I’m going to preface this by saying what works for me may not work for everyone the exact same way. Advertising is a tricky bitch and it takes smarter minds than mine to come up with actual solutions. I also want to make it clear that the revenues I generate from advertising are piddly poo. I can cover server costs and such, but most of the money I get from advertising I put back into the comic through buying things like business cards, ink, paper, that sort of thing. Keep those things in mind as you go through this.
Project Wonderful is an ad service that lets publishers sell ad space based on a “Cost Per Day” or CPD model. This means that advertisers bid on ad space based on how much they want to spend per day on their campaign. As a publisher, you can set a minimum bid. The default is $0.00.
Project Wonderful attracts a lot of webcomic publishers and advertisers. It’s great for advertisers who have limited budgets. Most publishers don’t bother changing the default minimum bid so for a few cents a day, you could potentially get your ad on some well trafficked webcomics.
For publishers, you get much better value from Project Wonderful ads than Google Adsense. You can deny ads that you think don’t fit your site. You can make cents per day as opposed to cents per month or in some cases, per year. You get targeted ads for other webcomics that may fit with your audience. You can withdraw any money you make any time you want regardless of amount. For sites with low to medium traffic, Project Wonderful is pretty tough to beat.
Do Not Fear the Minimum Bid
The most powerful aspect of Project Wonderful for publishers is the minimum bid. For the first few months of the comic, I didn’t bother changing the default minimums. I didn’t feel that my traffic numbers really justified any kind of minimum bid. Even at $0.00, there were many days when my ad slots were empty. Fortunately, you can display your own ad if you have no bids so I half the time, I was advertising Monster Cutie.
My traffic became more steady as I got more comics uploaded. So I decided to just play around with the ads to see what would work. I changed the minimums of the side and footer banners to $0.10 and the top banner to $0.30. After about a week of settling, I found that the spaces were regularly getting filled.
I realize that $0.50 a day isn’t all that much. The weekends are pretty bad for traffic and a lot of my advertisers don’t bother which leaves 260 work days in the year to fill those slots. So lets be optimistic and assume I can fill those slots every work day. That $130 per year just by changing the minimum bid. It’s not that much, but it’s loads more than I’ve ever made per year with Google Adsense. With the low to medium amount of traffic I get, I’d say that’s a pretty decent return.
Last month, I decided to fiddle some more with the ads. There isn’t really a link to Puppy Cow on the site and the store links don’t exactly stand out. So I changed all my default ads to feature Puppy Cow. I kept the minimum bid of the bottom banner at $0.10, changed the side minimum to $0.30, and upped the top banner to $5.00. The way I figured it, no one would bother bidding on that top banner so I’d have a permanent ad for Puppy Cow right at the top.
My plan worked the way I imagined it would. For two days. On the third day, ads started popping up in that top slot. That means someone out there was paying me $5.00 a day to kick Puppy Cow out of my prime position!
It’s been going like this for a few weeks now and it boggles my mind. Doing some math, when all the ad spots are filled, that’s $5.40 a day. Multiply that by the working days in a year and that’s $1404 a year on a site that’s hardly a blip on Alexa.
Now the math isn’t exact. We’re talking about best case scenario. In reality, even if all the ad slots are filled, it’s likely that the actual total is less than $5.40.
If my ads are filled, I’m making money. If they’re not, I’m sending traffic to Puppy Cow which in turn can make me more money than I could make from ads. It’s a great way to stack revenue streams.
Addendum: The Missing Piece
For now, merchandise sales completely eclipse ad revenue. But that may be because I don’t know enough about my metrics. The thing that I feel like I’m missing is a good understanding of analytics. I mean, I can read my google analytics like a fucking boss, but I have no idea what that shit means. What numbers do advertisers give a shit about? What number do I use when people ask how many readers I have?
I feel like if I can get my head around these metrics, I can be better armed when it comes to seeking out new revenue streams. This is where a business class or two instead of Art History classes would have been helpful in college.
Anyway, I hope some of this was helpful. If you’ve been using Project Wonderful for a while, fiddle around with your minimums and see what works for you. If you have yet to try Project Wonderful, I’d say give it a good couple of months before you start messing with the minimums.