Early Valentine: Make Advertisers Love Your Site

By Jan 14, 2008

Between 2007 and 2008, marketers are going to spend $43 billion on Internet advertising. But unless you have a strategy for making advertisers love your Web site, you won’t see a penny of it.

With the explosion of online advertising options available, a Web site needs to clearly stand out to media planners. Do you want advertisers to choose your site? Then here are 10 steps to take now.

1. Take a critical look at your site.
Evaluate everything from the look and feel to the content quality, user experience and visitor profile. Then ask yourself, “If I were a large prestigious advertiser, why would I want to appear on this site?” If you hesitate in answering even for one moment, focus first on improving your site before you begin thinking about an ad strategy.

2. Know the revenue levers.
The revenue potential of a site comes down to a simple formula of number of visits x page views per visit x revenue per thousand impressions. In each of these three areas, various levers (see below) can improve results. Think about ways to drive new and repeat traffic to the site, increase on-site engagement and content consumption, and maximize revenue potential of every page impression.

3. Know Your Site
The more you know about your customers and audience, the better you’ll be at selling solutions to a media planner. Why are people going to your site versus someone else’s? What are the reasons that keep people coming to the site? How much time do they spend there?

Knowing your site also means knowing who your competitors are. The best way to identify them is to use a syndicated service such as Ad Relevance to see where else your advertisers are spending their media dollars.

Finally, research and compare how different ad units and placements on your site are performing.

4. Understand advertisers’ needs.
Media buyers want to know that your site’s audience is also their target. They also want to know how you differ from the competition. And, you need to understand the different business goals and preferences of brand and direct response advertisers.

5. Make every impression count.
Start by maximizing the revenue potential of highest traffic pages, such as the home page or category level pages. Also consider different ways to include ads in non-traditional elements, such as video players, slideshows, and Flash modules or tools. In an advertising audit of client sites, these features often provide hidden opportunities for incremental advertising impressions.

6. Standardize and simplify sizes.
Just because the Interactive Advertising Board (IAB) lists 18 ad sizes doesn’t mean you should incorporate all of them. Design your site around a small number of standard ad units to minimize complexity for your advertisers.

7. Create customized solutions.
Many planners don’t want a cookie cutter solution. Sites that offer flexibility to accommodate an advertiser’s needs and present unique solutions stand out. Understand a client’s goals and develop creative solutions to speak directly to those goals.

8. Offer targeting options.
Targeting options such as demographics, geography and day-parting (showing ads during a select time of day) are now table stakes. If these options aren’t already in place on your site, definitely consider adding them. Portals like Yahoo and MSN also offer advanced options such as behavioral segments based on content browsing and search behavior.

9. Bigger is (usually) better.
Some planners favor larger sites because they can efficiently achieve reach. For smaller sites, there are a couple ways to stand out. One is by targeting a niche, hard-to-reach audience—typically in a business-to-business context. Another is to offer innovative, custom opportunities not available elsewhere.

10. Service matters.
Great service is defined as responsiveness, accountability and creativity. If your sales team makes the media planner’s job easier, your site will stand out to advertisers.

So what’s the bottom line secret to getting advertisers to love your site? Treat your advertisers like your best customers. Be relevant to their needs. Offer compelling content. In short, don’t assume you have their business. Give them a reason to do business with you, and you’ll earn your share of the $43 billion that’s coming to you.

Dave Friedman, president of the central region for Avenue A | Razorfish, is a monthly contributor to Chief Marketer. He may be reached at Dave.Friedman@avenuea-razorfish.com.