Blog Advertising in Singapore
After using many of the advertising options available to Singaporeans, I've decided to share what I've learned here to help bloggers make the most money they can from their blogs.
I always see bloggers asking which ad agency or ad network is good or even which banners to use on their website. I hope you find this information useful when deciding which banners to use on your blog.
First, lets get some definitions out of the way.
Banner, Direct Advertising And Blog Agencies Explained
The blogger is approached directly by a company to advertise their products through banners or sponsored posts.
The blogger uses an ad network like Google Ads to display ads on the website. The network pays you for each click. Some ad networks will approach you promising better rates. They are essentially competitors of google's ad network. They likely suck.
Cost per click also known as Pay per click. This is how much it costs an advertiser when someone clicks on your banner. Generally the higher the number, the better for you right? You get more money. But advertisers would want to have a low CPC so they can spend more. There's something about impressions and CTR (clickthrough rate) too but we don't have to look at it here.
There are two main agencies in Singapore - Nuffnang and Gushcloud. They act as the middle man between clients and bloggers. They manage a pool of bloggers and sell them to advertisers. The top bloggers sign contracts with them making them exclusive to the company. Note: there are also a handful of bloggers who are independent and charge far less than the price of agencies. Finding them is tricky if you're not in the industry.
Collectively, bloggers are stronger when packaged together and the agencies know how to get clients. Agencies do add value to the eco-system. They sell banner ads, sponsored posts and social media posts from bloggers to clients. Without them, it's hard for normal Bloggers to convince clients or do sales on their own.
Instagram, Blog Posts and Blog Banners
If you have a high social media following on instagram, agencies or direct advertisers will start looking for you. Mostly agencies though. Today, it is far easier to gain a social media following than a blog following. Agencies will give you gigs and take about 40% - 60% of whatever you make. Most of the time you don't know how much the clients pay them. There's no transparency.
Sponsored Blog Posts vs Banners:
When it comes to banners, bloggers have the option of using ad networks or direct banner buys. Apart from you using google banners, direct advertisers may want to put banners on your website so all your readers are exposed to it. Unlike sponsored posts, banners appear on ALL your pages.
Advertisers may also want a sponsored blog post instead. This will act as an endorsement from an authority in the field (you). This is in fact more common than banners and they can pay very well if you have high influence.
Why It's Important to have a niche:
If you get high blog traffic, both ad networks and direct advertisers.will start contacting you. Direct advertising is the advertising that pays the most, far more than ad network banner ads. Because advertisers are paying for highly targeted readership, they will pay significantly more.
The most common examples of direct advertising in Singapore are the good looking female bloggers who put up blogshop banners or run sponsored posts. They also regularly do sponsored posts about the product.
You never look for advertisers. They will look for you. Or you use an agency and they sell you. If people don't have direct advertisers running banners, they use ad networks. And this is the default in Singapore as 99.99% of blogs here use them. It's actually very tough to get direct advertisers unless you have mainstream visibility.
How Ad Networks Work
Most of the time advertisers don't just want to advertise on ONE website. Figures (impressions + CPC) are everything and they need to scale and hit a few million impressions a day during promotional periods. That is why they need numbers, and advertising on an ad network allows them to do that as there are thousands of sites under an ad network.
The Ad Network takes a cut, its usually about 30-40%. Google Ads takes 32%-50%. That is why Google is so rich. Think of how many banners are floating around on the internet, how many are owned by google and how many people click on it each second.
Ad networks are like blogger agencies. They are important because they take care of the "sales" or finding of advertisers who are willing to spend money. You won't be able to get advertisers otherwise. Because if you could, you would just be doing direct advertising instead of being on an ad network right?
There are different types of Ad networks. Those with millions of all types of sites under them (Google Ads), those with thousands of lower traffic but specialised sites (Nuffnang) or hundreds of specialised high traffic sites (Other Ad networks). Generally the last one pays the highest because the advertisers are paying a premium for the high traffic + highly targeted traffic.
You can join the first two ad networks easily, but not the last, which would require a minimum amount of traffic anywhere from 40k to 500k unique visitors / month. They are like the boutiques of ad networks. If i were to estimate, under 50 blogs in Singapore get more than 40k unique visitors a month. But its something you can aspire to as they pay the most.
