With Adsense dropping further and further and further, I'm hoping to discuss any new and innovative alternatives to ads in general.
I've tried getting people to donate, with no success at all. The credit card processing fees cost as much as people donated.
I tried setting up "Gold member" features for paying members (at a rate of $10 /year), but only had one person sign on.
I've tried commission-based affiliate program banners, but they only brought in a few dollars a month. I think the problem there is that my demographic is based on location rather than a theme (eg, targeting a specific city instead of fans of a certain product), so there's no way to really target the right banner to the user.
I sell local ads at a flat monthly rate, and while they do help, they're a lot of work and I honestly don't have enough time to manage the site and do ad sales. I've been trying to hire a salesman for about 3 years with no luck... I feel like the concept of commission-based sales is dead :-( And that kills me, I could realistically hire 40 salesmen today! But can't find a single person willing to do the work.
I set up a sticky banner at the bottom of the page that makes about 50% of the regular Adsense banners, and there's a possibility that if I remove the Adsense banners then it will go up in value. If I do that then I have a 320px column on desktop that I could use for pretty much anything. My initial thought was to just include lead-ins to other sections of the site to increase pages per session, but I would really like to hear any other ideas that you guys have successfully used.