I have blogged about Project Wonderful a few times, namely here and here. To recap, Project Wonderful is like the love child of Google Adsense and eBay, a service where you place the ads and then let advertisers bid on them. The more bids you get on adspace, the more you make.

When I first set my Project Wonderful ads up, they were making more than all my other advertising services combined so I was a huge fan. Then something strange happened. My other ad services suddenly increased in profits while my Project Wonderful ads stayed exactly the same and some decreased slightly. While I don’t really know why my other ads suddenly kicked into high gear, I was disappointed the Project Wonderful ads stayed put. Don’t get me wrong, they are still earning their keep and I am keeping them for a while longer, but I thought they would grow more.

What is really weird, though, is that that was only the case on this blog. My personal blog which gets far less traffic than this blog has done consistently very well with the Project Wonderful ads, far better than any other ad type and the same goes for The Cult of Cummings which has even less traffic. There are, however, a lot of entertainment and writing sites on Project Wonderful and, as such, more of a base of advertisers so that may be the reason.

What I have learned:

  • Project Wonderful is an excellent deal for advertisers, especially if you use bidding software to automatically get all the free/cheap ads. I got much more ad impressions and click throughs per penny when I advertised there than I ever got on Google Adwords.
  • Project Wonderful works much better for some genres of sites than others. If you have a webcomic, for instance, you can fetch several dollars a day easily with your Project Wonderful ads (some of those comics are making $50 or more a day). I believe this is because services like this tend to go in waves and the comic community has just embraced the service first while it’s mostly unknown in our circle. There are quite a few Etsy seller and other crafters on Project Wonderful but The Whine Seller is one of very few e-commerce related sites with ad space available so there is less of a base of advertisers to start with. 
  • Ad size makes a huge difference. The square ads on all my sites are pretty much always sold as are any skyscraper or large banner ads. But half banner or button ads I cannot even give away for some reason even though other sites get a lot for them. Ads also seem to vary based on genre of site with some sites tending towards certain sizes. The best course of action is to visit several sites in your genre to see what the most popular ad sizes are before you set this up.

My biggest frustration with Project Wonderful from the start has been that they limit web publishers to very few keywords to describe your site. Considering that these keywords are the only way for potential buyers to find your site, I consider this a big flaw. I end up cutting out more relevant keywords in favor of more popular ones and I don’t feel like it represents the site to the best ability. There was also no standardization so you had to type in every alternate to try to find what you were after.

Well, Project Wonderful went a long way in correcting this with their site release of January 6th. In their words:

Every ad box now belongs to a category, like “Webcomics”, “Handmade”, or “Games and Gaming”. These allow advertisers to find your site easily, and makes targeting vertical niches a snap. As a publisher, you can use tags to further categorize your site! As an advertiser, these categories allow you to target your advertising like never before. Want to advertise only on webcomic sites? Sure! How about humour and music sites that get over an average of over 10000 hits a day and are bidding below $5 a day right now? NO PROBLEM.The tags assigned to an ad box still exist, but are now mainly used for subcategorization. For example, in the past, if you wanted to find comic sites, you’d have to enter a tag search with tags like “comic comics webcomic webcomics”, and you’d still miss some. Now you can just search the category webcomics, and use tags for themes, like “action”, or “comedy”. The future is now, my friends!

(I told you they love webcomics.) But the great thing about this is that now at least there is some standardization between the categories of the sites so it will be easier for advertisers to find your site. I like this a lot and am eager to see how this effects future sales. I also like the fact that rather than make us old publishers change our content, they went in and had staff visit each and everyone’s site and assign a category. I think that is a really nice touch of going above and beyond!

In addition to the changes above, they also revamped both search and bidding. While both of those were due for an overhaul, I wish they had redone reporting. Their current reporting system forces you to do your own math to see how much you are making per site and could use quite a few more features. That said, they are working on a lot of new things for this year so I am hopeful.

So where does that leave things with the Project Wonderful ads on this site? I am leaving them up and will be watching how they do in the coming month possibly adding more as I figure the system out a little more.