Friday, September 28, 2007

Maximize Ad ROI

A non-ad co-worker asked me if I would give some advice for a company that wanted to do more to maximize it's ROI. This was my reply:

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Generically, 1000% better than any other strategy, is for them to sell their own ad space. We are seeing a trend where even medium sized sites have at least one ad sales person. Even if they don’t go that far, having somebody spend a little time on this goes a long way. Since they know their specific users and know what they are generally looking for on different parts of their site, they can link them directly to complementary products. This can bring in 2 to 4 times as much money. Even more if you are willing to work on some joint content that highlights their products.

One-off campaigns, often times called roadblocks, can be very lucrative. One example of this is where you allow every ad placement on your site to be taken over by one company. Sometimes with a special event and content. Or even a few pages/contests etc. One site I work with has tripled their monthly income with just one weekend of this.

Targeting is another key. MSFT gets a 15% bonus for every targeting tag that is applied. I figured that for a few top-of-the line placements people can get $20.00 CPM (1000 views).

Next up is to write the code to be able to swap between a bunch of different advertising networks. Selling ad space is much like the stock exchange. Sometimes they will get $8.00 CPM (for a 1000 views) and sometimes 50 cents. If they can swap networks when the timing is right that can make a big difference. Again, this takes staff. One client has two full time people that do this just for Europe.

And lastly sign up with a single ad network that seems to specialize in their area and implement it and ignore it. Yes it won’t maximize profit, but it also won’t cost you way expensive staff time. For small sites I think this probably has a better ROI.

All of the above are generally combinable.

There are other options, but the above is what I’m seeing being done across the web.

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I'm happy to answer email or comments on this subject.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

OMG!!! Pilot funded in Ozzie's org!!

There are games that geeks play with each other. One type will go “I programmed on punch cards” and may more variations like that. A Second type will be “Only true geeks understand the fragile beauty of Popfly/Lisp/OOP/… A third type will say “I shook Bill Gates' hand”. Another of this type will say “I came within 10 feet of running over Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer.”

That last person would be me. And although it’s a great story over a beer, it is certainly a rather sad high point to my individual contribution to the computer industry. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done great things. For example, Word for Windows 1.0 and actually more significantly 2.0 are giants among all products, but they were team efforts and that is just different.

There is a fourth type of geek that can say something like this:

I got a pilot program funded. With only Mike’s help I figured out something that Microsoft should be doing and how to do it AND then chased down enough of the details, and then sold it to the right people and I freaking got a pilot project funded in Ray Ozzie’s org.

I don’t know anything else yet. I don’t even know that I will be involved in its actual execution other than as an adviser. I’m hoping.

This just happened Friday afternoon. An hour later I had the last “Go For Launch” meeting with all the Digg guys. And then I stumbled home and drooled. Only in the last few hours have I come back to myself enough to wipe off the drool.

I want to be that fifth type of geek. The one that says “When I shipped the version one product from my idea …”