Do you know how much of your blog traffic comes from mobile devices? If you don’t, stop right now and take a look at your Google Analytics. Because what you see may surprise you, and then have you realizing how you are missing out on major money by not monetizing better for mobile devices, and making your site much more mobile-friendly. So, let me tell you how to monetize your blog with PadSquad, and why you should seriously consider it.
Before I decided to monetize my mobile site, I saw on my Google Analytics that over a 6 month span (Jan-Jun 2014) that only 32.33% of my traffic was from desktop. I am including a screenshot so you can see how to pull it up yourself – Pull up the Mobile tab under Audience, and click Overview. Then see the percentages:
I also want you to note how long people were staying on my site on average – a mere 49 seconds overall, or from between 40-60 seconds. That is also not very good, and as my mobile devices had the shortest duration of the three, it tells me something about how mobile friendly my site is.
However, you may be thinking that your site isn’t that hard to read on mobile because you’ve optimized it. Maybe so, but chances are, your ads still aren’t showing up and you are missing out on money. Because, despite most of my traffic coming from phones and tablets, 68.5% of my Google Adsense revenue was from desktop users. So, roughly the 30% of the visitors to my site were making up 70% of my ad revenue. Clearly, I was missing out on a huge amount of ad revenue, especially consider the fact that 50% of my traffic was from smartphones and yet they only earned me 17% of my ad income.
There are several reasons why ads don’t do as well on mobile devices. Most of the time it is because, while your site is easier to read if it is mobile-friendly, all of your awesome sidebar content (like ads) are squished to the absolute bottom of your scroll screen on a phone. Or, if you are viewing from a tablet, you often have to zoom in to properly read the regular desktop display of your website, thereby ignoring and not clicking those sidebar ads either. Essentially, your blog may be easier to read (or not, depending) on mobile devices, but it doesn’t mean your ads are easier to gain impressions.
So, when my friend Katie of ClarksCondensed.com mentioned PadSquad to me, I had to take this idea of monetizing my website on mobile devices more seriously. I want to grow my blog and its income!
What is PadSquad?
PadSquad is a company that manages your mobile platform, incorporating (lots of) ads and making everything easier to navigate, more mobile-friendly and user-friendly. It’s a free service, though they take 50% of the total ad revenue (which is pretty standard for ad companies), and they set up your blog on phone and mobile devices for you, for free. No designer or tech savvy person to hire to do it for you. All you have to do is add some code to your site (which they can do for you if you don’t know how to do that – they did it for me: I just set up a user account for them in my WP dashbaord, and then deleted it once they were done setting up the code).
After they partner with you, and add the code to your site, they will send you a preview of what your site will look like on tablets and on phones (you’ll click the link in the email from a smartphone and tablet to give them a test drive). And you can tell them what you want changed, like fonts, text alignment, categories, comments, share buttons, colors, whether or not you want the date/author to show up, and even the frequency of ads. Just let them know how you want it to look, making sure certain details are working (like rafflecopter widgets, linkytools, etc) and email them. They will do their best to accommodate your wishes, and if they can’t do something, they’ll usually tell you they’ll work on figuring out how to do that soon. They have always been very easy to work with and are very prompt (although they don’t work weekends).
What does a site on PadSquad look like?
So, here is was my website, What’s up Fagans? looks like on High-End Mobile Devices (smartphones):
Those two screenshots represent what my blog’s homepage looks like. You scroll through my recent posts, with an ad always displayed on the bottom (Verizon and Geico in this case), and then in between every fourth or so blog post, there will be an ad displayed (the Got Flood Damage? 24/7 ad in the above example). You can also see how my blog name “What’s up Fagans?” (which can be replaced with a cool logo if you have one) is also always at the top of the page, as well as a menu bar (the three horizontal lines) and a search option. This is what the menu looks like on phones:
It has all of my header categories, and then also shows the subcategories. It makes it very easy to navigate on a mobile site, and is always available at the top of the screen. Now, when you open up a post (or if you come to it directly, this is what it will look like on a smartphone:
So, the content will be easy to read, but also have in-post ads (the Time Warner Ad pictured above). These ads can happen pretty often, which can be a bit annoying to readers. I’ve had them lessen them (which means I’m losing on some income I’m sure, but it hasn’t been much). The bottom shot shows what the end of my blog posts are like: they have share buttons for all the major social media sites, related posts (which have actually been replaced by “Around the Web” Ads), and a place to view and leave a comment (which opens a simple pop-up screen). I also want to mention that PadSquad also will do pop-up ads every minute or so, like this:
Now, here is what my website, What’s up Fagans? looks like on tablets:
I put together three screenshots, so you can see how you simply scroll to the right or left so see more posts. There are ads on each scroll – the one at the bottom for the audiobook, and then the two that look like posts, but are ads, and have “Sponsored” in the corner: Pandora, and Summer Style. The name of my site is again at the top, as well as the menu navigation, and the search. This is what the menu bar open looks like on tablet, which is different from the mobile/phone display in that there are two ads that also show up – Google and Angie’s List:
When reading a blog post on a tablet, the display is very similar to the mobile phones in many ways, but there are some differences. You’ll notice that the screen is split, with content on the left, and an ad space on the right (Luxury Apartments and Google). There are however, no longer ads at the bottom of the screen. But, there are still in-post ads (Cheerios).
And Padsquad also offers pop-up ads on their tablet displays like this one for Walt Disney World:
And, just in case, your readers have the option, in the drop-down menu, to switch from the mobile display back to the regular desktop display.