Expectations: How much can you earn from banner advertising?
Sad to say, unless you are among the top 10 most read blogs in Singapore, you will not earn enough to make a living on banner advertisements alone. If you're a blog most of your money should come from direct advertorials / sponsored posts or from another skill you sell like photography, ebooks, consultation, etc.
#1 Nuffnang Advertising Network Case Study
Nuffnang are both a niche advertising network and agency. They are a company every blogger in Singapore is familiar with because we see it on every blog. And when you want to start a blog you automatically think Nuffnang. In that way, they have great branding and they are from Singapore too which is always nice to see.
Their unique selling point is that their ads are shown on blogs, which are arguably more influential and personal than corporate websites. The bad thing is most blogs don't get high traffic like corporate news sites do. So although blogs have more influence "per reader", which let's them mark up their CPC, most are less influential than mainstream sites because they simply get less traffic.
Here are our stats from September 2013. I put these ads for about 2 weeks and had about 60,000 hits, I made a grand total of 40 cents from 2 clicks. Meaning the CPC was $0.20. I would say 60k is a decent enough sample size and 20 cents for every 30k hits is extremely low but so is the sample size. I still can't believe I got just 2 clicks though!
My experience using Nuff Nang ads wasn't good. I also tried mailing their "support" 3 times to ask questions etc. Never received a reply. I think users on various forum websites said the same thing. I have come to the conclusion that they are focusing on their other, more profitable ventures.
I got into their "Gliterrarati status" after 1 day and found no difference. Did not get any other emails or benefits over the 2 month period that I had the status.
Received some emails like "Write a blog entry and stand a chance to win blabla". Now you should never participate in something like that. You're likely not to win anything and they are getting big amounts paid by companies to run this to give them "exposure". It looks good on paper for the companies but honestly it's not good for them either because the bloggers willing to do this don't get much traffic. So only newbie bloggers and ignorant companies get exploited this way.
In my opinion, the more honest way to do this for both the company and the blogger is to pay identified bloggers with high traffic a decent amount the company gives. Or pay less traffic bloggers a lesser amount. And that is actually what happens most of the time.
Nuffnang does this with their 'top influencers.' And their Influencer model does pay competitively if you manage to get into their top ranks. I won't recommend using their ad network though.
The Top Nuffnang bloggers
The top Nuffnang bloggers are the guys like xiaxue, qiuqiu etc and they get a good deal because they are given direct advertising gigs. They also attend events and so on but all this is under an "influencer" model and not the "banner ad" model. So it's comparing apples and oranges. You will not get the deal they are getting.
To make a fair comparison, you should compare the rates with another influencer agency - Gushcloud - who also pay their bloggers and from what I've heard from both parties, their rates are similar. I believe the old Nuffnang bloggers feel indebted to Nuffang for their success, and for helping them earn money.
This is fair enough because back then, no other company believed in influencers. Nuffnang were the very first in Singapore and they paved the way, sought out advertisers and helped a select group of bloggers make money.
Remember that Nuffnang takes a commission from their bloggers for each advertorial they get. I had a friend who wanted to purchase a direct ad with a blogger but he was turned off when he was told he had to buy 40% of what he called 'useless nuffnang banner ads' in the blogger package. He got a very poor click-through rate on his banners on his previous attempt with them.
So in the end, the blogger did not get the advertising. Though she could have got the money if she was not under Nuffnang. I think that may be one of the reasons why ladyironchef left nuffnang - so he could earn more money. He is the only high profile blogger to break-away from the Nuffnang cartel, and is making far more on his own as he manages his own deals and no longer pays commission.
Other bloggers don't have much choice as they aren't big enough or don't have anyone to market them. Ladyironchef on the other hand has his fiancée Melody Yap, who has a good business mind. She once worked in sales at Nuffnang.
Banner Network wise: Google Ads > Nuffnang
From my experience, from an "Ad Network" perspective, they pay poorly and new bloggers should be using Google Ads instead. Google ads are actually easier to set up, analyse and manage.
Influencer wise: Gushcloud = Nuffnang
The people behind Nuffnang are very smart entrepreneurs who know how to make good money for themselves. Same goes for Gushcloud. I have a lot of respect for both agencies for their success.
