Money in Free Ringtones

Today it became apparent to me that a lot of money is being made through ringtone ads via services such as Google's AdSense and Azoogle. Yes, I'm clearly the slow one on this. I've seen blog postings here and there about ringtone ads for quite some time, but didn't pay them much attention. That is, until now.

Today I noticed a flurry of blog postings all about an eBay auction for a homepage that sold for over $10,000. If you read the description of the auction you'll see that the bidder offers some compelling reasons why this one page is worth so much money. Briefly, here's the process for making gobs of money.

  1. Spend x dollars on PPC ads to bring traffic to the site.
  2. Encourage visitors to enter their cell phone number in to a form "sponsored" by a ringtone provider.
  3. Collect y dollars from said ringtone provider.
  4. Make sure x is much less than y so that you don't need all visitors to convert to make a profit.

If you believe the poster, the page in question generated $62,000 in 5 months. For the sake of this post, lets say that, at least on the face of things, the seller is being honest. What's not mentioned in the auction description is that it costs thousands of dollars per month to pay for the ads and there's probably a network of sites also owned by the seller that drive traffic to this ringtone site. That's ShoeMoney's take and from what I've read, I believe his analysis. ShoeMoney also points out the keyword list used to drive PPC traffic isn't for sale. Now what chance does a newbie have to reproduce the seller's success without the keyword list?

So all of this makes sense and I can see how it would work. The last piece of the puzzle was finding out just how popular ringtone related searches are. A quick look at the Overture search suggestion tool reveals that on their network there was close to 3 million searches last month. Throw in the ringtone search number from Google and that's some serious traffic. The seller also points to a 2004 article from Wired that says the ringtone market had $3.5 billion in sales.

One last parting note. Most PPC players are already in on this market so the competition is fierce.

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