How our user Peer built an AdSense alternative with affiliate links

Our customer Peer Wandiger from Germany is an experienced publisher of multiple websites covering different topics. Over the years, he has specialized in building niche websites, which he monetizes with various advertising strategies. In the German-speaking regions, he is an uncontested expert on monetizing strategies on the internet. With Advanced Ads, he has created a powerful ad setup that brings him more income than he gained with AdSense.

On one of his sites, he has implemented an ad setup that dynamically injects text links by affiliate partners into his content. He uses Advanced Ads to manage, embed, and filter those text links. In the following interview, Peer Wandiger gives us interesting insights into his work as a content and ad publisher and lets us know how he built his AdSense alternative.

“You can use it to implement almost any desired advertising placement”

Peer Wandiger about Advanced Ads
Peer Wandiger

Interview with Peer Wandiger

Hello Peer, we hope you are coping well with the current time of corona and its consequences. Could you please briefly introduce yourself and your main online projects. How long have they been around, and which topics are they dedicated to?

Hello, I am 45 years old, married, and have two daughters. I have been self-employed since 2006, starting as a web designer and then gradually building my own websites and blogs.

My main project until today is the blog Selbstständig im Netz (“self-employed on the net”), which I launched in early 2007. Back then, I just wanted to try blogging and also have a platform on which I could try out a few things in terms of SEO before I implement them on customer websites.

And since I had hardly any free time as a founder and my hobbies were idle, I blogged about my self-employment on the internet.

Little by little, the blog grew, and I launched more blogs, for example, about blogging and affiliate marketing. Besides, there were also a few smaller affiliate websites, and a few years ago, I started a board game blog in which I devote myself to my favorite hobby.

I passed on all of my web design customers a few years ago and now only live off my websites.

How do you monetize your websites? Do you use noteworthy methods?

The main monetization method is affiliate marketing. I implemented various partner programs on almost every website and blog, including the Amazon affiliate program.

In general, I rely on the content approach. I like to write a lot and try to publish articles that are worth reading and helpful, which by themselves ensure good rankings and many visitors. This works very well, although, of course, certain SEO measures are still necessary.

Additionally, I also sell advertising space to companies and sell my eBook.

How do you use Advanced Ads on your website? Which functions simplify your workflow, or are essential tools when building an ad setup?

On many blogs and websites, I use Advanced Ads to display advertising banners or to show my own teaser banner.

The opportunity to collect ads in groups and then distribute them on placements is really great. You can use it to implement almost any desired advertising placement, even if you first have to familiarize yourself with it a little.

I sell ad space to companies on Selbstständig im Netz, and now and then, there are special requirements. For example, one customer only wants to display one banner, while another customer wants to display rotating banners. In addition, the order of these customer banners should then be random. All of this is possible with Advanced Ads.

Would you mind to tell us how many visitors your site has per month?

I have approximately 200,000–250,000 visitors per month on Selbstständig im Netz. That depends on the season and the weather. In summer, many people are more likely to lie on the beach instead of focussing on their websites and caring about earning money. 🙂

“I just liked the fact that I was able to incorporate suitable text advertising in a pleasantly unobtrusive way.”

Peer Wandiger on using adverstising text links in his content

In this article, you describe how you implemented your own “AdSense copy” with Advanced Ads. Could you please explain the idea behind and roughly outline the implementation of this setup? What motivated you to set it up like this?

I embedded Google AdSense in my blogs for a long time. I just liked the fact that I was able to incorporate suitable text advertising in a pleasantly unobtrusive way. However, the quality of the ads and the income declined, and as the GDPR came up, I threw AdSense completely out.

But I still found the type of these text ads exciting, and so I considered how I could do this myself with affiliate links.

After I first thought about programming something of my own, I then looked at how I can do this with Advanced Ads. And that was not that difficult.

Of course, you can also create text ads with Advanced Ads, and I simply used HTML and CSS to recreate the look of the AdSense ads.

I put all text ads in a group and defined that a maximum of 3 ads would be displayed one below the other. Then this group is injected at a certain point in every article.

Adsense Alternative by Peer Wandiger (Selbständig im Netz)
Screenshot of Peer Wandiger’s AdSense alternative

I also specified different categories for individual text ads. For example, a text ad for an SEO tool should only be visible in the categories “SEO”, “search engines” and “Google”.

Three ads are suitable for all readers. Therefore they are my fallback ads, which are always shown when there are not enough appropriate ads for the category.

In this way, suitable and always different text ads are usually displayed in articles.

You can find more information about the implementation in this article I wrote:

What role do the applied display conditions play in this setup? Do they have an impact on the earnings?

They play an important role because they allow me to control very precisely in which articles certain advertisements are shown. As described above, for most text ads, I chose specific categories in which they should be displayed because that is where the most interested readers are.

