To advertise, or to do something else?

MashupCiti has been around now for just over 3 years and in this time there has been a lot of experimenting and playing around with all kinds of wonderful WordPress stuff. For those of you who have been regular visitors here, you may have also noticed some of this experimentation with the monetization of MashupCiti.

I should probably point out that the monetization of MashupCiti really is to go to things like domain and server costs, maybe hiring a developer to make a cool new plugin, working on an API of this or that or the other thing. It’s not going to hookers and blow (my wife said no).

Sometime in 2007, I think it was April or something, I started out using Google Adsense. It’s simple to set up and there are a crap load of plugins available to integrate your site to the advertising system. Problem is, you really need very high  traffic to make any money off it. By high volume I’m saying that should be around several thousand visits a day. This should increase your chances of a user clicking on one of the somewhat random advertisements on your site. Less than 1% of your traffic will probably do this, and trending data is showing, it’s going to be less. At it’s peak it was generating about $30 a month.

Online Advertising decline

This chart is stoled from TechCrunch! YOINK!

Online advertising success rates have been on a decline and that means spending has started to drop as well. I think that there are a few reasons to that, but mostly we as users are no more accustomed to advertising and can quickly recognize them for what they are: visual noise that is interfering with our content. We have become smarter and are developing blinders, blocking out the great ways to save on my next vacation, or how to triple my Air Miles on my next Ford SUV purchase.

Advertisers are starting to learn as well. They are becoming more educated and are asking marketing firms to provide statistical data in order for them to better track their ROI. They want to know how many impressions, clicks, etc and know what those mean. In other words, they are asking all the right questions and when the numbers are not making sense, they go elsewhere or put their advertising dollars into something else.

For example, I ran an ad on Facebook for MashupCiti and for $21.99 I got 123,000 impressions and 36 clicks. That was for a few weeks I think. Now that is nothing on the money side (actually I can get a good case of beer for that…) but I thought that the Facebook targeting features in their network would really give me a chance to get MashupCiti in-front of the right audience and further build traffic for us, Music Lovers.

I think it did get in front of the right people, it’s just no one is watching in my case. What we are watching are the things that matters on Facebook. Our wall, photos, chats and so on. So yeah, I pulled that and bought some beer instead.

I’ve since moved onto the BuySellAds network as well as Text Links but I really see this “advertising thing” as something I am struggling with internally. I want the music on MashupCiti to be free of other noise and the main focus for our visitors. I have lots of ideas on expanding the content further and that will be challenging enough to get in front of you guys, never the less having advertisements. So what do I do?

It’s a dilemma a lot of small sites like this face, and I’m sure and answer will present itself soon enough.