Week 9: Making Money Through Advertising, Part 2: Ad Brokers
Signing up with an Internet advertiser and placing an ad on your site can be confusing the first few times you do it. This article walks you through signing up with an advertiser via an advertiser broker and placing an ad on one of your web pages. But first, the "Hacker Phrase of the Week."
Hacker Phrase of the Week
Usage: Whenever your boss starts talking about big changes to your work environment.
Starting next week, everyone must document their code.
My Week 8 article covered the first part of this topic, defining some common Internet advertising terminology so you wouldn't be lost in all the jargon when signing up with advertisers. We also briefly explored the complex issue of ad placement—where to put ads on your web pages. I argued that arbitrarily placing an ad on the top, bottom, lower right, or any other fixed location wasn't optimal. Instead, you should place ads in locations that break the user's flow of attention. ("Place ads at attention-flow interrupt points" might be known as Web Business Engineering Ad Placement Rule #1.) Take for example a web page on my Web Business Engineering content forum: http://www.WebBusinessEngineering.com (see Figure 1). On this page, there's a posting followed by links to replies for that posting. Sandwiched between the posting and the reply links is an advertisement. The user can't help but see the ad because it "breaks the attention flow." Now let's do a thought experiment: Suppose I had placed the ad at the top or the bottom of the page instead? Would the user even see it? I think you know the answer to that one.
Figure 1 An ad placed at an attention-flow interrupt point.
Unfortunately, most sites have ads in locations that don't break the user's attention flow. Once again: Don't do this! Anyway, before we leave the topic of ad placement, it's important to recognize that there's a fine line between breaking the user's attention flow and annoying your users with ads. For instance, imagine how annoying it would be if in Figure 1 I placed the ad in the middle of the posting instead of between the posting and its replies! To minimize user annoyance, always strive to find good interrupt points in your users' attention flow.
Having identified places on your pages where you can place your ads, this week we're going to go through the steps of signing up with an advertiser and placing that advertiser's ad on a web page (see items  and  in Figure 2). We'll sign up with an advertiser through an Internet advertising broker (or simply ad broker).
Figure 2 The autonomous business model: advertising and payment (dashed lines).