The Real Risk of Displaying Too Many Ads on Your Blog

For bloggers, navigating monetization is a necessary challenge. This often means adding ads as a means of increasing revenue. However, most bloggers wonder when they cross over into the territory of displaying too many ads.

When considering only revenue,  it seems intuitive to place as many ads as possible. If an ad is worth $1.00 for every hundred visitors, then two ads will be worth $2.00, right?

In the short term, this is short of how display ads behave on a bloggers site. However, the way these ads affect readers ultimately means that too many ads could damage their experiences. This results in lower revenue from each visit and advertisers choosing to bid less for a blogger’s ad space over time.

This is a result of two important factors:

  1. Ads dilute each other
  2. Your ads affect the length of your reader’s visit (session duration and pageviews per visit)

Below, we’ll go over how these two components influence one another and affect overall revenue.

Why More Ads Does Not Always Mean More Revenue

Contrary to what you may have been told in the past, you don’t have to pack your blog full of ads to generate high revenue. Understanding how revenue is measured is vital to understanding how to maintain and increase it.

There are three ways to track revenue from a website:

  • CPM (cost per mille): the value of each ad for every 1,000 impressions
  • RPM (revenue per mille, or thousand, visitors): the estimated earnings from 1,000 ad impressions on a single page
  • EPMV (earnings per mille visitors): the value 1,000 readers’ entire visit

Ad networks most often measure success using RPMS and will persuade you to optimize towards RPMs. Since revenue is determined by every 1,000 ad impressions, it makes sense to place a lot of ads on your blog in order to monopolize on all of the possible ad impressions. When you place an additional advertisement on your blog, the revenue will likely increase and your blog will appear to be more profitable, right?

However, higher RPMs do not mean higher revenue. Your RPMs can go up every month and your total revenue can still be declining. RPMs simply tell you how much you’re making from all the ads on a single page, not how much you’re earning per visitor.

As an advertiser, which scenario would you prefer: to pay $2.00 to be the only advertisement on a page or to pay $2.00 to be one of two advertisements on a page?

The answer is, of course, to pay $2.00 and have no competitors.

Advertisers place bids on ad locations based on what they believe the spot is worth. Initially, if your blog has only one ad location valued at $2.00, then you will earn $2.00. To increase revenue, it appears logical to add another ad location so that you make $4.00. But, the value of those ads will change as readers’ attention is drawn continually away from the content towards ads.

Readers have a limited breadth of attention and though we can speculate about their behavior, we don’t know how they are going to react to ad saturation or specific locations. As advertisers begin to see their viewability and click-through rates (CTR) decrease due to competition with other advertisers and low engagement, they are going to bid less money on those ad locations. Now, each ad location may only be worth $1.00 each, and so you’re back to making $2.00 from ads.

Based on this trend, you will now need to have four advertisements on your blog to make $4.00 again.

Over time, those ads will lose value once more, and the vicious cycle of accumulating advertisements begins all over again.

Eventually, you will be showing too many ads and making less money

How many times have you been to one of those sites that is slow to load, filled with video ads following you as you scroll, and more content recommendation widgets than you can handle?

Eventually, your blog will reach a breaking point too: readers will become increasingly frustrated with their experience on your blog, which will increase your site’s bounce rate and decrease the pageviews per visit. Because a site with declining or low traffic is less valuable to advertisers, these lower metrics will decrease the value of all the advertisements on your page. The negative user experience will reflect in your revenue, and the only way you will be able to stay afloat is to keep adding more advertisements.

User Experience is Key to Revenue

We’ve all been on one of those sites before–you navigate to an article but it takes 10 seconds to load, and even when you begin reading, there are advertisements, surveys, pop-ups, and auto-play videos littered across the page. Sometimes, there are even more ads than content!

Instead of adding an abundance of ads, you should focus on the quality of your content and overall user experience. When your readers are happy and engaged, your blog’s advertisements will be worth more money, requiring you to actually have fewer ads on your blog. By decreasing the number of ads on your blog, advertisers will have to bid higher and higher to beat other competitors.

The key to a sustainable and profitable blog is to create quality content people want to read and then find the balance between the number of ads on your site and user experiences, such as bounce rate and engaged pageviews.

Optimizing for EPMV Will Earn You More Money in the Long Run

If you don’t understand how advertisements and content are affecting engagement, then you don’t know how they’re affecting ad value or total session revenue. It is extremely important to invest in the time and resources to learn how these components relate in order to find a balance between ad revenue and user experience.

If you’re a Bloomly member, this information is available through your dashboard.

In many cases, discovering how ads affect engagement and revenue equates to making more money with fewer ads.

By understanding your audience’s relationship to the advertisements on your site, you will be able to navigate where your ‘ad sweet spot’ is. This will be different for each blog–four ads might be the most profitable and user-friendly for your site, but eight ads might be the best combination for someone else.

There’s only one way to know how many ads to show…

The only way to find your blog’s sweet spot is to test how different amounts of ads affect user experience, and the best way to do so is through EPMV.

EPMV measures how valuable a reader’s entire visit was rather than just a single page or advertisement. By studying EPMV, you can gain a better understanding of how ads affect factors like bounce rate, page speed, engaged page views, and page views per visit.

If 1,000 users visit your site but immediately leave, they are not engaging with your content or any of the ads. RPMs would tell you that your blog is doing well because your blog received 1,000 impressions, but those impressions mean nothing if users leave before engaging with your content or clicking on ads. If a user enjoys the content you’ve produced and their experience on your blog, they are more likely to navigate to other pages of your site, which can also have ads.

Read a study about how Bloomly did this for multiple bloggers here.

In this example, there are only a few sidebar advertisements that hardly compete with the content of the page.

In summation, throwing a bunch of ads on your site like a hail mary is much like a crash diet. A crash diet will give you the results you’re looking for really quickly, just like adding a bunch of ads is going to increase your revenue quickly. However, the results of crash diets don’t usually last because it’s not addressing the real issue: a sustainably healthy lifestyle. In order to get the results you want again, you will need to participate in another crash diet. Or, in the blogging world, you will need to add more advertisements on your site.

The way to make a real change to your health is to find a balance within multiple facets of self-care to improve your overall health in a conceivable way. Substantial profitability from ad revenue is the same: the longevity of your blog depends on the harmony between quality content, user engagement, and the number of ads that are best for your blog.

Get your content out from behind the shadow of advertisements and let it speak for itself–you’re more likely to have engaged readers, see an increase in revenue over time, and obtain overall stability and sustainability for your blog.