How to Sell Brand Advertising on a Website
The Online Advertising Selling Process
The goal is to sell brand advertising on your website. How do I do it? This is a good question. When I worked at Microsoft I had a team that assisted in the process, but now I've been trying to figure out the other 2/3. These are loose steps and should be enough to get you going in the right direction.
The Media Kit
You'll want a media kit for your website to send to advertising agencies. In the media kit you'll want to include a few basic things.
- Provide a summary of what your site does
- Provide demographic data about your website. Most big brands will want third party data
- Provide stats of your website that include unique users and pageviews
- Describe in detail the size and shape of the ad units for sale
- Include a rate card for the CPM
- Include details of how many impressions are available and over what time period
Start by Calling Ad Agencies
Most big brands hire ad agencies to purchase media on their behalf. So, in order to get a big brand on your site, you'll have to get in the door with an ad agency.
Get a list of Ad Agencies. I suggest starting in a major city where you can find agencies that buy for big brands. A list of advertising agencies can be found on the American Association of Advertising Agencies. There is another service called Ad Data Express. This database is what many media sales professionals use to find the right buying contact in the ad agency.
Now that you have your list, begin calling. The point of the call is to introduce yourself and to get them to expect your media kit in the mail. Try to get a name and then mail the media kit to that person. A few days after the media kit has been delivered, give a follow up call.
Request For Proposals from Ad Agencies
After the call and the media kit, if there isn't a direct selling opportunity, you want to be on the ad agencies radar to receive RFPs from them. The ad agency will send out the RFP to properties that they think can reach their demographic for specific campaigns. This is where I have a bit of experience. Once you have the RFP follow these guidelines.
- Be responsive, acknowledge the RFP and ask questions if things need to be clarified
- If the RFP doesn't fit your audience, tell them. It builds credibility
- Pay attention to the RFP and dig in to understand exactly what the agency is looking to get back
- Provide a high quality package back that shows understand of the brand. It should look and feel extremely professional
- Set a meeting to go over the proposal
Selling advertising is built on relationships. Most media buyers buy from people they like and can count on to deliver what they say they will. For a first time seller I'd give this advice.
- Over deliver on the impressions at no charge.
- Make sure to complete the order in the timeframe the agency requested
- Do custom work, graphics and code
- Send a small thank you gift
- Ask for feedback from the agency. Find out what they like and didn't
- Make sure the agency is happy. Don't stop working on it until they are satisfied
Other options to earn money from brand advertisers
Starting a sales force is an expensive proposition. So, it's probably worth looking at other alternatives than selling ads directly your self.
- Partner with ad networks that sell remanant inventory. Ad networks like TribalFusion and Ad.com will sell ads across their network of sites. Typically they pay in the 15 cent to $1.50 CPM and fill at varying rates. They perform best in english speaking markets
- Sign a rep firm. Rep firms very in size and scope. IndieClick is one such firm. They represent sites directly for a split of the revenues. Typically they charge in the 50% range for the media they sell. They'll want access to the premium inventory that most sites reserve for selling themselves. However, if you don't have a salesforce, this is a good opportunity. To get a rep firm to sell invetory, it usually takes some significant scale with reach and volume.
- Partner with premium partners. Social Moms has sold many brand campaigns on HubPages. They tend to be small deals, but at CPMs that are much better than most remnant providers. Since the deals come in at varying rates and times, it's good to have a few different partners like this.