7 Tips on How to Evaluate Online Advertising Opportunities

Recently, a longtime client passed along some printed materials from a couple potential advertising opportunities.  While initially they looked like they might be pretty solid deals, further examination of the specifics of each offer revealed that the likelihood of the client receiving any ROI for the annual fees the publisher was asking for would be pretty remote. Here are a few guidelines to consider when looking at potential advertising opportunities.

There are several different online advertising models, but the two most common ones that business owners are typically pitched with are Cost Per Mille (CPM) and Pay Per Click (PPC).  With CPM ad models, you pay a predetermined monthly amount set by the publisher, which is determined by the amount of impressions (times your ad is shown) you ad is likely to make.  Typically, this is $1-$2 per 1000 pageviews, although this can vary greatly in niche markets.  So for example, a site that boasts 1,000,000 pageviews per month could change $2000 per month to advertise on the page at a rate of $2 CPM.

PPC is different in that the advertiser only pays if the site visitor clicks on the ad.  There is no up front cost to display the ad.

1) Verify the traffic stats that they are boasting.  For example, a site that claims to be receiving 1M pageviews per month should be able to produce statistical data to support this claim from multiple Web analytics programs.  Google Analytics is the most common – Awstats, Quantcast, omniture and compete are some others.

2) Verify the number of impressions your ad will actually be making.  A news site may be getting 1M total pageviews, but that doesn’t mean that your ad will be seen by a million people.  Of those 1M people, maybe only a third or less will see your ad, depending on the page of the site it appears on.  You could end up paying a much higher CPM rate based on inflated or misleading figures.

3) Verify that the publisher’s audience is your target market.  News sites and directories are notorious for getting a large amount of untargeted traffic, due to the fact that they supply a wide variety of content.

4) Verify that they’ve been around for a while.  New publishers and directories sprout up all the time.  Many are unproven, fly-by-night operations and could potentially fold, take your money and run, or produce nothing of value. Use a site like networksolutions.com to check the age of a domain.  You can also usually use this method to see who owns the site.

5) Look at the site and see who else is advertising.  Then reach out to them and see how effective this marketing tactic has been for them.

6) Perform searches on Google to see if there is any negative information about the publisher.  You may also be able to see if the business existed under a different name at some point in the past, which is a huge red flag.

7) If you’ve been able to find the site owner’s name, Google him.  Who knows what you might be able to learn.

You will notice most of these tips revolve around verifying that what the salesman is claiming is true.  But how do you know?  ASK HIM!  A good, honest salesperson with a legitimate offer may not be able to produce the numbers you ask for instantaneously, but he should respect the fact that you a) obviously know what you’re talking about; and b) are not going to buy any BS.  If he can’t produce such detailed traffic data immediately, he should be able to retrieve it and provide you the accurate info you need.  The real ones will be happy to provide you what you’re after, the frauds will stammer, realize you’re a tough mark and get out of there as quickly as possible, never to return.  Either way it’s a win-win!

Have a question about Web Marketing you’d like to see answered?  Drop me a line anytime by leaving a comment below or send me an email – I’d love to hear from you!