Never thought I'd be defending advertising...
At Worm's peak, Wildbow said he was averaging 20K views, consistently. So I went over to Project Wonderful and did a search for everything on its network that got between 15-25K daily traffic, to take a sample of similar sites:
I don't know if 20k was Wildbow's total views or just his unique visitors. Either way, your example is still inaccurate, because you're sampling all different sizes of ads, which vary wildly in price due to their varied effectiveness and of course varied placement on a given site.
For a clearer sample, let's look only at leaderboard ads (size 728x90), as they are generally the more effective and valuable than the other types of ads. Let's keep the daily traffic threshold the same but extend the duration to the last 15 days instead of only 5. And because bidding can also vary wildly, we'll also look at the "average historical bid" over those 15 days instead of just the "current bid" that you were looking at. Here's the link.
I'm sure you'll notice the difference. This is also going purely on page views. If we adjusted for "unique views" of whatever Wildbow's stats were, I'm sure we'd see an even larger disparity from your original sampling.
Furthermore, there's the added variable of ad placement. Certainly, an ad placed prominently at the top of a site will be more desirable and valuable than an ad relegated to the bottom or anywhere else that is hard to see.
- running ads affects your sites performance, because if the ad servers have problems it will affect your load times
Indeed, that could be a problem, but for those of us using Wordpress and Blogger, loading times will not be affected very much. Also, ads load asynchronously, so people can keep reading while your ads are busy loading anyway.
- advertisers frequently don't respect your ad guidelines
- Even for ads that do comply with the basic PW guidelines, you're going to run into some that make you squirm...
I've had no such problems, personally, but there are multiple steps you would be able to take against this. The first is blocking, which you mentioned. You can block individual ads or the advertiser's account.
Secondly, you can make it so no ads (or just accounts) run on your site without being approved by you first. Many sites do this.
Thirdly, you can set a minimum bidding requirement, which generally prevents "ugly" ads (ads people didn't put much effort into) from running on your site, as those ads often look for free advertising.
Fourthly, adjust your "tags" so that they do not attract ads with undesirable content. If your serial contains sex and gore and whatever else, you don't necessarily need to include those in the tags on your ad boxes. Unless, of course, you don't mind having ads that show such things. But considering that you only get 20 tags to work with, I'd say there are probably better words to include.
These are all just how Project Wonderful handles it, however. I do not know how other networks manage it.
In general your readers aren't going to like the ads. They won't necessarily hate them as much as many of my readers do, and they might put up with them as a cost of getting the content they want, but they will pretty much universally always view the ads as an impediment they have to work around/live with, rather than as something that adds value to your site.
This is the issue of placement. Finding a location on your site that balances appeal for advertisers but does not intrude upon the reading experience. And hell, if ads inexorably bother your readers, they can always use an ad blocker.
From a purely site management perspective, if you don't *need* ads there's absolutely no reason to run them. And if you think you can benefit from them financially, you need to make sure they return enough to make up for the time you'll have to put in managing them.
Again, it's not just a financial issue. It's also communal issue.
Several of the webcomics I read are members of one collective or other, and each comic thus has prominently displayed links to other comics in that "alliance," with a thumbnail image. I think it'd be very cool if some webserial authors banded together and did something like that.
I agree! I actually had a similar idea, but I'm honestly too shy to approach other people to float the idea by them. I'd be up for forming a collective of some sort.
Oddly enough, the two of you illuminated the heart of the problem in about two seconds.
Writers with larger serials will see little reason to become part of a "collective," and writers with small serials will generally be too timid to even ask. It's an uneven exchange, as well, based on the how generous the larger serialist feels like being. With ads, however, this is not an issue, because the exchange is no longer uneven.
I don't think most people respond well to ads that are immediately recognizable as such--I know I don't.
It's the advertiser's job to make their ad appealing, not yours. If you hate ads categorically, you can always employ an ad blocker. Also, I think most people who actually enjoy your work will understand if you choose to use ads. That's what supporting you means.