Where are your ad dollars going? Really …. do you actually know?

For awhile now I’ve been meaning to write this article but haven’t quite honestly had the time to get around to it.  But recently something re-inspired me to do so.

It is amazing to me, especially in today’s tough economic times that people will spend money on ineffective advertising.

Even more amazing to me is that there are people out there who shell out money month after month and have no clue how effective that ad is for them.  Those people typically give the excuse “well the ad is such a good deal so it’s worth it”.  Really?  How do you know if it’s a good deal if you don’t know what your return is on your investment??!!  Those people who say that make me want to smack them. 😛

Case in point.  There is an affiliate board out there where you can chat about sponsors.  Years ago get after I had made a post on GFY I got an ICQ from some guy inviting me to use their board and he claimed it was the 2nd or 3rd largest adult webmaster board out there.  I went and took a look and noticed someone I knew was a paid advertiser there so I thought I would give it a try.

Right away I noticed there wasn’t much chatter on the boards.  There might be 2 or 3 new posts a day, but most of them were by the board owner like the “joke of the day” or something like that.   There may be a few replies here and there but for the most part the board seemed dead.  I mention this to him, right away starting to question his claim of being this popular adult message board.  He claims that he had thousands of users, they just don’t post for some reason.

The explanation seemed reasonable enough so I stayed around.  I tried to help the guy out and make a few posts myself each day and went out of my way to respond to the threads that others started.   Then one day I noticed that the owner of the board made a reply to a post I had made as another person.  Like he meant to post as himself but forgot he was logged in as another person.  I wondered then just how many make accounts he posted under.

Still I’m a nice enough person so I shut up about things and just went about my business.  One day the guy contacts me.  He said he was having some financial troubles for one reason or another and wanted to know if I could help him get my friend to renew their upcoming ad account a few months early if he offered them a super discount.  I called my friend and helped to arrange the deal only the person who normally makes the payments was out of the office, as she had just had a baby and the guy would have two wait a day or two for the money.

The guy freaked out on me as if I had scammed him.  It was the craziest thing I had ever seen.  Instead of fighting with some insane person I thought it just best to ignore him.  This guy sent me maybe 20 messages most more crazy than the last and I just didn’t respond.   I didn’t speak to him for about two weeks.  So then he had his mother contact me and let me know that if I was looking for him he was in the hospital, he had had a heart attack.  Later on he would do something similar only this time it was diabetes.

I eventually decided to forgive the guy after about 93 apologies from him.  So a few more months go by and he contacts me.  He explains how he desperately needs money to pay his board mods.  Apparently he pays out a few thousand each month to maintain his board, which I never understood why since well, it was a single site with almost no traffic and hew as spending like $7,000 a month on people to help him run the boards.  But anyway, he asked if I knew anyone who wanted an ad.  I made a few phone calls.  I called Tim from Twistys and right away he was interested but when I said the name he was like ummm ya no, we aren’t buying any ads right now. It was a very strange reaction.  But I kept on.  I wanted to be a nice person and help the guy out so I contacted a company I had recently been doing some consulting for.  The owner said he would pay for the ad, it was cheap enough so I contacted the site owner and let him know that this person had agreed.

I had him email an invoice to the person and the ad was to go live the next week.  The same night day the board owner put the ad up, before the people even got the invoice to pay.  When the company got the invoice they didn’t pay right away so the board owner was really really being crazy again, saying some weird things to me so I contacted the company and asked them about paying the invoice.  Again I didn’t profit in any way for this, I was just being nice, going out of my way to try and help some people out.  BIG MISTAKE.

The company who had originally agreed to run the ads decided against running them.  He wouldn’t say was but he was very insistent that he didn’t want to have anything to do with this place.  I was then tasked with telling this crazy man that they decided against it.  He of course freaked out.  Called me every name in the book.  I was a lying cheat, a whore, a slut, a scammer, a bitch and so on and so on.  I tried to explain rationally that I don’t own this company and I can’t force them to run an ad with him.  That the agreement was the ad would start next week and they would pay you prior to the ad going up.  It was him who jumped the gun and put up the ad and I’m sorry but I can’t control what other people do or say.

Now after this ugly mess, why in the world was he pulling out?  This board had ads by several companies so they had to be doing something right.  No?

I did get the owner of that company to finally speak to me.  He said “Look, I did some digging into this company.  It’s a scam.  You say the ad was up for a day or two yet server stats show not one single referral.  Are you telling me that in a 24 to 48 hours that this guy claims our ad was running, not one single person from his supposedly busy message board bothered to click on the ads?” (keep in mind this was a skin for the message boards, a static sticky post on the boards and a banner up top).   He said that he talked to a few friends and they told him some stories about this guy and this company.  He wouldn’t go into a lot of details other than to just prove his point about the zero clicks in the time the ad was up and well to be honest that is really all he needed to say.  That really did prove his point.

