No matter what they’d like to make you believe, there’s more advertising networks than Google AdWords and Microsoft Search Advertising. The truth is, anybody with some technical knowledge can install an ad server and create, with time, their own advertising network. In fact, there’s so many of them that choosing the best one may mean significant savings or a better ROI for your advertising campaign.

Think about how do you want your ads delivered

There’s many types of advertising networks, with their own peculiarities and requirements for an ad to be accepted. Some are highly exclusive, such as FusionAds, only accepting a reduced number of the best and most. Others display their ads as links on the articles they are being displayed on, such as Kontera. Depending on your niche and type of website, and what kind of ads are your creative team is able to produce, your options may be limited.

Look for networks that reach your target audience

While Internet is a global medium, many online business prefer to do business only on specific markets or geographic areas. Why should you pay premium prices to advertise in websites all around the world, when the people who buy from you are only American, or British, or Spanish? Before choosing an advertising network, ask for samples of websites where they display ads, and how they target them. A smaller network may mean less competition and lower prices, without compromising the amount of quality traffic you receive.

Remember, targeted isn’t the same for everybody

Ask your salesman what criteria are they using to target people. It’s easy to talk about targeting systems and behavioural analysis and targeting, but it’s much more difficult to actually implement it. For some, a sports fan is somebody who once visited a World Cup 2010 website. For others, a football fan needs to have a history of visiting websites that buy sports equipment to be valid. You can imagine which of the two visitors have a higher chance of actually purchasing your product… Also, take a look at how much do you have to pay for the targeting. If the network prices are very low, but they charge a high premium to select specific audiences you may be losing money there.

Can you understand their reports?

Before agreeing to anything, ask them to see samples of their monthly/weekly reports and make sure you can understand them and they have all the information they need. Some advertising networks will be as detailed as to tell you where your ads where displayed, while others will happily provide you with two numbers: Displays and hits. While a great amount of information may be overwhelming, no information is even worse. Also, check for advertising networks that have online reporting capabilities that you can access 24/7. This way you can see how a campaign is performing and detect problems before they become critical.

How long or expensive is their minimum contract?

If you have done your due diligence, checked references and customer reports and verified that indeed they advertise on the websites you want your ads displayed, chances are you found the right network for you. However, the only way of making sure something works for you is actually trying it with a small, short campaign. And that can be difficult if your ad network of choice demands a minimum spent on the thousands of dollars, or six months commitment. Before signing any contract, ask for a trial period or make sure you can get out of it when you want, and without having to pay expensive penalties.

Taking your time to investigate and choose an advertising network that suits your marketing strategy will help you get the best deal and increase the ROI of your marketing campaigns. There’s much more to advertising networks than just Google!

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