One of the longest running discussions in the WordPress.com Support forums is how users can monetize their blogs. WordPress.com already runs Adsense and other ad programs on our sites, thereby removing that possibility for the individual blogger. Matt Mullenweg, head of Automattic, which runs WordPress.com, gave a very enlightening interview on this topic a few years ago and I highly recommend you read it as it is still relevant for today. Officially, bloggers are not able to run even approved ads unless they qualify for the AdControl program, having 25K+ pageviews a month, or are a VIP partner (like CNN, TechCrunch and other high volume sites).
Over the past year and a half or so, Automattic, together with Federated Media, have run several collaborative ezine projects (FoodPress, PopPressed and EcoPressed) which showcases posts from the steadily growing number of WordPress.com blogs. This collaboration has apparently led to an advertising agreement between the two parties, which was announced on October 19th at the Web 2.0 summit in San Francisco and about which Matt wrote on his own blog. According to Matt,
ReadWriteWeb covers the WordPress.com / Federated Media deal which will give high-end bloggers access to run advertising from FM, which is significantly higher quality than alternatives like Google Adsense, which has been declining in quality and is no longer a great choice for bloggers. Proud to be part of the empowerment of the Independent Web, which is the dark matter of the internet.
So, it looks like “high-end bloggers” based in the US will be the target for this program and, of course, this is an incentive for those same high traffic sites to stay on WordPress.com rather than move away to self-hosted sites, carrying their earning potential with them. What does this imply for those bloggers who do not qualify for this program? In light of Matt’s statement above, I can only hope that it will be a rethinking of those Google Adsense ads that Matt himself admits have been declining in quality. We’ll all have to wait and see.