How to Make Money from User Comments

Making Money From User Comments

A key to successful display ad monetization is placing ads in areas of a site where visitors will see them and engage with them. Typically, this leads to focusing on the most viewed areas of a site such as above-the-fold placements.

It makes sense to prioritize above-the-fold display ad optimization; improvements made there will yield the most meaningful increase in revenue. There are, however, less obvious areas of a webpage that are often ripe for monetization. Specifically, identifying sections that:

  1. Are positioned below-the-fold
  2. Generate high levels of visitor engagement

For many sites, the comment section fits both of these criteria. Though positioned as one of the last elements on a page, engagement levels are often very high. On certain web sites, many visitors read comments as intently as they consume the page content. That means that a high percentage of visitors will see the comments section and spend a decent amount of time reading what has been posted there.

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Ads In Comments

The Wall Street Journal recently unveiled a redesign that featured a wider layout and cleaner font. In addition, the new page templates include a 300×250 banner ad next to the box where users can enter in comments. This banner ad will scroll with visitors as they read through existing comments, keeping it in view throughout the experience:

Example of Display Ads in Comments

SB Nation has put integrated ads into its comments sections for a while, typically in the form of a 160×600 skyscraper or 300×250 rectangle that is right aligned alongside this section of the site:

Example of Comment Section Skyscraper Ad

The performance of this ad unit could be improved further by allowing it to float down as visitors scroll down.

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These two examples above are the exception; most sites give little thought to monetizing below-the-fold elements of a webpage. Most comments sections look more like the example below–completely devoid of ads:

Example of Comments Section Without Ads

Comments in particular are an interesting monetization opportunity, primarily because of the high level of engagement that is typical of users interacting with that section. Put another way: if someone is interested enough in a topic to be writing comments, there is a decent chance that they will be interested in a relevant ad shown adjacent to the comment section.

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