BIMA Blog

BIMA Blog
Rebecca Caroe

Online Advertising for Newbies: SXSW panel

Posted by March 10, 2008
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Heath Row
– Doubleclick – as a blogger he wants to do more for small companies

Darren Rowse
– ProBlogger has a book coming out “ProBlogger Secrets for Blogging”

Wendy Piersal
– E Moms at Home, an internet magazine

Jim Benton
– VP sales for AdBrite

Rett Clevenger
– Backcountry.com online marketing mgr incl affiliate marketing
Focus on Monetisation for Blogging and small publishers – affiliate, display, affiliate, sponsorship

Ads are only one piece of monetisation for blogs:

DR – two areas you can make money directly by ads or affiliates or indirect revenues by selling yourself.  Direct ways – advertising esp cost per click contextual e.g. Google Adsense (biggest money maker for most of his readers), Affiliate programme like Amazon where referrals get a small fee.  Advertising, as your blog grows you may get approached directly and selling display ads, sponsorships – a banner per month to align brands with yours, pop-0ups, RSS advertising in the feed, text links can also be sold (google doesn’t like this).  Affiliate programmes, writing reviews and being paid, selling classifieds e.g. job boards, merchandise, donations or tips (doesn’t work well for most), membership areas – secret bonus areas.

Indirectly – sell yourself as a consultant, book deal, selling a product, training, workshops, conference. 



What works –
every blog is different.  Experiment.  Adsense is a good entry level way.  
WP – my business took over my blog!  She started how to document a start-up from home so blogged it.  Three months later the blog became the start-up and she scrapped the other idea!  The link from DR grew her stats.  She learnt how to make money off the blog via ProBlogger.  She is a trained life coach and sold herself as this online and this was the fastest way to get revenue off the blog but her goal was to make money off the traffic.  Last autumn she realised sehe needed help and so started a blog network to the site (7 new ones).  Each blog is growing differently – kids activities (search engines bring readers), dads blog (no search engine success).  Creating compelling sticky content people want to come ‘hang out’ but they don’t want to click on ads.  Creating OK content designed to make people to clieck on an ad is different.  Know your goals for the blog.

Experience working with the ad networks?
  Experimented – some direct sales is a lot of work – need to be a true salesperson and set ratecard and have your own ad server.  This is the most profitable… big advertisers need 1m pages per month before they’ll look at you.  Ad network is bread and butter – real girls media.  They act a bit as a broker and represent the site in their proposals to pitch big brands.  You don’t know where the income levesl will be.  So I sell text links and affiliate advertising to fill the gaps.  Diversity is key – don’t rely on one means.  
JB – How do you work with newcomers?  When choosing an ad network what should you consider? Their role is to be a single point of contact for advertisers to represent sites.  Blog community and news sites have difft needs at different stages.  “your ad here” code which you could buy online with credit card and emailed the blogger to approve it.  That was how Adbrite started.
You need to decide if it is about money or control.  At the beginning control is imp;rotant – find the ad networks that give you the opportunity to choose and view the ads that will run on your stie.  Look for a network that will have transparency so the advertisers can see they are running on YOUR site.  They need to see that you are contributing to their programme.  They may pay more.  
The key to adbrite is segmenting – content, quality, original, design, user generated content, then segemented into elite, premium tiers. Some advertisers want quality sites and performance advertisers want volume.  
Online tools – service is the big differentiator between different ad networks.  Work with your account manager – what are tips for generating more revenue.  Placement is number one way to grow.  Internet is not about interruptive advertising and so different from other media.  Google heatmap for advertisers is worth reading.

RC – Affiliate marketing – where does it fit?  It is a revenue share arrangement where you get paid for referral traffic that converts – a % of the sale.  Two distinctions – appeals to the long term relationship between the two parties.  You know your community and purpose of your site and you know where the affiliate fits into your site.  Both parties have equal stakes.  It is a long term job.  Find a good relationship between what you want to do online and how it translfates into the world of e commerce.  You post whatever you want (banner, text, data feed, snippet generator) wherever you want to display it and for how long.  You control look and feel.  In direct media determine what I display where when I do my own adverts.  



Which programme to choose? 
Each company has a different take on how they manage affiliates.  Some are restrictive as it’s a representation of our brand.  We see them as an outside salesforce like the pre-internet Tupperware programme!  Referrals – it needs to make ‘sense’ to both parties.

