Social Networks and many other free online services are trying to do it, and so can you. Making money off advertisements is the hot revenue model of the day. But is it effective? That remains to be seen. For some it has worked, for some it has failed. Google AdWords does the job, Facebook does not.
But selling advertising to make money is not a new phenomenon restricted to the web, it has been the main source of revenue from many other media outlets such as television. And it seems that almost everywhere we look, our eyes are bombarded by non-stop ads. And we have to get used to it, if we haven’t already, because that trend is only going to rise.
For anyone running, or thinking of starting a business, you can use this strategy to achieve success, but do it creatively. The inspiration for this post was this story on CNN about a teacher selling advertising on his tests to make up for a low school budget. You can view this in a few different ways, but I see it as an innovative way to do business. Even in a school setting, the ads are catered to the students without being distracting or obscene. And it allows the teach to raise a little money to pay for classroom supplies and activities.
The keys to selling advertising, no matter how innovative it is, are three-fold. First, you need to know your audience. Ads that will do best are those that are catered to the people that will be seeing them, and most likely to respond to them. The more defined your audience, the more money you can make from the ads (Google exemplifies this with AdWords).
Second, the reason ads work best online is because there are ways to track their exposure and use. Someone clicks on an ad, the advertiser sees that, and can judge for themselves whether that ad is paying off. Offline, this is harder to read. Specializing these ads with certain promotional codes to use, contests to enter, or url’s to visit can help. Be creative.
And finally, you need to sell. This is the most important element, though it may be the most obvious. Many people decide that they want to sell advertising, but forget that they have to commit the resources to actually contacting potential advertisers and selling them on the idea. This can be a long process and can be expensive at first. The more knowledge you have, and the more information you can give to advertisers, the better off you will be.
So if you are just starting a business, or running a business that has hit some tough times, look to advertising. Who can you advertise to? Where can you advertise the most effectively? If you offer your product or services for free, will the advertising dollars make up for the lost revenue? Think about.
P.S. I didn’t even pay for this post, but I am able to offer it to you for free. Why? Advertising!