Display advertising is no longer a valid monetization strategy

Producing great content and putting a few AdSense units into the sidebar was once a decent monetization strategy. Up until very recently, one could make a pretty decent amount of money with display advertising.

Although the traffic on my blogs has grown in the last couple of years, the amount of revenue generated by AdSense has slowly declined. The is indicative of a wider industry trend, at least partially triggered by a massive increase in usage of adblocking tools such as AdBlock+.

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A recent report by PageFair claims that use of ad blockers has increased by 41% in the last year, with a total userbase exceeding 200,000,000 users and costing publishers an estimated 22 billion dollars of annual revenue.

This isn’t another plea for people to disable their adblockers en masse so that we publishers like me can continue to rake in cash. The business model is obsolete, I get it. Years of creepy tracking, bandwidth intensive, intrusive and ugly ads has rightly pissed off a lot consumers and this is the expected outcome. Users don’t need to change their behaviour or inconvenience themselves to support the websites they love; the websites they love need to come up with better ways of making money.

Though it’s incumbent upon publishers to change adapt their monetization strategies, users will inevitably need to accept that somebody must pay for the content they consume. Subscriptions, native advertising and pay-per-view microtransactions are going to grow prolifically as display advertising continued to decline. At least until someone comes up with a better solution.

3 thoughts on “Display advertising is no longer a valid monetization strategy”

  1. No matter what advertising model will be in place, the evil and lecherous “bad guys” will find a way to exploit it for a few years until it is “blocked”. This will never change as long as greed exists in the heart of humans which has always been the case. We just, as the article intimates, “get it” and accept these cycles and deal with them. The timeline is like this:

    1. Advertising model/technology ABC subsidizes content and everyone is happy
    2. Exploitation “XYZ” by bad guys
    3. Tools to thwart XYZ appear
    4. Death of ABC

    XYZ can be popup ads, flashplayer/adobe/chrome/ff/ie vulnerabilities, non-mindful search engines (yahoo, etc.), phishing, “leveraging local admin privileges”, crippling UAC (social engineering), download managers, scareware, master-boot-record viruses. Newer ones include “crippling scheduled tasks”, “flashing your BIOS”, “high-usage software without digital certificates (7zip, realtek audio drivers) out of the PC manufacturing box”.

    I think they call this the “cat and mouse” game.

  2. Good and interesting article, however if it’s your real Adsense cp image, you better remove it asap, it is against the T&C, and those impressive numbers are much better than 0

    • It’s permissible to share gross earnings and site stats, just not AdSense specific information like CTR and RPM.

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