Update: June 11th, 2018
Project Wonderful just sent this email out to it’s advertisers and publishers. They’re closing down on August 6th, 2018.
Thanks for being a member of Project Wonderful! We wanted to inform you of some sad news:
On August 1st, Project Wonderful will be shutting down. For over a decade, we’ve been so happy to be your choice for getting the word out about your comic, music, or anything else you come up with. And we’ve been so proud to represent our publishers, who have been creating some of the most interesting, exciting, and worthwhile things online.
But all good things must come to an end. When we started working on Project Wonderful in early 2006, it was with the hope that online advertising could be something good, something that you’d want to see. We were always the odd company out: we didn’t track readers, we didn’t sell out our publishers, and we never had issues with popups, popunders, or other bad ads the plague the internet – because our technology simply wasn’t built to allow for that. We let you place an image and link on a website, and that was it. And we filtered the ads that could run on our network, so our publishers knew they could trust us.
We’d hoped that would be enough, but in the past several years, the internet has changed. Large sites like Facebook do all they can to keep readers on their network, rather than sending that traffic out to individual websites. As such, many readers – who used to visit dozens if not hundreds of websites a day – now visit only a few sites, and things like the indie “blogosphere” (remember that?) are disappearing. We’re hopeful that individual creators can adapt – either by embracing these walled gardens in a way that protects themselves, or by finding other ways to draw attention to their work – but as a network founded on supporting independent websites, our options were limited. Some advertising networks have held on by adopting more and more invasive user tracking, forcing their publishers to sign binding contracts, or by trying to train publishers (and readers!) to expect that “sometimes a bad ad will sneak through”, but that’s something we always refused to do. We believed – and still believe – that you deserve better. We believed – and still believe – in a world where an ad blocker wouldn’t be an obvious thing to install, because advertising would be good, interesting, and non-invasive.
Unfortunately, we’re no longer in a position to supply that better option to you.
We know this may come as a shock, which is why we’re giving everyone as much notice as possible. Here’s the Project Wonderful shutdown timeline:
- June 11th, 2018: We announce our shutdown phase. No new accounts can be created, and no new publishers will be added to the network. Members are contacted to let them know to spend or withdraw their funds before August 1st.
- July 11th: Ad serving is turned off, so our ads will no longer appear on anyone’s websites, and any existing bids are suspended. No new bids can be placed on Project Wonderful – but of course people can still withdraw their funds.
- August 1st: This is the deadline for anyone to do anything they want with their Project Wonderful accounts before they close!
- August 6th: After a few days of grace for any stragglers, and after 12 years, 6 months, and 12 days of service, Project Wonderful’s servers finally go offline.
We want to thank you all: from the publishers and advertisers who have been with us since day one (and there are hundreds!) to those that joined somewhere along the road to today. We’re so proud of the artists we’ve helped support and the good we brought into the world – and we still hope that we’ve managed to bring some change into an industry not typically associated with “decency”. And to the readers who clicked our ads, and in doing so discovered new comics, new work, new ideas, new art, and new people through the simple act of peer-to-peer advertising: we think you’re great too.
It really was a wonderful project. And it couldn’t have happened without you.
– Team PW.
I discovered Project Wonderful in 2011. At the time I had only tried Google Adsense, and I wasn’t happy with the small amount I was making. I thought I could do better if I found a service with ads more targeted at my demographic.
That’s how I discovered Project Wonderful. A coworker of mine mentioned hearing about it when I said I was debating putting Adsense back one of my blogs. I checked it out, quickly signed up, and began playing around with it.
The thing I really liked the most with Project Wonderful was their approach to advertising. I could turn this into a huge article about all the differences with them and Adsense, but I’ll keep it brief, and leave it up to you to check it out if I piqué your interest.
The largest difference is how advertisers work with publishers (those who put ads on their sites). As a publisher you create ad boxes, which is you telling advertisers what spots you have available on your site to advertise on. Unlike Adsense where ads just start showing up once you’ve done that, instead advertisers bid on your ad boxes, and the winner gets their ad shown on your site.
