Google Adsense Alternative for Forums
I recently found a post on another forum regarding why a blog receives a higher click-through rate than a forum. There is a simple explanation and there is actually a great alternative to adsense that you can implement on a forum and you can actually make even more money doing this instead! First of all, the term "CTR" means "Click Through Rate" of your ads, the higher your click through rate, the higher your earnings.
A blog is more about reading and exploring posts rather than interacting, except for comments, while a forum is more about interacting and communicating with people. In a blog, people tend to be more interesting in looking around the site and clicking on things such as Adsense links in hope of finding more articles or news to read about.
Forums have a Low CTR
A forum on the other hand, people are more concentrated on getting work done, closing deals and having discussions rather than clicking through advertisements. Visitors can get "Ad blindness", which is when they just subconsciously block out ads when they are concentrating on the discussion. This is also part of a concept that a forum can never have too much advertising (unless there are a lot of those really annoying and crappy flashing ads).
So a forum won't make as high of a click through rate as a blog. The CTR you do get from the forum is most likely from the "forum reader" type of visitors who don't post much, which is the same type of visitor as the "blog reader". Just take a look at this forum for instance. I have those "Member Ads" on both sides of the forum that people can buy for a period of time. It's not Adsense, but it's advertising space that your members can buy to advertise throughout the forum (seen on all pages of the forum).
The catch to it: The money you can make with these only increases with traffic (Higher Demand and Lower Supply). That's the same with Adsense too, you make more with more traffic, but you don't have the demand and supply factor included. This makes your earnings constant and linear per visitor. One the other hand, your earnings per visitor grow exponentially with a supply and demand factor of custom advertising on the forum. The CTR is crap on the forum, but you can use this alternative Ad strategy to make up for it in big ways.
How it works: I have a price for the ad spots and when a member wants to buy ads, they just buy them from me and I put up their links or banners. As traffic grows, more and more members will want to buy ads (to hit the increasing traffic), so you can increase the price. There are some forums that are offering as much as $1000 per WEEK for ad spots and can make almost $10k a week just doing this. It all depends on how much demand and traffic you have, but it's still an option.
Advertisers Enjoy Promoting on a Forum
This whole advertising system on the forum is based on a highly successful business model. Advertiserswant to compete in pricing once you have a lot of traffic and a lot of potential customers on the forum. It's up to the owner of a forum to match that supply and demand and not make outrageous prices, but at the same time, don't make it so cheap that you have 10 ad spots and 1000s of potential advertisers.
Forum member advertisers are much more likely to pay bigger money to get ads. The reason is if they are part of the forum, the already know what other members are looking for. They pretty much know the market in and out once they've been around long enough. So they know when a product is going to catch visitors' attention.
The revenue from their sale is going to greatly outweigh the cost of the ad, especially since they know the member base and participate in the forum discussions and get information. Not only does this solution solve the problem of low Adsense CTR on forums, forums end up being a gold mine for everyone. ;)