I recently completed a full review of my own monetization efforts and I made the decision to turn over the vast majority of my ad inventory to BuySellAds, which I originally wrote about here in September of 2010.
What this means is that I have listed most of my inventory for sale in their Marketplace and that if anyone wants to buy an ad directly through me, I simply send them to the BuySellAds profile for my website (for example, here is the one for KarateForums.com). From that page, they can select the inventory they want, make the payment and upload their creative. All I have to do is approve it.
Previously, if someone came directly to me, I tried to handle the transaction myself with the aim of keeping a little extra money. But, when I thought about it, I decided that letting BuySellAds take care of it made a lot of sense.
Am I Really Saving Money?
BuySellAds takes a 25% fee. So, if you sell an ad for $100, you get to keep $75. 25% may or may not seem like a lot to you. But take a look at what BuySellAds takes care of, for that fee:
- Transaction fees on the payment (usually around 3%)
- Being the ad server
- Providing the advertiser with statistics
- Providing the advertiser with a console through which to update their ads, renew their ads, update billing info, etc.
- Some level of customer support
Is that worth the 25%? Or, really, 22%. Assuming you work with a free ad server, you have to configure it, input the ads and, in general, deal with advertisers more directly. For the limited amount of time that I have, I’d rather pay BuySellAds that money and let them handle it and offer advertisers a great experience.
Back in October, BuySellAds introduced Unreserved. This product allows publishers to fill remnant inventory (that which isn’t filled through Marketplace sales). Once approved, you don’t have to do anything. The Unreserved page says that BuySellAds will “work hard to increase your revenue. We leverage our huge scale to your advantage, and we optimize on a small scale to fine tune your earning potential. We know which knobs to turn, and have full-time staff adjusting the minute details to make you the most money. Minimum CPMs, premium advertiser lockouts, we handle it all.” BuySellAds does take a percentage of revenue for this service.
As someone who has worked with many ad networks and done everything from daisy chaining to yield optimization with companies like PubMatic, this is a very attractive prospect because it means that I don’t have to spend time doing it myself. Right now, it is still in somewhat early stages, and a lot of the ads are served through the Google AdX program (which is a notch above Google AdSense, I’ve been told). Having used it for a while, I would say that I am relatively happy with the revenue that it is producing. However, I am optimistic that they’ll continue to expand the program and it’ll become even greater and more useful. I feel like there is a great opportunity for them in this area.
For anyone that is looking for a more customizable ad server, BuySellAds Pro was introduced in December. Their aim was to create an ad server that did everything you wanted, but that also wasn’t inordinately complex in operation. They call it “an ad server that doesn’t need a manual.” I haven’t spent a lot of time using the product, but I like where they’re going with it.
What My Integration Looks Like
For any sites where I sell ads and they are getting a reasonable amount of traffic, I have them listed in the Marketplace. For all but one ad slot (the one on ManagingCommunities.com), I sell ads on a CPM (cost per one thousand impressions) basis, as opposed to a flat rate for a specific period of time. That enables me to use the backfill option, where I can input my own ad code for any impressions where I haven’t sold an ad through Marketplace.
When you use Unreserved, that is your backfill. I have opted into Unreserved for a majority of my placements, but there are a handful where I have decided to continue to manage the inventory myself with a few ad networks and PubMatic.
BuySellAds also allows you to sell sponsored tweets, an option that I offer on one of my sites.
I Like BuySellAds
Part of my decision to move over to BuySellAds so completely is because I trust them and I like them a lot. I like the company, I like their product, I like how they work, I like the people there that I have spoken with and, perhaps most of all, I like Todd Garland, the CEO. I invited him to contribute much of the Display Advertising section of “Monetizing Online Forums,” which turned out great. I think they’re a great company on the right track.
Business is business, but stuff like that is important, too. Especially when you consider that moving my inventory over to them like this isn’t without potential downsides. For example, I’ve had to cut ties with at least one big ad network I’ve worked with for around 8 years, because they weren’t satisfied with the impressions that I was providing. That wasn’t fully due to BuySellAds, but to my overall shift.
Also, I could see how some might see this as a risk in exposing my advertisers to other advertisers through BuySellAds Marketplace. Maybe they’ll go to my listing, click away, find a different site to advertising on and choose to spend money with them and then it’ll be just that publisher and BuySellAds making money – not me. I believe those are reasonable concerns and, just because I like BuySellAds, that doesn’t mean I’m ignorant to them.
But, in the end, I view those downsides as small cons that are very much outweighed by the larger pros. I’ve been really happy with BuySellAds and it has been very convenient to be able to handle most of my inventory through a single dashboard. I highly recommend them and believe it is worthwhile to be a part of their Marketplace and to experiment with the other products that they offer.