The term monetization refers to the process of earning money from your content whether it exists on a website, app, blog, or anything in between. We have discussed in our previous blog posts that people will not buy from you until they feel something; the audience does not inherently want to purchase a product or service. What customers are really interested in is a comprehensive user experience and relationship with the brand. That is why content creation — and we are talking about high-quality content only — is the first order of business. A company generates organic traffic by providing highly relevant and meaningful information.

In the realm of monetization, the question of 'When?' is one of the first, because seriously — what is the best time to even start considering monetization? Well, there are no rules or exact numbers on this matter. The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times were quite fast about adapting to the model of web-based subscriptions, which helped them accumulate over one million digital subscribers in 2017. With that said, huge media companies managed to generate new revenue streams via subscription fees ranging from one to five dollars.

In this Golden Age of digital publishing, the data monetization market is now characterized by significant volume increase across industries. All the players realized the considerable financial value of held data in any company in terms of content monetization. A large number of organizations are prone to using data monetization to provide a better customer experience and this may increase the market reach exponentially.

The data web monetization market is estimated to reach $708.86 billion by 2025 (Smartyads). Starting from 2017 up to 2025 the monetization market will accrue a 21.4% compound growth rate, which is quite epic. Taking into account the trends and projections, the website owners pin high hopes on monetization, and they realize the power of high-quality content. Let’s focus on the monetization methods that are proven to work, given content quality is above everything.

Google AdSense

AdSense is often referred to as the world's most prominent contextual ad network. Often used for website monetization by default, it provides the chance for online publishers of any scope to monetize their content. Giving high fill rates and practically limitless demand, AdSense offers a fast-paced and credible payment system.

The usage of AdSense is closely connected with the question of whether the website is making enough money and unleashing its full potential in terms of monetization. We consider AdSense to be a great option for startup publishers. The revenue level depends to a great extent on a vast variety of factors, including the website’s popularity. AdSense provides highly detailed statistics on ad revenues and website visitors. Also, the system offers security features such as blocking certain advertisers.

Speaking of the major drawbacks one should know about, AdSense comes with a number of requirements which a publisher has to meet — for example, at least 40 unique and quality articles (500 words long) on a website, high level domain, etc. AdSense policies include site ownership criteria for specific countries, and a country cannot be changed after the application is approved by Google. All in all, AdSense is an effective monetization tool. However, it is not the only one.

Native advertising networks

When it comes to native advertising — and you have to believe we know everything about it — it works for a number of reasons. In recent years, native advertising has become a significant part of the digital advertising market, as it is less prone to be applied for deceptive purposes. Native advertising provides seamless integration of paid content with non-paid content. The line between the editorial and paid content begins to blur, as the audience appears to be receptive of native ads and the overall reaction to them is quite positive. Native ad format is widely offered by many ad networks and social media platforms. Native ads are flexible and take on a variety of shapes:

  • In-Feed. All native ads on social media are considered 'in-feed.' Nevertheless, not all native ads occur on social platforms. There are platforms that allow marketers to reach unique audiences with highly-relevant ads served on various content sites. The advertisement feels and looks like 'yet another article,' but it is different from the other organic content labeled as 'Ad' or 'Sponsored.’ 
  • Promoted listings. In the case of promoted listings, they do not contain any editorial content, but at the same time, they are designed to match the browsing experience quite seamlessly. Historically, promoted listings have been extensively used by e‑commerce websites to feature sponsored products given they have an appearance identical to the other products listed on the website in question. 
  • Recommendation widgets. They may include paid or native content. In fact, one widget can combine both. Relevant, non-intrusive ad content in a widget helps to monetize a website’s audience, while internal recirculation aims to offer users the website’s native content, they are interested in to increase the retention rate.
There are solutions that help reach a larger number of goals — MGID Smart Widget automatically creates an infinite combination of formats to monetize the existing audience, acquire new visitors and retain users.

In terms of measurement, widgets are related to views, shares, likes, time spent on a webpage, or other brand engagement variables. We highly recommend using these tried and true widgets. They are likely to be noticed by a user when browsing the website, as this is exactly how the user engagement pattern works. We recommend using three widgets on the website in order to attain maximum results. Speaking of the most effective widget-type combinations, they are as follows:

  • under article + in-article + sidebar
  • under article + sidebar + mobile
  • under article + in-article + mobile
  • under article + sidebar + header
More information about widget optimization can be found here. 

In 2018 the Coalition for Better Ads rolled out the Better Ads Experience Program, which sets the standards for digital ads that are more acceptable for content consumers. While the Coalition fights for the utmost user-friendly experience, the audience has successfully developed banner blindness; this underlines the importance of a thoughtful approach to ad placement. In any case, it is worth visiting the Coalition website, as they have conducted tons of research on the interaction between a user and online ads, which is why they offer many ways to provide the best user experience possible.

The two major studies on native ads —  'Native Advertising: Engagement, Deception, and Implications for Theory' and 'The Deceptiveness of Sponsored News Articles: How Readers Recognize and Perceive Native Advertising' — reflect the vital role of proximity, prominence, placement, and presence of a sponsor logo as the key factors that can have a positive or negative effect on the user's ability to define native ads.

Before content monetization becomes the number one thought, a website owner has to ask himself one very important question: is my content good enough? No matter what monetization methods are being chosen, no results will be achieved if the content is irrelevant, useless, and of low quality. Native advertising is gaining momentum because its nature is not about interrupting the user, which has been the core characteristic of traditional advertising.