Advertising is a source of income employed by a minority of OA journals. Many of the larger, commercial OA publishers use advertising, but fewer of the smaller publishers or free-standing journals do.
Why not employ advertising?
A survey that is being conducted presently suggests a number of reasons for advertising not being exploited to a larger extent, the most important ones seem to be:
- Ideological resistance to advertising in scientific journals
- No or little knowledge of how internet advertising works and could be used in scientific journals
Is there any money in it?
A general impression is that advertising cannot finance an OA journal, but it can generate enough income to be helpful. Probably, the level of income will vary greatly between scientific fields. It will, necessarily, vary by number of readers.
What to think of
A number of elements must be looked at if one employs advertising:
- The administrative and technical work needed in order to find and display advertising
- Will advertising have to be solicited, negotiated and invoiced
- Does the publishing platform easily allow advertising
- How advertising could affect the journal's freedom
- Can one offend a large advertiser? - or could one be suspected of not being free to do so?
- Can one be suspected of tailoring content to the needs of the advertising income?
- How will advertising affect the layout and look of the journal
- Will scientists or the public read a journal that is cluttered with advertising like a modern online newspaper?
- Could advertising content be in conflict with the editorial content or the basic views of the journal?
There are various ways of employing advertising in a journal. Below, a number of possibilities will be explained in broad outline. The various possibilities may be combined in order to exploit your journal's potential for generating income.
In general, there are three different ways of generating income through advertising:
- Pay-per-view, i.e. you are paid every time an advertisement is presented to a reader
- Pay-per-click, i.e. you are paid every time a reader clicks on an advertisment and is sent to the advertiser's web-site.
- Commission on sales, i.e. you are paid a percentage (or a fixed amount) of actual sales or some other event (registration, bid etc.) that clicks from your site results in.
Direct soliciting of advertisements
Affiliation with a (number of) single advertiser(s)
A number of large companies offer affiliation programs where you can earn money by generating traffic and/or sales at their web sites.
Which advertisers are relevant to you depends on the content of your journal. Is the content in some way connected to some kind of service or product? And do you believe that your potential on-line readership will be likely to purchase any such service or product? If you can answer yes to both questions, you may have a case to explore possible affiliation programs further.
An example of such an affiliation program, is Amazon's affiliate program. By linking to Amazon (in general) or to specific products sold by Amazon, you are paid a percentage of actual sales. The more products your readers buy in a month, the higher the rate of commission for that month.
Amazon advertisements may be general graphic elements, pointing to Amazon in general or categories of products, but you can also in text link to specific books, movies, music CDs etc. Most readers of scientific journals are potential Amazon customers, in some way or other, so a general Amazon advertisement may generate some income. By linking to individual items being under discussion in the journal (book reviews, literary articles, film reviews etc.) or being referenced in an article, you may actually enhance the service to the reader while at the same time generating more income for your journal.
Other bookstores have similar affiliate programs, so do a number of antiquarian bookstores.