Can You “Sell Clicks” As an Internet Business Model?

How focuses on creating content instead of selling products

The economics of online publishing vary from publisher to publisher. Whether you sell products, ads, sponsorships, or make money in other ways, you are taking advertising from someone—maybe even yourself.

From our research, there are ultimately 9 ways to maximize online revenue: selling listings, impressions, clicks, leads, books & products, periodicals, memberships and events. This article is going to focus on selling clicks.

No publisher is better at selling clicks than, one of Google’s top advertising partners. According to Nielsen Group, was one of the top 15 ad-supported Web sites in the United States last year. is really a collection of 800+ guides on specific niches that publish over 6,000 new pieces each week in over 70,000 topics. In total it is one of the largest websites in the U.S., with 40 million average monthly unique visitors in the United States and 75 million average monthly unique visitors worldwide.


The About Group, which is owned by the New York Times, includes,, and According to WikiInvest, The About Group made $121 million in fiscal 2009, 5% of NYT’s total revenue for the year.

Also according to WikiInvest, The About Group generates revenues specifically through:

  • cost-per-click advertising (sponsored links for which the About Group is paid when a user clicks on the ad)
  • display advertising
  • e-commerce (including sales lead generation)

Cost-per-click advertising, which in 2009 represented more than 50% of the About Group’s revenues, is principally derived from an arrangement with Google under which third-party advertising is placed on the About Group’s Web sites.

The content providers, or guides, are experts at both SEO and link-building, attracting enormous inbound traffic from Google, and monetizing their webpages with Google AdSense. They do this so that they don’t require having any inventory or products to sell. They focus on creating great content, while the ads pay for their mortgages.

So, does your website get enough traffic to survive on ad clicks?


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