Many customers inquire about the possibility of a “self-serve” system for advertisers — they usually would like prospective advertisers can use this system to create campaigns to run on their sites similar to a model of Google AdWords or Facebook. In other words, set it up and watch the money flow in.
We’ve thought about this quite a bit at Broadstreet, and even built a proof of concept for such a system. In working with publishers, we found great differences in:
- Pricing model (CPM vs flat rate)
- Term lengths (weekly, monthly, 3 months)
- Site targeting ability (section, page, user traits)
- Ad sizes accepted
The need to support the many different models would create a fairly complex product. That’s OK, but we also found a few other important items:
- Many publishers wanted a system that they could just install and advertisers would simply start using it without much marketing effort (eg, build it, and they will come)
- Even when marketed effectively, most advertisers didn’t use the system
- For the few advertisers that attempted to use the system, the need to supply a creative or choose from a variety of packages (the complexity) froze the advertiser mid-checkout and they abandoned the sale
Over the years, we’ve found that at the niche publisher level, nothing can quite replace a personable, knowledgable salesperson. In fact, for Broadstreet’s niche publishing customers, one of their greatest advantages is the ability to provide “a human” that can help a potential advertiser achieve their goals.
In the age of machine learning, automation, and AI, this might sound old-fashioned or counter-intuitive. It’s not — it’s smart business: Do the things that you can be the very best at.
Don’t try to beat self-serve platforms and systems of scale at their own game. Do what you can specifically do better than them to win a sale. For niche publishers, that means being an expert that can help their clients achieve their marketing goals.
With all that said, Broadstreet is always thinking about ways to automate and reduce overhead for its customers. While we don’t think we can completely and consistently automate sales in the foreseeable future, we do think we can reduce the costs (time and money) of the sale so greatly that self-serve is all but realized.
For more on our philosophy, check out Ten Advantages — a free eBook describing our customer’s greatest advantages in fighting off Google and Facebook. You can also ask our team (firstname.lastname@example.org) to send you a copy of our recent ad sales webinars where those themes are very common.