Monday, June 16, 2008

Using Ad Networks vs. Selling Your Own Ads

Most folks know that if you are able to sell your own ads directly to advertisers, you’re going to be able to make a lot more money than by just running the general Ad Network ads from Burst, Tribal Fusion, Valueclick, etc. That’s absolutely true. But that doesn’t mean its worth doing.

Ok, that may sound crazy, but trust me – I speak from experience. I have sold a lot of online advertising campaigns and have made a fair amount of money in the process. About 50% of the time, its painless and worth the effort. The other 50% however, is awful, absolutely awful. Dealing directly with the advertiser means you’re directly responsible for:

- showing up-to-date statistics on their campaign impressions
- showing relevant click-through rate percentages
- tweaking the ads, uploading new versions at client’s request
- manually inserting ads either directly into your site or into a separate ad-delivery system like OpenX (aka phpAdsNew)
- starting/stopping the campaign on time
- ensuring that the customer receives the number of impressions promised
- coming up with excuses for poor click-through rates
- chasing down the customer for payments, bounced checks, failed wire transfers, etc.
- dealing with a client directly, in general – it sucks!

So, once again, we get into the question of Active Income vs. Passive Income. Online advertising can indeed by Passive Income, but when you have to deal with all of the above on a regular basis, it is no longer Passive Income. Its work, and its taking hours out of your day.

Yes, privately-sold advertising can be lucrative, but it can also be a dreaded time-sink. This is why I generally don’t do it, and when I do offer private ads, I do so at a rate at least five times what I would otherwise get using just the run-of-the-mill ad networks. If I can make that much more money, then it becomes worth the added trouble. Otherwise, its not Passive Income, and I’m not interested.

So, as you may have guessed, the vast, vast majority of my ad inventory goes to the Ad Networks. These include BurstMedia, TribalFusion, Valueclick Media, Casale Media, ADSDAQ, Google Adsense and others. I’ll go over each of these ad networks individually in future posts, but on the whole, I like them all – but for different reasons. When it comes down to it though, once you’ve got yourself a relationship with a bunch of reliable ad networks, you’re ready to make true-blue Passive Income. With an ad network you:

- don’t need to deal directly with advertisers
- get paid automatically, on the same day every month usually, and often via direct deposit
- don’t need to worry about stats or delivery

Yes, the CPMs are way lower, and sometimes the fill-rates are terrible and parts of your inventory go unsold, and they all take a cut of your earnings… but trust me, these ad networks are a Passive Income goldmine. They do all the hard work for you, and you collect a check at the end of every month.

What’s better than that?

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