How Publications Could Grow Revenue (And Have More To Pay For Photos)

Posted on 10/7/2015 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

As more and more information consumers all over the world turn to the Internet for Information print publications are losing money. They can’t earn enough from Internet advertising to cover their costs. Traditionally, revenue from advertising has covered 50% or more of the total costs of operating a publication.

Organizations with products and services to sell are cutting back, or eliminating all together, their print advertising. They are spending more and more of their ad budgets on the Internet. While most print publication also make the same information available online and earn additional money from online advertising,  the way they charge for online advertising is very different from print.

With print a fixed number of copies are printed and the cost of the ad is based on the number of copies in which the ad appears. The problem with this system is that the advertiser has no way of knowing how many readers will actually look at his ad, or are likely to even be interested in the product he sells.

On the Internet an advertiser can place his ad on lots of sites, but he only pays when someone clicks on the ad. A given ad may appear beside the information delivered in tens of thousands of searches, but if only a handful of people actually click to get additional information the ad offers the advertiser only pays for that handful of viewers. Most people are only interested in the information provided, but never click on ads.

As revenue declines publications must find a way to cut costs. That usually means cutting back on content and the people who produce it.

Possible Solution

Content creators could help boost ad revenue for their favorite publications. When they search web sites that use their work, or just publications they like, they can click on the ads. With every click a little money is taken from the advertiser and a portion of that is paid to the publication.

Google, Yahoo, Bing and other Internet service providers get a piece of the money the advertiser pays, but at least the publication gets something. You don’t have to buy a thing, just click. The clicks of any individual creator will have little effect on a publications overall revenue, but if everyone started doing it then it might make a difference.

On the other hand, I must confess that I don’t click on the ads. If you click you are usually forced to watch a 15 to 30 second video before you can get back to the information you were there to review in the first place. I don’t have that time to waste, and I doubt if any of my readers do either.

Because readers don’t click on the ads often enough, more and more frequently when you open a story the ad comes up blocking the story and you’re forced to spend 30 seconds watching it whether you like it or not.

We Need An App!

What content creators -- or anyone for that matter -- need is an app that can be launched whenever you’re not using your computer and will continue to run until you return to shut if off.

Here’s what the app would do. You would be able to specify a series of web sites you want to search. The app would go to each website in order and begin randomly searching all the stories. It would click on every ad attached to a given story and then move on to the next story. When it runs out of stories it can loop over again, or it can go to a new site. If you launch this app before you go to bed it could be clicking for eight hours before you want to use the computer again. This kind of activity might generate a fair amount of revenue for publications and would cost creators nothing. ??Advertisers would also be willing to pay lots of money to make sure that when this app finds one of their ads it doesn’t click on it. (It is my understanding that many ad blockers work this way.)

This might not be as impossible as it sounds. A recent story in Wired Magazine reported that the AdNauseam App clicks every ad on every page the user visits. The purpose of this app is to confuse trackers that record every page you upload and every query you type in order to build a profile of who you are. That way they will only deliver ads to you that they think might be of interest. Of course, if you never click on ads you don’t care what ads they deliver.

In this way publications could actually get paid for the advertising they display, even if no one ever buys anything. Publications would love this app and probably be happy to promote its use. If the only way to support the information distribution business is through advertising then something needs to be done.

P.S. I want to thank my readers for being willing to pay for the information I supply. Maybe, someday there will be a system where everyone pays for the information they need and the survival of the information business will not be so dependent on advertising.

Copyright © 2015 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


  • Paul Melcher Posted Oct 9, 2015
    What you suggest is called "click fraud", is already happening and would certainly not please advertisers who pay for these ads. Once aware of this scam, they would altogether stop buying ads, putting your publications out of business entirely. Surely not something you want…

    Furthermore, it is doubtful that if publications made more money, they would spend it on paying more for images.

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