Thursday, February 23, 2006

Advertising Insights

Web Comics and Ads

Frequential became interested in the world of web advertising and comics after reading this exchange at The Comics Reporter about ads on the Dilbert webcomic discussed at webpronews.

In an email to Spurgeon, Todd Allen notes:
"Those Google Ads are on the Dilbert blog, not on the main Dilbert site with the strip. They're using standard, image-based banner ads on that site. Contextual Ads like Google Adwords are the de facto standard for blogs, so the fact Scott Adams is using them on a blog is pretty much a sign that the original columnist had run out of material.

Google Ads are served based on the text on a web page and in the text contained in certain tags in the HTML, so unless you have a lot of copy surrounding your online comic, it is questionable how well Google Ads will be able to function, relative to thier business model."

As well, other sites were honestly discussing their own advertising strategies. Jonah Weiland at ComicBookResources talked about the use of google ads at the CBR forums:

"Yes, today I instituted Google's AdSense program on the CBR Forums. I've been experimenting with them on the main site using only unsold inventory I have and have seen some nice results that have generated a little extra revenue.

After reading through Google's various FAQs I came across a suggestion to add Google AdSense ads to communities like the CBR Forums. The truth of the matter with forums is that generally the reader can train his/her eye to avoid any ads on the page. Thus, forums generate little income for the site owners. The click-thru rates for ads that run on the main CBR web site are much better than for the ads that run in forums. That means forums themselves are generally a money looser.

Now, with the ads placed at the bottom of a thread, there's a greater chance people might click on them, which is the key to success for any ad based Web site. (Remember, clicking the ads you see on your favorite Web sites helps keep that site running) Plus, through Google AdSense, we might be able to make the forums generate some revenue, although it's certainly not going to make us millionaires!

Google AdSense also does contextual based advertising, which means it will at least attempt to deliver ads that will be meaningful to the user. It scans the page it's hosted on and tries to feed you ads based on what you're reading. It doesn't always work perfectly, but it's pretty darn good.

It's an experiment that I'll be keeping a close eye on. I don't think it's too intrusive and doesn't harm the browsing experience. If I don't see reasonable results from the number of impressions we feed, then I'll take it off. If it does well, that will mean good things for all of us (i.e. expansion of the forums, the Web sites, resources we offer, etc.)."

Other tech wizards spend their time developing tools to make online comics searchable through Google:

Comics For Google Sidebar

By Nathan Weinberg
Comic Junkie has created the first third-party Google Sidebar plugin I've seen, one that displays the first panel of new comic strips for you to read.
(via Brad Hill )

The main webcomics syndicate, Keenspot, has a very sophisticated advertising strategy (and a small $25K annual budget) and specific ideas about making internet ads work for their cartoonists:

The option to include Keenspot-supplied Google Adsense text advertisements on their site is now available to our creators. We work with creators to implement the text ads using the most effective methods available. Keenspot plans to join the Premium Adsense service, which supplies a variety of Adsense advantages not available to clients receiving less than 20 million pageviews monthly. Keenspot also plans to pay to have the archives of every Keenspot comic transcribed in text form. This will not only allow each comic to be fully searchable, it will also allow Google Adsense to deliver more effective and targeted advertising on every page they appear.

More articles:

*Comixpedia discusses all forms of blog advertising here.

*A primer for using advertising on webcomics sites here.

*The latest news about unauthorized use of brand keywords in Google ads (lawsuit) here.

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