The Pay per Click Business Model and How It’s Changing

There are currently many discussions in the webmaster forums on contextual advertising programs and the changes they are going through. Which program currently has the most ‘publisher friendly’ terms of service? Which company values it’s publisher’s more? Which will pay me more? Which will be better in the long term…

And the most common, simple question: “Which one is best”?

Is there a solid answer to this question? Here are some of my thoughts on the subject.

The internet is an evolving creature by nature. It is not the same creature that it was ten years ago, or even ten days ago. It’s ALWAYS changing. Every single day, hour, minute, and second, something new is added to it. Someone is uploading their own personal creation at this very moment, helping to forge the web’s overall shape.

So if it’s always changing, then to survive in it’s environment we must be VERY flexible and evolve with it.

Why is this pertinent to PPC programs like Google’s Adsense, Yahoo Publisher Network, and the truckload of other companies launching their versions? Because they know how the online world works, and have most likely planned their options far in advance. Most of these programs have a TOS (terms of service) that reflects it.

Let’s take a deeper look.

In the Google Adsense TOS it clearly states:

“Google may at any time, in its sole discretion, terminate all or part of the Program, terminate this Agreement, or suspend or terminate the participation of any Site in all or part of the Program for any reason.”

Any reason? In my eyes that also translates to ‘no reason’ or explanation. Nothing will be due to you should they terminate your relationship. They hold a royal flush, you didn’t even get dealt a single card.

At this point there are lots of readers that are nodding their heads and thinking, “that’s why I went with Yahoo Publisher’s Network”…. If you are, you’re in for a surprise.

In the YPN TOS it states their version:

Section 15.b “We may suspend or terminate our provision of Matched Ads to you at any time, with or without notice, for any reason or no reason, with or without regard for how well Your Site or Your RSS Feed is performing, the quality of user traffic coming from Your Site or Your RSS Feed, or any other factor, in Overture’s sole discretion.”

The list goes on and on and on. If you read the TOS of MOST affiliate programs available to website publishers you’ll find similar clauses. Clauses that YOU AGREE TO simply by clicking a little checkbox during the signup stage.

But it goes deeper. Those TOS agreements usually share another component. Almost every one of them gives the company the right to change, add, or delete any part of the TOS at any time, usually without notice to you. They also can sell your account off to another company. They can do ANYTHING they want with the terms. It’s YOUR responsibility to keep checking back to see if it’s been updated or changed.

They hold all the power. The reason they maintain these rights from the first moment of your participation is that they are aware of the web’s constantly changing nature. They are not able to foresee what terms will be necessary in the future. So their high paid lawyers are adding and changing those TOS agreements seemingly on a daily basis, in an effort to protect their company by any means necessary.

So is the “Made For Adsense -PPC” website model still a good business plan?

In the beginning of the Adsense-PPC business model, many people earned a lot of money by focusing on just contextual advertising promotion and building sites oriented to content that generated high paying clicks. It was a gold rush. In internet time standards a really long lasting one. One that has resulted in MILLIONS of websites built with only one goal, getting paid. A wild west style run for the mines.

But similar to the demise that eventually followed the discovery at Sutter’s Mill, those people that are now running to get in on the PPC gold rush are lucky to find a flake or two for their efforts.

The search engines are now clogged with junk websites, zero content websites, circle jerks, redirects, scripts that generate content based on a search, etc. The mass amount of low quality has made the advertisers that foot the bill react, and they are jumping ship at record rates.

Forcing the PPC companies to exercise their right to change or terminate their agreement, falling back on that trusty TOS that you electronically signed. Many times esulting in termination and nonpayment for the website owner. If it’s a company that doesn’t have a strong TOS, then it might result in the company’s demise, also leaving you without compensation.

So back to the original question… Which should I choose?

My advice to you is to diversify your business plan as much as possible. Build different revenue streams for your overall web income. If you don’t want to expend the time and effort to build and maintain a portfolio of sites, then consider additional affiliate programs for the site you do own or plan to build. Incorporate different affiliate programs into your site.

I started in this business a long time ago, about ten years now. An eternity in the electronic world. But even when I started, one of my mentors was fond of saying that he would rather get 100 checks for two dollars than one check for $200. His reasoning was simple. If you focus on one company for your income, and for ANY reason it dries up, you’re left with nothing. The rent doesn’t get paid.

If you focus on building a multifaceted business plan though, you might just make it.

You might just survive this ever changing animal we call the web.

Until next time,

Chuck Crawford