Journalists and website owners who expect the web to deliver them a living are set to be disappointed, warns entrepreneurial publishing pioneer Rick Waghorn. However, by making use of his Addiply, advertisement placement system, they can offer a genuine service to their community and start to earn in a way that Google’s AdSense simply does not allow.
His system which is now used by over 160 micro publishers, as well as Guardian Media, Johnston Press and Trinity Mirror, is blissfully simple. It takes publishers 20 minutes or so to sign up for an account. Once this is in place, they can choose to sell banner ads, set a price based on CPM or click through. Publishers do then have to find their own advertisers, but Addiply pays 90% of the revenue generated to the publisher (Waghorn takes 7%, PayPal 3%).
The first adopter and biggest earner to date is Craig McGinty, publisher of thisfrenchlife.com, who has made around £2,500 over the past two years. Waghorn also mentions greenerleith.org as being among the more effective users of his service.
Waghorn’s trajectory is a familiar one. Around the time of his 40th birthday, he looked around the sports desk at the Norwich Evening News in 2006, where he worked. He saw waves of redundancies approaching. Since then he has unveiled a host of innovations to make money from online publishing.
Myfootballwriter.com was his first venture – a news site devoted to Norwich City FC. By the summer of 2007 he realised that 400,000 page impressions had delivered him just $130 from AdSense.
He first stated to add banner ads to his site. “Click through’s from the banner ads are very poor”, he concedes. “But advertisers – particularly small local businesses – understand them”.
A chance encounter with Ian Thurbon, or tipexchange.co.uk provided Waghorn with a technical expert who had already created his own advertisement-bid model. In late 2007, Addiply was taking shape (add to ads and multiply, is the basis for the name)and its Waghorn was sharing platform at a conference in New York with adservers such as BlogAds and OpenX. “They both provide top-down solutions”, he says. “If your numbers aren’t great, you won’t survive. Addiply is a street level solution – it is a piece of kit that allows you to find advertisers in your own community.”
To date, Addiply is a tiny operation. Five rounds of venture capitalists have come and gone without investing. But recent successes with major publishers give Waghorn hope. The Guardian now has Addiply on its three Beat Blogger sites (Leeds, Edinburgh and Cardiff – although at the time of writing only the Leeds version has paid-for ads in the slots). “It you look at the Guardian Leeds pages, you will see ads that are making £18 a week for the paper, which I guarantee is more than the rest of the ads on that page” says Waghorn.
Whether expansion comes quickly, with investment, or organically, Waghorn has plenty more up his sleeve. He promises an affiliate system that will allow third parties to undertake the role of ad salesperson for third party sites. Publishers would still be able to block ads they didn’t like, and would probably only receive 65% of revenue – but they would not have to expend shoe leather making sales.
Dollar and Euro versions are also on the cards, as is a means of monetising Twitter feeds.