This post is a summary of the advertising experiment I have been trialling. Although all the tools are there and costs aren’t always super high, it is rare to see a blog promoted with advertising. The main reason of course is because the income from many blogs either is not at a level to support advertising, the income is not certain, or the income is already sufficient that the blogger does not see the need.
I know there are a couple of blogs being promoted with Google Adwords in both search and content. I won’t “out” them because it could drive up their clicks and waste their budgets. From client work I have a decent understanding of how the PPC market works so I wasn’t really interested in using this channel. When I come to rolling out my campaign proper I shall more than likely put a percentage into Googles coffers but not right now.
To get a good return on investment you have to have a goal in mind and send advertising traffic to a place that converts. So for a traditionally monetized blog you might send visitors to a page that is guaranteed to produce adsense or affiliate clicks for example. On my blog the “offer” is my free ebook.
The two advertising schemes I tried were Squidoo and Stumbleupon.
You can see my Squidoffer live if you click the links in my vote-begging post. My early assessment wasn’t too glowing though I was willing to give it a try. There are two main problems with Squidoo for advertising
- There is no reporting, you have to trust your own referrer stats to see if it is working
- Squidoffers don’t send traffic. Squidoo gets traffic but the ads don’t so much. OK, it could be my offer, I am willing to concede that. But with three offers going, all in top-5, my best day sent me 91 clicks in total. To put it into perspective, Stumbleupon sent me 224 visits before I had paid for it.
- To get my offers seen I had to beg for votes. That’s right, even though I had paid my money that does not mean anyone will ever get to see the ads. To be seen you have to be voted up. To be voted up you have to be seen. You do the math. Does anyone else think this is likely to lead to abuse?
Stumbleupon advertising is a strange one. You don’t create an ad, just tell them where you want to send the traffic and what sort of people should see it by category. For example “programming”, “sports”, topics people are interested in so you only get visitors who ought to be interested in what you have to show them. When your URL is approved (takes 24 hours) then you load up with cash from your paypal account and they start sending people to you. You can limit how much can be spent or how many visitors. It costs $0.05 a visitor, so it is favourably comparable to Google.
One of my doubts with Stumbleupon is I am often sent to the same location numerous times. I am not sure how many times the same person will be sent to your paid URL, I do hope they don’t waste budgets with duplicate visitors.
Stumbleupon works very well with free traffic, especially if you work to be a top stumbler. Unlike Digg the traffic tends to be real people with an interest, and these people tend to be more polite than their Digg counterparts too. Paying for stumbleupon traffic is basically a shortcut. The guys at NorthXEast used this method to kick-start their launch of FreelanceSwitch. This along with some killer content helped them rocket the new blog to 2000 subscribers in 12 days! As well as getting visitors you might even get reviews and votes, these have lasting value long after your money has dried up.
Now one thing I am not sure of with Stumbleupon, are you better sending people to a conversion page or your homepage? After all, Stumbleupon is about discovering new sites, right? Perhaps I should try both …
How well does Stumbleupon compare so far? My campaign has only been running over the weekend, and I do tend to get a fair amount of Stumbleupon traffic anyway so it is probably too early to tell but I have a good gut feeling about it. Right now I am leaning towards “worth the money”. Especially for a blog that does not already get Stumbleupon attention, I believe this would be well worth it.
For advertising blogs, Stumbleupon gets my vote. Squidoo needs some wrinkles ironing out before I would recommend it to anyone. Stumbling just works.