How do you choose who to work with? 
The elective programmes are the best to be in.  They have to have a value ad to the audience for us comparison shopping has worked well.  Makes it easy to solve the customer’s need.  Reviews of product allows an affiliate to give their view.  Or content about where you use the gear e.g. route planning.  Find something you are passionate about and look at the merchants that represent that.  
Intenret sales spilling out into the real world?  We plan to use events offline to allow affiliates to take their tracking mechanism offline.  Athletes at the events whether competing or not, branded pre-printed post cards or business cards with a link to the tracking source or a specific landing page… unique to them and allows credit to referrals off that page.  
WP – you have to go to the affiliate manager and ask for this – custom coupons codes and special landing pages…..



What other things do you need to keep in mind to stay up to date?

Newbie picky about ads running on their sites.  We give you the choice but the flashy ads convert better than the big brand CPM.  CPA – cost per action/acquisition.  CPM- cost per thousand.  CPC = cost per click.
The ad networks give advertisers code that goes onto their website after a user has completed the action wanted e.g. sign up to brand.  We track that conversion using the code back to the original site where the user clicked / viewed.  This allows advertisers to manage their budgtets.  Being picky limits you.  We used to group by vertical sector – now more about user targeting – geographic / age / stage.  Some pay a premium for this.  
RC – affiliate managers want to engage with sites – work on the relationship.  Provide a resource for your readers through your content.  
DR – Do as much tracking as possible on ad conversions crazyegg free tooll creates a heat map from your site.  Know where ads convert and where not…. use as a negotiating tool when you know this information.  Do surveys of readerships, age, geographic, buyers / researching.
WP – it can be frustrating to gather this information when you are a new advertiser.  It takes time to learn this… it is valuable so spend the time on this.   Put a text ad from adsense for her services within the copy of the blog…. worked for her services not others.


Question:

What about Disclosure and affiliate links?
DR – it varies from site to site.  One gets a lot of search engine traffic – for digital cameras. I have a site-wide disclosure for this.  For Problogger I put “aff” to show it’s an affiliate so reader knows.  The links perform better when I do give disclosure because my readers like me.  
WP – I never used to do disclosure because I do everything for free.  But I realised that readers don’t assume that – they assume the worst.  I try to put more disclosure in place.  

How do the networks pick the affiliates?

disclosure is important for your readership.

PPV or pay per post?

DR – I don't write comment for payment.  I understand why some write a review and get paid for it.  it depends on your site.  For me people question your motives. Transparency is important.  I see anything on the site saying something about ME and I want people to come back for years to come.  if it is helpful and relevant to your audience.
WP – I separate reviews from comment content.  readers don't like these two things mixed up in one place on my blog.  People don't respond in the same way.
RC – GuruReview – encourage reviewers to tell it like it is.  Write it but say what is the alternative solution for it.  There are lots of alternatives.  You can turn this into a positive.

Tracking and measurement – how do you gauge success and improve the overall mix?

B – there are two types of measurement the performance of the ad – number of clicks and who signed up / purchased.  And a quality metric – think about the domain name used for your blog for big name advertisers ask  Can you show me a site list – names that are clean, professional looking but they never visit the sites!  Keep user generated content quality and looking good.  
WP – there is google analytics, hittail , crazyegg .  I found it effective Pro MyBlogLog to see what people clicked on.  You pay $3 per month to get this.  I learn a lot about what people click on.  I learnt a lot from this – what I am writing on.
How does it work when you join as an affiliate?  When you apply to join a network there is a list of all the merchants and you apply to each individually.  When accepted you get access to all their ads and codes.  Research Google for affilitate programmes in your topic.  And you can go direct.  Networks – commission junction, linkshare and performix, are the big ones.  Learn your niche when choosing.   ADify.com is a network of networks and you can go there to find your niches.  UI not so good – Martha Stewart runs through there.

WP – To sell ads directly you need about 500 viewers per day to get a smaller advertiser interested.  DR suggests putting ads on from day one so that users are used to it from the start.  When you go small target small advertisers.  It created the culture.
Local search is becoming very popular and so there are probably good local ad networks.  Cenveo is a local Chicago network. 
 

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