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Understanding Revenue Models - monetizing your forum
There are four basic revenue models that you will encounter in dealing with ad networks
and advertisers. To firmly grasp their potential, you need to understand the differences
between them and how they work.
You should not confine yourself to just one model. Instead, you should consider what will
work best with your community and blend the different strategies to achieve optimal
results. This may require some experimentation.

The sponsorship model can also be referred to as “tenancy” and it works best on forums
that have a niche audience. For example, let’s say you have a forum about blue widgets. It
would be natural for an advertiser who sells blue widgets to place an ad directly on your
forum since they already know that your audience is who they are trying to reach.
In this model, you are selling an ad for a fixed time period to the advertiser for a flat rate.
Let’s say you have an ad zone on your forum that is 125 pixels in width by 125 pixels in
height (normally written as “125x125”). You might sell that space to an advertiser for $100
per 30 days. It doesn’t matter how many impressions the ad receives (how many times it is
served to visitors), because you are selling time in that ad space, not impressions.
Sponsorships are typically sold on a guaranteed basis, meaning that you are guaranteeing
exposure for the advertiser and they will not be outbid or replaced by a higher paying

CPM stands for cost per thousand impressions (or, more technically, “cost per mille,” with
“per mille” being Latin and meaning “by a thousand”). An impression occurs each time a
visitor loads an ad on your forum.
To use some simple math, let’s assume an advertiser is paying you a $1 CPM. This means,
for every 1,000 ad impressions you serve to them, they will pay you $1. So, if you serve
100,000 ad impressions, you will receive $100 (100,000, divided by 1,000, multiplied by

This is cost per action or cost per acquisition and refers to the act of a user clicking an ad
on your forum and then completing a very specific goal for the advertiser. An example of
this would be the user buying a product from the advertiser or filling out a lead form –
otherwise known as a conversion event. CPA can also be referred to as cost per lead, cost
per sale, cost per engagement and cost per conversion. All of those terms mean pretty
much the same thing.

Finally, CPC is the abbreviation for cost per click and, quite simply, it means that you are
paid each time a visitor clicks on an advertisement.

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