Lapizuli - 7:01 pm on Jan 15, 2011 (gmt 0)
I'd focus on what Netmeg said about user intent. Are users coming to your site "somewhere in the buy cycle" as she puts it? Advertisers are attracted to online advertising because they pay less for better targeted traffic than the old methods (print ads, TV, etc.). A publisher's job is to get that targeted traffic.
With that eCPM, I'm assuming the focus of the website is probably not product related. Is there any way to make the topics - and the visitors - more Internet-product focused?
This doesn't have to mean product reviews or product promotion. It's just about bringing people to the site who are in the market to buy exactly what your advertisers are selling. Targeted traffic.
For example, say you have a recipe site. You could spend years getting great traffic consisting of people consulting your recipes as they're about to cook a meal at home. This is a useful service, and some of these people might be interested consumers, but this won't make much money, because these people aren't in a buying mood and furthermore, they're not "targeted traffic." They're general, mass-market traffic.
But say you started a section on your site catering to niche foods. And instead of just recipes, say you included instructions for special preparation techniques. And say those techniques require a purchase...with the right traffic and enough traffic, those pages are likely to make more money than just basic recipes.
Or say your topic is a niche that simply can't be linked to any online purchases - though that's not as common as you'd think, because we're an awfully consumer-focused society. Focus then on your market. Who are they, really? What products are they interested in that might not be exactly the topic of your website, but can be related at a stretch?
There are zillions of approaches. Think about the kinds of things you buy online that are related, in some way, to your website. Think about the demographic of your traffic. Think about products in terms of solutions - to a problem, even to boredom. Think about your site as a service connecting visitors to products.
Yes, it's cynical and businesslike. But that's how your advertisers are thinking, and your pay depends on advertisers.
And to step back a bit with a sort of strange analogy: For the "little guy," success on the Internet depends on departing from the old-style mass market content production - writing articles on hobbies, say, and knowing a small fraction of your huge audience is going to be interested in buying sports cars, then displaying ads designed to whet their appetite. That's for print magazines or very big players. For Joe Webmaster, you cater to the current Internet searching audience - people who are headed in a definite direction but are a bit lost - like tourists in a new country. They're vaguely interested in buying, but without a guide they don't know what. The Internet is that new country, and AdSense publishers are like covert tour guides, or hoteliers, or even sometimes traffic cops. They direct lost people (after giving them a satisfying meal). At least that's how I see it.