Considering Direct Ad Sales

One thing that John Chow has given advice on is selling ads directly. I’ve been thinking about this a bit the last few days and I think it may be time for me to try it out. I certainly have the traffic for it! The website gets over 1 million “page impressions” per month as reported by Google Analytics. The index page does around 400,000, and the download page sits at just under 500,000. Right now I’m using Google AdSense and it is doing very well for itself, at least in absolute terms (never say “no” to free money, right?).

John Chow’s advice says to take the amount you’re earning with AdSense and double it for when you try selling ads directly. The hypothesis is that Google is sharing revenue at a rate of about 50%. His other general advice to diversify your income is one that I’ve implemented as well – albeit by implementing Search that is still provided by Google, and by moving the Help content online and adding AdSense to it (together they added enough to my Paint.NET earnings to buy a Bluray player!).

This could help to significantly diversify my income sources and reduce my reliance on AdSense, which in August accounted for 80% of Paint.NET revenue. It’s not that I dislike AdSense, and I bet the feeling is mutual. I also don’t think I will be banned, but it’s still a significant risk factor — just ask Henry and Wilson about the time they lost out on $200,000 (although they seem to have broken some of the AdSense TOS, such as not having more than 1 account).

I also have advertising space available in the Paint.NET installer. You know when you install the program and it says “Please wait, optimizing…” and there’s a little banner that says “Please donate!” along with one for the download mirror (“This update brought to you by BetaNews”) or for I bet I could sell that as advertising space as well. It reaches hundreds of thousands of users per month and is on screen for a good chunk of time.

The only thing I’m wary of is that John Chow also suggests that you create an Advertisers page that list your rates directly instead of saying, “please e-mail us for a quote.” But hey, if I have to disclose revenue to get a huge increase in it, it might just be worth it. John Chow does it every month and when he posts earnings just shy of $18,000 for August, people are stunned and inspired (or, shocked and awed?).

I would probably sweeten the deal by allowing the advertiser (or advertisers, I don’t know how I’ll do things) access to the site’s Google Analytics reports. That way they could see what types of visitors they are reaching, and retarget their ad appropriately if they wanted.

So … comments?

Anyway I’m off to Bumbershoot in the morning*. I’ve never been but it’s supposed to be awesome, and it’s a friend’s birthday too.

* Yeah yeah I posted at 4:30am …


12 thoughts on “Considering Direct Ad Sales

  1. Bob says:

    >This could help to significantly diversify my income sources and reduce my reliance on AdSense
    IIRC, using several concurrent ad programs (i.e AdS + TLA + Y! Overture) *was* forbidden by AdSense TOS, and it changed earlier this year.
    IANAL, nor an advertising mogul.

  2. Pierre Arnaud says:

    Hi Rick, adding ads to the installation process might just annoy your users…

    “What, I thought this is free software! It’s showing me ads, so it just start some adware nightmare on my PC. Let’s quickly uninstall and clean up the mess.”

    Personally, I would not mind seeing a few (small, discreet and unobstrusive) ads on the web site, if you can make it less cluttered than the current version with the two blocks of “Ads by Google” and the bottom banner. This just adds noise to your site and distracts the visitors. But, I know, if every visitor paid you 1 cent, you would not have to mess with ads 😉


  3. Rick Brewster says:

    Pierre, well … some people will complain or be suspicious of just about anything. You should have heard the comments about the .NET Framework back in 2004 when Paint.NET was Slashdotted. I could have 1 ad, or 10, or 1000 … and that type of person would still complain. And if I had zero they’d find something else to complain or be suspicious about.

  4. Rick Brewster says:

    Stephan — I will never put advertising in the application itself. Put another way, I won’t do something that would annoy me personally (I use Paint.NET too!).

  5. Angel Kavazov says:

    Hi Rick. I have been using Paint.Net for some time and it is really good, thank you very much. I have a suggestion. As you say, there is lots of space in the “optimization” window, that may be the best place to put ads, just like pictures with links to some advertisers’ sites, not adware or something that can mess up your PC.

  6. Rick Brewster says:

    Angel, I’m not considering popups or adware. I’m strictly talking about the advertising spaces that are already in place on the website, and the space in the installer.

  7. Mike says:

    I recently donated to as I use it and enjoy learning how to better use it. If ads along with donations will keep free, and the updates coming, more power to you. One hope is that the ads relate to the community.

  8. Nicholas says:

    Rick, just don’t overdo it with the website ads. I tend to make heavy use of AdBlock Plus on my Firefox just because of this annoying webmasters habit of turning a useful site to a “supermarket catalog”.

    The quoted thing above is a term I coined on 2003 when a client asked for a site with about 50% of its screen space bloated with banner ads. The mock-up reminded me of the (printed) “offers catalog” flyer a local supermarket was leaving every week on my doorstep. I thought that a banner-infected site is equally annoying to the aforementioned flyer.

    You’d better also make the ads unobtrusive, i.e. put (most of) them on a side column and leave just a single “premium” banner in the content. This increases the readability, is not at all annoying and has better chances of people actually clicking on the ads instead of ignoring them systematically.

    Ah, that’s my 2 cents 🙂

  9. Rick Brewster says:

    Screenmutt, the whole point of ads as they are now is to provide support for development. More revenue (e.g. from direct ad sales) equates to more resources available for development. “Brushes” is planned for a future version (probably 4.0).

Comments are closed.