Advertisements on almost every website (blogs to be precise, as the line between a website and a blog is diminishing quickly) look visually familiar to me although some people believe they don’t belong on websites at all.
The subject of today’s discussion will be the art of marketing and how we seem to take the same for granted. Remember, you must be selflessly selfish while giving away ad spots on your website. Otherwise, your client will give away the money during the first deal but might not renew the same due to negative results.
Let me start with the very basic question. This question is applicable to both sides – the publisher and the advertiser. In the case of the latter, advertising is important to promote a service or a product. While in the case of a publisher the debate can really go on forever.
Some of the genuine (and important) reasons for a publisher’s inclination towards advertising will be:
- Money, for starters. You know the quality-content-comes-at-a-price thing? Content will be the king but even the kings need coins to survive. No doubt why a publisher will give away ad spots on his website. Who hates the inflow of money? Really, who?
- Secondly, advertisements on a webpage help the reader dig deep into the depths of the internet and discover rich content. Henceforth, if you are good at heart and are willing to let your readers leave your website in return for some cents then you surely are helping the reader and the advertiser. Just make sure that you are displaying some really genuine ads otherwise your readers might be a bit pissed off.
- Thirdly, precious advertisers help in building the image of a publisher. This can be an amazing add-on if you get lucky. Imagine IBM advertising on your website. A “sponsored by IBM” logo next to your logo can shake a lot of A-listers off their positions in no time. A quick example:
I am from India and some time back I stumbled upon a website YourStory. Basically, they were talking about all sorts of startups in India. The simple blog template and (I admit) no overly flashy stuff made me think that they weren’t the big guns in this industry. I moved on. It was after few days when I again stumbled upon this website and this is when I tried to dig into YourStory. To my surprise, they were the online partners for CNBC TV-18′s Young Turks initiative. It was shocking. TV 18 happens to be the God of media industry in India. They own a share of everything (TV channels, newspapers, magazines, web portals etc.) which stands on the top of media niche in India. And, they were using YourStory to promote their Young Turks initiative? I instantly subscribed to the feeds of YourStory. Now, I am a regular reader of YourStory.
Anyways, all that I want is you to understand that you should know why you are advertising before you take the next step – your target clients.
Who to Advertise?
Now that you know why advertising is important and why you want to get into the world of online advertisements, it is time that you churn out unwanted clouds so that you can see your target clients very clearly.
To be precise, there are two basic types of targets where you should focus your energy:
- Readers - True! Readers happen to be the most important reason for your website’s success. If any section of your website is a turn off for them then it might spread like a plague between your readers. It’s the same case with adverts that show up on your website. The adverts should be helpful and they must target the readers. Otherwise, they will prove to be a turn off for your readers and your advertisers will not get the response that they had hoped for. A usual voting or feedback post can prove very helpful to gauge such scenarios.
- Advertisers - Now, these guys are your bread and butter so you better take them seriously. Imagine an organization wanting to advertise on your website but finds no “Advertise With Us” page on your website. If they are patient enough then they will dig into your website’s contact page and drop you an email. Otherwise, they might start looking for other easier options. Also, it will be a good idea to give advertisers a single point of contact so that they aren’t caught up in between the communication gap. It will help nobody.
How to Advertise (using obvious ways)?
Hmmph! So, you are ready to roll? I guess now you will be looking for some feasible options to open up ad slots on your website and earn quick bucks. I won’t be focusing on the usual ad spots although I want to go through them real quick:
- Ad spots (square or rectangular) on the side bar are one of the most common ad spots available today on almost every possible blog.
- Below heading (and above post content) ad spot is another place which can garner high amounts of attention.
- In header (next to logo) ad spot is something that has been prevailing since long ago and it does attract a lot of attention due to its prime positions.
Just like these three ad spots there are a few other obvious positions where one can open up advertisements on a blog. But, we are here to discuss something new so let us do the same.
How to advertise (the out-of-the-box ideas)?
Users almost never look at anything that looks like an advertisement – Jakob Neilsen
That one line above teaches a lot. It is a sort-of warning to advertisers and publishers. Overly flashy ad spots might have few competitors nibbling around (and doing good) in few websites.
A friend of mine long back sent me a text message which talked about two contrasting lines that had changed his life:
- …but I love you.
- I love you but …
Don’t get me wrong, please. The conventional methods of online advertising still rock and they still help most of the blogs out there to keep kicking the profit margins, they are here to stay. But …
So, what are some out-of-box ways to advertise products on your website without killing the user experience:
- Conduct Interviews - Sounds simple but they can be very effective. We know (from our very own personal experience) that readers tend to ignore anything that looks like an advert. In such a case why not publish ads? Won’t that push that ad-based content right into the feed of your reader just like any other informative post. Hey, I didn’t mean paid posts. Really. Once an advertiser becomes a regular in your blog you can end up conducting an interview with them so as to understand their business and help them connect with your readers. As a precautionary measure, you can add “nofollow” to the outgoing links so that it does not look like a paid post.
- Let product owners write informative posts - This can be another area where you can expand your advertising horizons. Remember, these must not be paid posts otherwise Google will penalize you badly. Rather, you will have to make sure that these posts are in sync with your niche and they do not look like infomercials. It will be your discretion and later on your audience will decide if your decision was a success or a failure.
- Appreciate your clients in a different way - Some time back Honda mowed the name of their fan on their headquarter’s lawn. A recognition of such kind which attracts attention for your clients will surely strengthen the relationship between you and your client.
Nail it, studs!
You got to touch your reader if you want to attract their attention. We have the attention span of a small rodent. The same applies to our readers.
Remember Google’s ads during the 2010 Super Bowl? Google waited for the 2010 Super Bowl to roll and they simply nailed it with riveting spots like Justin Beiber, Dear Sophie, It Gets Better and Lady Gaga. All the videos have more than a million views and all of them have one thing in common – they touch your soul!
Ready to push ads on your blogs? Ready to make money? Ready to network? Below list of amazing ad-networks should come in handy for you.
P.S. – I am NOT including Google AdSense as it happens to be the default ad-network for all of us.
Salman Siddiqui is an alpha geek, design guru and seasoned WordPress critic. Writing, for him, started out of ego but it has become the most luring and enlightening career option of his life. He is walking that extra mile for his freelancing dream.