Monday, August 25, 2008

Advertising Tips and Tricks

Making ad versions in different color schemes
allows you to select the ad that will stand out best
on any given site.

I've been getting requests to talk about advertising, and I'm happy to share what I've learned.

First off: Start with Project Wonderful. Google is much more expensive (about ten times by one analysis) and the cost of entry is high. All you need is a PayPal account to join PW, and you can play for pennies a day. Plus it's owned by comic guy Ryan North.

The first thing many newcomers do after setting up an account at Project Wonderful is they buy $5 worth of ad time on a highly popular comic. The money is gone in minutes, and the results are poor.

Instead, advertise in your peer group. If your comic is cute, sexy, features vampires and the art and writing are a "5" out of 10, then you want to advertise on comics with at least one of those features and which aren't way, way better looking than yours.

Big name comics get away with a premium price because some advertisers can't be bothered to place many smaller ads. Someone with a corporate ad budget to spend comes through and blows it all on three ads. The premium is convenience, not effectiveness. I'd even suggest smaller comics have readers who are more enthusiastic. Big titles carry an audience that includes many people who read few titles and aren't looking for more.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that advertising on comics is advertising to other comics writers. It's not, it's advertising to their readers. If their readers click an ad that looks like it will take them to more of the stuff they like, you have to be prepared to deliver.

There are exceptions. You can also advertise on sites which attract curious readers. A blog about webcomics is one example, but I get traffic from a blog by a guy who dieted away a huge amount of weight. I read a bit, discovered it was written well, and figured the audience might have an open mind.

What's neat is, when advertising my comic Li'l Nyet, I can use sites featuring "cute," like Kimono's Townhouse. Because Nyet is a demon, I can use sites about demons, including, big, bad-ass ones.

I consider my comics to be "cartoony," so I look for cartoony comics like Station V3. Pug and I make our ads to look cartoony as well, and the cartooniest ones work best. "Cartoony" to me means you can distort reality and everything is more rubbery and colorful.

Some ads work but I don't know why. I have performing ads on some sites I haven't studied. I simply tried them for several days, liked the numbers, and kept going. I suspect those sites are "adventurous reader" locations.

One of the problem with cheap ads is you need to buy a bunch to get a lot of traffic. The way to do it is to test prospects and after a few runs place your ad at a price you like for an extended period, so you are not having to renew ads frequently. You'll be outbid, but you can let them slide; they'll usually fall soon.

Remember that traffic from ads is mid-grade traffic. It's targeted, which is good, but it's not tested, like repeat visitors. It's much better than traffic like EntreCard, which seems to have 1/1000 stickiness at best. I don't know how it compares to Stumble Upon traffic because I haven't figured out a way to test Stumble Upon yet.

I don't use flashing ads and can't say if they are helpful. I do know that when a bunch of flashing ads are clustered together, it's like a Christmas Tree, and nobody's ad is effective.

I recommend having ads with various dominant colors. That way you can match the ad to the background.

If your budget is low, you can pump it up a bit by hosting some ads yourself. A well-located ad on a quality site can be expected to bring in about a penny per hundred visitors per day.