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I want to make a little bit of cash on the side for my site.

  1. Who should I use for advertising?
  2. What are the best practices for ad placement?
    • What are the best ways to keep advertising unobtrusive?
  3. When is too much advertising too much advertising?
  4. Are there better ways to make money from a site than text ads?
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This should be community wiki as it is asking for opinions. –  RandomBen Jul 8 '10 at 21:03
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This question is far too broad, please ask it as four separate questions. –  delete Jul 9 '10 at 1:30
    
I agree, with @Kinopiko - You have four topics that are sufficiently diverse to justify four questions. –  Tim Post Jul 12 '10 at 23:01

4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

A giant topic here. Online marketing and advertising could almost be a whole stackexchange site on its own.

  1. Who should I use for advertising?

    • So you can sell your ads yourself using, say phpAdsNew
    • You can sign up for a service that sells ads like BlogAds
    • You can add contextual ads like AdSense
    • You could do something like selling sponsorship

  2. What are the best practices for ad placement?

    • This is a whole topic unto itself. How To Use Banner Ads Effectively is an article about this. General guidelines: consider how your users use your site. Is it long text? Will they hate your ads? Will they appreciate that they're on-topic and on target? What percentage of the site real-estate is advertising. A page that is 75% ads can really be atrocious in terms of doing the other stuff you want the user to be doing and enjoying on your site.

  3. What are the best ways to keep advertising unobtrusive?

    • Totally dependent on audience. All along as you sell ads your advertisers will want reports of how effective the ads are. Are they getting effective results from paying you money for those ads? Sometimes it takes obtrusiveness to make an ad effective. Finding this balance is what ad people are always trying to optimize.

  4. When is too much advertising too much advertising?

    • See Answer for 3.

  5. Are there better ways to make money from a site than text ads?

    • Again, sorry, this is totally dependent on the value a site brings.

Parting thought: consider that eBay, CNN, 4chan, GMail -- all contain advertising they use to help monetize their sites. These are all radically different enterprises though. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to ads. I think this is why most folks (including me) throw up their hands and just slap AdSense up. It works well enough, but an advertising professional (and how to find one of these who is professional and qualified I don't know) will be able to help you figure out how to get the right mix of advertising for your site.

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I would say:

  1. Go with an advertiser that suits your user-base, and whose ads are not only keyword relevant but socially relevant. This adds value to your site too.
  2. Ad placement should never detract too much from your content, or it should supplement it. This is a design exercise more than anything.
  3. Ask your users if there is too much, they will tell you!
  4. You could sell access to your content using micropayments (paypal, SMS) if people are prepared to pay. You could also run a ad-free version for a small fee. A good method is also to time-delay content such that registered/paying users get the freshest content ahead of the rest.

:)

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Consider using Doubleclick for Publishers (small business version) to serve your ads. Using a tool like that should help in terms of following "best practices", not to mention making your life easier as far as managing your ads.

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You can use the Google AdPlanner (wikipedia) to create virtual slots for advertising on your website, then fill these slots with whatever ads you like.

You can use AdSense, or any other Ad Network or Affiliate Network (cj.com,etc..)- or even sell slots in your website directly to companies who wish to advertise on your website.

The ad planner will help you report results of how many times ads were shown, create billing for companies who are showing the ads, and in general help you organize your inventory of slots.

If you have a very large website, a product called OpenX does about the same thing but you host it on your servers. For a small to medium sized website there is no reason to use such a monster, but you might find it useful for larger websites.

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