Last week at Affiliate Summit I was at a session where a hot topic was brought up. Bloggers with no traffic or traffic only on a couple pages want excessive fees for exposure (when they don’t have it). On the same note, Affiliate Managers don’t want to pay for space unless the blogger can back up their request for a pre-payment (slotting fee) for the space.
When you ask a lot of the bloggers and agencies/in-house affiliate managers to compromise, you end up at a stalemate where nobody wins. So where is the happy medium?
Analytics and tools. No, that does not mean pageviews and impressions, but actual data so the blogger knows what to sell and can prove they did their job. This same data lets the manager know what the site is worth, if they got what they were promised by the Blogger or media kit and if/how they should buy again.
I normally don’t post internal strategies on my blog, but I just won the pinnacle award for Affiliate Manger of the year at Affiliate Summit, so in order to give back to the community, here is one of the tools I use to measure a site, help the blogger find their value and the affiliate managers estimate success.
So there’s no confusion, the links below are my affiliate links and yes I will earn a commission if you shop through them. As you know, this does not affect the price of the tool but does help me pay for this site and for bringing you this sort of content.
How to Know What Your Ad Space is Worth & Back It Up With Data
One of the most common things I hear when doing outreach is I have XX,000 impressions/pageviews, etc… The thing is that most blogs that claim this don’t. Instead they have one or two posts that rank and do well, but the other posts are empty voids with a few that get a couple comments here and there. For the ones that do have traffic or are willing to add advertisers to these spaces, here is how to measure the site and know exactly what to charge for each.
The most important tool for the Blogger is something that tracks click flows, scroll paths and records videos of user interactions. If you click the link above for mouseflow (again my affiliate link if you purchase it. I had trouble with their tracking on other sales so let me know if you do shop.) you’ll be taken to the tool I prefer. Mouseflow is a heatmap on steroids.
You get individual videos for how each visitor uses your page, click maps for combined visits, scroll maps to see how far down you start to get drop off and a ton of other data. So how does this relate to charging for ad space and slotting fees? I have screen shots of this in action below.
Knowing Where and How People Click and Engage
Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way. First you have to install the Mouseflow code into your site.
Bloggers – Install the code into the actual design of your site. If you’re on WordPress go to your site appearance editor and paste it in the footer or scripts box. If you’re using something else, open the style guide, css or HTML and paste it into the footer of the site.
Agencies, in-house affiliate managers and Media Buyers – If you’re interested in a specific page because it has relevant traffic, content or is the only page with real traffic, you can have the blogger install it on a specific page or post by pasting the code in the script box on the post page. Feel free to share this post with the website owner if they need help knowing how to install the code.
Go To Posts > Search for the Post > Scroll down to the bottom of the post page and paste script into the page. (Note, you want to create a new website profile inside Mouseflow so it doesn’t get lost with other sites). Paste it into the scripts box at the bottom of the page/post you would like to track or buy media space on.
Now that the code is installed and you’re starting to record sessions, it’s time to figure out how to know what spaces are more valuable than others, which gain impressions and what gets clicks. Start by breaking your media kit ad spaces into sections.
- Header ads – In the actual header space of your site
- Under the title – Directly below the title of the post
- Sidebar ads – You can break this into upper, mid and lower
- In-text links – These are links that point outbound from your site or internal links
- Author box – If you have an author box, having small banners for products you love or that are relevant for the majority of your content can work well here
- Footer ads – If your scroll map shows people make it to your footer, or it’s visible from the bottom of your posts, this can be a good space. If you don’t see anyone making it down, CPM ads aren’t good to sell since nobody sees them and you’re just taking people’s money.
Now is the fun part. Knowing where people look, scroll over and click is how you know which spaces to sell on a CPM, what to sell on a click through, what spots are good for affiliate ads and what you should avoid selling or just giveaway since it gets no attention.
Basic rule of thumb, if there’s engagement, use ads that need engagement (Affiliate and CPC). If you can presell the product or service try Affiliate over CPC. If there’s no engagement but it gets views, go with CPM.
