For web publishers looking to monetize their audience and traffic, the game has definitely changed over the years. For anyone relying on Google Ad Words or other forms of display banner ad revenue through ad networks or exchanges, the long term trend for CPM’s has obviously been steadily declining. Plummeting click through rates (CTR) have made tying back ROI very difficult for direct marketing advertisers, pushing CPM’s down. Larger advertisers with bigger budgets and branding and awareness goals are still buying up some inventory on high value sites, but the rise of programmatic display buying has further commoditized banner inventory. Bot traffic, impression and click fraud (Moz just wrote again on the $7.5B alleged in online ad fraud), content farms and BuzzFeed style clickbait content doesn’t help with advertiser confidence.
Users are conditioned now to skip their eyes over banner ads. Ad blocking software is becoming more and more prevalent – some see this as “stealing” content from publishers, but fighting that technology is a losing battle.
Some high value, B2B websites have been able to grow their business through direct ad sales. Here’s a checklist of things to do when moving beyond Google AdWords into direct ad sales:
Moving Beyond Google AdWords to Direct Ad Sales – a Checklist:
Install an ad server to manage direct buys/traffic creative and report on programs.
DFP for SMB is free to get started with. There are also white label solutions for advertisers to make self service buys on your site from BuySellAds and various SSPs (Supply Side Platforms) that will help manage and optimize the overall display fill.
Develop a Data Strategy
As a publisher, your audience data is your most valuable asset. Smart publishers are developing data strategies – both how to collect data, get more of it (registration/engagement), and then how to monetize. You can sell it off for third parties or try to use some of the tools out there to take advantage of this yourself. If a user is on your site performing searches and reading articles around high intent to purchase keywords, for example, this data can be bundled up and sold to advertisers in reports or on a subscription basis as timely, actionable data.
Expand your ad products beyond banners/display.
Depending on your audience and niche, these may include:
- Custom Content creation
- Sponsored Content/native ads
- Lead generation products (white papers, webcasts, reports, PDF’s)
- Sponsored social media
- Face to face events – attendee or ad sponsored
Expanding Internationally? Consider a US Based Ad Rep Firm:
Once some of this structure is in place, consider working with an ad rep firm as an initial first step into direct ad sales. This is a low risk way to get expertise on making the transition, tap into a pool of buyers, and start generating revenue without having to open up a sales office or hire and manage full time employees.
TechCrowds is a US based ad rep firm representing publishers with direct ad sales services. Ideal clients for a partnership have a targeted, desirable audience niche; generate at least 5M monthly unique users, and have a mix of ad products including display, sponsored content (link)/custom content/native ads, and/or events. As a US based ad sales rep firm, we’ve been particularly helpful for UK, Australia, or other internationally based publishers looking to break into the US market.
Contact Us to discuss working together.