To date, all of the ads on No Film School have been Google AdSense ads, which means that Google is filtering the keywords on my site -- along with your browsing history, apparently -- to serve ads that the big G thinks are most relevant to you (No Film School is no different than millions of other sites in this regard). In the history of the universe Google has never shared how much of a cut they take for being the middleman between advertiser and publisher; today, that changed.
One of the reasons I've been running AdSense ads -- other than the fact that they're the easiest to get up and running -- is to be able to accurately price No Film School's ad inventory. Which, if you take their recommended graphic at left as gospel, is apparently terribly designed! The dark orange slots are the positions that generate the most revenue, and the white -- where No Film School's ads are located -- are the worst. This does not take into account many individualized site factors, however, so I would not take that diagram as the end-all-be-all.
Anyway, if you have a website and you run Google ads for a month or two, you get stabilized eCPM figures, which is "effective cost per thousand impressions." Google only pays you if someone clicks on an ad, so after running ten of thousands of ads and logging hundreds of clicks, you can get a decent sense of what an impression is worth (as opposed to a click). Then, should you decide to go out and seek out advertisers for your site -- which I'll be doing this week -- you can look at your Google revenue and price your inventory accordingly. If you're doing the legwork and are approaching advertisers directly, many folks on the internet have recommended taking your Google eCPM figures and doubling them, based on the assumption that Google was taking 50% off the top. Turns out Google's a bit friendlier than that, which they revealed in a blog post:
AdSense for content publishers, who make up the vast majority of our AdSense publishers, earn a 68% revenue share worldwide. This means we pay 68% of the revenue that we collect from advertisers for AdSense for content ads that appear on your sites... Since launching AdSense for content in 2003, this revenue share has never changed.
So basically the accurate multiplier is 1.5 instead of 2. If you have a website or are thinking about launching a website that might run ads, this is a good method of finding out what your ad slots are worth: turn on Google AdSense for a couple of months, and then multiply the resulting number by 1.5. That figure is the absolule minimum you should accept from advertisers, since you should be able to target your market much better than an algorithm. Regardless, unless you're already getting several hundreds of thousands of pageviews a month (No Film School is approaching 100k/month), don't expect internet ads to keep the lights on. They really work best as one slice of the pie.