Mailbag: Thinking outside the site when selling ads
Q: I was creepin’ through cbsinteractive.com/advertise/ recently and stumbled on their self-serve options. The thing that stuck out to me was that they were offering ad space within their newsletters.
I know lots of comics offer their strips through email, and that the “e-newsletter” format is popular for including blog posts and discount codes…but this is honestly the first time it ever occurred to me to use that as an advertising opportunity. For CBS’ gaming website, GameSpot, a 160×600 ad in their newsletter costs a flat fee of $1,300.
Another important point is that, for GameSpot at least, these ads are even targeted! They seem to be keeping track of which subscribers own which consoles; if you only want to run your ad for PlayStation fans, you can do that and (presumably) the ad will only be in the newsletters for users that said, somewhere, that they owned PlayStations.
Maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, but this is blowing my mind. I thought it was worth bringing to the community, and I am particularly interested in hearing your reaction.
— Graham Hamilton
A. Let’s face it, when it comes to selling advertising, many of us are way behind the curve. We use plug-and-play services like Project Wonderful and Pulse Pulse (which used to be called ContextWeb, which used to be called ADSDAQ), and that’s about the extent of our outreach.
But it might be the perfect time to start pushing ourselves to get more intimately involved with advertising. The above examples are great — e-newsletters and e-mail delivery of comics are prime targets for sponsored advertising placement.
And so are the digital downloads that have become popular with the cresting of tablet usage over the past several months. Instead of offering a $2 PDF, wouldn’t it be advantageous to offer a free PDF that features a hyperlinked ad somewhere in the file?
To get attract potential advertisers, you have to have three things in place: solicitation, reach, and target.
The first step in selling ads to your offerings is to simply let it be known that you’re willing to do so. Place a prominent notice on your site that makes it clear that an interested party can buy advertising through you. This notice should link to a page that lists all of the advertising opportunities you’re willing to negotiate, along with information on pricing, reach and target.
Your reach is an estimate of how many people are likely to see the ad. In terms if your Web site, this can be easily addressed by pageviews. For an e-newsletter or an e-mail comic-delivery subscription, this would be the number of recipients. And for a digital download, you’ll want to be sure you’re tracking downloads.
The target is the demographic breakdown of your audience. If you can offer the demographics that your client wants to reach, then you’re going to be in a good position to negotiate ad placement. a good way to collect information on your audience’s demographics is to ask them.
Taking it one step further
As your considering the advertising that you’d like to offer a potential client, keep in mind that you have the ability to easily package your offering to sweeten any deal. For example, you can package a 3-million pageview ad buy with an ad placement in an upcoming digital download (or an upcoming edition of your e-newsletter).
And don’t forget, your “reach” extends beyond your Web site and digital offerings. Your reach includes your ability to get a message out to people through your social media presence. It’s another preson it’s so important to spend a little time every day maintaining a social-media presence. when it comes time to negotiate an ad deal, you have your social-media reach in your back pocket if you need it. Conversely, you can bring it out as a “secret weapon” if you feel the need to give an ad client an extra special advertising experience.