Bill, are you direct selling mostly text ads?
Do you offer display-image ads?
It seems like the direct ad requests I get are more interested in display ads that would fill the whole ad block, say a 300x250 or 120/160x600.
Pricing is an issue I guess. It seems like any advertisers are hoping to get prime spots for less than AdSense pays. They might get it, but not from me.
How do you handle ad approval?
Do you have them submit the ad text or creative for your approval before they pay you?
We've always used direct advertisers in addition to Adsense. owever, in our case, direct advertisers have never eclipsed Adsense as yet. We offer banner advertising - standard banner, leaderboard, buttons and wide skys. We also offer text links -- all served by OpenX (no hardcoded text links)
Our direct advertisers are typically small advertisers, and we have a lot of repeat advertisers. Once a new business opportunity hits it big, our advertisers significantly jump up. We seldom deal with media buyers for large businesses as we find them too time consuming and cumbersome, albeit income is significantly higher.
One thing we do, however, is that we have dedicated ad spaces for Adsense alone (e.g. large rectangle in middle of content) while the banners above and skys are for cpm ad networks/direct sales. We don't sell the spaces we have for Adsense - except for advertisers who want to do a complete page buy (buying the entire ad inventory for the page)
Even if income from direct advertisers does not compare yet with our Adsense income, it's always a good strategy to diversify your income source.
|We seldom deal with media buyers for large businesses as we find them too time consuming and cumbersome, albeit income is significantly higher. |
I used to do this and had some major fortune 500 company ads running on my site but media companies were a total pain. Getting checks for $10K-$50K for one ad run sure didn't suck but you quickly find out you're spending all your time catering to this one high paying and high maintenance client. However, you'll find some guy paying $50/mo can also become high maintenance if you aren't careful how you handle some of their requests.
|are you direct selling mostly text ads? |
Do you offer display-image ads?
Mostly text ads - lots of them.
I offer image ads just because some people insist on them even when I tell them the text ads drive more traffic with rare exceptions. I've often put up a text ad to go along with the image ad just to make sure the advertiser gets enough bang for the buck to keep coughing up bucks!
For some reason people think the higher priced ads pay better but the fact of the matter is most of the image ads are always bigger therefore use more real-estate which is why I charge more for those ads.
Think about it, AdSense shoves 5 text ads in a skyscraper or 1 image ad, so the 1 image ad has to pay really well to offset the potential CTR of the 5 text ads.
|How do you handle ad approval? |
Has rarely been a problem as the site is very niche oriented and I specify we only sell things directly relevant to our niche, with a list of examples, and any off topic ads will be forfeited, no refunds, to cover administration costs.
When people find out they won't get a refund for messing with your site they usually go away in a hurry and don't try to game the system.
Bill, how do you format your text ads so they don't breach the Adsense TOS? Could you give an example please?
They are nothing like AdSense or YPN ads and have more text, think inline classifieds.
Have been selling the odd bit of ad space myself, fixed price per month and discount for block booking etc. It is as they say, money for old rope. That said these advertisers sometimes want more than you're prepared to give...
|However, you'll find some guy paying $50/mo can also become high maintenance if you aren't careful how you handle some of their requests. |
Oh yes ... we steer clear and avoid those who come to us and say, "We'd like to test the campaign." Instead of buying the ad packages we offer - either by number of CPM or by monthly ad buys - they'd like to buy 1 day and then test the results. If they did not get a sale from that one day of testing, they like a refund of the amount they paid for. We ignore those types and just don't want to deal with them. Too much work for too little money.
With the big guys, it's too much work to prepare all those RFPs, and then they typically ask for way discounted price because they're buying so much inventory. Plus, they'll do an audit first before they pay, etc. etc. etc.
Bill, So, are you also asking your ad clients to pay on a 'per character' ad like your 'inline classifieds' example? How do are you pricing your inventory?
