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.