Posts Tagged ‘advertising’

Online ad revenues: Is the slump over?

Monday, May 25th, 2009

Q1 2009 was abysmal, as far as online advertising revenues were concerned. Have things changed?

I didn’t wake up one day and decide to be an advertising salesman. I certainly never expected to run ads for a network of sites. No, my expansion into the world of online advertising was by chance. When someone waves a large chunk of money in your face and asks you to take it, you don’t say No. You find out how to earn it.

That was how I started. An advertiser wanted to place ads on the Kobold Quarterly website – more ads than I could handle. I didn’t want to turn down the money, so I had to find sites to put those ads on. That’s how it’s been ever since. My expansions come when I outsell my inventory. Necessity is the mother of expansion, at least in my case.

The first nine months went well. The average effective CPM (eCPM) across all the site in my network was $2.00 – and that includes wasting 30%-50% of our inventory on AdSense. Come the New Year, though, it was a new game. Nobody – at least nobody I was talking to – was buying ads. Our eCPM dropped to $0.50 and I was not happy; neither were the owners of the websites I represent.

Since late April, though, there’s been an explosion in advertising. This month, 87% of the impressions on my sites are sold, and we’re looking at $2.50 average eCPM. No warning came, only requests for advertising space.

So what’s changed? Will the online advertising market continue to weaken, or will marketing budgets recover soon, and with them the size and frequency of online advertising purchases.

I don’t know.

It’s a fun industry, though. If I ever figure out the whys, behind the whats, I’ll let you know. In the meantime:

(1) If you use online advertising services, which do you use?

(2) How’d your average eCPM change recently?

(3) How do you diversify to guard against sudden network failure in a commodity market.

Online Banner Ads and ROI

Friday, February 20th, 2009

It’s important to measure ROI when spending marking dollars. Tactics change (both in price and effectiveness) over time, so I regularly evaluate them to see if I can find the ones that will give my clients the greatest bang for their buck. (more…)

Targeted Ads for eBooks and POD

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

Modern online advertising technology (Google, Facebook, etc) allows an advertiser to target a specific demographic based on any number of criteria. As someone who manages advertising for a number of websites, one of the most important targeting criteria is geography. Service providers and retailers want to communicate with local clientele, not some random Joe.

This is great for websites, but how long will it take for this same ability to translate into other platforms?

Assume for a moment that I publish an eZine. I decide to sell a PDF edition and offer advertising space to companies who want to reach my readers. If I’m a speculative fiction rag, I might sell a full page to TOR, but I’m not going to be able to land one for the local book shop. It’s not economically feasible for the local shop to purchase advertising that will only be relevant for a small subset of those it will appear in front of.

What if I could geo-target advertising, though? What if I could allocate a single page for ads relevant to the subscriber’s mailing address? I could then offer a low-cost advertisement to a number of local stores. Each store would only appear in those issues that were sent to subscribers living in their local market.

The same logic could be used for POD as well, with ads being determined by the demographics of the purchaser.

Geo-tracking would be very cool. Taken a step further, you could have an HBO advertisement that changes based on age or gender—Sally sees one for Desperate Housewives, while Sam sees one for Deadwood.

So tell me, is this technology available today? If so, point me at it.

WANTED: Gaming Sites & Blogs

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Sometimes companies have trouble finding enough customers – bad problem. That’s not me.

I have a ‘good problem’ – I have too many customers and not enough product to sell them.

What am I talking about? Online advertisements. I represent some of the best gaming blogs on the internet. Things are going great. I think I’m keeping them happy – filling up their ad inventory with high-paying creatives.

But I need more.

I need to, at least, double my available impressions. Triple would be nice. And I need to do it now. I keep turning away advertisers and it’s killing me.


If you have a quality blog, and if you would like an ad manager, please get in touch.

What is quality?

* Critical Hits:
* Dungeon Mastering:
* Gnome Stew:
* Johnn Four’s Roleplaying Tips:
* Jonathan Drain’s d20 Source:
* Kobold Quarterly:
* Musings of the Chatty DM:
* Treasure Tables:

Pen & Paper RPGs. CRPGs. XBOX. MMORPGs. If you blog is about these things, in part or in whole, I want to talk to you.

EDIT: Problem officially solved. Thanks for the responses and suggestions, folks.


Online Game Marketing for $25 a Month

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

You’re a game publisher. You want to promote your products, and want part of your strategy to include an element of online advertising. But… you want your ads to be seen by the people who are most likely to respond, and you don’t want to break the bank to reach them.

