Unforeseen Circumstances: Four Factors That Could Affect Your Ad Revenue

Ad revenue is one of the main sources of revenue for online publishers and content creators. Despite that fact, there are numerous unforeseen factors that can influence ad revenue that are totally outside of a publisher’s control.

If you want to know which factors have the biggest impacts on your ad revenue, this list is for you.

Banner Blindness

The first ever banner ad was displayed over twenty years ago, in 1994. The AT&T banner appeared on HotWired.com and was clicked by around 44% of the people that saw it. Some studies suggest that over those 20 years, audiences online have become so accustomed to banner ads that they have developed a “banner blindness” – a conscious or subconscious way of ignoring those banner ads.

Many publishers still believe in the potential of banner ads. Buzzfeed, for example, recently started using banner ads after having famously rejected the format in the past.

There are ways to fight back against banner blindness. Publishers should assess the placement and relevance of the ads that they display to optimize performance. Elements such as the color, content, and format of ads should be experimented with using A/B testing to reverse the impacts of banner blindness.

Algorithm Changes

The volume of traffic that a website receives is one of the biggest factors in determining the ad revenue that it generates. Algorithm changes can have impacts on the placement of websites in search engine results pages, meaning that those changes also affect the number of people that see ads on them.

Google are constantly tweaking their algorithms. Around every six months it releases large updates such as the Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird updates… to the exasperation of website owners. Best practice and ranking factors evolve along with those changes, and have shaped the web that we know today. It is critical that website owners keep on top of established best practice, using resources such as the Moz Blog

But algorithm changes can also represent a powerful opportunity for publishers to do SEO work. As a rule of thumb, remember that Google believes “Content Is King”: any practice that jeopardizes the user experience and access to that content is sure to eventually be punished by Google’s algorithms.


Advertisers plan their budgets at certain times of year. Holidays come and go. The money that ad targets have fluctuates in sequences. The time of year and other similar, consistent changes can affect your ad revenue. This is referred to as seasonality.

In the holiday season, offers are everywhere and advertisers are scrambling to capture the attention of audiences planning to spend money. These elements can have huge impacts upon budgets, traffic figures, click through rates, and countless other metrics that can temporarily boost your ad revenue. But the other side of the coin can also affect your ad revenue: audiences are deemed to lack disposable funds at times, and are not targeted by advertisers.

Predicting and planning for seasonality is key to effectively managing ad revenue performance.

Traffic Sources

How your audience lands on your website can reveal details about the way they will behave once there. This is why simply measuring the volume of traffic isn’t sufficient when trying to predicting ad revenue. Publishers have to consider traffic sources.

Readers that arrive via organic search are often the most engaged users. They actively explore websites that they discover through search engines, driving ad revenues as they go. Social traffic is generally less “sticky” and will continue to browse through the web with a lower CTR when compared to organic traffic. Naturally, this will vary from website to website depending on things like vertical, target audiences, and types of content.

Publishers should identify which traffic source is the most effective for them, and work to attract higher volumes of the appropriate traffic.

Are there other unforeseen factors that you have experienced and would like to discuss? Feel free to email us at hello@marfeel.com, and subscribe to blog updates using the form below.

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