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Some Observations Regarding Associations Offering Online Advertising Opportunities

One of the common things I see on state association web sites that are selling online advertising is the flat rate price for a period of time. Take a look at any of the following banner advertising rate sheets for associations – and that’s what you’ll find:

Nevada Claims Association
Maine Tourism Association
Texas Physical Therapy Association
Vermont Outdoor Guide Association
Alabama Cattlemen’s Association

Another thing you’ll notice is that there is usually an absence of traffic numbers. There are no impression numbers provided, no click thru rates. There’s a reason why the ads are being sold at a flat rate for a period of time. Some of the reasons include:

  • Lack of analytics on the web site to be able to offer an impression or click-thru price on banner ads. There are plug-ins that take care of this, but not everyone knows of these plug-ins; in addition, it requires monitoring of the analytic reports in order to charge or stop an advertising campaign. That may be more labor than an association wants to take up, and it very well may be not worth that effort, either. Flat rate advertising is easier, tidier, more understandable to the advertising marketplace.
  • Lack of analytics on the web site to be able to know what various pages’ “viewing value” may be in terms of impressions. Especially on sites where you see the price remain the same for any particular page, that could be the case.
  • The cost of explaining ad requirements. It’s already a bit cumbersome, having to tell advertisers the file format, the pixel dimensions, the size limitations, when setting up an advertising account. Throwing in the choice of impressions and clickthrus for a variety of pages can just serve to confuse the marketplace further.

I wouldn’t consider selling advertising by impression or clickthru on an association web site until I had a year’s worth of advertising banner data in to look at. Advertisers may want to know it, associations HAVE to know it if they’re going to sell it. What that means is that even though an association would be selling flat rate advertising, they would set up tracking on the site so they would know the impressions and clickthrus for every ad campaign set up, broken down by pages, periods of time, etc.

Impressions can be measured by most analytics tools of any value, however, clickthrus require more attention and deserve specific software to measure it.

And once an association has some impressions and clickthru statistics to use for pricing and developing rates at those measurement levels, I wouldn’t provide that information online.  And you will see that a lot of associations that are to that level of rate advertising on their sites do just that – for example:

California Teachers Association
Louisiana State Bar Association

Why?  Because it takes explaining to potential advertisers.  At this point in the development of online advertising, associations should expect to spend time explaining to their traditional advertisers the new ways to purchase advertising.  And develop “training tools” for potential advertisers to reduce repetitive time spent on explanations in the future.

This next month I’ll also write about some of the banner advertising tools available for associations.  Look for that towards the end of the month…



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