Direct ad sales is hard work

In my work as an online advertising consultant, I often help site owners and publishers with their online advertising programs. The objective is usually to optimize or maximize ad revenue, or to reduce the costs involved in operating the advertising. And very often people will want to try out if they can sell advertising directly, instead of just using an ad network or programs like Google AdSense.

As it turns out, trying to sell advertising takes time and energy, and it has a remarkable resemblance to normal work. It requires dedication, perseverance, patience, and a keen sense of business. In some cases, people are a little bit disappointed. They had the impression from stories in the papers that just setting up a web site would be enough to start making serious money without putting in any time or effort.

John Ramey, CEO over at isocket, did a four part series on his blog, that goes into a lot of detail about selling advertising. The first article explains the difference between remnant advertising and direct advertising. Then he goes on to explain why selling direct advertising can generate more ad revenue than just running ad networks and exchanges. There is another article on the blog that gives some pointers to help you decide if direct ad sales is a good idea or not. Once you’ve decided that direct ad selling is something worth trying, the next question is: how? John’s third blog in the series describes what will do to power direct ad selling. Of course, isn’t the only option for doing direct ad sales, and they are still in private beta as I write this, but it is something to keep an eye on.

Update November 13, 2009

OpenX, the makers of world’s most popular free open source ad server OpenX Source, recently did a survey of over 450 publishers, asking them about their approach to direct ad selling and the results. Based on the feedback, they put together a 3 page report that lists the five most important factors that can lead to an increase in the CPMs from direct ad sales. The announcement and a download link for this report can be found on the OpenX Blog.