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There are a number of ways to buy online advertising including through an agency, placement service, or content provider. The best option can depend on the type of ad and the size of the buy. In many cases, it will be necessary to provide copy information and images ready for use. These should meet any advertising standards, such as fitting within a specific size limit or not containing explicit language.
Advertising agencies can be a good option for larger companies. These organizations can develop and place advertising, including online advertising. Companies getting ready to buy online advertising may consult an agency to get advice on placement and other matters. The agency will take care of the process of contacting prospective placements and making the actual ad buy. One advantage to going through an agency is the possibility of accessing lower rates, as many agencies buy in blocks.
Placement services are another way to buy online advertising. These services allow people to contract with them directly to place their ads on partner sites. People can provide text ads as well as images, and may specify the types of demographics they would like to reach so the service can select the best placements. For example, keyword advertising allows people to sell ads that appear in web searches, emails, and on web sites in association with certain keywords.
Content providers may accept advertising buys directly. Media organizations with an online presence, like newspapers, can work with advertisers through an existing department that handles print and online ads. People can also buy online advertising on smaller websites like blogs by contacting the owner directly to determine if ad placements are available. This type of advertising can include sponsorships of areas of a site or specific content, where the sponsor's name appears prominently for viewers.
Small ad buys can be accomplished through personally contacting prospective placement sites, or entering a limited contract with a placement service. Before a company decide to buy online advertising, it can help to do some research to determine the best target demographic, so money will be spent as efficiently as possible. It is also advisable to check on any advertising standards that might affect international advertising. A firm may be able to legally advertise products on sites hosted in one nation, but not another, and could be subject to fines for violations of advertising standards if it doesn't place ads wisely.
@tigers88 - Good point. I have struggled to find good sites to sell my ads to as well. Another big consideration is the way your ad looks.
The internet is full of ads. They run up and down the sides of almost every site and everyone is competing for your attention. Unlike radio, print or tv ads, the consumer you are trying to attract is being bombarded by multiple ads at once. Often times these ads are flashing, they have animation and sound. You have to find a way for your ad to stand out in the midst of all this clamor.
I have found that it is often better to just buy ads in places where they will
not compete with other ads. If you can buy a banner ad on a site where there are not any other ads it will get a lot more attention. It might cost a little more money but it will make you a lot more money in the long run.
I think the biggest consideration when buying online advertising is finding sites that have a lot of traffic.
I own a few restaurants in St Louis and I have tried to market online several times. The biggest difficult I have had is finding sites that people actually go to. There are a number of locally based sites that focus only on St Louis, but some of these have little to no traffic.
When you are trying to advertise online locally it takes a lot of research into who goes where on the internet and how often. Think about the sites that you visit yourself and that your friends visit. If you end up with an ad on a site that nobody visits its just wasted money.