7 Tips to Increase Display Ad Income (that actually work)

Display ad income is directly tied to the traffic you get.

The more traffic you get, the more money you make.

By this logic, the best way to increase your ad income is to try and get more traffic.

That’s sound logic, and if you have a new site that is slowly getting traction, that’s exactly what you should do – focus on publishing/optimizing more content and getting more traffic.

But once you have decent traffic coming to your sites, the incremental value of publishing a new article is not as high.

While it’s a good idea to continue to focus on getting more content published, it’s also the time where you should look back at the inventory that you already have and see how you can optimize it for some quick wins.

If display ads are one of your major income sources, there are some simple things that you can do to instantly get a boost in your earnings.

In many cases, these simple tweaks can be a lot more rewarding than pushing out more content or building more links.

In this article, I will share some of the things I have learned while using display ads as my primary source of income for more than 6 years now.

Note: Most of the tactics I share here are things that I have learned by trial and error, or stuff that has been shared with me by my account partners at ad networks such as AdThrive and Ezoic.

Switch to a Better Paying Display Ad Network

With the right ad network, you can make a lot more money as compared with the regular ones such as Google Adsense or Media.net.

And I am not talking about a modest increase. You can get a 5-10x jump if you get accepted to these high paying ad network.

I say accepted, as these networks are quite picky about who to accept.

Here are some of the ad networks I recommend:

Ezoic

I currently have 3 sites on Ezoic

Ezoic is relatively easy to get into and offers a huge improvement over Google Adsense.

To get accepted into Ezoic, you need to have a minimum of 10K sessions in the last 30 days.

Note that the sessions are different than page views. It would need slightly more than 10K page views to reach 10K sessions.

With Ezoic, you can expect your ad income to increase significantly (when compared with AdSense or Media.net).

I have seen an increase of 5X-20X in most of the sites I have added to Ezoic.

If you have a new site and you’re close to the 10K sessions mark (but not just there), I suggest you reach out and try your luck. They are not as strict as some other networks and may add your site with less traffic.

Click here to apply to Ezoic

Just because Ezoic accepts sites with less traffic does not mean that the quality of the ads or the overall income potential is low. I’ve heard of cases where people have moved their site from networks such as AdThrive and Mediavine back to Ezoic and have seen an improvement in earnings.

I recently heard the CMO of Ezoic (Tyler Bishop) on this podcast where he mentioned a case study where 19 sites moved from other ad networks (including AdThrive and Mediavine) to Ezoic and saw an average increase of about 46%.

Mediavine

I don’t have any sites on Mediavine

Mediavine is another highly coveted ad networks (and the preferred choice for many publishers).

You need a minimum of 50K sessions to apply for Mediavine, and even after that, there is a high chance they may reject your site.

The RPMs (Revenue per Mille) with Mediavine is really good (could be as high as $30-$40 per thousand page views).

Also, once you get accepted to Mediavine, they take care of your entire ad management. So you don’t have to worry about where to place the display ads or what size of the ad unit to choose.

I read somewhere that Mediavine will also launch a platform similar to Ezoic, where they will start accepting lower traffic sites. The more such platforms, the better it is for the publishers.

AdThrive

I currently have 5+ sites on AdThrive

AdThrive is my preferred ad network.

You need a minimum of 100K pageview per month to get accepted to AdThrive, and there is a possibility they may reject your application even if you are above the threshold.

I was rejected twice before getting accepted to AdThrive (and I applied after I had more than the required page views).

Once you get accepted, AdThrive takes care of everything in the backend and you can go back to working on getting more traffic.

They also keep experimenting to make sure the publishers get the maximum income.

While these are the ad platforms that I prefer, there are also others such as Monumetric, Propeller Ads, Newor Media, etc. Just by switching to a better-paying ad network, you can expect to significantly increase your display ad income.

Use More Display Ads Units

Duh!

Of course – the more display ads you show, the more money you make.

Till a few years ago, Google Adsense allowed only three ad units to be placed on any pages.

But those days are long gone.

Now, you can have 7-10 ads per page if you want (even more on longer content).

So, if you think there is a scope to add more display ads, try adding a few more ad units.

But don’t go crazy with too many display ad units. You need to make sure the user experience is not impacted much.

The best user experience would be to not have any display ads, but that doesn’t make you any money. Every ad unit you place on the page would worsen the overall experience.

Try to strike a balance between the maximum acceptable ad units and an acceptable user experience.

Here is a trick to make sure you get to add more ad units to your blog posts.

Make your content longer and keep the paragraphs short.

In most cases, the ad network configures the display ads to show up after a specific number of paragraphs.

With Ezoic, you get full control and you can decide where the ads show up. So, you can specify that an ad should show up after the 3rd, 10th, and 15th paragraphs.

