Aside (2017): I wrote this review years ago, however all of the information is still accurate in 2017.
A month ago I began running ads from a service called Project Wonderful. Their site is here. In the past I had tried Google Adsense, but I wasn’t happy with the ads that were being delivered to the blog. Adsense is supposed to deliver contextual ads, but I rarely found that to be the case. The result was basically earning next to nothing from Google. Nobody wants to click ads for online universities and crap like that. When you have a niche market, as we do with wargaming blogs, you need ads that are relevant if there’s any hope of actually getting something out of putting the ads on your site.
That’s how I discovered Project Wonderful. A co-worker of mine mentioned hearing about it when I said I was debating putting Adsense back on my blog. I checked it out, quickly signed up, and began playing around with it. The thing I really like the most with Project Wonderful is their approach to advertising. I could turn this into a huge article about all the differences with them and Adsense, but I’ll keep it brief, and leave it up to you to check it out if I piqué your interest.
The largest difference is how advertisers work with publishers (those who put ads on their sites). As a publisher you create ad boxes which is you telling advertisers what spots you have available on your site to advertise on. Unlike Adsense where ads just start showing up once you’ve done that, instead advertisers bid on your ad boxes, and the winner gets their ad shown on your site.
The way advertisers bid is to say they are willing to pay $X a day to advertise in a particular ad box. So, unlike Adsense where you get paid based on a click/view ratio, advertisers pay you straight up for advertising on your site each day, not a rate based on clicks and views.
If someone runs an ad with me, and nobody clicks it, I still get the rate they said they’d pay me for advertising for the day. Google doesn’t do that. In addition, because of this difference there’s no concern about clicking on the ads shown on your site. I’m not getting paid per-click, so if I find an ad interesting that’s being shown on my site then I’ll click it. Google frowns on that with Adsense. Actually, they forbid it.
Publishers have control over ads placed on their site. If you want you can require all ads wanting to be placed with you be approved. There’s also some options for the type of ads. If you don’t want any NSFW ads on your site then you don’t have to accept them, and that’s a hands-off option, you don’t have to manually decline them.
As an advertiser you can find cheap ad placement, like $0 cheap. Publishers can set a minimum required to advertise with them, but a vast majority do not set a minimum. So, you can run ads on their site for free. It requires some manual labor to place free ads, but not a lot.
There’s an ability to create a campaign for advertising. In short, you define your criteria for sites you’d like to advertise on. It can be the type of site, sites matching a particular description, by traffic, etc. You then set up bidding parameters, say you’re willing to spend $X a day on advertising, and set a maximum budget of $Y. The campaign will automatically make bids for you based on the criteria you’ve set up, and you just sit back and watch the clicks come through.
An example. I created a campaign targeting gamers. I set a daily expense limit of 20 cents, and a maximum budget of $1. Once the $1 ran out the campaign stopped. My ads were shown 23,651 times, and received 13 clicks. I won’t get into all the other metrics, but it didn’t do too poorly – though it could have been better. Improving how many clicks my campaign gets will come down to my targeting of sites I advertise on, my criteria, as well as my ads themselves. Regardless, I thought it was a good experiment and I only spent $1, no complaints.
You Have Full Ad Control
That’s something I really like about Project Wonderful, you’re in full control of everything from the ads that run on your site to the ads you place. As well as how much, or how little, you’re willing to spend. There really isn’t an aspect that you don’t have a say over. The result of all this is that the type of people placing ads tend to be the sort of demographic that works with a wargaming blog.
Project Wonderful gained huge ground from web comics. Web comics are easily the largest category of people running ads through them. Gamers of various types are another large market. Basically, it’s people like you and I who are placing ads and showing those ads.
Project Wonderful Profits
Now, the final bit that some of you bloggers are likely curious about, the profits. When I ran Adsense the last time out I ran it for a month. In that month I made $1.59. With Project Wonderful in a month I’ve made $1.64. We’re not talking a huge difference in profits obviously, but it can only go up from here.
That was my first month out with Project Wonderful, and as my blog continues to grow, and gain more readers, so too will I gain more willing to advertise on here, and spend more money to do so. For those of you with much larger followings than I, you will inevitably do much better. I’m not one for sharing my stats, and so I won’t, but I know some of you who read this blog have a larger readership than I do.
In conclusion, if you’re considering trying to monetize your blog then I highly suggest checking out Project Wonderful.
Aside (2017): Those amounts mentioned above were in 2011. In 2017 I have tried Project Wonderful, as well as various times throughout the years, but never had any real success with it. My traffic here is significantly higher than in 2011, yet I was only making around 3 cents a day with Project Wonderful. It just seems like nobody is willing to pay much to advertise on the sites there any longer. I now rely on Adsense as my primary means of advertising income, and Project Wonderful doesn’t even come close to it any longer.