ads via AdvertServe’s ad zones. Use the ad zone code generator to create the right ad zones for your site.

A few recommendations:

  • Use AJAX whenever possible to load ads only when viewers scroll to that part of the page. This makes your pages load faster and makes the ad campaigns more effective.
  • You can use a single ad zone in multiple areas of your website. Assuming the zone uses a standard size, and you don’t have any specific reason to show an ad specifically in one spot, you can actually place code for one ad zone in multiple parts of your site and let AdvertServe distribute ads to all of these locations as needed.

Here is a video with a walkthrough of the basic steps for setting up your ad sizes and zones with the AdvertServe dashboard:


So far we’ve spoke about the technical aspects of setting up your ads. But ultimately, the reason we place ads on our sites in the first place is to get paid. A few key considerations that can make a big difference to your bottom line.

When do you bill? We’ve written an entire article about this. For most publishers, billing in advance is the simplest and most straightforward way. Our AVS Express ad server allows you to bill customers right from your ad server dashboard.

What is your pricing model? For smaller publishers with just a few advertisers, charging a flat weekly or monthly rate might be enough. If you have higher traffic or more ad demand, switching to a CPM model (charging for every 1,000 times an ad loads) makes sure that your advertisers get exactly what they paid for – no more and no less. Other options can include CPC (charging per clicks, just make sure the advertisers run good campaigns!), or hybrid models, for example running ads for a certain time frame while also guaranteeing a certain amount of impressions.

How much should you charge? This is a difficult one to answer offhand. It depends on a variety of factors: what industry you’re in, what your competitors charge, what types of budgets your advertisers have, and how big your own site is. One thing is clear, there is a reason why you are choosing to sell ads directly, and that typically is because of higher profit margins and closer alignment between your clients ads and your brand. This is especially true for smaller publishers; you can often start making money faster, and at a much higher rate relative to your actual site traffic, then if you tried to monetize through a network like Google Adsense.

Selling directly is power.


Combing the concepts of placement and pricing leads us to the idea of premium: not all areas of your site are worth the same. Identify the prominent, high-profile zones of your site and charge more for them. This allows you to make more money from your top advertisers, and also gives all your buyers a choice, which is always good for the sales process.

A zone could be premium because it actually performs better, which more often than not means converting to more website clicks. However, it could also be premium in the eyes of the advertiser, some people just like seeing their ad at the top of a website’s homepage regardless of how well the ad does.

Pro tip:

When setting up an AdvertServe campaign, you can define how much the customer is paying for the campaign. This will allow you to include revenue data when you generate reports through AdvertServe’s powerful and customizable reports feature.


Tying this all together is packages. Why sell a single ad when you can sell multiple ads?

This is especially true for smaller publishers and for bigger clients. Your website might be too small to even justify a single ad, but if you let an advertiser plaster themselves all over your site, you can persuade an advertiser to consider you as an option. Similarly, larger clients with deeper pockets may be looking to spend more as long as you give them the option, and a package with multiple ads might be just the thing they are looking for.

Selling ad packages can mean justifying a discount while also making more money on a deal. You can upsell clients using packages: “For only $500 more, I can include this as well”, or deflect requests for discounts: “I can definitely offer you 20% off as part of our $1,500 package”.

You can also get creative with packages – they don’t need to just include banner ads on your site. You can throw in a placement on your email list (yes, AdvertServe supports email ads), social media posts, promotional articles, or placement on a sister publication (hybrid print + digital offers are very popular with many AdvertServe clients).

The beauty of digital sales is that there is often no much more additional cost for some of the extra items, and yet it can increase tremendously the perceived value of what you are offering your advertisers.

Pro tip:

You can configure a campaign’s settings in AdvertServe to display multiple ads from multiple sizes at once when a page loads. This “takeover” is the ultimate power move for your advertisers, and combines much of what we discussed here – you combine multiple dimensions, in multiple zones, to create an overwhelmingly strong presence on your site. This effectively means you’ve sold a package of creatives to your advertisers and can command a premium for your efforts.

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AdvertServe provides world class support and allows all the functionality of the top adservers in the market. We have used and do work within many of the largest servers on the market, and advertserve easily holds its own.

Bill W.