Does selling banner space pay?

We have a free B2B Saas which averages around 60-70k daily impressions (on a weekday, much less on weekends) and we are looking for ways to cover costs and maybe actually make something at the end of it.

We are launching a premium version this year which will be charged and are looking at selling banner space in the free version - looking around the average rate seems to be around $3 to $5 per 1,000 impressions which would be around $180 - $300 per day which would be an OK start.

Obviously clients might be a bit miffed at adding banners so want to understand if it is still worth the effort to run with them?

Why not put the focus on charging money, and converting free customers to paying customers?

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I’m going to put my @patio11 hat on and say A/B test it. You’ve got enough impressions there to be able to get an idea of if the banners impact behaviour. If they do, and they drive people away, maybe not so good - but they might drive people to upgrade if they like your service enough (and there is a nice “Upgrade to ad free” button next to the ad.

I’m only seeing about $1 / k, so you’ve got me thinking now… It is a small add space I’ve got though, which will have an impact I guess. What provider were you thinking of going with?


We will do but realistically we might be lucky and get 1% of users upgrading to a paid offering - most of our search traffic comes from the word free so they are looking for something free, they find it and most will not upgrade if there is a cost. At 1% that still leaves thousands of users who don’t convert and we want to try and make something from that if we can.

Hi Allan,

We really aren’t so worried about driving people away as the plan is to close the free offering once we go live with the premium version rather than driving this down the freemium route. Ultimately, if they want to stay on the free version then it has to pay for itself somehow especially if we continue to offer support as well. Good shout on the upgrade button too!

We looked around over the past few weeks and found average figures in that range - the network we looked at was buysellads but no idea if we will use them or not. There is some good info at which looks at average by industry etc.

You could do well, especially since you are in the B2B space and if you can find big companies that would find your audience appealing you could approach them.

The reality of it is that it really depends on your current audience and the types of companies that would be interested in targeting them (and you being able to connect with them).

Most people would see SHARPLY higher results from creating a product for themselves and using that space as “house ad space” rather than using it for direct banner ads.

A comparable for you: I was offered $1k a month for ads on my blog. That’s a princely sum given the amount of traffic I get (somewhere around 40k uniques a month?) but not a hugely motivational amount of money to me. Rather than tarting up the blog with ads for e.g. SaaS companies, I just advertise my email list. Once or twice a year, I launch a product to that list. It’s more work than the ads – oh heck yes – but I probably sold about $60k in 2012 and $40k in 2013 as a result of doing that, and will probably hit $100k this year assuming I actually ship this freaking thing that I’ve been working on for months.