Testing is always key! I always recommend using AdSense as your benchmark to measure against. For my site I haven't had much success with products (my own or affiliate). For direct ad sales, sometimes I can get advertisers and charge them a premium. Other times, depending on the section, I make too much from Adsense for an advertiser to compete with.
As this series continues I'll share how I've managed to make money from AdSense and hopefully it will provide some new insights for my readers.
Look forward to hearing more. I like the point that you brought out with "testing." Google has some amazing tools that can help website owners track everything. From Google Adsense reporting to Google Analytic to Google Conversion and most recently Google Goal Tracking.
Between all of those tools a website owner should know exactly what type of traffic is converting & making them money and what type of traffic is not. I even use Google PPC to estimate organic search engine traffic!
Website owners would do well to follow your lead and create a base, and then test off that base in regards to advertising.
Thanks for the feedback Jeff! Testing is a recurring theme here at SES Toronto. Website owners are trying to get the most out of every dollar and minute that they spend on their business.
People here are considering themselves business owners instead of website owners much more than in the past which is great to see. I think the economy has forced people to buckle down and focus in on what makes money and making your website an actual business.