Monday, December 30, 2013

Direct Advertising

It is the end of the year. Would you like to buy some unused ad inventory in the Mountain West (Arizona, Colorado, Utah)?

I admit 2013 was worse for my web business than 2012. While visits to my site increased, ad revenue dropped precipitously.

My original idea was to try and fund a collection of community directories with affiliate ads. At the time affiliate marketing worked out as follows: I would get a click on a ad about every 100 page views. About 1 out of a hundred clicks would result in a sale. The average commission was about $10.00. This year it takes 500 page views to get a click and only about 1 in 500 clicks converts to a sale. The average commission has dropped to $5.00.

I believe that these poor stats result from browser helper objects that sense affiliate ads. The BHOs either block the ads or change the ids on the ads. Fraud in the industry has caused merchants to cut their commission rates.

I would like to experiment with direct advertising.

Direct advertising should have a higher conversion rate for advertisers than affiliate marketing.

To price the ads, I thought I would start a slight discount from the rate I get from a major internet company that starts with a "G". I get about $2.00 CPM from this large advertiser. So, I figure $1.50 CPM would be a good starting point.

I don't want to deal with transactions lower than $30; So, I decided to offer advertising at $30.00 for 20,000 ad views.

I currently am using two types of ads: boxes and leader boards.

I use box ads (either 300x250 or 336x280) on the events in the calendar.

The events in the directory are viewed on average of 120 times. If I accept your ad, I would place it on 100 or so relevant events in the directories of your choice.  If you are in Cedar City, I would put the ads on the Cedar City Utah Calendar. If you are in Durango; the ads would go on events in the Durango calendar.

I use 728x90 ads for leader boards in the upper fold of a variety of pages. These pages are much less predictable. Some pages get more than 20,000 page views a year. I will place the ads on pages that should add up to 20,000 ads a year.

I am testing direct advertising right now. If you would like to buy direct advertising, please contact me. If there is interest, I will create a program to automate the purchase of direct ads ... at which point I will raise the rates to industry standard rates which are substantially higher than a $1.50 CPM

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas Was a Total Bust

The Online Christmas Season is coming to an end. Ground shipping can take two weeks, express shipping makes gifts too expensive. It is foolish to buy online after today.

Darn, I didn't have a single sale this year. My idea of building community directories funded by affiliate sales is now a total bust.

My experience in affiliate marketing is that it takes 500 page views to get a click on an affiliate ad. One in 300 clicks results in a sale. The average commission is $5.00. So, it takes 150,000 page views to make $5.00.

The affiliate industry is notoriously crooked. Most affiliate sales are sucked off by parasites or simply not credited by merchants. I did two test purchases this year. Both failed to pay my commission.  If a person with a Browser Helper Object visits my page, clicks on an ad, the Browser Helper Object will change the source of the click to help itself to the commission.

I will take a stab at selling advertising direct to the public. I was getting three dollar for every ten thousand page views from a large advertiser. That fell to a dollar per thousand page views this year.

I want to sell ads in $30 chunks. So, I am thinking of selling blocks of 20,000 ad impressions for $30.00.

My hosting fees average to $100 per month. Selling four blocks of ads a month would pay hosting fees, which is the most a small site can hope to achieve in the current economy.

If you are interested in buying advertising in Utah, Colorado or Arizona, please contact me.

If not, my deals page shows online steals and deals. This is pretty much the last day that you can order online and get economy shipping.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Cyber Week a Lost Cause

Cyber week was a complete bust. I did not get a single sale. Sniff, sniff.

I had wasted a bunch of time uploading coupons to the sites. I loaded about 500 of the silly things. To be truthful, the main reason I did that was because I felt that if I had no sales I would blame the lack of sales on my unwillingness to add coupons.

I actually dislike coupons and most sales gimmicks. Sales gimmicks are designed to coax people into making irrational choices. When people make choices based on coupons rather than on an assessment of the product and their desires, then the person is making a worse choice. The world simply is not as good a place as it could be if people made better choices.

I do like some sales models. For example, the original model was to concentrate on selling overstocked and clearance products. A clearance sale is a sale run for the specific purpose of clearing out unsold merchandise.

The Deal of the Day model is one in which a marketer highlights a product a day. This model allows a store to focus attention on a given product and it provides value to a web site by providing some ever changing content. I like the loss leader concept since it helps people discover new products, but if one gets addicted to steal sites, they will end up with a basement full of garbage and a tapped out credit card.

Deep inside my belief is that people should spend less and spend a lot more time thinking about the full impact of their spending. I am really drawn to the "Local First" model. The business plan was to use the sales from large ecommerce shops to fund the creation of a community portal.

The business model is not working. The sites no longer pay their monthly hosting fee and I am at a loss about what to do.

My current thoughts are to sell direct ads to local merchants. I was thinking of selling ad space in blocks of 20,000 page impressions for $30. If I sold four such blocks a month, I would be able to continue paying my hosting fees.
The problem I have with this idea is that if I am not getting sales through the affiliate channel, I am left wondering if I am selling a product that is valuable to local merchants.

Anyway, if anyone is interested in buying ad blocks on the Community Color sites, feel free to contact me. I am currently running two sizes of ads. I used 728x90 leader board ads on content pages. I use box ads (either 300x250 or 336x280) on the events.

I place the leader boards at the top of relevant pages in the directory and on site reviews. I place the box ads on event pages. The events are viewed an average of 100 times. So, I would put a box ad on about 200 event listings. I am barely making the cost of hosting the site at this ad rate, but in these days of endless recession, what else is one to do?

If you are interested in buying local advertising in the Mountain West. I am selling advertising for cheap.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Cyber Monday

Black Friday was a bust. My take for the day was a whopping 69 cents.

Since the focus of Community Color is small local business, I was psyched for Small Business Saturday. My goal was to engage in a massive link-a-thon during the day, but I lost steam. In the link-a-thon, I just troll local web sites and post interesting links. So many small businesses have failed in these last few years that it's depressing.

But today is Cyber Monday. This year Cyber Monday is not only the start of a new week, it is the start of a new month. So, I am ready to plow ahead.

Cyber Monday is about ecommerce; So, I've infused my web site with Cyber Monday deals. I add the ads to the coupon site A Fountain Of Bargains (Deal of the Day Page). I then press a magic button which copies the ads to relevant areas in the Community Sites. This page breaks out deals by store.

My goal was to use affiliate marketing to fund community web sites. The community web sites provides 20,000 free links to community services, artists, blogs, churches, and small business.

In theory, Cyber Monday is the big day for online sales.

The idea behind Cyber Monday is that workers across America are sitting in their offices shopping online for bargains rather than doing their jobs.

This actually happened in the early days of the Internet when few people had internet access at home. People would see ads for a big sale; but would have to wait until Monday when they had access to the Internet.

Cyber Monday is such a cool name that web sites still try to make a big deal of the event by posting their biggest sales of the year.

This is the best day to do one's Christmas Shopping. Personally, I am hoping to have a good cyber-monday because I need money to pay my hosting fees. That's my problem, not yours.