If you’re using Mediavine or AdThrive, you can reach out to them and ask them to show more display ads on longer content.

Again, the logic is the same – they count the total number of paragraphs and place ads after a certain number of paragraphs. So breaking down your content into shorter paragraphs would allow for more display ads to be shown to the readers.

Since this also increases the white space and the length of the page, it won’t lead to too much ad fatigue for your readers.

Use Ads at the Right Position

Not every ad unit is the same – some make a lot more money than the others.

So, it’s important that you use the right ad positions to maximize your earnings.

I recently did an analysis of the display ads that were earning me the most money, and here is what I found:

  1. Sticky ads make the most money. So make sure you have a sticky footer and a sticky sidebar ad that’s always visible when the reader is interacting with your article (unless of course they manually close it). If you get most of your traffic from mobile, a sticky sidebar ad won’t make much, as it’s not visible on smaller screens.
  2. In-content ads make more money than other stationary ads outside the content – as the reader is more engaged while going through your article. So these are more valuable for the advertisers and they pay more for these. Also, you can have multiple ad units within the content (more so in longer content), which translates into more income
  3. Header ads (which are the ads that are right above/below your post title and are visible as soon as the page loads). These are less profitable than other ad units as the reader mostly scrolls down and doesn’t spend time with this ad in the view. With Google’s new-found focus on CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift), many people are opting for deferred ads, which considerably reduces the viewability of the header ad. By the time this ad loads, your reader is likely already past it.
  4. Rest all others (such as the sidebar stationary ad or the ad after the content)

Earning by Ad Unit

In the above image, the in-content ads make the most money (but these are 5-7 ads within the article). As individual ad units, the sticky ones make more money.

Also, note that the sticky units have a much higher viewability (which means more people are likely to see these and hence these are more valuable for advertisers)

So, if you’re not already using the sticky sidebar ad or the sticky footer ad, adding these would instantly improve your ad income.

Also, having more in-content display ads would help as well.

Use Video Ads

Till a few months ago, I had been quite dismissive of the video ads. I found these to be extremely intrusive (which I still do to a certain extent), and I thought these would not make enough money.

I was so wrong.

I tested a couple of video ads on one of my sites and they work amazingly well. Nowadays. I see video ads being used on so many sites that I have stopped finding these so intrusive.

Here is an example of the video ad, and as you scroll down, you will see the sticky video player appears at the bottom right.

Sticky video example (1)

All the premium ad networks now allow you to upload your videos to their network and then you can embed these videos on your blog posts/pages. As the user scrolls down, these videos would be shown as a sticky video unit where an ad is shown before the video and somewhere between the video (just like YouTube).

And since these video ads are also made sticky, these have high viewability and make more money than YouTube.

So, if you’re already creating videos for your site, give video ads a shot.

Improve Time-On-Page (Dwell Time)

Whenever a reader sees an ad on your site, you make money.

This is called Revenue Per Mille (RPM) –  where you are paid for every thousand impressions on the page (where an impression is counted when the reader sees the ad).

In most of these premium ad networks, the ad refreshes every 30 seconds.

So, if someone stays on the page for more than 30 seconds, two ads would be shown in the same ad spot, which will pay you more.

The more display ads you have and the more time people spend on your article while the ads are in view, the more money you make.

Here are some things you can do to improve the time-on-page of your readers:

Add Table of Content on Long Articles

If you get most of your traffic from search engines, most likely your user is looking for an answer to a query.

And since we’re all short on time, we need that answer ASAP.

Also, a page on your site is likely to rank for hundreds and even thousands of queries. Some of the queries will be answered quickly and some would be covered somewhere in the middle or at the end of the article.

So, when a reader lands on your article, it’s best to show them a table of contents, so then they can quickly jump to the section that is more relevant for them.

This will make sure that the reader stays on your site for a little longer.

Keep the Sentences Short and Paragraphs Small

Most of your readers are likely to be in a highly distracted state.  They likely have multiple browser windows open and different notifications are crying for their attention.

In such a state, they will leave your site as soon as they find it hard to read and understand.

To counter this, make sure you use short sentences and split your paragraphs into even shorter paragraphs.

You can see a living example of this on this site. I keep my sentences short and the paragraphs are no more than three lines (four at max).

Add More Image

Adding images helps break the monotony of the text content and also helps improve time on page.

For example, if your article is about different types of home furniture, it would help if you add images of the stuff you talking about.

Add Videos

Videos are more engaging than written text for many readers. Apart from increasing the dwell time, it also helps you serve different types of readers.

Some people may be more comfortable reading text content while some may be more comfortable with the video.

