This guest post is by John Kelly of www.company.com.au.
When bloggers think about monetising their content, most will turn to Google AdSense for advertising revenue, and some may think about releasing an ebook or enrolling in an affiliate program.
While these channels work for a few blogs, most will realise that the returns are frustratingly small for the amount of effort they have invested in their content.
The real advertising money is spent by media agencies. According to the IAB, in Australia alone, over three billion dollars was spent last year on online advertising, with the vast majority traded through a handful of media agency groups.
This is a source of revenue most bloggers neglect. But, with a bit of research and persistence, you can start to capture a small part of this expenditure.
What does a media agency do?
The role of the media agency is to buy media space on behalf of advertisers. They research the brand’s target audience and match this up with advertising placements. At the same time, they will be trying to negotiate the best rates and positions for their clients.
Once the campaign is live, the agency will track results, and optimize creative and placements in order to achieve the campaign objectives.
4 simple steps to sell ad space to media agencies
How can the humble blogger sell his or her ad space to media agencies? Follow these four steps.
1. Do your homework
Life in an agency tends to pass at a frantic pace. Many agencies are understaffed and often, the detailed planning and buying work falls on a junior. Getting through to the right person can be a challenge.
Firstly, you need to decide which brand you are targeting. Determine which brands have products that they would like to sell to your audience. Concentrate on brands that are actively advertising and have money to spend.
To work out which agency handles your target advertisers account, do some research online. A search of the local ad industry trade sites will normally tell you which agency handles the account, and buying team members are often quoted in press releases. In Australia search the ad industry sites: www.mumbrella.com.au and www.adnews.com.au.
Call the agency reception and ask who manages the buying for the account. While media planners are bombarded with cold calls and emails, if you have done your research and put together a compelling proposition, most planners will be willing to speak to you. Don’t be discouraged if this takes a lot of calls. It’s not personal—that’s just the nature of the business.
2. Know the planning cycle
Each brand will have its own marketing calendar of activity, with the budgets normally planned two to three months before the live date. Seasonality is a good indication of planning times; many B2B advertisers will run tax time promotions, while consumer goods businesses typically spend heavily before major holidays and avoid the summer months.
You are far more likely to get on the schedule if you pitch your ideas during the times when the media is being planned.
If you are interested in the details of the planning and buying cycle, Ad School has excellent, detailed content available for free on their website.
3. Play to your strengths
Most blogs can’t compete on reach, and shouldn’t be competing on price with mainstream publishers. Your strength lies in the engaged and passionate nature of your audience. Emphasise that you are offering depth over breadth—and a depth that can’t be found elsewhere.
Put this together in a short proposal, clearly highlighting your audience, readership numbers and a breakdown of costs. Keep it simple and compelling.
Also, be reassuringly expensive.
One of the biggest mistakes bloggers make is pricing their content and audience too low. Media agencies typically deal with three kinds of digital buying models for advertising:
- Performance-based: This is where they pay for each action taken, such as a click or a sale.
- CPM: Cost per thousand impressions served.
- Sponsorships: A fixed price is charged for integrating a brand into a website.
Unless you have a blog with very high traffic numbers, the first two buying models should be avoided. At a $15 CPM, 100,000 impressions would only generate $1,500. While that’s nice to have, it’s not enough if you’re to become a pro blogger. And the returns on performance-based agreements are typically a fraction of a CPM buy.
Brands will buy on a sponsorships basis when it allows them to use engaging ad units and to integrate their message into your content. With major advertisers dealing with budgets in the millions, media planners often think any buy below $10k is not worth the effort.
You may be asked make some changes to your blog template to accommodate the creative. Your answer should always be “yes.” If you are not technically minded, you can hire a freelancer to do this for a nominal fee on one of the many outsourcing sites (such as www.freelancer.com).
Then, expect to be asked to aggressively discount your pricing. Media agencies are evaluated by their clients on the savings they achieved. Your initial price should be higher than the price you’re comfortable selling at.
4. Remember the three Ps
- Be professional. As a blogger, you own valuable content and access to an engaged audience that many brands will want to tap into. Treat your site as a product and market it professionally. Any hint that you run your site as a hobby will lead to failure.
- Be prepared: You need to be prepared to demonstrate why dealing with a relatively small site is worth the effort when media planners are used to six-figure buys with the likes of Google and Yahoo. Know your key selling points at all times.
- Be persistent: Many bloggers quickly become frustrated with dealing with media agencies. Phone calls go unanswered, emails are unreturned and initial interest often goes cold. These are issues major publishers also face. Resolve yourself to spending one hour a day researching agencies and contacting buyers. The hard work will pay off over time and can lead to significant revenues.
Check out how professional blog sites market themselves. Kidspot is a great example of a once-small site that’s gone on to be acquired by News Corp.
The blog Mendel.me also has some more tips on how to write a sales proposal for bloggers.
Have you sold ad space on your blog to a media agency? Tell us how you handled it in the comments.
John Kelly is the editor of www.company.com.au a blog that provides small business news, advice and resources.