A ninja may not be the first person to turn to when you have questions about online business models, but the podcast Ask A Ninja -- which you can download on Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iTunes -- is exactly where technology business website RedHerring did turn.

Online content has become a battleground for both traditional media and new-media up-and-comers. In 2005, News Corp. (NYSE:NWS), which owns the Fox group of film and TV properties, purchased social networking site MySpace.com. Last year, search giant Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) paid $1.65 billion to bring online video site YouTube into its fold. Many of the most popular sites, including MySpace competitor Facebook, are still private, although there has been plenty of talk of takeovers.

The big question for these online firms is: How can they turn online popularity into bankable dollars? Well, if you were to ask a ninja, he might tell you advertising is still the way to go. Kent Nichols, one of the creators of Ask A Ninja, told RedHerring that his site is grossing nearly $100,000 per month in advertising revenue thanks to 2.7 million downloads per month.

According to Nichols, Ask A Ninja has been talking with some traditional Hollywood outfits, but he also emphasized:

I think people need to also realize that you can make good money by taking it independent on the web. We're already making seven figures by merchandising and advertising on the web. We're getting seen by as many people as some cable TV shows.

You might not need a ninja to tell you why advertising works especially well for small operations, but with the recent shift made by AOL -- a division of Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) -- to an advertising-based model, we'll see if advertising is the way to go for large companies as well.  

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Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer owns shares of News Corp., but does not own shares of any other company mentioned. You can visit Matt on the Fool's CAPS service here, or check out his blog here.

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