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Native ads are scrumpdillyicious!

Once you go direct you'll never go back!

     
4:39 am on Jul 8, 2019 (gmt 0)

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A number of studies in recent years have found that 50-70% of Google search users can/do not distinguish between query result ads or organic results; further that as various retention artifacts, i.e. answer/knowledge box, local 3-pack, clutter/confuse/distract the results page search users become less likely to make a distinction.
Note: this trend is also aggravated by/associated with an increase in ad blend-in.

The above is not likely new to most here at WebmasterWorld, however what many may not realise is that a similar blindness/unawareness exists with native advertising when done well.
Note: when NOT done well it becomes comic caricature.

So as not to run afoul of various jurisdictional requirements some form of labelling is typically necessary. Much to my initial grimace, years ago, I found that native ad labelling has negligible negative consequences. So long as the ad matches the look, feel, and function of the site. Some visitors, possibly a majority, are oblivious to the labelling and simply view it as more site content. Others notice the labelling but give ad content a goodwill benefit derived from site main content. Very few (1-3% on my sites) immediately back out or otherwise leave.

There are a few provisos:
* the site main/unpaid content must be of sufficient value to create transferable goodwill aka trust to the ad content.
Note: ye olde bog standard site tends to create little to no goodwill; as a rule of thumb, if a visitor does not feel compelled to ever return to a site neither does it build goodwill.

* the ad content must be of similar look, feel, function - and value - as the main content.
Note: the more it feels and works like part of the site the more it IS part of the site.

* the labelling must be explicit yet not 'hazardous' aka scare the visitor away.
Note: my label is 'Advertising Supplement' with a dek of 'By BRAND to MySITE's Quality Control Requirements'.
Note: the text 'Quality Control Requirements' is a modal link detailing the requirements to ensure value as content. Basically selling the advertisement as content of value.
Note: don't hide what something is, be proud of it. Properly produced brand provided ad content is equivalent to a celebrity guest blogger. EG: if a guest post by Brett Tabke is valuable content then so too can be a native ad by PubCon - when done well.

Of course, as usual, most native advertising is NOT done well, rather it is blatant comic caricature in one's face at various cross purposes to the look, feel, and function of the site. Often, as with bad content marketing née blog guest posting the same thang is published on multiple sites with minimal to no attempt to fit in with any site or even niche. And immediately transforms from native advertisement to late night advertorial.

When done correctly native advertising converts at 25-40%. That is, up to four in ten that land on a native ad convert. And that is why native advertising has been growing in advertiser popularity, albeit most botching their attempts, and in value.

For those with the traffic volume (especially those who can demonstrate bot filtered human traffic volume) direct ad space sales are lucrative and native advertising is usually the most lucrative. Of course there is a lot more work involved; it isn't just copy and pasting javascript as with third party ad networks.

And then there is product placement... ah, scrumpdillyicious!
Once you go direct you'll never go back!
6:12 am on July 8, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I've tried several variations of native ads over the last few years, and honestly it has always resulted in very, very poor results. Meaning, I was seeing an RPM of something like $0.02, where regular banners were closer to $2.

As I'm rebuilding the site (slowly but surely) I plan to implement them in a different way, mainly because mobile users are virtually worthless to me anyway. But I have very low expectations.
6:30 am on July 8, 2019 (gmt 0)

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My label is "Sponsor" ... with all aspects to make it FIT the site. Running about 22-25% consistent with the occasional 40-50% for a direct that REALLY fits. :)

(NOTE: I got 100% up front for the month ... the results noted above are what the advertiser is getting from that investment ... and that's the DIFFERENCE between direct and ad servicing).

This represents a return to ORDINARY ADS that used to appear in Pulp Mags, Slicks, Newspapers (before they became tabloids... think 1940-1970) when the PUBLISHER actually sold ad space AND created the ad/appearance to go with their publication FOR THE ADVERTISER.

Added value. Look it up. Makes a difference.
6:39 am on July 8, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@tangor, do you have a dedicated sales team? That's been my biggest handicap. I could hire 40 salesmen TODAY, but in 17 years I haven't found the first good salesman yet.
7:02 am on July 8, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I do it all myself these days (sold off the biz last year, kept three clients).

If your sales folks are "web coders" you are screwed ... need the old bull dog sales folks from years past (and these are coming back in vogue).

YOUR artwork/design/layout (the other part of the aspect).

And having the traffic/numbers to entice the advertiser in the first place.

NOT CUT AND PASTE. This you have to work at.
7:13 am on July 8, 2019 (gmt 0)

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5:59 pm on July 8, 2019 (gmt 0)

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If your sales folks are "web coders" you are screwed ... need the old bull dog sales folks from years past (and these are coming back in vogue).

Agreed, I started in sales some 25 years ago and have always been pretty good at it. I can't seem to find those bulldogs today, though! All I can find are people that think their job is to sit and wait for the phone to ring... shoot, I could do that myself for free! >:-( I've hired and fired at least 20 people; in every case I explain in the interview exactly what I want, and every time they do the exact opposite.

And having the traffic/numbers to entice the advertiser in the first place.

That's what kills me, the wide majority seem to have no clue what basic traffic numbers even mean.

I can email them, but the emails don't go through. I send them messages on Facebook, but they're rarely ever even read and I suspect they're never delivered. All that really works is direct sales, but there's just not enough time in the day for me to do it all myself and hold their hand through the first time. I desperately need a dedicated salesman to do that for me.