If you offer both these formats, you’ll have more people sticking to your site leading to higher ad income

Add Tables/Call-Outs/Note Boxes

This is more of a formatting tip but helps break the monotony of the text content.

While going through the text content on a white background, a reader is more likely to notice a yellow or a blue box with highlighted text.

This can help crap their attention and also allow you to put the most important points in these highlighted boxes

Here is an example of a note box I use.
And here is the same in a different color.

And you don’t need a special tool to do this. A little bit of CSS will take care of it.

Adding a table also adds value to your article and also grabs the reader’s attention. It’s easier to go through and compare the data in a tabular format.

And of course, add a table only where it makes sense.

Identify and Analyze Pages that are Doing Well

I use Ezoic and AdThrive, and both report the RPM per page.

Some pages have amazing RPMs and some don’t.

Look at the pages that are doing really well and see if you can find some reasons for this variation. Maybe the ones with videos or tables are doing well.

Or maybe a specific topic is more engaging than the rest, and you can create more articles about those topics.

Here are some things to look for:

  • How long are these articles?
  • What do these pages have in common?
  • What topics do you cover in these pages?
  • How are these pages formatted?
  • Are there videos on these pages?

Get More Traffic

And finally, stating the obvious – get more traffic to earn more money from display ads.

Here are a couple of things you can do to increase traffic on your site.

Publish More Content

Not all articles that you publish are going to rank on the first page on Google and get you traffic.

But when you publish more, the chances of some of those articles to start ranking is higher.

If you already have an authority site, you will notice that publishing more content is directly correlated to getting more traffic (given that you have done your keyword research correctly).

If you have a relatively new blog with less than 100 articles, I would recommend focusing more energy on publishing new content (rather than going back and optimizing the existing content).

Improve Existing Content

As your site ages and you have tons of content on the site, you’d notice there are a lot of content ranks on the second or third page of search results.

This is the content that can be optimized to bring it to the first page.

Optimization can include comparing it with the top-ranking results and adding more content, making sure you’re using the right keywords and the right phrases, improving the internal linking, and building more links to it.

You notice that with simple on-page optimizations you can easily rank these low hanging fruits on the first page and get tons of traffic.

You can use tools such as Frase or Surfer SEO to do the on-page optimizations.

Use Social Media and Email Lists

In some niches, you can also leverage social media channels such as Facebook or Pinterest to get additional traffic.

A lot of sites in the food and recipe, interior designing, home improvement, and gardening space rely heavily on Pinterest to get a lot of traffic.

The good thing with display ads is that traffic is traffic no matter where it’s coming from.

I have been told that traffic from search engines is slightly more valuable for the advertisers than the traffic from social media channels such as Facebook and Pinterest, but the difference is not that big.

So, even if you get your majority traffic from Pinterest, you would still make money online with display ads.

Another useful thing you can do is build an email list. Once you have a decent size list, whenever you publish an article and send an email about it, you’ll get direct traffic to your site.

This not only makes you more money with display ads but also opens more avenues for income such as selling an info product or selling more affiliate products.

BONUS Tip: Show Ads on Your Amazon Affiliate Review Articles

Despite its low commissions, the Amazon affiliate program is a great starting point for people who are building new niche sites.

You don’t need a lot of traffic to monetize using Amazon affiliate links, and the low commission rate is often compensated by the high conversion rate.

Many people don’t want to add display ads on their review articles as they think it may lead to lower clicks on their Amazon affiliate links (and hence lower commission).

While this sounds right in theory, many of the pros have mentioned that adding display ads to their affiliate pages does not lead to lower sales. Here is a case study by Matt Diggity.

I trust Matt’s word, but I decided to test it myself.

So to do this, I added display ads on all the review roundup articles on one of my sites (~30+ articles), and tracked the month on month changes (using a simple table in Google Data Studio).

Also, since there are a lot of factors that can impact the overall conversion, I decided to track the percentage of people who are coming to these pages and then clicking on my Amazon affiliate links. This makes the tracking traffic and seasonality independent.

Below is the table that shows the percentage of clicks on these top pages (column on the left in the highlighted box), and the change in it over the month (column on the right in the highlighted box).

Data after adding display ads to review articles

You can see that there is no discernible pattern here, with some pages witnessing an increase in clicks and some witnessing a decline. Overall, the total number of people clicking on the Amazon links (while the display ads were on), was slightly higher.

While this is an isolated test with just one website, it does tell me that the impact of display ads in review pages is likely to be quite low.

And if you get decent traffic on these review pages, adding display ads could give a nice bump to your overall monthly earnings.

So, these are some of the tips that you can use to quickly increase your display ad income.

I hope you found this article useful.

Let me know in the comment section if there is anything I missed, or if you tried any of the above methods and did (or did not) see an impact.

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