This is what Ed Healy (that’s me) would do:

(1) On the day you release a new product, purchase a small amount of advertising on Facebook and StumbleUpon. You can get a small, but respectable response from both sources with only $7.50:

Facebook allows you to target your ads to a given country, state, city, and gender. You are also able to target certain keywords—roleplaying games, for instance—so that your ads are only seen by people who are likely to be interested in your products. Even better, you only pay when people click on your advertisement, and you get to decide how much you pay per click.

You can have your ads point to your home page, or online store. Even better? Create a Facebook Group for your business, which your customers can become ‘members’ of. For your main product lines, create a Facebook Page so your customers can become ‘fans’ and help you spread the word. Post announcements and run your RSS feeds through these tools in order to keep your customers engaged with your company. Target these pages with your ads.

StumbleUpon ads are similar to Facebook ads. However, people don’t see your advertisement—they simply show up at your web site. As with Facebook, you pay for each time someone clicks. The added benefit to SU advertising is that the user can ‘thumb up’ your site, increasing the likelihood that others will find it as well. It’s the closest thing to for-pay viral marketing you’re going to find.

It’s important, with StumbleUpon advertising, that your site grabs the viewer’s attention and makes him want to stay. Consider designing a landing page specifically for your SU campaign—maybe offering SU visitors a discount for purchasing your product.

(2) There are a number of great gaming blogs on the internet. I happen to represent (full disclosure, and all) seven of them. Here’s “the list”:

* Dungeon Mastering:
* Gnome Stew:
* Jonathan Drain’s d20 Source:
* Kobold Quarterly:
* Musings of the Chatty DM:
* Roleplaying Tips:
* Treasure Tables:

For $17.50 per month, your advertisement will be seen 500 times on each site. Honestly, there’s no need to go much further than this, unless you have the budget. Use this modest amount of exposure for branding—to keep your company and products in front of your prospective customers and to encourage them to visit your website.

Read a little more about advertising on these gaming blogs here.

So, that’s it. Let me know what you think of this plan. Have you ever used Facebook or StumbleUpon ads? Are you a reader of the sites I listed? Sound off, and game on!

SLCN Introductory Advertising Offer

Monday, September 15th, 2008

NOTE: This is mostly a marketing pitch. 🙂

As some of you know, I’m the Advertising Manager for SLCN.TV. It’s a great company, with some great programming. I’m especially fond of Meet an Author, which is hosted by my good friend Adele Ward.

SLCN.TV is the largest television network in Second Life, with over a third of residents viewing our programming. More than 200,000 viewers tune in the SLCN.TV each week. We’re so confident in the power of SLCN advertising, that we’re offering new advertisers the following introductory offer.

COST: $100 (L$25,000)


(1) One of our network channels (your choice): shopping, music, business, lifestyle, sports, or community.


(2) One of these great shows (your choice):

2nd Question: Second Life’s first quiz show, focused on science.
Giant Snail Racing: Just what it sounds like – giant snails racing for prize money.
Meet an Author: Discussions with authors about their work and the art of writing.
Meta Makeover: Improving your home, business or sim.
Metanomics: The premiere show on business in virtual worlds.
Music Academy: Focus on classical music appreciation, education and performance.
Real Biz in SL: What real world businesses are doing in Second Life.
Sail On: Second Life boat racing.
SLASCAR Racing: NASCAR in Second Life.
SLSBA Slimboarding: Snowboarding in Second Life.
That S’Life: Events and businesses throughout Second Life.
Tonight Live: The premiere culture and entertainment talk show.

This is a limited time offer, as prices well below our normal rates, and available slots on a given show may go quickly, so act today.

CONTACT: Normal Rayna <-- Me, in SL. OK, marketing pitch is done…

Advertising: Effective Brand Communication

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

I will be giving a talk at GenCon Indy this year about advertising: Advertising: Effective Brand Communication. There are so many topics that can be covered in a talk like this, I need your help determining which ones to focus on.

Here are some broad areas…

(1) Print Advertising: Discussing a short list of things people should consider, such as headlines, graphics, typography, etc.

(2) Audio Advertising: Producing quality audio ads and placing them on podcasts, radio.

(3) Online Advertising: Banner advertising and what to look (out) for.

(4) Video Advertising: Tips for a quality video ad.

I’d like the talk to help companies understand that there is a reason behind advertising – generally, you want people to buy something. However, you must always use advertising that supports your brand, or you’re working against yourself.

Anyway, I could use your help in this way…

(1) What do you want to know about advertising?

(2) What do you see are the topics at that junction between advertising and brand management?

(3) What tools can I give someone in 43 minutes that will encourage them to think differently about their own advertising and how it impacts their company?

