Regular readers would be aware that the ad space here at the Blog Herald has been changing sometimes daily as I’ve been tweaking ad placements and experimenting with different ad providers to see what works and what doesn’t. I’m looking at putting together a bigger guide to some of the site I’ve tried, with their fors and againsts, but there is one service that I’ve become happy with in terms of reliability, and that’s the FastClick Ad Network
A different way of earning money
Fastclick was a bit of a mystery to me at first because I’ve never worked with a provider that offers CPM rates before. For those not aware of the term, CPM means cost per thousand impressions. If you’re an Adsense user you would have seen a similar term: eCPM, which means effective CPM, basically a way of presenting what you have earnt from Adsense if it was being paid per 1000 impressions.
The Fastclick model complicates things again because they don’t strictly do CPM either, they offer an automated mix of CPM and CPC (paid click like Adsense). They promise that they will automatically deliver a mix to your site that will provide you with strong average returns.
I was particularly impressed with the different sorts of ad spots available from Fastclick. There is a variety of banner and box style graphical ads, as well as text links and text box ads (like Adsense) as well as exotic sounding spots such as Invue’s and Interstitials, and pop-unders (but I’d never use these myself).
This is where some people aren’t going to be interested in Fastclick, because the advertising isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Lots of smily face/ cursor type sites, or well atleast that’s what I see when I look at the ad, but the list is actually very extensive (depending on the shape/ size of the ad) and there are a lot of familiar companies on the list, MSN, Ask Jeeves, SBC Yahoo!, the New York Times….to name but a few. As a company though they don’t force ads on you that you don’t want to display, so you are able to take certain advertisers off your list. The company also flags ads that may have content you don’t want, such as adult, gambling, interactive content, over-bearing content (such as animations, etc…). That catch is that all the ads are turned on for a new campaign and you’ve got to go through them and disable any ads you don’t want, although they encourage you to not do so. I personally suspended any overbearing ads without knocking too many out.
I’m not sure whether I can give specifics on the program so I won’t (the TOS is a bit vauge on this) but I can talk in general terms. For the time being the ad spot on the top right hand side is staying. I’ve compared the performance of the spot with the stats I was getting out of Google when an Adsense spot was there and although Adsense occasionally had some high days it was never as consistant over time. The one thing I really like about the Fastclick model is that its consistant, its bringing in regular returns, sure its not the most amazing eCPM in the world but its regular, where as Adsesne was all over the place. I’ve already had a few people tell me I could be doing better, but I’m happy with the returns. Sometimes its better to have an ad spot that brings a longer term flow of steady income as opposed to spots that sometimes feel like you’re playing the pokies (slot machine).
The traffic equation
Because Fastclick works primarily on a CPM basis it won’t work for low traffic sites, but if you’re delivering a couple of thousand impressions a day its worth a look. I got Slashdotted again recently and the pickup in traffic equated to real dollars. Its also given me a new incentive to drive extra traffic, because where as other programs such as Adsense don’t always deliver higher returns on more traffic (although they can), Fastclick gaureentees an increased return.
Competing with Adsense
Last but not least is the standard Adsense disclaimer: under Googles TOS you cant be running contextual ads or ads that look like Adsense ads. Fastclick doesn’t deliver the ads contextually but based on geography. Fastclick does have ads that look like Google Adsense ads both within the banners and with specific ads themselves. If you sign up do not use these ads if you’re using Adsense as well, and check all the flagged items with the banners/ graphical spots to make sure you’re not delivering anything that might upset Google. I know some people like to push Google with Adsense, I’m not one of these people so I always try to play by the rules.
One last thing
Nearly forgot this one, you need to be delivering at least 3000 impressions a month to get into Fastclick. If not they won’t have you.
So by all means check them out here (aff link). I’m practicing what I’m preaching because I’m running these ads here at the Blog Herald now and although I might experiment again in the future (experimenting is fun after all) they are staying for now because I’m happy with the return, and my advice: they are well worth a look.