I do think that top influencers in both agencies get decent deals. However, if you're a newbie you'll be fighting for scraps so don't give yourself high expectations and expect to make money the moment you open a blog. You won't.
Finally, I would advise aspiring bloggers not to sign exclusive agreements with ANY agency, unless they can guarantee you a steady stream of gigs. Because if you're independent and have a strong following, agencies and companies will still engage you and and you'll be free to do other advertisements of your own.
#2 Google Ads Advertising Case Study
Google Ads are the gold standard of ad networks. They pay better than all the other mainstream banner networks, they accept low traffic publishers who are just starting out and they are easy to set up. Another plus point is the fact that they will always have inventory to display. Some smaller ad networks will sometimes display a blank ad if there is no more inventory to use.
Here are my statistics for the 10 days of Dec 2013 in $USD.
The google ads here occupied secondary positions as the better paying banners (see below) occupy the prime spots. A funny thing to note is even with secondary positions their CTR was higher. I will probably never pull GoogleAds off our blog, they are super reliable and I use them for my other websites too.
#3 Other AdNetwork Advertising Case Study
There are a few Singapore ad networks around but I was reluctant to try them out after I tried a poor one at the start. As such, I always thought google ads was the best. Boy was I wrong. So I feel quite silly now for missing out on all these revenue.
If you want to know the name of the one I'm using you can message me. This particular one requires a minimum of 200,000 page views and 40,000 unique visitors a month to join. They were the 5 or 6th Singapore ad network to approach us but something about the way their introductory email was written convinced me to have a meeting with them.
I don't want to list their name outight here as I don't want people to think I am promoting them. That is not the point of this article. Its to find out what options you have as a blogger.
This Ad Network has a lot of high quality sites under them, from government sites to a select few blogs. They also have very good advertisers. Their CPC isn't fantastic, its similar to Googles. The amazing thing about them is they pay for engagements. So their effective "CPC" is higher.
So if you roll over the banners on our site you can see some of them will open up a pop up window in your browser. Its a nice new evolution of display advertising and publishers get paid a good amount for that.
Here are my statistics for the last 10 days in December, which covers the same exact period is the google ads above. This is in $SGD.
As you can see from comparing all the stats, I've earned by far the most with the last ad network. Note that over this timeframe, I was also running google ads at the same time. The google ads weren't in such a good spot but it really doesn't matter. They earn less as their "CPC" is lower.
- Nuffnang $ Per Click: $0.20
- Google $ Per Click: $0.46
- Other Ad Network $ Per Click: $0.47 & Engagement $1+. Total = $1.5
So basically google ads pays double of Nuffnang ads and the last ad network pays 3 times the amount of google. Nuffnang ads were taken over a sample of 60k hits, and google/other network over a sample of 200k.
To wrap it up, bloggers should use GoogleAds as their default banner choice, as there are low restrictions. They are easy to set up and manage and at that stage they pay the best.
Bloggers should be aware that although banners provide passive income (you don't have to do ANYTHING), they will not be your main source of income. And you are not going to earn enough to live on unless your site gets over 1 milion page views a month. Blogging is not the path to riches. Bloggers should strive to increase their traffic and when they do, they can try out other ad networks who pay more.
You can also see that even with pretty decent traffic, banners do not bring in a lot of money. You need pageviews in the millions.
As for blog agencies, from what I observed, Nuffnang has a slight edge in clout but still, they are quite similar to each other. An advantage Gushcloud has is it doesn't make their advertisers buy banners, so in this regard they don't limit the potential opportunities of their bloggers as some advertisers may not want to buy banner ads.
For more information on how to increase your traffic, you can read these 5 essential tips for Singapore bloggers where I've used ladyronchef as a case study.
The previous ad network I was using had trouble displaying mobile ads. So I had to switch back nearly entirely to Google Ads and it has worked our very well for me so far. Conclusion: Google Ads is probably still the best, even when you're a high performing site. I'm just going to stick with it until an ad network can convince me otherwise.
If you become popular, accept gigs from Nuffnang and Gushcloud but don't sign up exclusively with them unless they offer you a really good deal.
Disclaimer: This is based on my personal experience with the ads and yours may differ. There is no intention to hurt the reputation of any company. The point of this is to help new bloggers get the best information about ad networks so they make the most money.