Advertising: Illustrations

Saturday, December 8th, 2007

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” If that’s true, then your advertisement’s illustration has an enormous amount of influence over the reader. If your illustrations support your product’s brand and encourage readers to buy what you’re selling, then they are doing their job. If, however, your illustrations repel the reader, or give a negative image for your brand, they are actively working against you.

Here are a few ways to make sure your illustrations are working for you, and not against:

(1) A great artist or photographer is only as good as the subject matter. You must have a compelling idea with which to grab the reader’s attention. Before trying to spec out an artist for your advertisement, spend a good amount of time refining the idea behind your advertising message.

(2) Few gaming publishers use photographs in their advertisements. This is unfortunate, since photographs attract more readers than illustrations—three times more.

(3) Keep your illustrations simple. Crowded scenes don’t pull the reader’s attention as well as those containing one central figure.

(4) Four color advertisements cost 50 per cent more, on average, than black-and-white. However, they are 100 per cent more memorable to readers.

(5) Illustrations with “story appeal,” elements that arouse the reader’s curiosity, are more successful at grabbing a reader’s attention. If you don’t have a story to tell, it’s best to focus on your product; make it the subject of your illustration.

Advertising: Headlines

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

Your advertisement’s headline is the most effective tool, the most important element that will determine how effective your campaign is. Never advertise without a headline.

“On the average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy. It follows that unless your headline sells your product, you have wasted 90 per cent of your money.”
– David Ogilvy, On Advertising

Include your product’s name in the headline. If you don’t, 80 per cent of readers (who never get past the headline itself) will never know what product you are advertising.

The best headlines promise the reader something—nostalgia, quicker play, lots of action. What are you promising your customers? Communicate this promise, somehow, in your headline.

If you have news to tell, place it in the headline so that customers will read it, don’t bury in the body of the ad where it will go unnoticed. Headlines with news in them are 20% more likely to garner a response from customers. If you have a new product to release, this is prime news and you should place that information in your headline.

Certain words engender consistent responses from readers. Introducing tells your reader that your product is something new and entices them to read on so they can learn more about it. Now has a sense of immediacy about it, focusing the reader’s attention on your headline and drawing their attention to the message you are trying to convey. They appear regularly in advertising for a reason: they work.

Write plainly. Puns and double meanings may show how agile your intellect is, but they are counter-productive. Your advertisement has to compete with a host of other content for the reader’s attention. Broadcast what you want to say in language that is easy to understand.

The magic number of words in a headline is ten. Anything longer and the readers are unable to digest what you are trying to tell them.

If you want to read more about writing headlines, pick up a copy of Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples.

Advertising: Tracking Effectiveness

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

One of the most important elements of an advertising campaign is the mechanism you establish for measuring its effectiveness—what you do to make sure you known how well the advertisement translates into sales.

Ad campaigns do not operate in a vacuum. Customers will hear about your product from other sources; they will read about it on your website, see it in the catalogues of online retailers, read comments from other customers on gaming forums, and thumb through it at their local gaming store. You need a mechanism for segregating your advertising effectiveness from the influence of these other sources of information.

Customers love promotions and special discounts. Even a marginal reduction in price can be a powerful incentive to induce customers to buy your product. This is also a great way to gauge the effectiveness of your ad campaign.

Establish a unique promotional code customers can use when purchasing your product from an online store. Only place this promotional code in your advertisements, and in no other place, so as not to dilute the value of the feedback you will get from related sales. This is probably the best method when using print advertisements, such as in magazines or direct mailings.

If you don’t have the ability to create promotional codes, create a separate product page in your online store dedicated to the promotion. Place the URL to this special page in your advertisement, but no other place. This way you’ll know that sales generated from that page are the direct result of your advertising campaign.

Special URLs are a must when using online ads. You need to know which purchases are the result of a customer clicking on that banner. If you are placing multiple banners on different websites, or on different sections of a given website, create a different target URL for each placement. This will tell you which placements are performing the best. You can always aggregate the sales from each later on, to give you a picture of the overall effectiveness of the campaign.

Direct mailings or magazine inserts are also useful for measuring an advertisement’s effectiveness. The number of returned cards will give you a direct read on your customer base. These methods also allow you to ask for a small amount of personal information from your customers, so don’t pass up the chance. At the least, you’ll be able to build a database of names and addresses of people interested in your products—prime targets for future offerings.

Another advantage of direct mailings and magazine inserts is that customers could use them as coupons at their local gaming retailer. I am not familiar with any recent attempts, within the gaming industry, to use coupons on the retail level. It is something to consider, however, and I would be very interested in hearing from publishers who have tried this approach.