How to Find Advertisers for Direct Placement Ads

It’s undeniable that the landscape of digital advertising has transformed in recent years. As with many things digital, the gatekeepers of the online world (Facebook, Google, etc.) are dominating the market and making a solid buck from anyone wanting to advertise on their websites with ad networks.

Whether this is a good or a bad thing is a discussion for another day. But there’s no alternative, right?

There is, but it requires a lot more work.

Direct placement ads remove the need to pay fees of 30+% to a network provider, but they involve you actively selling ad space on your website to advertisers. Simply put, if you put in the work, you can earn more in ad revenue. 

If we keep in mind that advertisers only want to pay for results, working with a website that has a highly aligned audience will represent a greater return on investment compared to generic keyword-based traffic.

So the big question is, how do you find advertisers to work with for direct placement ads? 

That is what we are going to explore in this article.

The Pros and Cons of Using Ad Networks

Ad networks are easy to love and loathe in equal measure. We love them for the peace of mind they grant in having a constant stream of ad content, but we loathe the inflated fees and the notion of being one in a pool of many.

The Good

Services like Google Ad Sense are, above all else, reliable and consistent. They will guarantee a “fill rate” for ad space on your site. This means that while your take-home revenue may be lower (accounting for the fee and quality of advertisers) it will be a dependable source of income.

Ad networks will also significantly increase your potential reach, simply because so many advertisers and publishers are using them.

The Bad

Whichever way you look at it, 30+% is a big percentage of your potential revenue, both for websites with huge traffic and those with very little. It can either strongly impact your bottom line which could be crucial for keeping your website afloat, or feed off your high levels of traffic and take a hefty cut from your profit margin.

Another downside is that ad networks will place you in a pool of publishers of varying quality. The CPC (cost per click) bid you end up receiving may not be representative of your specific traffic volume and audience quality.

Weighing up the benefits and downsides of working with ad networks, the prospect of selling ad space directly to advertisers may seem very appealing. If you are naturally good at sales, it’s certainly an avenue worth exploring, but you will need to keep these next steps in mind.

There’s a fundamental concept you would benefit from knowing when it comes to recruiting advertisers. Businesses and advertisers have reps whose job is to search for websites (potentially just like yours) for them to advertise on. 

How Do You Recruit Advertisers?

So really, it’s not a case of finding brands to advertise with—although that is certainly an option if you have an especially niche community—more of making your website look as appealing as possible to potential direct placement advertisers.

So how do you make your site appealing?

Unfortunately, it requires quite a bit more than just having an attractive and fast website, although that is part of it. 

Create a Dedicated Advertising Page

Consider this the same as hanging an “open for business” sign on your website. It will attract potential reps that are already scanning the web for sites just like yours. The purpose of this page is to let them know you are open to direct advertising on your site.

After all, if your site is already generating sufficient traffic to even consider self-hosted ads, you will already be on a rep’s radar. 

The most important things to include on this page are:

  • Details about how your ad program is structured
  • What types of ad placements are available
  • How advertisers can get started

The aim should be to make it as easy as possible for advertisers to know exactly what you can offer and what they will receive in return. 

Build a Media Kit

A comprehensive media kit is a powerful accompaniment to the advertising page. It serves to both inform potential advertisers of your reach and audience demographics, and it will help them visualize how their advertising will display on your site.

To create a fully comprehensive media kit, you will need to include the following information:

  • A description of the company or individual
  • Contact information
  • Social media and user statistics
  • Traffic volume
  • Case studies
  • Information regarding partnerships and collaborations
  • Testimonials

It could be worth hiring a graphic designer to help you create a media kit that truly showcases your business. If done correctly, it will also help boost your website’s perception with potential advertisers. You want to portray the image of being able to provide quality advertising and access to a high-quality niche audience. 

If you would prefer not to hire a graphic designer, there are a vast number of downloadable media kits available online.

Show Off Your Audience Data

If we are being totally honest, access to your audience is the only reason why an advertiser will choose your business over the competition. This means that you need to demonstrate to your potential direct placement advertisers that you know exactly the people that make up your community. 

Google Analytics is a reputable and reliable place to start collecting and quantifying the data that your site collects on your visitors. If you’re an AdSanity subscriber you can use the Google Analytics Tracking Integration Add-on to make capturing and exporting your data easier.

If you are at all unsure about your community demographics, one slightly more labor-intensive but beneficial solution is to survey your visitors. The chances are that your visitors will prefer the honest approach to your request for information rather than merely relying upon data-collecting consent.

Research Your Pricing

Keep in mind that any rep who comes across your website is going to have a large list of other sites on their radar. While the quality of your community is the main reason they will choose you over the competition, your pricing will also be an influential factor. 

Using Google Ad simulators, you can generate CPC and CPM estimates for similar audiences. This is a great way to ensure you are not undercutting yourself. You can also use a marketplace such as BuySellAds to gauge what your competitors are charging.

Alternatively, you can research competitor websites directly. It can be a great source of inspiration in identifying and creating a comparable pricing model. You may even discover lucrative ad opportunities that your competitors have overlooked.

Modernize Your Digital Presence

We are fervent believers that your content should speak for itself. It is, after all, what your community has been built around. But sometimes, giving your site a fresh new look can go a long way to making your site more favorable to potential advertisers. 

Modern websites need to have simple and logical navigation to allow your visitors to find what they are looking for. That includes making it easy for reps to find your dedicated advertising page.

Is Direct Placement an Alternative to Ad Networks?

In short, no. Much like the old saying of not putting all your eggs in one basket, the idea of choosing one over the other isn’t a sustainable solution for many businesses.

Remember that just because you are working hard to generate direct placement ad partnerships, it doesn’t mean you still can’t utilize ad networks. 

Ad networks provide a huge number of opportunities, so while they may take a cut, it is a more appealing option than having no ad content at all. Either way, it will continue generating revenue for your business, albeit a bit less.

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