How to work with advertisers
Advertising is a necessary part of blogging; what’s the best way to work with advertisers? After all, your job is to bring the audience while their job is to sell the product to the audience. There’s been a long history of love hate with advertisers in the history of the Internet. From the flashing strobe light banner ads of Web 1.0 to the “is that an ad?” of Web 2.0, there’s been a lot of debate over online advertising’s effectiveness and the ethics of advertising. Recently the FTC put out guidelines for bloggers and influencers to follow regarding this new realm of sponsored content, but here are a few other tips to keep in mind when working with advertisers.
1 – Disclose your partnerships
The FTC mandate states that you must use words like “sponsored”, “ad”, or “brought to you by” in order to let your audience know what is a paid message and what is organic. This is a great practice and the disclosure should be front and center. You can even say things like “While this is a paid partnership, I love this product” to let your audience know that you are being paid but it is a genuine endorsement. In addition to regular disclosure, you should also let your audience know whether or not you are employing affiliate links, where you would receive a percentage of the sale if the person happens to purchase the product via your link. Advertisers look highly upon bloggers that disclose as it limits the liability that they might face should the FTC be investigating any type of misleading advertising. If there were some type of wrongdoing, the FTC would, of course be fining the advertiser, not the blogger. While advertising might receive less engagement than organic content, advertisers would rather have an audience that is genuinely interested in learning about their goods and services and ensuring that they are compliant with the rules and regulations. (Also keep in mind to comply with the CCPA and GDPR)!
2 – Seamlessly integrate the product into your story if possible
Many bloggers have partnerships, paid spokesperson roles, sponsored content gigs, and other ways that they work with advertisers. Ideally brands like it best if the integration is seamlessly woven into a blogger’s content. Think of the brand sponsorship as more of a product placement as opposed to an advertisement. That way while you are disclosing your relationship with the brand, it does not come as a jarring issue to your readers.
3 – Have all videos started on mute
While brands might like you to listen to their video advertisements with the sound on, it’s probably one of the worst user experiences on the internet: randomly click on a page, start reading it, all of a sudden the auto play non muted video starts and everyone in your office setting looks up at you. The worst part about it is that it might do the exact opposite of what the advertisement is trying to get you to do, which is buy the product. You actually might leave the page with a bad taste in your mouth about that advertiser and their products.
4 – Have an easy way for a user to dismiss the ad
There are sometimes when ad units pop up in your field of view, continue to pop up (even after supposed dismissal), or turn into a click through even though you meant to close. Stay away from these ad units as they will simply annoy the reader and like autoplay non muted videos will leave readers with a negative impression of the brand. If the ad unit has an X on it, make sure that it truly means close and not a click through as some dubious ad units want to boost their numbers.
5 – Be real, be genuine, promote products you would actually use
This tip almost seems obvious, but it is surprising how many bloggers talk about goods and services that they would clearly never use or appear to be extremely awkward in talking about to receive some form of compensation even if it’s the free thing-they-would-never-use. Brands will start to realize that you don’t have a viewpoint and are essentially selling your wares to the highest bidder. Keep your promotions and advertising real and the right advertisers will find you.
6 – Provide a call to action to give advertisers a way to track
Advertisers like to talk about return on investment, that is, for a given level of investment, how much money did they make on it. While there are many intangible benefits for a positive customer testimonial or an easy to follow blogger’s tutorial, at some point the advertiser needs to answer to their bosses as to how they moved the company’s revenue needle. Providing the advertiser with as many ways to track that ad as possible gives them this ammunition to potentially get a bigger budget the following year, spend more on bloggers, or up the per post price. And don’t worry, if you are creating that positive experience blog post, advertisers have a way of converting views or impressions into some type of cash value. As long as you are transparent about what you are offering, advertisers will be happy!
7 – Don’t put advertisers next to anything that might be questionable
We’ve all seen the gaffes that occur when algorithms do not take context into account. Brands do not want to be associated with those and thus news pages reporting on tragedies, for example, are usually ad free. However, on your blog, you might not have the luxury of having a fully adjustable ad server at your fingertips (or know how to do it). Brand safety is the new buzzword around making sure that whatever content the brand is surrounded by, integrated with, or promoted with, is not controversial nor will it put the brand in a poor light. The easy solution to this is while showcasing your opinion, stay away from hot button topics, for example, politics or religion, because if you don’t brands will probably err on being conservative and stay away.
8 – Promote your sponsored content like your “organic” content
Brands love it when you promote sponsored content or any content that they are included in as if it were organic. It actually irks them if you don’t as this content gets less views than they had originally anticipated and thus lowers their return on investment. Do everything you can to exceed expectations and you’ll continue to do work with advertisers like them!
Advertising is the lifeblood of bloggers. Make sure that you take care of them and they will ensure that they take care of you. Any other tips to work with advertisers that have been successful? Let us know via email!