Self-Serve Advertising Services: Guide To The Best Do-It-Yourself Ad Management Platforms
Self-serve do-it-yourself advertising solutions make it possible for any web publisher to allow potential advertising customers to evaluate, buy and publish ads on their web pages without their intervention. It's like placing an ad-vending machine on your web pages, allowing who wants to advertise there to do so with the minimum fuss and the maximum speed.
Photo credit: Clipart
In this MasterNewMedia guide you will find which are the best self-serve advertising platforms out there and how to choose the best one for your needs.
Self-serve advertising platforms allow you to maintain total control over your ad inventory, pricing, and, if you want, on providing your final approval on each and every ad submitted and paid for publication on your site.
In other words:
- Ad inventory: You select specific areas of your website where you want to display advertisements and then select the type of ad that is most appropriate or profitable for that area. Moreover, if you already have your own ads, you can upload and use them to save time.
All standard IAB units are fully supported and some self-service ad platforms also have their proprietary ad formats (e.g. PhoText ads from Ad Engage) that you can use to further increase your ad revenues.
- Ad pricing: Using these do-it-yourself ad platforms you can set your own ad price, offer discounts or even (if permitted) segment ads sold to advertisers in pre-packaged bundles on precise time slots. For example, you could reserve an ad slot to an advertiser for one week for a given price, and then sell another ad slot everyday but only at specific hours for another advertiser.
- Ad control: Before an ad is displayed on your web site, the self-service ad platform needs your explicit approval, so you can always choose ads that are as much contextual with your content as possible.
There are also some self-service ad platforms which allow you to set the system to auto-approve all incoming ad proposals so that if you are confident about the advertisers promoting on your site, you can slash their time-to-publication to a few minutes.
From an operational standpoint, these self-serve advertising platforms generally all work in the same way:
- You sign-up with the self-serve ad platform.
- You select one or more ad spots inside your website layout to display advertisements.
- You set the price of your ad spots.
- You paste a few lines of code to your website. The ad platform then places a button or link on your web site to inform advertisers that you have ad spaces available for sale.
- You get contacted directly by advertisers that want to run ads on your web site, whose proposals you can approve or reject.
- You split the revenues generated by the ad sale between you and the ad platform. The commission you pay for each ad sale is generally around 20%-30%.
Now that you have some information on how self-serve advertising solutions actually work, let me help you identify the major players in the market and their distinctive characteristics by providing you with a full set of individual reviews, two comparative tables and an industry mindmap to get you started right away.
Also, here are the specific selection criteria I have used to compare all of the self-serve advertising platforms included in this guide:
- Ad pricing commission: Fees that the ad platform provider keeps from each ad sale.
- Ad pricing flexibility: Ad price independence - you decide
- Graphic ad builder: Visual editor that allows your advertising customers to build and customize new ads.
- Supported ad units: Ad formats supported.
- Ad scheduling: Adjustable time slots that allow you to set ad display opportunities and offers over specific time slots.
- Ad Tracking: Analytical data to monitor the performance of your ad inventory.
- Ad approval notice: Email notification to approve / reject a new ad.
- Ad marketplace: Inclusion inside ad provider directory or marketplace which provides greater visibility of your ad spaces to potential advertisers.
Find out more inside this guide.
Self-Serve Advertising Platforms - Comparative Tables
Self-Serve Advertising Platforms
BlogAds is a self-serve advertising platform that you can use to monetize your ad inventory. BlogAds retains a commission of 30% of the price advertisers pay to place ads on your site. You can fully determine the price of each ad shown and you also have a wide range of ad formats that you can use, including: standard IAB units, rich-media ads, video ads, live-link ad units (containing RSS feeds or live streams) and also the proprietary Blogad unit format - which combines images or video with text and classified ads. As a publisher you have total control about where and when ads are displayed on your site and you also have the ability to track the performance of your advertising campaigns. Every time an advertiser contacts you to display her ads on your pages, you have the option to approve or reject the offer via email. No graphic ad builder is available, but you are allowed to fully customize Blogads units purchased inside AdBrite marketplace by adding images, text and hyperlinks.
AdBrite is a do-it-yourself ad platform that you can use to generate revenues with online advertising. You pay AdBrite a commission of 25% of the price that advertisers pay to place an ad on your web pages. You can fully determine the price of each displayed ad and you have several ad formats that you can use, including: Text ads, full page ads, inline ads, rich media ads, standard IAB units, and the BritePic unit, which is a proprietary interactive text ad unit. As a publisher, you can select which area of your site to use for advertising and how frequently ads will be displayed. You can also monitor over time the performance of your advertising campaign from the web-based Publisher panel. To approve / reject ads to show on your site, you can reply to advertisers directly via e-mail. No ad marketplace or graphic ad builder are available.
AdReady is a self-serve ad platform that allows you to create, measure and optimize your campaigns while giving you total control over the whole advertising process. You just need to create (or upload your existing ads) using the AdReady graphic ad builder and then specify an area of your website layout that will be used to display advertisements. Ads are served using Yahoo! and Google ad networks. AdReady retains a commission of 20% of the price that advertisers pay to place ads on your site and you can fully determine the price of each ad. The available ad formats that you can use include all standard IAB units (banner, leaderboard, skyscraper, etc.) You can also access analytical data regarding the performance of your advertising campaign and make the necessary adjustments to boost your revenues using the integrated ad tracking facility. No ad marketplace, ad scheduling, nor ad approval notification are available.
