NOTES: Please see the Notes section for additional revenue details.
Obviously using a particular WordPress theme won’t guarantee display ad riches, but it sure can help.
2013 was the year I got more serious about integrating display ads (Adsense, Media.net, in-image ads and others… I’m always testing) as a revenue source. Surprisingly, it quickly surpassed my affiliate revenue.
Actually, when you think about it, it’s not surprising that my revenue with display ads surpassed my affiliate income because display ads account for literally billions earned by website publishers. The biggest sites in the world largely rely on display ads for revenue.
Why did I start using display ads?
Primarily because my traffic sources expanded beyond organic search traffic.
There’s no question that ranking well in the search engines for the right keywords can generate a massive revenue per thousand impressions (RPM – a metric I focus on a great deal). In fact, display ads can’t come close.
However, when it comes to other sources of traffic, display ads often perform better, especially social media traffic and in many cases paid traffic sources.
In fact, these days, organic search traffic accounts for only 1/6 of my traffic. Social media and paid accounts for the the lion’s share. Therefore, display ads to the rescue.
Which WordPress theme do I use to earn $45,000 per month with display ads (Adsense and Media.net)?
I had used several other themes with display ads before settling with Eleven40. I tested and tweaked and tested and tweaked for most of 2013 working to get the perfect balance of a decent user experience and high revenue per thousand visitors with display ads.
I read everything about display ads online. I implemented pretty much every strategy. At the end of the day, I developed a unique ad placement strategy that worked better than anything I tested. Once I figured it out, I set out to get the best WordPress theme for displaying ads in the format and placements that work best for me.
At first glance, you’re probably wondering “what makes this theme so great with display ads?”
Video Demonstration as to Why Eleven40 Theme is Ideal for Display Ads
1. 860 pixel wide content area
This is a huge benefit of the Eleven40 theme. Why? Because you can place 728×90 banner ads in the content. This is by far my biggest display ad earner (actually I often place two 728×90 display ads in a piece of content).
2. Short header
While a logo and top menu bar is important for web design, too much of it is a big waste of digital real estate.
I admit it; I’m fairly aggressive with my display ad placement for content that is primarily monetized with display ads. However, I don’t want to publish a site where the entire above-the-fold real estate is ads.
Therefore, a short header section offers more above-the-fold space which can accommodate ad as well as offer content. It’s a perfect balance of good user experience and decent ad RPM.
3. Top Menu Bar is on the same level as the Logo
Many websites have a logo with the top navigation menu bar underneath. As stated above, this wastes space. Eleven40 theme offers an option for your top menu bar to be to the right of logo so that there’s more content space above-the-fold.
4. Simple, yet effective design
Eleven40 is simple, yet users like it. The color scheme is basically 2 colors. The layout is dead-simple. In fact, I made it even simpler by removing the vertical line separating the content and the sidebar for one of my niche sites.
In my experience, simple, uncluttered sites are fantastic for display ads because the display ads are prominent and get clicked.
5. Put Content Anywhere with the Genesis Simple Hooks Plugin
When you use the Genesis Framework, you can install the Genesis Simple Hooks plugin (it’s free). This plugin is invaluable for any site because it enables you to add content pretty much anywhere on your site that will show up on individual posts, pages, categories or every page of your site.
For example, for one of my sites, my category pages get a truckload of page views. For a long time I didn’t have display ads on the category pages, which was a lot of lost revenue. With the Genesis Simple Hooks plugin, I was able to totally customize each category page with images and display ads which added a great deal of revenue each month.
6. Create Custom Sidebars
This is another invaluable plugin that’s free with the Genesis Framework. For my main niche site (home and garden), I create what I call portals or sections that are dedicated to a very specific topic within the overall topic of my site. For these protals, I like to provide custom navigation within the content of that section. Being able to create additional sidebars makes this possible and very easy to do. It also offers great monetization opportunities by being able to cater banner ads relevant to the specific topic.
7. StudioPress Themes Are the Best-of-the-Best
I’m not the only guy with a 1 million plus monthly page view site using the Genesis Framework. Many popular websites are powered by the Genesis Framework because it’s the best-of-the-best. It’s also pretty easy to use.
8. Top Horizontal Menu Bar Scrolls Down with the Visitor
At first glance, this may not seem important, but when used right, it’s very, very powerful. Because the horizontal menu bar is always on the screen, I create an enticing text link menu item that links to my squeeze page. This nifty Eleven40 feature is responsible for thousands of email subscribers for my niche.
Couldn’t I tweak other themes to do all of the above?
Yes I could have, but why tweak when you don’t have to? I’ve chopped the code and changed themes in the past. It’s not that big of a deal, but I do prefer using themes as-is as much as possible layout-wise. It’s faster and prevents coding nightmares.
If you’re a professional coder, code away. If you’re a marketer or niche site builder like I am and prefer writing and publishing and marketing, hacking up themes isn’t the best way to spend a day (or week or month).
That’s about it. This is why when it comes to earning a decent monthly revenue from display ads, I use the Eleven40 theme by StudioPress.
Note: StudioPress doesn’t tout this theme as a display ad specialized theme. I just happened to give it a shot for a site in 2013 and it performed spectacularly.
Buy Eleven40 Theme here (you won’t regret it if you use display ads).
Notes regarding Adsene revenue screenshot above:
- Spent approximately $55,000 on advertising during the same time period.
- Does not include Media.net revenue (an additional $6,873.60 for the same time period)
- Does not include affiliate commissions earned during the same time period