Private Banner Ads
Alright, let's switch gears now and spend a few minutes talking about private banner ads. As we discussed way back in the chapter intro, private banner ads are ads (typically graphic image ads) that appear on a particular website. Rather than using a major PPC engine like Google or Microsoft (Bing), you contract with an individual website owner to have your ads show up on particular pages of his/her site for a set monthly fee. You'll pay that set monthly fee regardless of how many times the ad gets clicked.
Keep in mind that using the Google AdWords Display Network (which we briefly mentioned in the 'Top PPC Advertising Options' section in Chapter 8) basically allows you to place banner ads on topically related sites all over the web. However, you just don't have the same level of control about which sites you'll be advertising on (although Google does give you the ability to specifically exclude sites you don't want your ads to show up on). Using Google's Display Network automates and facilitates the whole process, playing "matchmaker" for sites (like yours) wanting to buy advertising space and sites wanting to sell advertising space.
The drawback with using the Google Display Network for banner ads is that Google can only match you up with sites that have signed up for Google AdSense and placed AdSense code on their sites. Don't get me wrong, there are a ton of sites that have done that (it's one of the primary ways high-traffic informational sites/blogs make money). So, it's not like the pickings are going to be super slim, but there are likely going to be sites in your niche that you'd like to advertise on that don't have AdSense blocks. For these sites, your only option is to reach out to them and inquire about paying a monthly fee to place an ad on their site.
I've kind of already mentioned this, but another major difference between using the Google Display Network and paying for private banner ads is how your advertising fees are determined. With Google, you pay per click (based on what you set your max bid to be), so your fees may vary widely. With private banner ads, you'll pay a set monthly fee (based on the rate you negotiate with the private website owner).
Steps to Set Up Private Banner Ads
There are 4 simple steps for setting up paid banner ads:
- Find relevant, high-traffic sites you may want to advertise on
- Analyze the options and select the one(s) you want to try
- Design your ad
- Analyze the results and determine if the ad is profitable
Let's spend a few minutes to quickly discuss each step ...
Step 1. Find relevant, high-traffic sites you may want to advertise on: The obvious goal here is to find a) high-traffic, b) topically relevant sites that c) are willing to let you advertise on their site for a reasonable amount.
How do you find such sites? There are a couple of easy methods ... 1) Search Google for your top 2-3 keyword phrases and cruise through the top 20-30 results, looking for non-competing sites that have ads on them. 2) If you've been running Google Display Network PPC ads, log in to your account and view the list of all the sites that have ever displayed your ads. Google seems to think these sites are topically relevant, and the sites have basically pre-qualified themselves for being willing to host banner ads as they're currently using AdSense.
Step 2. Analyze the options and select the one(s) you want to try: Many (or even most) of the sites you visit will likely have a page with information about the cost/exposure you'll get advertising on their site. Just look for an 'Advertise' or 'Advertise with us' link in the footer (or just below the banner ads you see on the site).
If you can't find such a link/page, you'll need to find the site's 'Contact Us' page and reach out to the site owner to inquire about advertising opportunities. Be very clear who you are and what your store sells, and inquire about paid advertising opportunities.
Create a simple spreadsheet to keep track of the key info about each paid banner opportunity. At a minimum, this spreadsheet should include information about the monthly cost, where your ad(s) will go (page and location), the reported amount of monthly impressions (i.e. page views) those pages get, how long of a commitment you have to make, and an indication of how topically relevant you deem the site to be.
Once you've created this spreadsheet, you'll obviously need to make a decision about which site(s) you want to try out first. Then, contact the site owner and sign up.
Step 3. Design your ad: Find out from the website owner what the exact dimensions of your ad should be. Once you know that, you have 2 choices to make: 1) what do you want your ad to look like, and 2) what page on your site do you want the ad to link to? Obviously, these 2 decisions go hand in hand, as the landing page will largely drive what the ad should look like.
Now you need to create the ad. You're going to be paying good money for this ad each month, so to get your money's worth, you definitely want the ad to look professional and eye-catching.
That doesn't mean the ad needs to be elaborate; though, some of the best banner ads are incredibly plain and simple. Your only goals are to grab viewers' attention and persuade them to click the ad. You typically don't need a lot of text to accomplish that. Less is (almost always) more when it comes to banner ads. Use as few of words as possible to get your message across.
Be sure to include a Call To Action (or CTA) in your ad ... something you're inviting the viewer to do. There should be a very clear invitation to click it. Also, make sure to keep in mind who the "average user" is on the website you're advertising on. You want your ad to be appealing to that particular audience, while also conveying what it is you're selling. Also, look at the other banner ads on the page(s) where your ad will be displayed and try to come up with something that will be unique and get noticed.
Obviously, if you don't have graphic design skills, access to a good graphic design program (i.e. Adobe Illustrator), or an account at Canva.com or something of the like, you'll need to hire a graphic designer. I'd recommend posting a job on UpWork, or, if you're on a tight budget, check out providers on Fiverr.
Step 4. Analyze the results and determine whether the ad is profitable: Just as with PPC ads, you'll want to analyze how much traffic and - more importantly - the sales the banner ad is generating for you. If the profit you're making from the sales generated through the banner ad are more than covering the monthly cost of the banner ad, it's obviously worth continuing. If not, it's not! (Really complex, I know.) 🙂
Without a reporting system like Google AdWords or Microsoft Bing has, though, how will you know how many sales the banner ad is generating? Through Google Analytics. I won't get into the details here since we go into it in depth in Chapter 11, but the bottom line is that Google Analytics will show you exactly how many visitors and sales you're getting each month from the website displaying your banner ad.