I then contacted my original friend I told you about who had run ads there for years.  They went digging through their logs and found that in the last 9 months they had only gotten 1 click on their ad.  1 click?  Seriously?  How do you have a banner up at a site for 9 months and only get 1 person ever to click it.  Surely that just had to be a icky banner.

So then I noticed there was a Vivid Cash banner up there.  I contacted my rep who I had at the time gotten rather friendly with and she was like “Ya that place is a joke.  We had our ad up there for awhile and they never produced any results.  The ads were so cheap we couldn’t help but give them a try but they never produced any results for us.  We never even got one referral from that place.”

So I started to put all the pieces together.  The board was real enough and some of the people were real but very few of them.  The owner of the board had a lot of fake accounts of which he posted on himself to make his board appear more busy than it was but even then the activity was extremely low.  But even then because the ads companies were being offered were so extremely cheap they felt like they were getting a great deal because he would promote the “normal ad rates” at as much as $2,500 a month and then sell them to companies who were his “special friends” sometimes as low as $50 a month and in one case for as low as $500 for an entire year.

It was  a great snow job to say the least but that brings me to the point of my lesson for today and that is that it is our responsibility to know what an ad is REALLY worth.  You can’t keep spending money on advertising because someone tells you it is a good idea.  I could tell you a lot of things but it doesn’t make them true.  I could tell you that if you give me $100 today I will make you $500 tomorrow, but who is to say I am telling you the truth?  Just because I seem to be a nice person doesn’t make it so.

Even if a company isn’t running a con on you, maybe just maybe your type of ad isn’t right for that site or the banners you designed suck wee wee.  Seriously, you should see some of the crappy ads people try and submit to run here.   I just flat out won’t let them, for their own good. LOL

So what you want to know is this …. I spend $X per month on my ad and in return it gets me how many referrals / click throughs a day?  I ran some tests on this site with rotating banners on the post pages.   I ran the tests with three banners, from 3 different websites, they rotated randomly on the posts page – at the very bottom.  Each one got about 2,200 unique impressions per day (on average) – which means each ad was seen by about 2,200 actual people per day.  From that the one got about 12 people who clicked on it (on average), one got 32 clicks per day and one got 41.

Over a 30 day period that works out to be 26,400 people per day seen each of the three ads. The first person got a total of 360 new visitors to their site, while the second got 960 and the third got 1,230.  Next I did a ad with another banner.  In all it got 104,588 impressions and out of that 1,025 people clicked on it.  What does all of this matter to you?  Well how many clicks a person gets on their banners on this site really don’t mean much to you BUT knowing this information about the money you are spending on advertising is important. Without knowing it, how do you know what you are getting for your money?  What you need to care about is the return YOU are getting on ads you are paying for.  What I learned from this is that certain types of banners work better than others.  But well, what you need to know is if YOU spend money, does anyone at all ever see that banner or ever click on it and visit your website?

I don’t care if you only paid $2 for the ad, that’s $2 you should expect to see a return on.

Why not just take a $100 bill, light it and burn it?  Because that’s pretty much what you are doing if you aren’t keeping up with how you are spending money.

Had people really been paying attention they would have known that they were spending money, even if just a little bit, on nothing. They aren’t getting any return on their investment and the argument “well it’s such a cheap ad” doesn’t cut it either because if it’s so cheap, just give me the money and I’ll take it and go to dinner on it. You’ll get just as much return as you would running a banner on a site that nobody really visits.

  • If you spend $20 on an ad and 0 people click it. You just wasted that $20.
  • If you spend $200 on an ad and 0 people click it. You just wasted that $200.
  • If you spend $500 on an ad and 0 people click it. You just wasted that $500.

Do you get my point yet?  If you want to just throw away good money, throw it my way.   Seriously.  Every penny counts.  So before you renew an ad with a company, ANY company as yourself this.  What is that ad really worth to me.  Am I renewing it because the guy seems nice enough or because it’s really worth having the ad up there?

Now just to be clear …. the point of this story isn’t to say don’t run ads with this guy or that guy.  It is simply to get you to start paying attention to where you are spending your money.  If you are going to spend even $1 on something, you need to be a responsible business owner and pay attention to what you are getting for that $1 in return.

With today’s hostile economic climate, you need to know where your money is going and what it is doing for you.

Every penny counts so don’t let yourself fall victim to an ad scam.  Be smarter than that.

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