I just received a sponsored review request from a company new to me called AdVolcano. I had a quick browse of their site and initially thought it was another standard middleman style ad services company (clearing house) linking advertisers with publishers – and it is – but they are doing one thing that I like, which I think is worth pointing out, and as bloggers looking to make money online it never hurts to be aware of all of our options. Here is my sponsored review.
First up let’s see how AdVolcano describe their service:
AdVolcano’s model allows publishers to create innovative ad placements without the restraints of a traditional network. This flexibility opens up new, otherwise un-monetized, ad inventory. In the end, publishers are supplementing their income, rather than replacing one revenue stream for another.
AdVolcano lets you define certain areas of your blog for advertisers and charge a monthly fee, rather than a cost per click or cost per action or cost per impression method.
AdVolcano calls it Cost Per Term, which is the method I have used to monetize my sites from day one online, although without the use of a middleman. As far back as 1999 I was selling banner inventory on my first site for a monthly fee, which I found an easier method to use than a cost per impression method, since you simply pay for time.
For advertisers often a per click or per action method is better because you only pay when something occurs, but it really depends what the advertiser wants to do. I’ve recently told potential sponsors who approach this site that if they want to run a campaign that they look at banners as a branding tool to enhance awareness, rather than a raw traffic generating advertisement, since click through rates are often low on banners. You usually get better results using Pay-Per-Click if you want raw traffic and link campaigns for search engine optimization.
What I like about AdVolcano is the flexibility. You can decide what areas of your blog you use with their system, and as they state, further monetize your site without necessarily impacting the performance of another method of monetization you are currently using such as Google AdSense, or an in-house banner network like I use.
My concern, which is always an issue for an ad clearing house like AdVolcano, is that they won’t have a critical mass of advertisers. You must have people on both sides of the equation – publishers and advertisers – in order for a business like this to work, and in an ever crowding marketplace it can be hard to gain critical mass.
We already have Text Link Ads (aff), ReviewMe, BlogKits and a whole host of possible middle-man companies offering to help monetize our sites. There’s nothing wrong with having options of course – for us bloggers we can keep testing different services to find the mix that maximizes our revenues – but you have to wonder how many of these companies the market can sustain long term.
In most situations it’s better if only a handful of advertising services survive so the critical mass is in one place (just like eBay!). That way advertisers have the greatest pool of sites to chose from to advertise on, theoretically providing the highest level of targeting since they can refine the niches they focus on by tapping blogs with key audience types, resulting in solid ad performance for their buy. Publishers (bloggers) enjoy a steady stream of income thanks to all the hungry ad buyers coming to the one place.
At the moment the only site from my experience that enjoys critical mass is Text Link Ads, since inventory on both my blogs is sold out immediately. Initially I thought this may have only been the case because my blogs have solid search engine authority, but it appears smaller blogs are doing well with Text Link Ads as well, so this service may yet become the de facto standard for blog monetization.
Then again services like AdVolcano will likely function and stay profitable for all parties if they can find their own point of differentiation. Will the cost per term model along with the flexible ad placement options be the difference for AdVolcano? I don’t know – it certainly isn’t something other site’s can’t replicate, but if AdVolcano has a loyal following from both advertisers and publishers I’m sure they will enjoy long term success.
For bloggers it never hurts to test many methods of monetization to find what works for you. If you can’t service and/or sell certain areas of your site, AdVolcano may provide the tools you need to do so.
From my point of view for the moment I’m happy to benefit from all the competition in the blog monetization industry, but I do find it humorous that these companies use each other’s services to promote themselves, even if it makes complete sense to do so.