The selection of display conditions is huge, and there is something for all use cases.

By controlling these text ads, which contain affiliate links, the conversion rate is better than if I display the same ad everywhere or just display random ads. So it has a positive impact on earnings.

How do your AdSense earnings compare to affiliate networks?

Many years ago, I had more income with Google AdSense than with affiliate marketing. However, as an affiliate, I was still at the very beginning at this point. That changed quickly, so I earned a lot more with affiliate marketing a few years ago.

Therefore, the decision to kick AdSense out wasn’t that difficult.

In recent years, traffic has shifted from desktop to mobile devices. Do you see any impact on the performance of your ads here?

I’m not exactly tracking the ads’ performance, which is also because I haven’t used Google Analytics since last year. Of course, because of data protection.

Before that, I had a GA code in the ads of my AdSense copy to measure clicks. So I was able to evaluate the number of ad impressions and the number of clicks on them and thus determine the click rate. This is no longer possible with the simple Statify.

Back then, I did not explicitly evaluate the mobile clicks on the ads compared to the desktop clicks. I run various blogs and websites on my own, and my available time is limited. You always have to consider how deep you get into some things and what is really useful for you. And as I said, I prefer writing.

While AdSense, as a network, takes care of the ads’ content, your setup naturally depends on advertisers. How do you get in contact with them?

I do this only in a limited way because, for the text ads of my AdSense copy, I only use partner programs. I do not involve my direct advertising customers here.

And there are naturally many partner programs, so it was never a problem for me to find suitable ones and to incorporate them into my AdSense copy.

I would not include advertisers here since it is more difficult to plan how often such a text ad is actually displayed. Advertisers prefer to be permanently displayed with their banner.

“I see a positive future for affiliate marketing. Especially because you can get good income with relatively few visitors.”

Peer Wandiger on the future of Affiliate Marketing

How do you think affiliate marketing has developed in recent years? Is it still a good form of monetization in 2020?

After affiliate marketing was said to be dead a few years ago, I think it has developed very well.

This is not surprising either, because it is a handy marketing tool for both sides. The online shop only has to pay a commission if sales are actually generated. The affiliate usually receives significantly more per 1,000 views compared to regular ads.

The number of partner programs is huge, and you can find something suitable for almost everything. Therefore, despite GDPR and Co., I see a positive future for affiliate marketing, especially because you can get a good income with relatively few visitors.

You are the initiator of the niche sites challenge, you have written a widely sold eBook on the topic of niche pages, and you have built many such pages yourself. In your opinion, what are the most important things to consider in order to be successful with affiliate marketing?

If you want to make money with a website, you have to do it that way. When choosing the website topic, you should consider not only your own interest, but also the search volume, the competition, and the financial potential.

Not everything has to be perfect, but you should have a good overall potential. Otherwise, it will be difficult to attract visitors and generate income.

Besides, it is not enough to simply add affiliate links and copy product texts from shops. Instead, it is essential to create helpful and unique content that is worth reading and excites readers and Google. This is the only way to be successful today. Unfortunately, many beginners think that if you just copy something together, it will rank in Google. That’s not how it works today anymore.

To stay motivated in the long term, you should have fun with the chosen topic. And you need endurance and persistence because nothing works overnight on the internet. My niche website from last year’s niche sites challenge only brought in a few euros after three months. After a year it was a total of 1,000 Euros. And now I earn up to 500 Euros a month with it. Similarly, behave the revenues from my website about video cams and streaming.

“Only on a travel niche website the traffic collapsed drastically. But that’s just the way it is and it shows very well that you should never bet on just one horse.”

Peer Wandiger on the influence of COVID-19 on his websites

Corona and its impacts on the advertising world and other industries are currently dominant topics. As a publisher, how have you experienced the last few weeks on your pages? Have there been any changes in the traffic and performance of your advertising? If so, what adjustments have you made to react to the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic?

I wrote two articles about Corona for Selbstständig im Netz but otherwise didn’t respond to the situation. This exceptional situation has attracted more visitors, but even this situation will be over in some time.

I have been running my primary blog, Selbstständig im Netz, for over 13 years, and during that time, I have learned that it is not worth chasing short-term trends. Instead, I always try to think long-term and write evergreen articles that are interesting and up-to-date for years to come. And that’s how I handle it currently, too.

That’s why almost nothing has changed in my work as a blogger and affiliate. Only on a travel niche website, the traffic collapsed drastically. But that’s just the way it is, and it shows very well that you should never bet on only one horse. My strategy of building more and more blogs and websites is currently paying off.

Partially, the income from affiliate marketing increased at the beginning of the Corona period, as more people ordered something online. But even this has normalized again.

Thank you very much for your answers and insights, Peer!

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