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Being a Profitable Publisher, Step 2

Aaron DelloIacono Thies
Being a Profitable Publisher, Step 2 Aaron DelloIacono Thies

We saw last time that building traffic and audience is an important aspect of building ad revenue. Another is selecting the proper advertising vehicles. Using a full range of them will produce a robust variety of revenue earning tools and can generate revenue from places that may have been previously untapped.


An advertising vehicle is a segment of a site’s advertising inventory that has a unique display location, and which is sold and reported separately from other advertising not belonging to the same revenue vehicle. All of the ad vehicles that are used by a site comprise that site’s total ad inventory. The revenue from all of the ad vehicles comprises the total advertising revenue. Different vehicles can be combined to form one sales package, but they still are separate entities and must be broken out separately for reporting. Different vehicles do not overlap nor compete with each other.


A site needs to analyze the different advertising vehicles available to them, determine which ones would be feasible to implement and sell, and determine which ones would be profitable based on a cost and revenue analysis. An advertising vehicle might look attractive and be sellable but may also be expensive to implement and manage.


The basic ad vehicles available to Web publishers are:



  • Graphic ad banners

  • Text ads

  • Page content hyperlinks

  • Interstitial and prestitial ads

  • Pop-up and pop-under ads

  • Email ads

  • Special types of rich media

Graphic ad banners are the areas of Web pages allocated to showing graphic ad units of various pre-determined sizes. The ad inventory for one vehicle cannot, by definition, overlap that of another vehicle. So a skyscraper (120x600) and a leaderboard (728x90) are just sub-parts of the same vehicle -- the graphic ad banner. They are not two different vehicles. Likewise, rich media ads, like a Flash banner or a banner with HTML elements, are not distinct ad vehicles. They are part of the graphic banner ad vehicle. All of these subsets of the same ad vehicle compete for delivery to the same defined locations.


The text ad vehicle is the area of Web pages which is allocated for formatted advertising text. Text ads do not include text-based, contextual advertising such as Google AdSense, which is delivered in banner format into existing graphical ad banner space. An advertising vehicle does not build value -- it defines the site’s total inventory framework. Note also that search-term targeting is a value added subset of the basic text ad vehicle but it does not comprise its own unique location and is not a new vehicle.


An interstitial is an ad vehicle which is delivered in between page views. A prestitial is served to a viewer prior to initial entry into the site, before the Web site itself is displayed. Prestitials and interstitials are typically full-page ads and are shown within the same browser window that is being used to view the site.


The pop-up and pop-under ad vehicles are similar to an interstitial, except that they may or may not be displayed between pages, and will appear in a new browser window that is opened specifically to display the advertisement. Note that pop-ups, pop-unders, interstitials and prestitials are especially dependent on tight frequency capping so visitors do not leave the site in annoyance -- and so that the ad vehicles maintain their value to advertisers.


Page content hyperlink ads are actual page text which has been selected, highlighted and transformed into hyperlinks to an advertiser’s page. Enabling page content hyperlinks requires an ad serving technology that can dynamically scan a page’s content to pick out keywords and phrases, and then set up the inline page links for advertisers who have purchased those keywords. Essentially, page content hyperlinks are a dynamic form of contextual advertising, but they are a distinct advertising vehicle.


Email ads are text or graphical ads served into an HTML email. Many Web sites have built up large lists of email addresses that have been submitted by site viewers who wish to receive periodic newsletters, site updates, etc. A Web site should leverage this voluntary audience by selling advertising within the scheduled email deliveries. Generating revenue from opt-in email advertising is typically only feasible for sites that have the resources to both generate a large email recipient base and create useful and interesting content to give to the subscriber. These are not easy tasks.


Rich media describes a wide array of technology-driven advertisements. Some rich media types raise the value of an ad vehicle’s inventory and some rich media types actually define a new ad vehicle by creating a distinct form of advertising that exists in its own location. Rich media ad vehicles include ad banners that fill empty browser margins, in-page ads (floaters, takeovers or backgrounds), cursor ads and audio ads.


All ad vehicles have costs, including the cost to implement and deploy the vehicle, the cost to sell the new inventory and potential site clutter -- or negative experience costs imposed on the visitor. The key for publishers is to utilize all of the practical and feasible ad vehicles available to them, always keeping in mind return on investment.


Next week: Step 3: Increase the average value of advertising inventory.

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