My project for 2010 is to write my own system for delivering direct ads; since my primary traffic site is an event site, I am working on a way to deliver it by county (and also run of site) which I hope to integrate with Open X (which fortunately I can host myself) I already have some advertisers chomping at the bit. I've pretty much figured out how I want it to work, and the pricing. The biggest block at this point is my mad-DB-skills partner's time availability.
I sometimes get asked how much for advertising on my site. I always write back and say to them that I need to check the site out first. No point linking to non-related sites. This is better for them and me. I never hear back from them. It's a shame because I would like other income other than adsense.
I would like to start offering ads on my website using openX. I was very interested in the way you have worked out your system.
Is it possible to PM me your link for site advertising? I would like to see the things in action.
As always, an inspirational post. I was just looking into the openX because someone mentioned it in the NY Times thread (having never heard of it before that). Really looks promising.
Adsense has made me lazy. I have dropped 8 out of 9 banner agencies that I used and stopped trying to get my own ads because of the hassle. But with untargeted ads paying 1/3 the CPM of yesteryear it's time to pound the pavement.
Not sure if it was mentioned above, but Google offers a comparable product to OpenX called Ad Manager. It is also free, with the added benefit that you don't have to host or maintain the software. G takes care of that.
We've used it successfully for a few small campaigns.
|Google offers a comparable product to OpenX called Ad Manager |
It's not quite as complete as OpenX and doesn't offer an alternate marketplace (OpenX Market) to sell your inventory.
Besides, do you really want to give Google even more information about your business?
Enough is enough already.
|Adsense has made me lazy. |
It made me lazy as well and when the economy took a downturn, along with AdSense, I had to scramble to beef up my alternative AdSense monetization strategies to get that lost income back.
It doesn't take much from my current viewpoint to realize how much money I both left on the table and gave away to AdSense during it's glory days.
We're the reason it AdSense dominates the web, we're lazy and easy money takes less effort hence the term easy money ;)
Time to get our advertisers back because quite honestly I'd feel more secure if I made 100% of my revenue from non-AdSense sources, but I'll settle for a 70-30 split with AdSense being the 30%.
Do you do well with the OpenX Market? I was looking at that, but figured I'd probably be way too small a niche.
|I highly recommend anyone with a serious amount of visitors and declining AdSense revenues to give direct advertisers a try |
I've sold direct advertising on my sites years before Adsense existed.
When Adsense came around, although it performs well, it was always "in addition to" the revenue from direct sold ads.
I think many publishers make out selling ads directly more difficult than it actually is...especially if you have a legitimate site with a good volume targeted traffic that advertisers are interested in.
If advertisers are contacting you directly, it's a good sign you need to figure out a way to work out some sort of ad package for them.
I've always found that a monthly based ad is much simpler and works better for all parties.
OpenX is one great software for this. It takes a bit of configuring and it's a bit more manual to add advertisers and campaigns. OIOpublisher is another software that makes it easy to sell ads directly and accept payment.
I have been selling direct ads since 2001 (a hangover from my newspaper publishing days) along with AS and Valueclick. Never get complaints, and repeat customers in direct ads, some for 8 years running.
Beating the bush a bit now and then does have long term benefits. I run whatever the customer wants and charge accordingly. I'm relatively small and in a couple of nice niches, so I have a ready market.
Here's a thought for anyone considering it. I've had good success selling advertising via eBay. Not only have I gotten new advertisers, but the ebay spots generate more traffic and some of those new advertisers turn into solid long-term clients.
Selling ad space via eBay can really boost your traffic if you can write a good ad with screenshots, cutaways and good links (all legal per eBay's TOS). Especially good for bloggers.
Food for thought.
|I think many publishers make out selling ads directly more difficult than it actually is...especially if you have a legitimate site with a good volume targeted traffic that advertisers are interested in. |
So true. It may be hard at the start. But continue improving your content and becoming known in your niche. Then advertisers will come to you, and you don't even have to approach anyone. Just offer some information -- or a way to get the information -- about your demographics and traffic levels.
They will come to you and your next problem will be scheduling them for the next available ad spot.