It took a while and several false starts during the evolution and revolution of the internet for it to become a viable means of making money, but these days the job of monetizing web traffic is a great deal easier than it has ever been and the digital world has been opened up to create options for the person in the street (or at least in front of a laptop) to earn money the easy way. These days there are any number of ways to make money online, most of them based around the huge quantity of visitors that use the internet these days and the relatively small amounts of money that internet marketing professionals are prepared to pay per thousand pairs of eyes that see their advertising message.
The real revolution with the internet and the digital age in general is the infinitesimal marginal cost. In the old days each new pamphlet or each new newspaper had to be printed, which had its own cost, and it had to exist on paper, which is today more expensive than it had ever been. It then had to be distributed to the end user, which incurred further costs such as fuel, postage or whatever it was. These days content can exist on the internet for a fairly fixed cost, with little change to the overhead being incurred whether one persons sees it or one million people see it. This has quickly turned audiences into a commodity and means that the battle to create appealing content and generate traffic is being fought all over the web.
As well as the amateur or low-level traffic creators, the real beneficiary here is the advertiser. The internet provides targeted and profiled audiences at a very low cost per thousand compared to other media. By aggregating the myriad small amounts of traffic that people are able to scrape together, the online media giants such as Google’s GDN or Specific Media are able to create substantial audiences. These can then be packaged up and sold to the advertiser based on their expressed proclivities for particular subjects or other behavioural or contextual features. Part of this cost is then returned to the website owner, creating a small trickle down that serves to monetize the entire world wide web.
As a content generator you will perhaps be the owner and moderator of a niche forum. Perhaps it is primarily to express your fascination with a particular type of sword and wizardry based literature and to share these views with a small but loyal online community. You might then choose to show GDN adverts down the side of the website. These are commonplace on the web and will be unobtrusive for your web users, but given enough traffic they can provide a steady income, and might be invaluable as a small part of a larger campaign for someone looking to sell wizard’s hats. Some ads, such as the GDN adverts, are paid for on a per-click basis, while other adverts are sold per thousand impressions.