Regular visitors to my blog might have noticed that I have been tinkering a lot with ad placements / formats on my blog lately. The reason for this is that over the past few weeks I’ve been getting a large number of visitors on the posts I made on VIT and SRM. Traffic stats have turned into a frikkin’ vertical line. Monetization of this traffic is important to me for the future survival of my blog. While my hosting is done and paid for for the next three years, I do need to build a war-chest to pay for hosting beyond that. If traffic continues to grow at this rate – thank you, dear readers! – I would prefer to move to virtual dedicated / dedicated servers to provide a faster, better browsing experience when on my site for everyone.
Simple page loads do not make a big dent on the amount of data transferred. On my blog though, a significant – rather, major – chunk of data transfer is taken up by a) question paper / quiz archives; b) images. I can understand that a lot of people are giving entrance exams and thus the rush for exam papers, but I’m extremely delighted to note the enthusiastic response that my quiz archives generate. I never thought they would be so popular! Also, a lot of the images put up on my blog drive traffic through image search queries; I believe that is because each image I put up is meticulously named, alt-tagged and captioned – I suggest fellow bloggers to do the same and see the difference.
I’m happy with this success that has been made possible by you, my readers. :) But the truth is that I need to think long term about the survival of this blog and to make this operation self-sustaining, ads are a necessity. Personally, I despise advertisements. It might sound ironic, but I don’t like ads. I suggest you guys to use AdBlock Plus to block out advertisments while browsing; use the EasyList filter when prompted to choose a filtering list after first install. But I’m also aware that my returning visitors – and possibly the tech-savvier ones – will be those who are using such plugins. I am 100% behind you guys when you take such a step, but if you don’t choose to use such plugins it’s OK. It’s the first-timer traffic mostly coming from search engines that I intend to monetize with ads. See, visitors referred to by search engines are searching for some information – which may or may not be available on my blog post. Many times they might be looking for commercial products / services, which an ad can direct them to. So it is this first-time traffic which is looking for something – or, let’s just admit it – dumb people using IE6 that I intend to monetize. (I’m not saying all IE users are dumb, but referring to the market segment which knows about nothing other than IE, and hi5 and scrap each other on Orkut in SMS lingo – and it’s a large market segment.)
I have been using Google AdSense for a long time and it has been highly successful, especially over the last few weeks. The drawback is that Google limits the number of ad units you can put on one page. This results in a lot of unutilized space, particularly in my sidebar. To fill up this real estate, I decide to hunt for a secondary ad network for my blog. AdSense does not allow any context-sensitive ad network to be used alongside it, so this has to be a non-targeted ad network, and preferably one which pays for impressions (CPM).
Since a majority of my traffic is from India, I started hunting for an Indian ad network. Most suck and / or don’t inspire the confidence in you that they have a good ad inventory (going by reviews other have put up). I narrowed down to three networks – Tyroo, AdChakra, and Komli. All three have manual approval process for new publishers, so you need to apply to them and then wait to be accepted in their ad network.
AdChakra sent me a PDF form to sign and send to them – with no indication of which address to send to. In one fell swoop, that was three strikes for them and I deleted their PDF form.
Tyroo rejected my application. Dunno why. Yahoo! India is has a significant stake in Tyroo.
Komli Ad Network review
My rating of Komli: 1.4 / 10
That left Komli. At first glance, Komli seem to be everything you ever wanted if you’re an Indian publisher. Komli is mainly targetted towards Indian users – but it also pays you for international traffic. You get paid for impressions, then extra if a user clicks on the ads you serve. My application was approved and I decided to put Komli ads in the unutilized space. They support standard ad formats which AdSense has which allows you to integrate them easily into spots previously filled by AdSense.
At first, it seemed that signing up for Komli was a good idea. Ads seemed to be somewhat interesting, considering that it was non-targetted – soft drink ads, IPL teams ads et al. Then I noticed that many times, Komli’s ads failed to load completely. Komli uses iframes to load it ads, which meant that when an ad did not load it left whitespace equivalent to ad format area wherever it did not load. That is obviously a less-than-ideal situation when you have ads which are not loading. I don’t know whether this is content delivery failure or whether did not have ads to fill in that space. If it was the latter, then they should have at least put in some placeholder so that it didn’t appear odd.
I introduced Komli ads on my blog around six days ago, so I decided to take stock today and see how well it performed. The statistics were dismal. According to Komli’s own analytics, it served approximately 13000 impressions on my blog over the past week. And for that, Komli is going to pay only 10 cents (around Rs 4.90)! They are paying 60% of revenue to publishers – that means what Komli gets to keep is even lower. This is what I get for those many impressions? Frankly, Komli isn’t worth it. Maybe advertisers aren’t paying them enough or whatever it is, signing up for Komli makes no sense for publishers. Now I see from other reviews on the Web that pretty much everyone else is saying the same thing.
I did get clicks on Komli ads, but merely clicks don’t seem to pay much. Remember that 10 cents is what they’re giving after factoring both CPM and CPC on my account. It seems that Komli – if it pays – pays for conversions. Basically, Komli ads might pay out only on a Cost-Per-Action (CPA) basis. The problem is that in India CPA ads don’t perform that well. If the required action is some kind of sale / purchase, then that’s not likely to happen in India since online shopping isn’t that big. For heaven’s sake, look up on how many people have credit cards, and even among those how many of them are comfortable to use it online. The other kind of action could be signing up at a website – now most these ads would happen to be from job sites or matrimonial sites. Problem with that latter is that these are so well-known because of their carpet-bombing of sites with ads, that it’s highly unlikely that you’ll have a visitor who’s never heard of these sites and would therefore click on your banner ad to go and sign up there. In a nutshell – Komli won’t work.
I have switched to AdBrite now as my secondary ad network. No ads showing up yet, although it does tell publishers to wait for 24 hours before it can start displaying ads. I hope AdBrite performs better. I’m a bit apprehensive about AdBrite because it has been known earlier to serve borderline porn ads. AdBrite took care of AVN Ads network, but there was a tiff between AVN and AdBrite, with AVN ending their contract with AdBrite and launching Black Label Ads. So theoretically, nothing offensive should show up now. Naman has tried out AdBrite for a few days and he suggests that if you’re using AdBrite, set it to show ‘family-friendlist ads’. Even though the default option of ‘all ads’ says they won’t show adult ads, Naman said that AdBrite did show slightly risque (although not porn) ads once. In case you come across an AdBrite ad which you think is offensive, leave a comment here (with a screenshot, if possible) and I’ll look into it. I’m also experimenting with full-page interstitial ads which will only be triggered on the fifth pageload in a 24 hour period by any visitor – tell me if this is too obtrusive.