Where have all the bulldogs gone?
11:47 pm on July 8, 2019 (gmt 0)

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All I can find are people that think their job is to sit and wait for the phone to ring... shoot, I could do that myself for free!


When doing sales there's nothing that replaces the human touch. Face to face, telephone calls, even SNAIL MAIL correspondence will beat anything electronic every time. A go-getter attitude certainly helps. And personal goals set and achieved week in, week out.
5:54 am on July 9, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I desperately need a dedicated salesman to do that for me.


I had three on staff at one time, just for direct ad sales, and they were paid a base (piddling) with handsome commission on completion.

My hires were told up front they have to WORK at the job to get anything above the buck a week ... and were provided cold call lists to go after and if I didn't have a PHONE number, it was up to them to find it! I paid all USPO postage for any solicitations (up to 100/month) against a 10% completion (sale).

Sadly, 1 in 30 rose to the challenge after 90 days ... Universities these days are turning out "I got a trophy just for breathing!" folks ...

My best salesperson was six years younger than me, in a wheelchair, and minus a leg and one eye. Tireless, hungry, and proud, afflicted with the gift of the gab and insight into what makes folks tick.

You have to find the right people. Find the right clients. Find the right mix of site, presentation, and clear results/numbers to have any kind of success ... and a managed expectation of same.

And a PRODUCT/PUBLICATION that can be sold. "There's the rub," as the Bard once said. All too many webmasters overvalue their efforts and have absurd expectations of revenue. But direct sales is the answer for most of us. The cut and paste glory of ad servicing third parties is long gone.

For obvious reasons. :(
8:22 pm on July 9, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Background: I've been in sales, off and on, since high school. Mostly as an entrepreneur, sole proprietor. And, while I can do it I tend to dislike and be not really good at it; I lean too far to educating customer forgetting to ask to for sale. :)

When selling ad space directly (or when looking for direct affiliate relationships) it is B2B selling not B2C; yes, there are substantial differences. It is much much harder to get the attention of a business person and they hear so many pitches so frequently that simply not being lost in the noise is difficult. The only practical way to get their real attention (not getting the sale just their attention) is in person. And, cold calling is pretty much a non-starter regardless of 'sales ability'; cold calling is just more irritating noise, tending to be perceived much as a mosquito.

In my experience, there are two highly practical methods that can be run singly or in tandem.
1. Personal Reference.
Note: depending on the size of the target business one may need to speak with the owner (small/medium, hyperlocal/local, possibly regional) or CMO or ad/marketing agency account manager.
---do your due diligence research of the business (and agency if applicable) and including top people with particular attention to the person(s) responsible for recommending/deciding.
---identify someone who knows both you and that person; request a recommendation and introduction.

2. Business Networking.
Note: this is the greatest failure of many/most webdevs - they fail to attend their niche conferences and ad/marketing conferences plus they fail to do business networking.
---do your due diligence research of niche businesses/brands, especially those who advertise, identifying those who make ad/marketing decisions.
---do your due diligence research of niche conferences and ad/marketing conferences.
---attend such conferences and introduce yourself to targets with aim of creating recognition, building rapport.
Note: it can take four to seven such 'meetings' to become truly remembered.
Note: sometimes it can be beneficial to build in an associated memory aid, i.e. Rand and his yellow pumas. Know your audience.

Note: often these folks fall into two types, (1) those familiar/comfortable with web marketing and (2) those not.
Note: initial 'feeling out' and informal information transfer may best be done over lunch or dinner; know your audience.
---offer, not hard sell, to give a presentation on your site's value to their business' marketing efforts.
---put together a highly professional business value presentation showing (1) that you understand their business (history and current/future needs), (2) what you offer that can benefit them (filtered human traffic especially return, niche specificity, visitor market segmentation, current third party conversion rates, etc.), (3) type of ad space packages on offer and value compared to other media particularly other websites they already utilise...
---unless they specify otherwise the presentation should be 20-40 minutes plus Q&A.
Note: my initial presentations are ~40 minutes, followup reviews/updates are ~20.
Note: followups are mostly via video conference but I like to schedule annual personal visits.
---provide each participant (bring extras!) with a professional print and media copy.

I developed my sites from the very beginning (1999) with direct ad/af in mind (AdSense showed up as an unexpected luxury) initially based on third party affiliate revenue. It took 2-years of efforts (as above) from 2005-2007 to actually land my first account. It was because an ad agency account manager I'd got to know well got one of his client's to take a chance. It was a 6-month highly discounted trial that, at the 3-month mark became a 2-year with 3-year option at full billing; they still advertise with me.
Note: most businesses are more web ad/af knowledgeable than back then, now there is far less general eduction time required. Now it is usually just time to get known plus benefits sales time.

It is sales but of the personal bespoke type. As are the ads.
You have to deliver at least what you promised. More is better. Consistently more is best.
Making your contact person look good is part and parcel of the operation.
It requires actual contracts (having an available qualified competent accountant and lawyer is pretty much a necessity).
It is far from cut and paste and unread ToS.

And it can pay appropriately: local ads, $1000-10,000 monthly; regional ads, $10,000-50,000 monthly, national/international ads: $50,000+ monthly. Depending in part on type and number.
Note: enterprise level companies with ad spend in the tens/hundreds of millions annually see $50,000 as a rounding error. Research is critical. I once lost a pitch because I was asking too little!