The Million Dollar Tattoo

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Archive for anatomy of a startup

Finding Advertisers for your Website

I’m currently in the process of compiling a list of potential advertisers for my website launch. With this project I’ve decided to manage all of the advertising in-house as I want complete control over the look-and-feel of the site. I’m doing this because I’m positioning my site as a premium option and nothing screams budget like irrelevant advertising or low-quality text-link ads. Of course, this means that there is a greater workload but it also means that advertising revenue doesn’t have to be split (it’s a workload / quality / revenue based equation, and there is no definitive answer for in-house vs 3rd party advertising models). Now, I’ve mentioned in the past that advertising is not a safe business model, and it isn’t, but that being said if you don’t maximize your ability to derive revenue from your business then you’re doing yourself an injustice.

While building up a list of potential advertisers I’ve come across a few great ways to find the best candidates:

  • Look at the advertising on your competitors sites. Ignore the generic ads if your competitors are a mid-to-low level offering, but keep an eye out for advertising from highly relevant brands. These are businesses that are looking to build awareness / click-through in your domain.
  • Google / Search engine results. Look at the sponsored links – these are businesses that are targeting keywords relevant to your domain. Some of these will be loosely related or geographically irrelevant, but keep an eye out for local companies or satellite industry advertisements.
  • Industry / Trade publications. Companies that advertise in print may already online or just dipping their toes into the online advertising world. Be the first to offer them a low-risk trial of online advertising with your site.
  • Research websites that have a target market overlap with your demographic. If you provide an online golf-training service for 55y.o.+ male retirees then look at insurance aggregation websites, retiree holiday websites, golf club manufacturers, etc. These sites will contain advertisements from brands that will likely be interested in reaching your audience.

As you build up your list of candidates you should be preparing an ‘advertise with us’ page on your website alongside a rate-card and advertising brochure (this does not have to be physical, .pdf will do). Compile the contact details of the candidates and then call or email with an offer. Marketers will want demographics, Google search ranks and traffic data, so make sure you have these numbers online. If you haven’t launched yet then you will most likely have to offer a discount or low-cost trial (look at offering a minimum of a month for this).

Remember – you have nothing to lose by approaching advertisers. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. If you absolutely can’t handle approaching advertisers yourself, then maybe 3rd-party is the way to go, just remember that you are giving up some control over your websites’ look and feel and will also reduce your potential advertising revenue.