Your Ad Here

While we’re on the subject of making the most of what you’ve got and monetizing resources wherever practical,  let’s talk about renting out advertising space in your virtual world.  We’ve all seen the sponsorship promos, banner ads,  hyperlinks and ad words on the websites,  Facebook pages,  blogs and newsletters of nationally known Freelancers.   Some of you may also have seen advertisements or hyperlinks on a colleague’s  site.  As everyone digs deeper for revenue,  we might see a lot more of same.

I’ve spotted banner ads on the sites of three Freelancer colleagues who specialize in PR,  marketing and executive coaching.  The good news is that all chose advertisers whose product line is complementary to their business.  The not-so-good news is that two of the three websites no longer look classy.  In this case,  it’s seller beware.

That said,  if you select your advertisers well and refrain from overloading your site with ads,  you can always try this on for 6 months.  The money you make will no doubt be useful.  Placing ads on your website will create a small and steady cash flow that can make a real difference in your ability to sleep nights. 

The first thing to consider is what you have to offer your new prospect,  the advertiser. The number one criterion of ad placement is the presence of the desired demographic.  Sign up with Google Analytics and  demonstrate to advertisers that your e-world attracts a large and loyal following of people who can potentially become their customers.  The amount of traffic on your site will also help you to determine advertising rates.

Next,  confirm that your site hosting platform will support advertising.  For example,  if WordPress hosts your website,  be aware that like this blog,  it’s probably operating on the  .com side,  which is free,  upgraded and backed up regularly and very user friendly.  It will be necessary to migrate to the  .org side,  which is an open source,  customizable hosting platform that offers more advanced options,  such as the ability to support what is entailed in advertising.

If the concept still looks feasible,  then decide where the ads can be placed.  Look at your home page and measure the available space.  Is there room for a banner ad or two,  or will the less intrusive text option be more to your liking?

If you have a content management system and you’re good with graphics,  experiment with your home page layout and eliminate or relocate certain text and photos to create more potential ad space.  Think right side or bottom of page for banner ads.

Research shows that ad words are best used on sites that generate huge traffic.  They are a pay-per-click option with a low response rate,  so big numbers are needed to make ad words profitable for both parties.

Now it’s time to give serious and careful thought to the types of businesses that you would be comfortable having as advertisers.  Give still more thought to your sales pitch.  As always,  it will be imperative to define what’s in it for them:  the right demographics and a popular site. 

Establishing a flat monthly rate based on the size of the ad,  with discounts given for multi-month commitments, is the easiest payment structure.  See the rate card and ad contract of a local newspaper for guidance.  You can set up a PayPal subscription for billing and payments.  You are further advised to set up a separate account for each advertiser,  so that site stats can be checked and ad start and end dates can be reviewed.

However,   it may be wiser to sign up with an online advertising management company.  Certain basic features of ad management are free,  but it may be worth paying for additional  features like billing.  That way,  if an advertiser cancels and you forget to take the ad down,  you won’t find yourself giving away free space.  Agencies to investigate include Etology,  Commission Junction,  Adbrite and Linkshare.

Because businesses are always in search of an effective way to reach customers and enhance brand awareness,  ads and sponsorships within the virtual world continue to proliferate.  Some businesses even provide a special link,  sometimes to a particular website page,  so that they can track advertising performance on your site.

It is imperative to consider the possible impact that virtual ads could have on your business.  For those who provide a certain type of product or service for a certain clientele,  including ads on a website will be a delicate balance.  The painstakingly cultivated perception of value and quality could be undermined by the presence of ads on either a website or newsletter.  Take care not to cheapen your brand in exchange for a few extra dollars a month.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

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