The way advertisers bid is to say they are willing to pay $X a day to advertise in a particular ad box. So, unlike Adsense where you get paid based on a click/view ratio, advertisers pay you straight up for advertising on your site each day, not a rate based on clicks and views.
If someone runs an ad with me, and nobody clicks it, I still get the rate they said they’d pay me for advertising for the day. Google doesn’t do that. In addition, because of this difference, there’s no concern about clicking on the ads shown on your site. I’m not getting paid per-click, so if I find an ad interesting that’s being shown on my site then I’ll click it. Google frowns on that with Adsense. Actually, they forbid it and will ban you.
Publishers have control over ads placed on their site. If you want you can require all ads wanting to be placed with you be approved. There’s also some options for the type of ads. If you don’t want any NSFW ads on your site then you don’t have to accept them, and that’s a hands-off option, you don’t have to manually decline them.
As a publisher you can also determine any minimal bid required to advertise with you, which is a nice feature, but seldomly used. A lot of advertisers are looking to pay as little as possible. So, when you set a minimum bid to advertise with you, you are effectively ruling out a large group of potential advertisers. Granted, they may not be paying what you want them to by not setting a minimum bid, but they are at least paying you something.
You Have Full Ad Control
That’s something I really like about Project Wonderful, you’re in full control of everything from the ads that run on your site to the ads you place. As well as how much, or how little, you’re willing to spend. There really isn’t an aspect that you don’t have a say over. The result of all this is that the type of people placing ads tend to be the sort of demographic that works with a niche blogging.
Project Wonderful gained huge ground from web comics. Web comics are easily the largest category of people running ads through them. Gamers of various types are another large market. Basically, it’s people like you and I who are placing ads and showing those ads.
As an advertiser you can find cheap ad placement, like $0 cheap. Publishers can set a minimum required to advertise with them, but a vast majority do not set a minimum. So, you can run ads on their site for free. It requires some manual labor to place free ads, but not a lot.
There’s an ability to create a campaign for advertising. In short, you define your criteria for sites you’d like to advertise on. It can be the type of site, sites matching a particular description, by traffic, etc.
You then set up bidding parameters, say you’re willing to spend $X a day on advertising, and set a maximum budget of $Y. The campaign will automatically make bids for you based on the criteria you’ve set up, and you just sit back and watch the clicks come through.
An example. I created a campaign targeting gamers. I set a daily expense limit of 20 cents, and a maximum budget of $1. Once the $1 ran out the campaign stopped. My ads were shown 23,651 times, and received 13 clicks. I won’t get into all the other metrics, but it didn’t do too poorly – though it could have been better. Improving how many clicks my campaign gets will come down to my targeting of sites I advertise on, my criteria, as well as my ads themselves.
Regardless, I thought it was a good experiment and I only spent $1, no complaints.
Being able to find really affordable places to put ads, and being able to target the niches I needed to, was really great.
Project Wonderful Profits & An Update
Now, the final bit that some of you bloggers are likely curious about, the profits. With Project Wonderful, in that first month I made $1.64. That was in 2011, and it actually wasn’t bad considering. It’s still a pitiful amount, but it was more than Adsense was paying me. Still…
In 2017 I had tried Project Wonderful again, as well as various times throughout the years. I just never had any real success with it. My traffic has increased significantly since 2011, yet I was only making around 3 cents a day with Project Wonderful recently. It just seems like nobody is willing to pay much to advertise on the sites there any longer.
I was just on there seeing how things were going, if it had improved, and I saw sites with 10,000 daily visitors and nobody paying to advertise on those sites. So, if a site with 10K visitors can’t get paid with Project Wonderful, there isn’t much hope.
I now rely on Amazon Associates as my primary means of advertising income, and Project Wonderful doesn’t even come close to it any longer. I make more in a day with Amazon than I did in all my time with Project Wonderful. However, if you want a really cheap way to advertise then Project Wonderful is great.
Also, I have a review of many other ad networks if you’re curious.