Do readers like your site on PadSquad?
PadSquad serves a lot of ads which generally can be a big turnoff for readers whether on desktop or mobile. PadSquad does have a lot of ads on my mobile site, with footer ads, sidebar ads, in-post ads, and pop-ups. And they recently added “From Around the Web” ads at the bottom of posts (which I worry about what will show up there, but so far it hasn’t been anything too sketchy). But, the content of my posts is still very readable, my pictures show up nice and big, and it is easy to share, to comment, and to navigate to other posts and categories.
Because, here’s the thing about PadSquad. Not only have they increased my ad revenue (I’ll tell you by how much soon), but they have increased the amount of pageviews I receive, as well as how long people are staying on my blog! What this means is that my bounce rate has plummeted and I am seeing more traffic than ever.
Check out this screenshot from the last few months since I have started using PadSquad for my mobile devices. If you remember at the start of this post, I shared what my stats were for the first 6 months of 2014. You’ll notice that now only 22% of my blog traffic is on desktop, down from 32% before. And you’ll see that my mobile/phone users now account for 60% of my users, up from 50%. Interestingly, tablet users make up the same amount of my traffic.
But, the really, really awesome part is the bounce rate and the length of time people are staying on my site. My bounce rate went from 83.92% down to 24.60%! And now people are spending more time on my blog via mobile and tablet than they are on desktop, which wasn’t true before. Now most tablet and mobile users are on my site for a whopping 2:27 seconds. Clearly, despite the ads, people like my site on their mobile devices because they aren’t leaving as soon as they see that first ad. What this means, is that PadSquad does what it says it will – make a user-friendly mobile version of your site and make you a lot of money through their ads.
*Sidenote: You have to tell PadSquad to connect to your Google Analytics! Otherwise you will think you did something horribly wrong and that your traffic is terrible. Don’t panic, just ask them to connect them: they’ll tell you what they need to do it. As far as I know, they haven’t figured out a way to connect their mobile stats with your WordPress Jetpack stats, sorry. Jetpack will still tell you how your desktop traffic is doing though.
I don’t fully understand how this works, but you’ll notice that once you start using PadSquad your pageviews triple or quadruple! While you may think it’s solely because people love the new layout, it also has to do with how mobile pageviews are being reported. I asked PadSquad about this, and I am just going to repeat what they told me, since I am not a tech person:
- Mobile publishing is new and the way content is consumed and displayed on mobile devices will not be measured the same way it is on desktop – certainly from a page view perspective, and
- Padsquad works with Google on mobile best practices and they were recently certified by Google’s Multi-Screen Program: there are 3 vendors approved and can be seen here: https://support.google.com/adsense/answer/6051844?hl=en#
- Our Padsquad software framework uses Ajax loading for all pages on our mobile template. Some other vendors are using “infinite scroll” designs and other responsive techniques that are not conducive to how mobile page views are being counted in GA. You can expect more companies, especially those in the mobile space, to begin using slightly modified definitions for page-view counting, and it’s difficult to claim one definition as an industry standard.
Ad Income and Revenue
One of the biggest questions that come up about using PadSquad for mobile, is the threat of losing out on income from your regular ads. However, me and several others I know who have been using PadSquad have seen two things:
- An increase in RPM/CPM for desktop ads. My Google Adsense went up. My other ad networks also increased. So, while the overall impressions may have been less, I got more money per impression, so the income from desktop ads didn’t really drop much, if they did drop at all. A big reason for this, is that CPM for display ads on mobile devices is really low, so removing those increases the CPMs drastically in some cases.
- The money made from PadSquad is so much more than what your ads have been making you before.
Yes, really: You can make a lot of money from letting PadSquad manage your mobile version of your blog. My income from PadSquad has drastically increased my overall income from blogging by almost double. While it takes a while to get that first paycheck (It took me 90 days to get my first month’s earnings), it comes, and it is great!
Every day I (usually) earn somewhere between $12-$50 but sometimes much higher. I have averaged, over four months, about $33 a day, and about $1000 a month. The amount you can earn depends on PadSquad’s eCPM that day (I’ve had some awesome traffic days where I did not make very much because the CPM was very low that day. Thankfully it all averages out over time and they are always working to make sure their clients are getting the most they can), and of course the amount of traffic you have. I have averaged about 112,000 visitors to my site each month since I started using PadSquad four months ago (part of that is due to a viral post though).
PadSquad also offers a referral program. If you are interested in signing up for PadSquad, you can fill out a form HERE. If you do, please let them know Katelyn Fagan of What’s up Fagans? referred you (cause, well, I have convinced you with this post haven’t I?)
Their referral program is set up in three tiers, and also doesn’t pay out until a few months later, but I believe they use a publisher’s mobile pageviews after they start using PadSquad.
- For each publisher referred to PadSquad with at least 250,000 tablet/mobile total page views per month, a referrer will earn a referral bonus of $150 per publisher.
- For each publisher referred to PadSquad with at least 500,000 tablet/mobile total page views per month, a referrer will earn a referral bonus of $250 per publisher.
- For each publisher referred to PadSquad with at least 750,000 tablet/mobile total page views per month, a referrer will earn a referral bonus of $350 per publisher.
So far I haven’t received any referral bonuses, that I am aware of, but I know someone who has made some awesome referral bonuses! Sign up for PadSquad now!
The only last things I have to mention is that they make you sign a contract, which is for one year. I hope you’ll enjoy working with them as much as I have!
Have you ever heard of PadSquad before? Have you looked more into monetizing your blog’s mobile site?