Here’s a few ways to determine each (then we’ll go into some examples with my site):
Header – Your header ads will get all of the impressions so CPM ads are great. If it gets impressions but no clicks, you may want to avoid placing affiliate ads there since you only get paid for people interacting with them.
In text links – Look to see if people click on the text links within your content. If they click in the middle but not the bottom, use affiliate links in the middle but cpm on the bottom. If they click both, use affiliate on both of them. You could also sell them as adspace (but nofollow since Google penalizes for selling links). If you use affiliate links, make sure to add an afftrack or tracking parameter to each and which placement (middle, lower, etc…) so you know which link click drove the sale. This becomes your more valuable space since you have revenue tied to it.
Footer – If your scroll map shows that nobody makes it to your footer and your heatmap shows that nobody clicks, selling space here is the same as scamming a vendor or CPM network. Impressions fire because the person hit your page, but nobody saw it or clicked on it. Adsense and affiliate will be useless for this space because they both need interaction. However, if you have an advertiser who won’t leave you alone, give them this space and let them know they won’t get anything from it. It’s basically a way to brush them off and get them to leave you alone without having to waste valuable spaces that make money or get traffic.
Determining What to Charge on a CPM Basis for Your Blog Ad Space
Now that you know which spaces to use what kind of ads in (at least in a basic sense), now you need to know how much to charge for each of the spaces that wouldn’t make sense for affiliate links. This is where ad networks like Google AdSense come in.
- Start by logging into AdSense and add a few spaces to your site in heavily clicked and non clicked places
- Next wait a few weeks to gather a lot of data including impressions and clicks
- Now log back in and look at your RPMs (Revenue Per Thousand Impressions)
Now you have an idea of what you can make without affiliate ads in a heavily clicked area as well as what you can make on an impression basis for your content. (There are more advanced ways to do this with other adnetworks, plugins and tools). Now you know how to sell CPM ads, can mark up or keep the price from a CPM based on Google and also compare what you made on a CPM vs. Affiliate ad on the more heavily clicked areas. You can also start to rotate based on when you normally make more as an affiliate vs. a click basis.
This data combined with Mouseflow can also help you to discover places you should have included a CPC ad like AdSense vs. a CPM ad since you know there is activity and you may be able to earn more.
Here are a few examples of Mouseflow on this site. I’ll be updating the site one more time with the stats and data from this post later this week to show you how people engaged with it and used the banners and links for Mouseflow as well.
On this map you’ll see how people are moving around my site and using it. By knowing this and testing different animals, words, etc… I can start to see what causes people to click the images vs. the wording for the names of the blog posts on the left. I can also see how they react to a CTA.
Scroll maps let me know how people read and use my content. I use these maps to let me know how to write which types of posts. For long guides that use headers or bullets, I know how to format them for a better user experience. For generic posts, I know now when to include images to give the visitors eyes a break. If the scroll map dies off a bit but then gives a hot area like in the screen shot below, I know I may want to try and emphasize that this is the important content and bring it higher in the post or make a reference to it.
You also have attention maps and video recordings of visitors. I was going to upload a few of the videos to this post, but I can’t figure out how to get them to load properly and I need to get other work done.
Thank you again for reading this post and if you purchase Mouseflow, make sure to send me an email or use the contact form so I can make sure I get credit. I’ll also post some screen shots of how you all interacted with the adds and page for this post later this week.
As promised here is a screen shot of this post now that a week has passed by. You’ll see what I was saying above. The majority of interactions happen after you’ve begun to pre-sell the products. On this particular page nobody used the right hand side ads, but on other pages on the site, they do get clicks, but they are minimal compared to the links that appear inside the content. The interactions on the right hand side ads also decrease the lower you get down the page, but the interactions for the links in the content increase the lower you get.
This means that if I am using affiliate ads, I want to include them after I’ve presold the products and higher up on my side bar. CPM ads should go towards the top of the post and lower on the side bar. CPC can be good for mid to lower content since I get more engagement, but only if I’m not converting with affiliate or can make more on a CPC basis.