4 ways to sell advertising on your website

7 minute read
4 ways to sell advertising on your website

Selling advertising space on your website can create an additional revenue stream from your online presence.

U.S. companies are spending about $79.75 billion on programmatic digital display ads, which is about 86.5 percent of the total digital ad spending. And the average person sees about 4,000 to 10,000 ads per day.

Of course, how much money you can make varies widely depending on multiple factors.

But how do you begin selling advertising (otherwise known as “ad zones” or “ad inventory”) on your brand’s website? First, we’ll share six recommendations to boost the quality of your website so that you can sell ads but also so that you can make the most money possible from doing so. Then, we’ll walk through four ways that you can sell advertising on your website.

6 website recommendations for selling advertising

Overall traffic

Clearly, the amount of website traffic you generate directly impacts your ability to sell advertising.

Some ad networks and affiliate programs do have minimum traffic requirements. Others will basically only earn you pennies a day without decent and consistent web traffic. When applying to Google AdSense, for example, the earnings estimate calculator begins at about 50,000 page views per month.

Traffic matters because the higher the traffic, the more potential ad impressions you can deliver to advertisers on your website. Impressions are the number of times each ad is delivered and viewed by a website visitor.

Check out our eight tips for driving more organic traffic to your website.

Audience loyalty

While high website traffic is great, loyal website traffic can be even better. Think engagement, which is a valuable asset for advertisers who could be willing to pay more to get their message in front of a returning group of engaged, loyal website visitors more than once.

Of course, you’ll need to use your website performance data and more to prove this level of engagement to advertisers, including:

  • Any website content comments
  • Email click rates
  • Email response rates

Quality content

Great content isn’t just a recommendation for selling advertising on your website, it’s truly needed for any amount of success in content marketing and larger digital marketing efforts.

In other words, your content matters.

Aim for original content that addresses the needs, wants and challenges of your target audience. Specifically, consider the topics and angles that can help your website stand out from others.

Once you decide on your content niche, see our eight tips for creating an effective content calendar to help you stay organized.

Doing this not only helps make your website more valuable for visitors, but it also can specifically help advertisers understand the type of visitors your website is getting.

For example, a DIY auto-service blog could appeal to various automotive advertisers.

Functional website layout and design

Of course, a well-designed website benefits visitors, but it also benefits advertisers.

Simple navigation helps users explore your content easily. 

For example, you can include “related content” sections to increase clickthrough rates and time-on-site rates. Clearly, the longer a visitor is on your website and the more web pages he or she views will lead to more ad impressions.

For the ad placement itself, aim to be as undisruptive as possible while also maintaining visibility. You want ads on your website to be noticed, but you don’t want them to interfere with the user experience (especially if it causes frustration and causes visitors to leave your website entirely).

Pay attention to your website loading speed as well. Get advice on this and more mobile optimization since a mobile-friendly website will set you up for overall success.

Website transparency

Would you do business with someone without knowing a thing about him or her? Probably not.

Advertisers are the same way. They want to know about who they’re buying ad space from.

Be sure to include a variety of information on your website to be as transparent as possible:

  • Who owns the website
  • Where the website is hosted
  • History of the website
  • Core values of the website
  • Any relevant website traffic metrics that make sense to share (which can be shared in advertiser communications privately as well if needed)

A great way to cover all of this and more in the name of transparency is to create a media kit. In the simplest sense, a media kit is a package of information, assembled by a company, to provide basic information about itself.

Obtain an ad server

Ad servers automatically make and manage decisions about which ads to show on your website, depending on the known details about a website visitor.

This technology also collects data (such as impressions and clicks) that can then be used to report on the ad performance. Plus, they store and manage the actual “ad creatives” files themselves.

Often, you can install an ad server by simply copying and pasting a simple piece of coding into the backend of your website.

4 ways to sell advertising

Programmatic advertising

Programmatic advertising is essentially a technological ecosystem that automatically manages the process of buying and selling ad space. This helps save time by eliminating the need for manual negotiations.

You will want to connect to an SSP (which is also known as a “Supply-Side Platform” or “Sell-Side Platform”), which is your gateway to programmatic advertising.

Connecting to an SSP also enables access to:

  • Real-time bidding
  • Header bidding
  • PMP (also known as “Private Marketplace”), which allows only invited advertisers to bid
  • Programmatic Direct, which bypasses auctions to sell ad space at a fixed price

Learn more about programmatic advertising and how it differs from native advertising.

Ad networks

Ad networks are actually part of the programmatic advertising ecosystem, but you can interact directly with ad networks outside of that.

Simply put, an ad network connects you with advertisers and indexes a wide range of available ad inventory into easily searchable lists.

It can be considered a simplified way of ad purchasing through a conveniently managed platform, which can be appealing for beginners. For example, if you only want to sell ad space exclusively through a particular ad network, all you have to do is use an ad server owned by that ad network.

On the flip side, of course, you are limited to the formats and options within that ad network. Keep in mind that ad networks take a cut of your ad revenue in exchange for their convenience.

Affiliate marketing

For beginners, affiliate marketing is by far the simplest and likely most appealing method of selling advertising on your website. 

Affiliate marketing is specifically the process where an affiliate (you and/or your small business) earns a commission for marketing another’s products.

Can you believe that more than 80 percent of brands have affiliate programs? In other words, there are a lot of opportunities out there, and affiliate marketing is especially low risk. Either you’re successful and generate a commission or you’re not. There is no upfront cost (outside of your time and effort spent marketing the affiliate offer). As long as you find the right fit for your own brand and audience, there is a real potential for achieving additional revenue.

For the most part, all you need is a link from an affiliate program to start, and you typically can start for free.

Of course, this is a performance-based marketing method that can pay you based on:

  • PPS, paying per sale (the most popular)
  • CPA, a cost per action
  • CPC, a cost per click
  • CPM, which means “cost per mile” but refers to a cost per so many impressions delivered

Affiliate programs can pay between 30 percent and 50 percent commission rates on sales, but you’ll want to do your research to find the best fit and compensation for your website.

Selling advertising directly

While selling ad space directly to advertisers can be complicated, it can also be lucrative. By avoiding the middleman, you can avoid fees, negotiate your own prices and create custom contracts with advertisers.

Remember that there is a number of factors you have to manage when selling advertising directly:

  • Finding and researching potential advertisers
  • Contacting potential advertisers
  • Negotiating your contract terms and pricing
  • Setting up the ad campaign based on the agreed contract
  • Uploading and managing ad creatives manually
  • Delivering performance reports to advertisers

You can set up a self-serve ad portal on your website to help with at least some of this workload, but ask yourself whether you have the time and resources to handle direct selling. Some businesses do, but others do not.

In conclusion

As you’re reviewing the advertising options for your website, remember that there’s nothing wrong with starting small (and simple) and building from there.

The effort will be well worthwhile as you grow advertising revenue over time for your business.

As you’re exploring advertising on your website, consider leveling up your digital marketing process with DailyStory, which offers automation, audience segmentation and more for all your marketing needs. Schedule a free demo with us today.

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