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  1. #1
    SitePoint Addict tauperkin's Avatar
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    Question Monetizing forums

    I'd be curious to know how those of you who run a forum monetize it, if at all.

    I have been doing Adsense for most of the time. I've also done a few affiliate ads using LinkShare and such.

    My income with Adsense used to be pretty good. Some days I would make $10 to $15. (I know it doesn't sound like much, but for something passive it ain't bad.) Google changes things all the time so now I am lucky if I reach $3.00 per day.

    Have any of you taken an open forum and turned it into a membership site or offered premium memberships to your forum, offering special boards and info/bonuses in return?

    Just curious

  2. #2
    SitePoint Zealot mccollin's Avatar
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    I have been pretty successful at monetizing one of my forums. I use a combination of the following:

    Adsense - Some placements across the board, and some extra placements just for visitors. Track what is earning and adjust to get best results.

    CPM Ad Networks - I have other top tier networks placed around the site too.

    Vibrant Media - This is contextual ads and they have been doing very well.

    Peer39 - I replaced some of my visitor's Adsense ads with Peer39 because they are CPM and are doing well.

    Direct Ads - This varies from month to month but I do CPM ads direct with some advertisers

    I use OpenAds to manage all the campaigns and get the most from the site.
    Mike

  3. #3
    SitePoint Addict tauperkin's Avatar
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    Thanks mccollin.

    I thought I created this post in the forum & communities section...I think it would be better there if someone could move it.

  4. #4
    Google Zombie ssandecki's Avatar
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    ValueClick Media sometimes approves forums, which is great if you get accepted because they are CPM. I would give it a shot.

    www.valueclickmedia.com

  5. #5
    SitePoint Addict tauperkin's Avatar
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    Thank you ssandecki. I'll check it out.

    Just curious about the ways and successes others have had generating income from their forums.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Guru DeNasio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ssandecki View Post
    ValueClick Media sometimes approves forums, which is great if you get accepted because they are CPM.
    Are you sure ValueClick Media sometimes approves forums? Don't think so.
    Ballot-Box.net - free polls for webmasters
    FormLog.com - free form processor

  7. #7
    SitePoint Zealot mccollin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeNasio View Post
    Are you sure ValueClick Media sometimes approves forums? Don't think so.
    I am sure. As I am sure that Burst, Casale, and Tribal Fusion also approve forums... sometimes. You need a heavily moderated forum in a niche that is attractive to advertisers. I doubt a teen hang-out forum would ever be approved, but it definitely is possible.
    Mike

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard OnlineGuide's Avatar
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    Have you tried in-text / in-line services? Seen a lot of forums start to use that.
    The Online Guide

  9. #9
    SitePoint Addict tauperkin's Avatar
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    ValueClick's TOS says it doesn't accept forums. Hmmm...

    The in-text services---where it underlines words and they're links to sites/ads? I find those annoying.

    I guess I'll just stick with Adsense for now.

  10. #10
    SitePoint Zealot mccollin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tauperkin View Post
    ValueClick's TOS says it doesn't accept forums. Hmmm...

    The in-text services---where it underlines words and they're links to sites/ads? I find those annoying.

    I guess I'll just stick with Adsense for now.
    Why do you find the inline advertising annoying? I have a forum that gets about 500K uniques a month and I've had one person that really was annoyed by them. If you don't hover over them, they don't do anything, so to me they are about as unobtrusive an ad as you can ask for.
    Mike

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by OnlineGuide View Post
    Have you tried in-text / in-line services? Seen a lot of forums start to use that.
    Absolutely correct. I have had publishers sign up for Thundertext in-line ads for forums and I frequently recommend that forum owners try in-line ads.

    The beauty of in-text ads is that they are basically invisible to your users until they show an interest in the ad. This leaves you more room on your pages for more content or other ads.

    Cheers.

  12. #12
    SitePoint Addict tauperkin's Avatar
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    I think inline ads are a pain. If you accidentally roll your cursor over them whilie reading posts on a site, then you have to deal with the pop up.

    They just seem cheesy to me. Like you're trying to take every opportunity to turn every word into a link, an ad.

    They intrude on the content to me. I much more prefer seeing ads that I know are clearly ads than having to navigate through a bunch of in-line ads. And I know a lot of my community feels the same way.

    I don't know if they are very effective either. I guess the cost outweighs the benefit for me.

  13. #13
    SitePoint Zealot mccollin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tauperkin View Post
    I think inline ads are a pain. If you accidentally roll your cursor over them whilie reading posts on a site, then you have to deal with the pop up.

    They just seem cheesy to me. Like you're trying to take every opportunity to turn every word into a link, an ad.

    They intrude on the content to me. I much more prefer seeing ads that I know are clearly ads than having to navigate through a bunch of in-line ads. And I know a lot of my community feels the same way.

    I don't know if they are very effective either. I guess the cost outweighs the benefit for me.
    You are welcome to use or not use them, but I just want to clarify some things you've said.

    If you accidentally mouse over one, in most cases you don't have to do anything to deal with them... they go away on their own in about 3 seconds if you do nothing, or if it is covering something you were reading, then you can simply click on the page again and it will go away.

