Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions in the internet marketing
industry is that “banner ads are dead.” Yet if you walk around an
affiliate marketing convention and ask people where they get their
traffic, you’ll notice a peculiar pattern: All the small timers
will say things like “PPC,” “PPV” or “SEO.” The biggest players
will invariably answer: Media buys. That’s code for banner ads.
Banner advertising allows you to get your message in front of not
millions of viewers, but hundreds of millions of impressions a
month. It’s one of the most scalable traffic sources on the web. A
well honed banner advertising campaign can bring in more traffic
than your AdWords campaigns, your SEO campaigns and your Facebook
So how do you get started in banner advertising?
Starting Small: Google Contextual Network
One good place to get started is Google’s contextual ad network.
It’s still the largest ad placement network on the planet.
Google’s ad network allows you to place image ads on any website
that’s opted for image ads on the Google AdSense program (that’s
most of them.) You can target sites either by specific site
placements or through keyword placements. Experiment with both.
Design several (5 to 10) ads and split test them for CTR and
conversion rates. The beauty of Google’s ad network is that there’s
no minimum buy. You don’t have to sign a $10,000 insertion order
just to get started. You can place 20 site placements and spend $50
on each and simply scrape any that don’t show potential.
Other Places to Buy Small Scale Banners
Another popular place to get started is Buy Sell Ads and other
similar ad networks. These networks mediate between advertisers
(you) and websites that want to sell ad space. Most of these sites
will have a decent amount of traffic as well.
You can also try approaching websites directly to buy banner ads on
their sites. Just Google keywords in your industry and look for
sites that sell ads on their sites. Contact the site owner and let
them know you’re interested in placing advertising.
Moving Up: Major Sites and Ad Networks
You should only move up to advertising on large sites and ad
networks once you’ve tested one of these smaller networks we talked
about above. You should already have a set of creatives that you
know convert, as well as a well honed sales system. The only
variable you want to test in the big leagues is the traffic source.
You do NOT want to have to test or refine your sales funnel once
you’re buying on a large scale.
You can generally expect to sign a contract for between $5,000 and
$10,000 to get your foot in the door for ad networks like Tribal
Fusion or for large sites like WebMD.com.
Don’t let the price tag scare you though. If you have a 48 hour
shutdown clause and you stipulate in your Insertion Order (IO) that
the traffic is to be spaced out over a month, a $10,000 contract is
really just a $333 a day order. If it’s not profitable, you can
shut it down in two days and be out just a few hundred dollars.
That’s how you get started, from beginning to end. Start with the
“no minimum” networks to test your ads and your sales funnel. Then
graduate to the big leagues with large insertion orders. Test your
traffic sources and scale up once you find something that works.