Tips for Selling Ads on Your Website…

Selling ‘Solutions’ Can Bolster Your Advertising

I noticed this in today’s New York Times article on IBM’s naming of Virginia Rometty as their next chief executive: IBM “’is selling business solutions, not just products,’ said Frank Gens, chief analyst for the technology market research firm IDC. ‘Rometty has been at the forefront of that effort.'”

It made me think back to Donna Jefferson’s presentation at SIPA’s annual conference in June: 5 Steps to an Advertising Gold Mine. Jefferson (pictured left), whose very successful Chesapeake Family website is totally ad-driven, listed her second step as What Do Advertisers Demand. Her first answer? “Solutions to their most vexing problem.” After that, she said:
– Define advertiser expectations before planning a campaign;
– Cut through the marketing hype to determine what is most important to the advertiser;
– How is the success of the ad campaign going to be measured by the advertiser?

When it comes to pricing, Jefferson said that it should be determined by your market and lists this quote from Steve Churm of OC Metro: “While I wish more people would download my app, that’s really not what’s important, what matters is how much someone is willing to pay to be the app sponsor.” She recommends selling ads by impression so that “as traffic grows, ads cycle through faster allowing for more ads in a month.” She also advises to be creative and sell everything—directories, white papers, article sponsorships, calendar sponsorship and video sponsors.

Similarly—and in that same session—Lindsay Konzak of Gale Media spoke about how they have been creative in selling components of their website. They have text links under every article, send out a weekly email newsletter and run clearly marked advertorials. There’s a Harvard Business Review management tip of the week. “We sold an exclusive sponsorship to that for a year but kind of undersold it,” Konzak said. “Wouldn’t make that mistake again.” Webcasts are sponsored, and there’s a distribution technology center where companies can place 25 words for free but pay for more.

“We work closely with advertisers,” Konzak said. “We try to price to differentiate and offer incentives—say if they buy for 6 months or on multiple mediums. Pricing is evolution. We give monthly reports to advertisers that are metrics-oriented.”

Konzak listed the challenges for Gale Media in addition to some tips:
set company expectations; maintain the line between editorial and advertising; set advertiser expectations; be ready when ad revenues are not steady; work with a wide variety of advertisers; beware of high-maintenance, low-dollar partnerships; set limits on platforms for maximum ad exposure; don’t give away your premium content; test; a team effort is key; and readers are used to ads online, so don’t fret about them.

One other interesting quote from the article on Rommety’s ascension. “In [her top-marketing job] perch, Ms. Rometty has pushed to expand the company’s fast-growing analytics unit, which blends data-mining software with services expertise. ‘It’s not about capturing markets, it’s about making new markets,’ Ms. Rommety said…”

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