I’ve written several times about the value of banner and other advertising on third-party websites. In particular, I’m worried about the data being quoted by some sites, which I think is at best mistaken, and at worst downright deceitful. So if you’re already featured on a website, make sure you’re using your own visitor data, and don’t believe anything they tell you about the number of visitors they’re sending.
Does that mean that all third-party websites are poor value? Far from it. The prices on some (especially from major publishers) are outrageous, but there are still bargains to be had.
Think of it like this. You can buy a visitor using Google AdWords for, let’s say, £2. The clickthrough rate on banner advertisements is likely to be at best 0.1%. So you shouldn’t be paying more than £2 per thousand views of your advert, or you may as well use pay-per-click advertising, which gives guaranteed results.
That means if you were to be asked for £500 to advertise on a website, you should expect 250,000 views of your advert in exchange. If the website can’t (or won’t) tell you how many page views you’ll get, maybe it’ll give a figure for its overall traffic. Ask how many advertisers you’re sharing the space with, and work it out. If there were 40 advertisers, you’d need the site to get 10,000,000 page views in the time you’re spending £500. Who knows, it may be possible.
The sites to investigate, however, may be those which don’t have obvious advertising sales operations (which are expensive) and instead rely on the Google AdSense system. You can tell these ads: they’re either the text based ones, or the image-based ones which have a little arrow in the corner. A site running Google AdSense might be receiving as little as 50p per thousand views of an advert, although that can still be profitable for them. If you have such a site in your sector, why not make them an offer to buy up the advertising space? It could be very cost-effective.