Seven Value-Add Ad Placements to Consider

When developing an online media plan, don’t overlook value-added ad placements, such as text-based newsletter ads and advertorials. These placements aren’t always popular ideas, but they represent an opportunity to add performance octane to a proposal full of expensive premium ad placements.

For example, I have run campaigns that included the purchase of a large amount of premium placements with high CPMs (define). If we used average click and conversion rates in the mathematical models, many of the sites wouldn’t have been included in the media plan or would have been canceled after the first optimization round. However, when the average CPC (define) and CPA (define) from the huge amount of value-added text links, buttons, and run-of-site (ROS) impressions were factored into the results of the overall buy, those sites came into line with the campaign’s optimization requirements.

In this case, value-added placements saved the day for the agency, publisher, and client. The agency fulfilled its mission to drive a certain level of performance. The publisher sold its pricey CPM inventory and avoided losing the advertiser by tapping unsold remnant inventory. And the client got the brand impact and visibility of the premium placements with the ROI (define) performance of low-cost placements.

So when negotiating a media buy, check out these seven value-added placements I always advocate:

  • Fixed-placement text links. These are serious little gems. Frequently at the bottom or side bar of every page on the site and in e-mail newsletters, they often include a quick little sentence or offer and deliver tons of impressions and clicks.

  • Text-based newsletter ads. This is another under-appreciated gem. Text-based newsletter insertions often outperform banners, as they are integrated into the newsletter’s content and drive traffic very often for weeks after they are sent. In fact, I’ve seen clicks and actions trickle in for months after a good newsletter text insertion.
  • Buttons. Buttons often have fixed placements and sometimes come with a little text (if they don’t, try to do more than a logo). They can deliver a huge number of impressions and enough clicks to bring down a campaign’s average CPC and CPA.
  • Advertorial. This is a rarely offered tactic that can drive performance if done properly. If an advertorial is promoted the same way articles are featured and promoted on a site (and even get a little home page play or headline listing), this placement will really deliver. Just like in a print magazine, an online advertorial should be labeled as a “special promotion” article.
  • ROS banners. Of course, we gun for those high-profile premium placements or the section-specific placements. However, having more banners running all over the site should help your client reach an audience that’s similar to the one in specific sections that you’re trying to dominate. This approach can drive up your click and action numbers because the volume of inventory that can be thrown at ROS banners is often vast.
  • Run of network (RON)/other properties. If your media rep is out of value adds on the site you’re buying on, ask what other sites he owns. Very often a site you buy on owns other sites that are similar enough that they are a relevant place to run your ads. Many may not be as popular as the site you are targeting and the publisher may want to populate it with high-profile ads.
  • Cobranded contest. While it may cost money to come up with a contest prize, both publisher and advertiser can still benefit. They can share the list of contestants and offer participants the opportunity to opt in to receive newsletters.

When a property underperforms, you should also push for value-added placements. Many properties would rather salvage the buy than lose the contract altogether.

Certainly just about anything could be offered as a value-added placement. However, these examples are a few that I find are easy to get approved by the media property and actually boosted campaign performance.

How do high-performance brands achieve branding goals while increasing ROI? Join us on Wednesday, October 7, 2009, at 1 p.m., for a free Webinar to learn how you can add transparent CPL advertising to complement your existing banner and search campaigns, and round out your media plan.

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