Project Wonderful logoI stumbled across something yesterday that I found interesting, and even though I my knowledge and experience with it is somewhat limited, I felt it was worth passing on.

EVERYONE is on the hunt for better monetization options…and many/most of us have tried all the various options out there: AdSense, YPN, AuctionAds, WidgetBucks, AdBrite…ad infinitum, ad nauseum. Some of these are great…some not so much. From extremely poor click-though rates to extremely poor payouts…from unwieldy ad formats to godawful ad serving (yes, AuctionAds & ShoppingAds… I’m talkin’-a’-you…), this monetization game can be very frustrating. And many of the problems are at the system level…i.e., beyond the publisher’s control. So I’m always on the lookout for a better mousetrap.

Project Wonderful appears to be a new approach to monetization. Where prices and payouts on many of the “big league” options are hidden behind layers of excuses and mystery…with PW, even a visitor to your site knows how much someone is paying for your ad space. Is this good or bad? In my eyes, it’s a good thing. I think most people who believe in their own sites are willing to drop a little coin to advertise it…and yet, it can be scary to ask about rates when you fear that you wouldn’t be able to afford them anyway…fearing that you may alienate someone by asking, etc. So, I like the openness. It actually functions as an auction system…where you know what someone else is currently paying…you can choose to try to outbid them (prices, from what I’ve seen so far, are always per day…so the commitment is not high either way) and you’re given plenty of info about traffic to each site in terms of pageviews.

On the advertising side: It reminds me of AdBrite, but with better integration…and nowhere near as many sleazy sites clogging up the system. So far, it appears many of the sites where you can advertise are web comics….but I haven’t gone very deep with it. So, if you’re only targeting, say, folks interested in blogging or making money online…is it worth doing? I can’t really say. What I do know, though, is that is doesn’t cost you much to find out. I placed orders for ads on two sites last night. The first ad was active on the site immediately. Assuming I haven’t been outbid yet…you can see my ad here…on the left side of the page, well above the fold, under the heading “Blaugh Premium Sponsor!”. I like the spirit of the comic…I feel it’s a good match for the target audience of my clean humor site, and to me, it’s worth the 50 cents a day that I’m currently paying to see what kind of traffic and exposure (and hopefully, RSS/email subscribers) it can bring me.

On the publishing side: I don’t have much info to share yet. I am intending to add some well-placed ad space to some of my sites. And I’ll probably be breaking up a larger space so that several smaller ads can be easily visible, rather than a skyscraper, etc. I only applied last night…so my publisher account hasn’t been approved yet. I hope I’ll be able to manually approve the advertisers/ads. If not, that may cause a problem for my clean humor site. But there appears to be a delay built-in…either to give existing advertisers a chance to bid up, or more likely, a chance for the publisher to approve or deny.

I haven’t seen huge dollars represented in the process here…but using their search tool, it appears to me that the highest current bid for any of their existing advertisers is $65 per day…on a site with a half-million page views.

So, to me, it’s an interesting cheap advertising model…and it’s also an interesting approach to monetization, with all parties’ cards on the table. I like it so far, and I hope it succeeds, because I think this could be something worth building on for the future.