Advertising your Startup, Part II

Spice Route

In the last article on advertising, I introduced you to the complexity of Adwords and the promise of Trada. In this article I'll go over a few more services to help get your startup marketed, this time covering display ads.

Facebook Ads

facebook logo

Facebook has recently joined the advertising game with ads that display in the right-hand column. They are basically glorified text ads but with an accompanying image. But they get your attention in a way that text just can't. In fact, Facebook Ads have surpassed Yahoo in the first quarter of 2010 to become the single biggest publisher of display ads on the web.

Not all ads are accepted. The list of common ad types that are rejected are in many ways directly opposite of Google Ads. FB doesn't want you to capitalize every word, use incorrect grammar or punctuation, or misspellings.

You can advertise a Facebook page, a Facebook app, or a web site. The image you use will be scaled to 110×80 pixels, so it's best to have your image be that size so it doesn't get stretched or squashed.

The targeting is where it gets cool. You can target by age, gender, likes and interests (because they know), education, etc. If you want to target people who like hamburgers or unicorns, you can. And it will determine an estimated reach of how many on the network will be targeted. Very nice.

FaceBook ad options

Then set up how much you wish to spend. Here are the defaults. Click for larger. Set a daily budget you can afford for your campaign and choose CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions) or CPC (cost per click). I decided to go CPC for my initial test, then created another ad afterwards on CPM basis.

I placed my order and my ads were pending approval until today (just overnight). An hour or so after going live, here's how my ads were doing:

facebook ads 1

Not too shabby... I made sure to add a little something extra to the URLs to track how many clicks I'm getting in real time (as an audit tool). The ads stats they show are about an hour delay. Two hours later:

facebook ads 2

Easy to set up and nice results. Facebook, with its extensive market targeting, is going to drink Google's milkshake.

AdReady

AdReady logo

AdReady is a self-serve display ad server. Normally you would need to contact someone and get a display ad on a publisher's site. This is one of very few services that allows you to place ads without a lengthy setup process and phone calls.

AdReady doesn't have a sophisticated targeting system. You choose from a category dropdown. You can choose multiple. For some niches this is always a shotgun approach. You get lumped in with a larger category is your impressions get watered down. One way to combat that is with CPC, but terrible for CPM.

For starters, the monthly minimum spend on AdReady is $300. So it's not a cheap bet. They stretch ads across the Google Content Network (where AdSense ads show up), Yahoo Publisher Network, and RightMedia. You can add in YPN and RightMedia, but each has their own minimum, and you can't spread that $300 across multiple.

The ads are flash-based and not good. They were typical of the worst flash ads you've seen. I switched to different categories, looked at most used and newest, all still pretty boring, or just awful. They are all editable for adding you own logo, so you'll need a bit of creativity to get a good outcome.

You can upload your own ads instead, but they must be either flash or gif, and small enough size for the ad networks.

To be honest, I didn't finish all the way to the end on this one. I wasn't interested in committing $300 to a service I was unimpressed with.

AdRoll

AdRoll logo

From the beginning, AdRoll made a good impression on me, and along the way it delivered. You start by targeting. You'll enter a subject (airplanes, toasters, etc) and it will come up with sites that match that subject. If you are in a niche there may be few or none. It only supports sites that have registered as a publisher with one of their partners.

Next, upload your ads (one of size 300×250 and the other at 468×60) or use their simple ad maker. They also offer a service to create professional ads starting at $100.

After the ads are in, you'll target by geography: global, US, or specific geographic locations.

Next you'll decide how much you want to spend per week. AdRoll runs on a CPM basis, so they'll deduct $0.002 to $0.005 per impression, or you can set a maximum CPM.

AdRoll offers two ways to advertise. If your goal is eyeballs, they have an option that will optimize placement to maximize brand exposure. If you just want the traffic to your site, they'll optimize for clicks instead.

I created a campaign on AdRoll with a $10 weekly budget to try it out. I'll tell you how it goes in a later update.

One important way that AdRoll goes beyond is by offering retargeting. Retargeting is a new concept in advertising that attempts to guide people who have visited your site (without buying) back to your site with the hopes you'll get a conversion when they come back. They accomplish this by adding a bit of code to your site in order to set a cookie. For $1 per retarget success, it's not bad at all.

PennyWeb / AdDynamix

This was so bad I didn't even want to link to it. The service and site are straight out of 1997, when it was founded. The service is a self-serve (for budgets less than $500/month), and you pay for CPM on a single ad format. They offer pop-ups and pop-unders, which when I saw it made me feel like I've turned into a dark alley and want to turn around. They have programs as low as $99 for a straight campaign.

What really made me sick was seeing the text on the bottom of their FAQ page. It was a long list of linked keywords, each going to a landing page. And after them links to 5 pages of link exchange ads. Honestly, you need this old fashioned SEO trickery? Is business that bad? But this is what I should expect from pop-under people. It's always shady business.

Photo courtesy michaelhays CC BY 2.0

Next post: why aren't you the leader?

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