Advertising pays for the Internet. It’s so easy to insert advertising into online content that for many companies, ad-based monetization is a fallback revenue source, which subsidizes a cheaply priced game or helps pay for the cost of operating a freemium product. Many websites rely on advertising to pay the bills; but few do it well. Those that do are generally content-focused, trying to attract repeat visitors who will spend a decent amount of time on the site and view many pages.
If your business model most closely resembles a media site, then your primary focus is sharing advertisers’ messages with viewers, and getting paid for impressions, click-throughs, or sales. Google’s search engine; CNET’s home page; and CNN’s website are all media sites.
Ad revenue comes in a variety of formats. Some sites make money when they display banners or have sponsorship agreements. Sometimes, revenue is tied to the number of clicks on ads or to a kickback from affiliates. Sometimes, it’s simply display advertising shown each time there’s an engagement with a visitor.
Media sites care most of all about click-through or display rates, because those are actual revenue. But they also need to maximize the time visitors spend on the site, the number of pages they see, and the number of unique visitors (versus repeat visitors that keep coming back), because this represents inventory—chances to show ads to visitors—and a growing reach of new people who advertisers might ...