Sponsored or direct ads are one of the many forms of advertisements, and they are also one of the best methods of monetizing your blog / website. There are various advantages of direct advertising which will make you want to ditch your ad network and go for sponsorship instead. It might be appealing, but it isn't as simple as 'getting approved' or 'setting up ads'. There's a lot more to it, which we will discuss in this post, along with the advantages, and what it takes to get direct advertisers to your website, and to make more money.What are direct advertisements?
Direct ads are much like other ads. They point to another website, product or service. They can either be set up on the basis of CPC, or CPA according to the advertiser's and publisher's desires. The major difference is, there is no advertising network behind the ad. Where other ads have networks like AdSense or BuySellAds, these ads are independent. You must have seen "Advertise here" boxes on websites. Those are, in fact, call for sponsors. If a sponsor wants to advertise their products through your website, they will contact you personally and set up ads with you. They will then pay on the basis of clicks or impressions or whatever the agreement pertained to.Why direct advertising?
There's a whole post coming up on this topic, so we'll just scratch the surface here. Selling your own ads means you won't have to pay the 'middle ma', i.e. the advertising network, his commission, hence you get to keep all the money for yourself. You will also get more say in how many ads you use, or where you put them, and how. You will not need to follow any restrictions places by an advertising network.
Best of all, you will gain credibility. Having a sponsor is a sign of professionalism. You see, almost any website these days can get approved by advertising networks such as AdSense, even if it's not a quality website. But sponsors only pick sites that are quality. Hence, having a sponsor shows that the site is credible, and has quality content in it.What does it take?
First of all, your website needs to be popular. There's no compromise on this. You need to have a good amount of traffic for your site to be worth anything to the advertiser. Generally when we tell people that they need to have a decent amount of traffic, we mean a minimum threshold of around 1,000 daily unique visitors. The more the merrier. But at least meet this requirement before looking for an advertiser. There are other parameters for a site's popularity and worth, such as Google PR and Alexa rank. Your Alexa should not be something like 600,000. We suggest reducing it to five figures at least before proceeding. As for PR, almost anything above 1 will do.
Secondly, you website needs to have a clearly defined niche. Advertisers are generally looking for a focused and targeted audience. They don't like it when the audience is so varied that you can't tell what exactly are they looking for on your website.
Next, take a look at your site's design. Is it too cluttered and messy? Is the color scheme clashing? Does it look professional? Well, it needs to be for advertisers to become interested. You should have a professional looking design. And a professional look entails a crisp and easy navigation, adequate spacing between elements, consistent color schemes that are not too conflicting with the content, easily decipherable ad blocks and content, and so on. Advertisers look for such things in a website.
Professional look aside, you need to reserve good spots for sponsored ads. Save the most important places like the header for such ads. Design your website accordingly if need be. The advertisers need to know that their ad will be visible in a clear spot on a professional looking website which a lot of people visit daily.
Next, you need to design a professional looking "About Us" page, as well as an "Advertise here page." The about us page should say what you website is about, and who is running it (you). The advertise here page should have details like your Alexa, your PR, your daily traffic, and other such traffic details potential advertisers might be interested in. AdSense of the advertise here page will bring in no advertisers, while the absence of about us page might discourage the advertisers.
How to get advertisers?
Once your website meets the above mentioned 'requirements' you're set and ready to go. Finding your first sponsor is hard, since there is no history of sponsorships you can show to the first advertiser. Hence, it might take some hard work and convincing. But once you get it, believe me, it will be totally worth the effort.
First of all, think of some of the keywords related to your website, and Google them. You will find some sponsored links. These are the advertisers who have spend money on Google AdWords for advertising online. Contact them and let them know about your website. Maybe, they are willing to spend some more money on online advertising.
Check your backlinks and comments
Sometimes, the people or companies who link your articles or comment on your posts and leave emails or links might be interested in advertising on your website. Those who give you a backlink, they might be open to discussion for a backlink in return for some money. Same goes for those who comment with emails or links. Evidently, these people are trying to appeal to the audience that your website has. So it'd be a good idea to contact these people and find out whether they are interested. One of them might, and that's all you need.Look at other sites in your niche
If you are a good blogger, you will know about some of the websites that are in the same niche as yours. Otherwise, you can just Google them. This is one of the best strategies that we have for you. Look at other sites in your niche, and find out what advertisers are advertising there. If they are willing to advertise there, they most probably will be interested in advertising at your site as well, provided that you offer them a good deal.Advertisers from Advertising networks.
Companies that are advertising on popular advertising networks might also be interested in advertising off those networks, and directly onto websites. Click on the ads that appear on your website and approach those advertisers for direct ads. This method provides good chances of you getting a sponsor.
How to contact sponsors?
There are two ways you can get sponsors; either they contact you, or you contact them. As we already discussed, you need to have an "Advertise here" page in place for them to contact you. But for the most part, it's you who has to contact them. To contact them, you need to send a professional letter-type email to them.
This email needs not be too formal. It just should be written properly, with proper grammar and spelling. Also, don't use slang or too informal words. Don't use smileys. To start off, introduce yourself and tell them what the email is about. This should be done in a couple lines at most. This is your intro paragraph.
Create a new paragraph, and in it, explain to them why you decided to contact them, and what they have to gain be accepting your offer. Give details of your traffic, rankings, subscribers, your blog topic, and so on. Include all information you think is necessary.
Next, you need to get to business. Make another paragraph, and talk about advertising options. Tell them what ad spots they will get, and tell them about other advertisers if you have any. Now, also list the price. This is important. Setting the price can make or break an offer. We will talk more about this in the next post. For now, keep in mind to ask for a reasonable price, but don't undersell yourself.
That is all. This should hopefully give out all the information advertisers are looking for. You can send in more details if they ask for any. Remember: Don't make your email too lengthy. Otherwise, they will ignore it. Make it precise and to the point.
Get an Adserver program
Once you have some ads set up, the first thing you need to do is set up an Adserver program. An Adserver program is one that manages your ad rotations, monitors click through rate, and more. One good Adserver software is OpenAds. You can Google for more.
That is it for this post. We will be back tomorrow with another post on Direct Advertising. Until then, take care