    With regard to having to "navigate through a bunch of in-line ads", I don't think that's a fair analysis of most implementations. I have about 6 ads per page. So that is 6 words on an entire page that have an ad under them, and they are clearly visible because the words are double underlined and a different color. Quite frankly, after you've had one of them pop-up, if you can't navigate around 6 words on a whole page then there are other issues than these ads.

    I've been running them for about 3-4 months now via Vibrant Media and like I said before, I've had one user that reported that it really bothered them on a site that gets 500K uniques a month. So with well over a million people, I've had one complaint. And my members are quite picky about ads... if one offensive ad pops up on the site by accident, I usually have a report in our problem forum right away by someone.

    The income from these ads is totally incremental, and in my case the income has been pretty good. I've had thousands of clicks each month, which would imply that the ads are appealing to some of my visitors. Unless the income drops way off, I can't see ever dropping this format. The ads are always from top tier advertisers that are relevent to my visitors, and the income level has been pretty good.
    Mike

  14. #14
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Try finding products related to forum topic and you will make more money than adsense ads.

  15. #15
    SitePoint Addict tauperkin's Avatar
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    Thanks for that additional info Mike. I appreciate it and will consider it. I know that the ad goes away but it's still irritating to me to have the thing pop up when I'm trying to read the content of the site, which is why I'm there in the first place.

    You say you only have 6 ads per page. Is that something you can control? I didn't know if you could specify how many you wanted to have per page.

    rcj662...those are exactly the things I am considering. Have been just haven't done anything yet.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by tauperkin View Post
    You say you only have 6 ads per page. Is that something you can control? I didn't know if you could specify how many you wanted to have per page.
    You can absolutely control the number of ads that you display per page. In the Thundertext control panel, you can specify the maximum number of ads as well as their appearance to mesh perfectly with your site.

    In-line ads are the most contextually relevant ads out there so there is a much better chance that the ads are of interest to your readers and, therefore, will drive higher CTR.

  17. #17
    SitePoint Zealot mccollin's Avatar
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    With Vibrant, I just talked to my account rep and told him to cap it at 6... that was it. That's actually the number he recommended because more doesn't really provide any more income.
    Mike

  18. #18
    SitePoint Addict tauperkin's Avatar
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    I'll check it out and perhaps give it a trial run. I have an open mind and appreciate the info all you have given me.

    Can any of you tell me if you also have done or currently do Adsense and if so, can you compare the income from the two? Curious.

  19. #19
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    Monetizing forums is difficult unless you have a lot of members. Until you get a lot of traffic dont worry about monetization.

    You can charge for premium memberships or use CPM ads. Try valuclick and casale.
    cetin hakimoglu

  20. #20
    SitePoint Addict tauperkin's Avatar
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    I already have the traffic and lots of members. We've been around for nearly two years.

    I'll look at some of these other options. I also think that other things besides ads are important.

  21. #21
    SitePoint Zealot mccollin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tauperkin View Post
    I'll check it out and perhaps give it a trial run. I have an open mind and appreciate the info all you have given me.

    Can any of you tell me if you also have done or currently do Adsense and if so, can you compare the income from the two? Curious.
    All the networks go up and down from month to month depending on the campaigns running and the niches. I started with Vibrant Media in October and have used Adsense for years.

    October - Vibrant just below Adsense for the month
    November - Vibrant 50% more than Adsense
    December - Vibrant 90% more than Adsense
    January - So far they are about equal, but the first week of the year is always totally in the floor, so too early to tell.

    The great thing, as I said, is that Vibrant is totally incremental. You aren't replacing anything, just adding it. All of this does also totally depend on your niche too. I am in the wireless niche that is pretty attractive to advertisers.
    Mike

  22. #22
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    We've got a new service that goes live on February 1st. You'll get paid for 100% of your visitors without them clicking any links which means they don't have to leave your site for you to get paid. It runs alongside conventional PPC programs like AdSense etc so will generate an additional revenue for your site/blog. Take a look at http://www.PPPOnlineAds.com

  23. #23
    SitePoint Wizard OnlineGuide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PPPOnlineAds View Post
    We've got a new service that goes live on February 1st. You'll get paid for 100% of your visitors without them clicking any links which means they don't have to leave your site for you to get paid. It runs alongside conventional PPC programs like AdSense etc so will generate an additional revenue for your site/blog. Take a look at http://www.PPPOnlineAds.com


    Looks like another AGLOCO (http://www.ppponlineads.com/thecompensationplan.html) type of program, or at least a MLM.
    The Online Guide

  24. #24
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Them stats you have given doesn't mean anything to us. $10 could be not that good and now you are earning $3, that could be better than your $10 earnings if your traffic has fallen. In other words, if you were getting over 40k impressions per day and getting $10 from that, then it would have not been that good. But if you were now getting 1k impressions on average daily and getting $3 from it then that would be better earnings than the $10 as you are making more on a eCPM basis.

  25. #25
    SitePoint Enthusiast rich_uk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by programPHP View Post
    Monetizing forums is difficult unless you have a lot of members. Until you get a lot of traffic dont worry about monetization.

    You can charge for premium memberships or use CPM ads. Try valuclick and casale.
    As far as Vibrant goes it's worth checking (if you haven't already) to first see if your site actually qualifies.


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