Having a small or relatively new website is often discouraging. You’re too small to be making any real noise online, and you’re most definitely too small to approach advertising networks and expect to make any real money from your website. In situations like these, and depending on your circumstances, it might be helpful to begin using an ad server.
Benefits of using an ad server:
First and foremost, you are 100% in control of the ads and banners that are displayed on your site. You know exactly what your audience will see when they hit your site up, and you know exactly how many people interact with the ads. Full transparency. You know about each click and impression.
Why would you use one though?
The best way to use an ad server on a small website is to conduct cross-promotional campaigns with your online friends, recommend and advertise local businesses, or both.
First of all, new websites owners often rely on making genuine connections with real people to grow their audience. More often than not, when you start a new website you will try to (and hopefully succeed) in making some friends who share your interests and have their own website. Because many people are shying away from guest-blogging, suggesting a cross-promotional ad campaign could be beneficial for everyone involved. Your audience will see your partners’ websites, while visitors of your partners’ sites and portals will be more likely to visit your website.
Secondly, if your website focuses on a very specific niche, reaching out to brands and companies directly can help you strike deals you wouldn’t be able to get with an ad network. Many companies will be willing to grant you a minimal budget for advertising on your website. Starbucks or TDTD won’t care about your 1000 impressions, but Bob’s Autos and that cold-brew coffee place around the corner might be interested in your audience!
Why not just use my CMS?
In a word? Control. Deciding to use an ad server to display banner ads and native ads gives you 100% control over what your audience sees, and helps you understand what your audience is interested in. You can use targeting to decide whether your audience sees a Bob’s Autos ad or a banner that leads to your partner websites. Moreover, you see which banners get clicks. This allows you to adjust the effectiveness of advertising on your website.
Yeah, but the cost though…
You are likely already paying for your domain name and hosting. Most ad servers charge on a per-impression basis, and using ad serving solutions on your website to advertise local businesses will likely still leave you with a moderate profit.
In addition to the relatively cheap cost of ad serving on a small website, many ad serving solution providers have a “free” tier for websites with smaller audiences. It would be worth your while to research the multitude of options when it comes to reasonably priced and free ad serving solutions. When conducting a comparison of ad servers it’s worth noting that some are completely free for small websites, while others claim to be free, but include hidden costs for banner hosting, serving mobile ads, etc.
AdButler, Epom Ad Server, and Google DoubleClick have a free solution for small businesses, and would be a good place to start.
So Ad Serving, huh?
Oh yeah. Trust me when I say that getting up and running with your own direct advertisers from the very start is a great way to quickly grow your audience and your business.