Big Honkin’ Ads: Ad Selection Strategies

Big Honkin’ Ads: Ad Selection Strategies

Yesterday I described some of my results so far with my Big Honkin’ Ads strategy. Today I’m going to discuss the nuts and bolts of selecting ads for this campaign since several people have requested this by email.

First of all, I want to say that what I’m going over here may not work for you. Often it’s a matter of finding the right mix for your particular blog theme and niche.

Secondly, be ready to take the time to experiment and to note the results of each change you make so that you know if you’re on the right track or not. Running affiliate offers does require a bit more work and research than simply slapping Adsense on a page or template. However, the rewards are usually considerably greater.

Lastly, I’m assuming that you’ve signed up for affiliate marketing programs like Commission Junction, Share-A-Sale, Clickbank, Azoogle or others. That’s where you’ll be getting your ad inventory from.

Selecting the Right Ad Combination

Picking the Right Combo One common problem that you see on many blogs, particularly in the “blogging about blogging” (aka meta-blogging) or “blogging for money” categories, is that everyone is showing the same ads. You’ll see the same hosting ads, the same “make money” ads and the same “sign up for this affiliate program” ads. If they’re running Adsense, you’re likely to see the same “I got scammed 37 times” or “Project Payday” ads on every blog. How well do you think these ads attract clicks and convert into sales on average since everyone is showing them?

My suggestion is to find something to advertise that few other blogs in your niche are advertising but that complement your niche or have a wide consumer appeal to your blog’s demographics. Think about what your readers might like that they may not be seeing on other blogs or related sites. For example, if your core audience consists of Work At Home Moms consider offers for household timesavers and gadgets or educational toys that nobody else is advertising.

Sometimes this requires some experimentation as I’ve done here. I started off with a rotation of a wide range of product offers to see what visitors clicked on. Some ads attracted attention while others didn’t. I pulled ads that weren’t getting clicks from rotation and this boosted the aggregate click-thru rate. However, I will be adding new ads into the rotation from time to time to insure that the mix doesn’t get stale and to try out new offers.

The basic idea is to think outside the box when it comes to selecting ads and to keep your rotation of ads fresh. Don’t do what everybody else is doing.

What’s The Conversion Rate?

Conversions Mean MoneyAs I had mentioned in a previous article, Your Blog Monetization Options: Part III - Affiliate Offers, there are two basic kinds of affiliate offers, those that are geared toward commissioned sales from ecommerce purchases and those geared toward quick converting landing pages that sell a single product. Here’s what I’ve seen happening with these two kinds of programs on OpTempo and on my niche sites.

Commissioned sales ads depend on a cookie being set that will give you a commission when the visitor turns into a buyer. For example, if someone clicks on a T-shirt ad but doesn’t buy then but comes back three weeks later and buys 4 shirts, you might get the commission. Clicks today often result in commissions being paid on sales in the future with this kind of ad.

Note that I said ’might’. This is because they would have to perform the transaction on the same browser and user that has the cookie set. If they looked around on their work computer and bought on their home computer, you wouldn’t get a commission. There are also other factors that can result in a commission being lost.

Landing page sales are geared toward selling the visitor right then and there on a single product and rarely use a long term tracking cookie. These offers are designed generate a strong sense of urgency and to go for the immediate sale. Think telemarketing vs. buying at a store.

These kind of ads are good at getting quick payouts from ready and willing buyers but their aggressive nature can turn off some visitors. For these ads to be at their most effective you have to ‘plow the field’ ahead of time by putting the visitor in a buying mood either through subtle or direct suggestion.

Click-Thrus Need Conversions

Convert Your Clicks to SalesYour strategy with either type of ad needs to be to get a lot of click-thrus so that you can make up for missed sales or from visitor rejection of the offer. The better the click-thru-rate (CTR) the better your chance for conversions. That’s just common sense, isn’t it?

In addition to tracking click-thrus on an ad-by-ad basis, you should also track conversions by the landing page. This will tell you if the advertiser’s landing page isn’t making the sale for some reason.

For example, I was running an ad in a rotation another site that had a good CTR but no conversions. When I checked into it, I found that the product was probably priced too high and that caused people to reject it. In another case, clicking on the ad led to a default Apache 404 ’File Not Found’ page! 

Always check the advertiser’s landing page or ecommerce site for problems that might cause your clicks not to convert to sales. Remember that with these offers it’s usually OK for you to click on your own ads, unlike Adsense. Just check each broker’s and advertiser’s policies to make sure.

That covers my Big Honkin’ Ads selection strategies. If there was something I left out, that you would like for me to explain better or if you think I’m just plain wrong, please leave a comment.

I’ll be covering placement strategies in an upcoming post.


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Comment by Azoogle
2008-07-30 10:01:06

I’ve never done well with the banner ads that come with campaigns. Text ads seem to do so much better concerning CTR.

Comment by jfc
2008-07-30 10:15:01

Hi Azoogle,

I’ve found it really varies in the months since I originally wrote this article. Banners have to be really good to draw clicks on a site like this. Certain ads tend to do better than others such as the necktie noose and underwear ads. I’m always mixing things up and experimenting here.

And yes, you’ll find text ads around here too if you look for them.

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