Posted October 15, 2008 10:16 am by with 21 comments

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There’s a huge problem that could threaten the blogs that you read on a daily basis–we can’t make enough money from banner advertising.

There, I said it.

It’s a big problem, because pretty much all blogs rely on banner ads to some degree, yet new research and expert opinion both reinforce the notion that, as bloggers, we need to look beyond display ads for our revenue stream.

First, the research:

Prices for display ads sold through networks have dropped for the second quarter in a row, dipping below $0.30 on average, according to PubMatic.

New data from the company’s AdPrice index suggest effective CPMs from July through September were $0.27 — down 21 percent sequentially and 27 percent compared with this year’s first quarter.

Now the expert opinion from Jakob Nielsen:

“We call this banner blindness — people won’t see ads at all,” said Nielsen. “Ads might as well not exist as far as users are concerned, except for search ads.” The number of web users that so much as glance at banner ads, he added, is too small to even quantify.

If you run banner ads on your own blog, it’s highly likely that you’ve seen either a drop in demand or a drop in the rates you’re charging. And, with the economy sucking the wind out of any advertising growth, you’ll likely not see much of an improvement over the coming months–perhaps years.

So, how do bloggers make money, if not from display ads? Honestly, if I knew the answer I’d sell you an ebook for $80–and that would be just one of the ways I’d make money outside of banner ads. 😉

As bloggers we have to start looking at the value of our blogs beyond CPMs. We have to look at other ways to generate revenue. And, it wouldn’t hurt any of us, if we shared some ideas with each other! I’ll kick us off with some ideas, but I’d love to read yours in the comments below.

  1. Lead generation – Marketing Pilgrim happens to be on the topic that makes up my consulting services. You can bet that it’s a huge lead generator for me.
  2. Contextual ads – there are guys out there that make 6 figure incomes from networks such as AdSense.
  3. Affiliate links – I’m not about to litter Marketing Pilgrim with crappy posts, just so I can share an affiliate link. But, if I happen to believe in a product, you may well see me adding an affiliate link.
  4. Secondary services – I never really expected our Marketing Pilgrim Job Board to become as popular as it has. It’s not a huge revenue stream, but it helps keep the lights on.
  5. Sponsored sidebars – we have a deal with PRWeb to display relevant press release headlines in our sidebar. Maybe you could find a similar partnership? I know I’ll be on the lookout for other co-branded opportunities.
  6. Ebooks – I’ve dabbled with ebooks and I know other bloggers have turned their expertise into a nice ebook revenue stream.
  7. Premium content – hmmm. Trust me, I think often about whether there’s an opportunity for a premium channel for Marketing Pilgrim. It works (very well) for guys like SEOmoz.
  8. Webinars/Workshops – Marketing Pilgrim is a great platform to build buzz for my speaking gigs. If you’ve built your name as an expert in your field, maybe you should look to do the same with your blog.
  9. Sponsored Posts – I’ve never accepted cash in exchange for a blog post. That said, the opportunity does exist for someone to sponsor an entire category? “Email marketing posts brought to you by….”
  10. You tell me? What’s your pick for our #10 blog revenue stream?