Let’s talk about an issue near and dear to my heart: pricing.
You may be in a competitive area where the CPMs are dropping and wacko competitors with no skin in the game are accepting whatever deal comes their way. And those wily media buyers who, after all, are just doing their job remind you that your pricing is way out of whack with what they can get just a few URLs down the road.
Whats a seller to do?
Reality dictates that to a certain degree, you need to stay within certain parameters when pricing your sponsorships. All things being equal, you can’t expect to get a $100 CPM when everyone around you is getting $10 to $20, max.
But there are some things you can do to enhance your revenues, even in a competitive market.
Define Your Site in a Unique Manner
The first thing I would look at is strategy. Ask yourself the tough question of how distinct you are from the other guys out there.
If you have a shareware site, for example, is it the same ol’ stuff I can find at a dozen other places? Or have you distinguished it in some way?
Have you carved out a special niche or expertise within particular genres of shareware that nobody else is addressing? Do you provide better information than the other guys do? Do you have more points where people can download? Do you have some way of attracting people to your site on a regular basis? Have you built a list (also sponsorable) that delivers daily updates to your readers?
These are all little things you can do to differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack. Sometimes, the difference is noticeable enough that even the sharpest media buyer is willing to pay a higher price, just so they can showcase their client’s ads on the best site in the category.
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to NARROW the definition of what your category is, and to make your site BEST of category. (That’s our goal here at ClickZ Network, by the way.)
Create More Ad Vehicles on Every Page
The second way to maximize your revenues in a tight market is to find a way to design more advertising and sponsorship space into your pages. While we have decreased banners to one per page, we’ve added several well-positioned text ads that tell the story better than a banner can.
There is a risk, however.
The risk is that when you have more than one ad unit on a page, by definition, the response rate goes down. And you need to be up front about that. Some advertisers can live with it, others cannot.
Focus more on how you can help your advertisers build their brand and their business. You can help them if your audience represents a likely market for their products. You just need to offer them a little something extra.
Add Value in Unique Ways
Which brings me to my last point.
Let me give you a great example. I once bought some advertising from Richard Ord over at NewsLinx. Beyond having a great site filled with constantly updated Internet news links, he’s built a heck of an audience. He’s got a substantial number of visitors coming to his site daily, as well as a huge mailing list of over 100,000 who receive his full list of news links at the end of every day.
I saw some common ground there and asked what we could do to help me build my list of subscribers. He put up a small sign-up window on the sidebar and the top of the home page which helped build subscribers.
But then, he went above and beyond the call of duty. He wrote an email to his base of 100,000+ subscribers praising ClickZ, telling them how he read our articles daily (which is true) and invited them to subscribe to our daily publication. Results: 1,100 new subscribers in a single day, expanding to 1,500 in two weeks. Not bad for a single email.
That single act made it worth doing business with Richard, and it might indicate to you what could be done to provide added value to your advertisers. Maybe you can’t do for your advertisers exactly what Richard did for ClickZ, but there are probably some ways you can add value that you aren’t doing now.
Otherwise, you’re one of the pack. And if you are one of the pack, you might as well drop your drawers right now.
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