TrafficSpaces is an ad management platform that allows you to run and control advertising campaigns on your website in a self-serve fashion. To sell your ads, you can use one of the pre-packaged ad prices offered. There are no ad commissions, but you need to pay TrafficSpaces a $49 fee for each ad package you choose. Regarding ad units, you can create your own ads or upload your existing ones using the following formats: Text ads, rich media ads, video ads or use one of the standard IAC ad units. Once you have a set of ads that you want to display on your site, you can manage where and when these ads will be displayed and also take advantage of an analytics dashboard that will help you measure their individual performance, ROI and conversions. You can also integrate third-party ad networks to decrease defaulting (the possibility of having blank ad spots). Please note that if you use Google AdSense, revenues are split between you and the advertiser 50 / 50 as per AdSense policy. You can approve / reject every ad that is displayed on your site straight from your email inbox. No ad marketplace is available.
AdOnion is a transparent ad marketplace that you can utilize to increase your advertising revenues. AdOnion retains a commission of 35% of the price an advertiser pays to place ads on your site. Inside the AdOnion marketplace, you have full control over ad rates and also over the frequency whereby ads are displayed on your website. There is a broad range of ad formats that you can choose, including: Text ads, standard IAB units, pop-unders and expandable ad banners. Once ads are displayed on your website, you can track the performance of your advertising campaigns using a web-based dashboard. The AdOnion marketplace allows you to choose available campaigns narrowing down your choice by category, type (CPC, CPM, CPV or CPI) and ad format. No ad approval notification is available.
AdRoll is a self-serve ad platform that you can use to further monetize your ad inventory. As a publisher, you can create a media kit that helps AdRoll advertisers find your content and choose you to run campaigns on your web site. You then need to select some areas of your site where ads will be displayed and wait for advertisers to contact you and start a new campaign. For each ad sale, AdRoll keeps 30% of the profits. You can either upload your own ads or create a brand new ad using the graphic ad builder (which supports all standard IAB ad units). Once your ad campaign is up and running, you are able to monitor its performance and optimize advertisements accordingly. AdRoll offers also a service called Retargeting which allows you to keep track of all the people who visit your site and then display ads to them repeatedly as they visit other websites. No ad approval notification, ad scheduling nor ad marketplace are available.
AdvertiseSpace is a do-it-yourself ad platform that you can use to generate extra ad revenues. Through the AdvertiseSpace marketplace you can directly reach advertisers that want to run ad campaigns on your website. You keep between 20% and 30% of the ad sale and a possible additional referral rate of 5%-10%. You can fully determine the price of each ad that goes on your web site. Ads served are displayed using standard IAB unit formats. Anyway, if you are not satisfied with any of the ads proposed, you can create your own ad using the graphic ad builder to match exactly your needs. No ad scheduling, ad approval notifications, nor ad tracking are available.
Shiny Ads is a self-service advertising platform for web publishers. Shiny ads places a "self-service advertising" link or button on your website to allow advertisers start an ad campaign on your site. If an advertiser is interested in a campaign on your pages, the service then shares analytical data about your site and allows the advertiser to create or choose an available ad to place on your pages. Finally, the advertiser sets a price option and you get 90% the revenue while Shiny Ads retains a commission of 10% per ad sale. Regarding ad units, you can use text ads or one of the supported IAB ad units. No ad marketplace, ad scheduling nor ad approval notification are available. Ad tracking is not available either, but Shiny Ads allows you to integrate your Google Analytics ID into advertising pages to track visitors and page views.
AdEngage is a DIY ad management platform. You just need to create an ad banner (or upload your existing ads) using the graphic ad builder and then specify an area of your website layout that is used to display advertisements. You can also control how frequently an ad is displayed on your web pages through the ad scheduling option. AdEngage retains a 25% commission of the ad sale price. Ad units supported are: standard IAB ad formats and the proprietary PhoText ad unit, which mashes images and text and provides a link back to the landing page of the publisher. AdEngage also has an integrated ad marketplace where advertisers can shop for ads and where your web site will be featured along with average clicks and average CPC data. No ad tracking, nor ad approval notification are available.
5:1 is an ad platform that works in a self-serve fashion to help you maximize the value of your ad inventory. 5:1 uses a 50 / 50 revenue model to split earnings between the service and the publisher. Once you enroll to 5:1, you become an eligible publisher that advertisers will consider to display their ads. You then specify which zones of your website you want to use to display ads and approve / reject ads that are proposed to appear on your pages from your web-based publisher dashboard (no ad approval notification is available). When you have collected a set of ads to display on your site, you can use them immediately or arrange ads in a playlist and schedule how frequently every ad will be displayed on-site. All standard IAB units are supported. To track and monitor the performance of your ad campaign, an ad tracking facility is available to all publishers.
Ad.ly is a self-serve advertising platform aimed specifically at Twitter users. Ad.ly helps you monetize your Twitter stream by allowing you to tweet commercial proposals from a selected pool of advertisers. You simply authorize Ad.ly to use your Twitter account and then send out a single ad message per day that you have previously approved and that will be openly disclosed. Ad.ly retains a 12% ad commission while you keep the rest of the money. To monitor your ad campaigns, the service provides you with analytical data to help you discover and optimize the effectiveness and reach of your ad campaign. You cannot establish your own ad price, nor schedule ad frequency. A graphic ad builder, an ad marketplace or email ad notifications are not available either.
Daniele Bazzano -
Originally prepared by Daniele Bazzano for MasterNewMedia, and first published on March 22nd, 2010 as "Self-Serve Advertising Services: Guide To The Best Do-It-Yourself Ad Management Platforms".
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