I had a request for more information about adding functionality to your blog that will help increase your revenue – without requiring any programming skills.
Targeting ads are one of my “must be able to do” items when building any new site. Years ago I wrote a tutorial on creating targeted advertisements in Thesis via code in custom functions. If that tutorial scares you – or if you're simply not using Thesis? There's a simple way to create targeted advertisements using a free WordPress plugin called Display Widgets (now deprecated – try Restrict Widgets instead).
What Display Widgets Does
Display Widgets allows you to assign any widget to show (or not show) on the sidebar within any category, post or page.
Is Display Widgets the most advanced widget for showing widgets conditionally in WordPress? Nope. But it is the best of the “easiest” I've found for those who don't know (and don't want to know) anything about programming or writing code.
Just install Display Widgets via your plugin administration screen and activate it. Now, when you go to your widgets under Appearance > Widgets, you'll see every widget you open now has a set of options to show or hide a widget based on a variety of factors.
Why You Should Use Targeting in Sidebar Advertising
There are plenty of reasons you might want to show targeted widgets in your sidebar. I'll give a few examples below.
Showing people affiliated ads on specific topics they're obviously interested in
If someone is roaming around the Sugarrae website reading all of my SEO related posts, chances are – you guessed it – they're interested in SEO. So showing them ads for merchants like Raven Tools, which offers services specifically related to SEO just makes sense.
Avoiding showing people affiliated ads on specific topics they're obviously not going to convert on
If a user is in my Thesis tutorials category, chances are that they ALREADY USE THESIS. So showing them an ad FOR Thesis is simply a waste of real estate and revenue opportunity. Instead, it makes more sense to opt to show them an ad for Themedy or Traffic and Trust from a potential conversion standpoint.
Utilizing custom AdSense channels
I've already written about how custom channels can help you increase AdSense revenue. I'm currently migrating several of my affiliate sites into one large (and new) brand (more on that later). The site includes several tightly connected but yet completely different topics. I've created a different AdSense widget for the sidebar for each topic section so that advertisers can target the topic(s) related to their specific product. The more targeted the audience of an ad, the more an advertiser is going to be willing to pay to get in front of them.
Creating custom ad zones
If you're using an ad network to generate revenue, you can create targeted ad zones for the very same reasons (and results) as creating custom channels with Adsense.
Choosing different types of ads for different sections based on actual revenue numbers
Not every topic makes the same money with the same ad platform. You may find an affiliate banner converts like crazy in one section of your site while AdSense has an unbeatable CPM rate in another, and your ad network ads kill it in another. Targeting your sidebar widgets allow you to show more relevant ads to the user. It also allows you to pick and choose which types of ad platforms to show in the best slots based on your actual conversions and earnings.
Registered users are different than non registered users
I don't use registered user accounts here on Sugarrae (basically allowing or requiring a user to be logged in to comment), but I use them on a handful of other sites. A user that has taken the time to create an account with your blog is obviously “warm” to you – and your site – and can be marketed to differently as a result of that assumption. Let's say you have a newsletter subscription widget in your sidebar. You might choose to create two. One generic sign up widget that shows to non-registered or logged out users and one more specific to show to logged-in users. The one that shows to logged-in users might use different copy like “You're already a member of our community, shouldn't you be a member of our mailing list too? It's FREE!”
Targeting Ads Increases Revenue Potential and the User Experience
If you're not currently targeting the ads on your blog, you're missing out on potential revenue. Additionally, users could be missing out on being shown potential solutions to their specific needs or problems. Whether you do it via custom code, more advanced (and slightly more confusing for newbies) widgets or a simple solution like Display Widgets, you should be doing it.
Have experience with alternate conditional widget plugins? Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.