I learned something recently: what I consider direct ad sales are largely NOT considered ad space buys by a majority of my advertisers. So, which cubbyhole have they stuffed me into? Influencer marketing.
This was a true brain freeze moment, as, while I like to consider my sites overflowing with information capable of influence... that's the content, they're talking about the ad space...
After a good deal of conversation with several folks on the advertising side I sort of grokked their logic:
1. 'real' ad buys are generally campaigns billed in the tens of millions - and up;
2. 'real' singular ad buys are in the hundreds of thousands - and up;
3. influencer marketing campaigns are typically billed in the tens of thousands - and up;
4. one off influencer marketing buys are typically in the hundreds - and up.
So, while I am billing quite substantial (from my perspective) monthly amounts, it's more in the influencer than ad rate category from theirs. Also contributing to their logic is that many/most ad buys (looking at you, G & FB!) are chaff upon the wind landing on fairly random pages in front of fairly random interest level humans and totally uninterested bots, whereas with my sites visitors largely self funnel to various ad spaces with bots blocked or subtracted. In that sense my site pages self qualify to some more/less degree 'real' visitors before exposing them to ads.
OK, sounds reasonable, good to know... could I just get paid more and be considered an ad buy?
No? Drat! :)
This discovery of such a different pov while of great interest to me may also be of value to others interested in selling direct ad space on their site(s). In the past my main recommendations have been:
1. block and identify bots to clean visitor data as much as possible; certainly sufficient to reasonably claim a human percentage range.
2. have a minimum 100,000 a month human unique visitors.
---extra points for showing an increasing number/percentage of repeat visitors.
3. design an offer worth at least $50,000/month to prospective advertisers.
Note: this last is because, with the exception of local businesses, fifty grand is but a rounding error in the ad budget, they don't want the hassle of managing multiple small amounts. Yes, you need make a critically serious business proposition AND make it as simple hassle free from their side as possible.
Note: it is often easier to sell yourself to an advertiser's agency because they love to bill for MITM management.
Note: if there truly is a local aspect to your site than starting with local advertisers lowers entry traffic volume and buy threshold significantly thus potentially easier although time/effort cost of scaling needs to be considered.
Points one and (local aside) two still are foundational IMO. However, if, instead of selling ad space and competing, in advertiser mindset, with G and FB et al, one is selling the capability to filter and influence and direct visitors... then one has totally changed the competitive landscape. Your revenue competitors are no longer the third party ad networks or huge platforms and sites but rather mostly individuals on one or more SM platforms. A much different and potentially much easier target. Plus the entry threshold is far lower. Niche dependant as always.
Oh, and if you haven't already read explorador's excellent post What 2018 is leaving behind
[webmasterworld.com], Evident trends and lessons learned
, do so.