Is your blog part of a premium ad network such as Mediavine, Ezoic, or Monumetric?
Then congratulations! You can now monetize any content with display ads. Not having to exclusively rely on affiliate links or product sales makes it so much easier to earn money from your blog.
But as much as you might want to turn up your ads to 11, doing so could hurt the user experience.
A blog with too many ads can become ugly and difficult to read. Going overboard with ads can even hurt your other monetization strategies.
It’s key to adjust the ad insertion settings to a level that you are comfortable with.
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Set your general ad frequency
Ad networks such as Mediavine give you a high level of control over the type of ads and how many will be displayed.
The best lever you have to adjust the overall ad load is the in-content ad frequency. This setting determines how many times you will see an ad inside a post.
In Mediavine you can select different in-content ad frequencies for mobile and desktop. You can also cap the total ad insertions per page (e.g. never more than 10).
I usually like to:
- Set everything to medium (ish). The ad networks will usually nudge you to set everything to high, but it’s really up to you!
- Show more ads on mobile. This is just a personal preference, but I think mobile users are generally more likely to read only one page and then leave. Desktop users might be more in ‘research mode’ and clicking around my blog a lot more, so I tend to go a bit easier on the ads for them to ensure a good experience.
Crank up everything in Q4
While I’m sensitive to not having too many ads on my blog, I honestly tear up my rulebook on this one when it comes to the fourth quarter. It’s simply too lucrative to hold back.
This is the biggest time of the year for ad spending. From Black Friday until Christmas, ad revenues will just go bananas. Your RPM (revenue per 1000 sessions) can easily double.
That’s why in November and December, I always turn my ads way up.
For my travel blog, I also keep ad levels high during the first weeks of January. Although this month tends to have low RPMs (as ad budgets will have been depleted over the holiday season), I do get a lot of extra traffic at the start of the year as people focus on their new year travel plans. I like to capitalize on this temporary influx of traffic.
During much of the rest of the year, I use somewhat lower ad settings as RPMs are lower during these times as well.
Turn off ads in specific posts
In some posts, there may actually not be much point in having ads at all.
In fact, they could be detrimental to your other monetization methods.
For example, I have posts that don’t get that many visitors (e.g. 100-200 per month) but that are highly focused on, say, hotel affiliate bookings. I could still try to make a dollar or two with display ads, but why distract from my affiliate links that are bringing in the real money?
I don’t really want users to be bothered with ads, especially if that could take their eyes off the accommodation links and ‘book here’ buttons. Since these posts are basically listicles/overviews, there aren’t many places where ads can be nicely sandwiched in between many text content blocks anyway. Maybe it’s just me, but I like to keep these affiliate-focused pages pretty clean.
You can find instructions on how to disable ads on specific pages in Mediavine. Other networks also let you do this by placing a piece of HTML code inside your post.
Since I like to easily have control over this I coded a custom toggle in WordPress to disable/enable ads on a page-by-page basis:
(I made this toggle myself, but you may be able to use a plugin that lets you insert code on specific pages, such as Ad Inserter Pro or use theme settings such as Elements in GeneratePress that can contain HTML and be targeted to specific posts.)
Keep in mind I only do this when the traffic volume is so low it’s not worth it, and where I perceive a benefit in putting the spotlight only on affiliate or product sales.
Besides disabling ads on affiliate-specific posts, I have also turned ads off on certain stories or unique pieces of content. These don’t get many visitors anyway so the ad revenue is negligible, but they may benefit from being uncluttered and calm.
This “prestige” content isn’t meant to be big moneymakers anyway, but serves more to gain followers or newsletter subs. On just a few such posts, I will just switch ads off.
Insert ads manually in specific posts
While I like to keep the number of ads within certain limits across my blog, there are some posts with high traffic volumes where I actually want to put the pedal to the metal.
My top cheap places to travel post gets many thousands of visitors a month (the record was 45,000+ views in one month!). It’s a classic ‘high volume, low buying intent’ post, making it perfect for display ads.
A lot of viewers of this page are casual browsers looking for some quick inspiration via Google. I want them to see as many ads as possible before they leave.
I actually put an ad within every country listed in this post. That makes for 23 ads in total. That’s quite a lot, but the money I earn just this one post is what lets me go easy on them in other places.
In Mediavine you can override the automatic ad insertion and place in-content ads manually.
You can do this by inserting these content hints:
Of course, you can use this same technique to limit your ads on a specific page. For example, if you place only one content hint then only one in-content ad will be displayed.
Disable ads temporarily
It’s possible to disable ads completely for a limited time.
Mediavine lets you generate a piece of HTML code for this that you can insert on a specific page. Ezoic lets you manage this through its toolbar.
Here’s how I use this:
On brand new posts, I typically disable posts for the first 2 weeks. This is the period during which I get my regular followers in through social, my newsletter, and so on — and when I’m not yet getting any SEO traffic.
Since we’re typically talking only a few hundred visitors anyway, I’m not missing out on a lot of ad revenue by switching it off during a post’s debut period. (They’ll still see a sidebar ad though.)
Admittedly this is a very specific tweak, so whether you want to bother with this is up to you. But I think it’s nice to give my regular readers a somewhat cleaner reading experience. Rather than earn a few pennies or cents on ads with them, I’d rather have them click an affiliate link or feel inspired to buy my info product.
I coded a way to do this automatically, so it doesn’t take me any effort to implement. Though I admit this one’s a bit of finicky customization that may not be worth it.
Disable cheap-looking ads
Finally, I think ads are much more tolerated if they are of a good standard. In pretty much any ad network, you can go into the settings and exclude certain ad themes from being displayed.
In Mediavine under Opt Out I’ve excluded various categories including Downloadable Utilities, Get Rich Quick, and Sensationalism.
I’ve been a Mediavine partner since 2017 and I love having this highly reliable revenue stream. But I also want to prevent users from being overwhelmed by ads.
The ad networks will generally encourage you to show as many ads as you can. They’ll also often warn you that certain settings can negatively affect your RPM. These warnings are well-intentioned — and from their perspective, it makes sense to want to maximize ad inventory. However, I think you should always use your own judgment as well.
There can be certain (unseen) costs to having too many ads, so it’s up to you to strike the right balance for your particular blog.