3 Golden Rules to Selling More Ads

Portrait of Sergiu Poenaru
by Sergiu Poenaru
Jul 8, 2009

Pricing (How much should I charge?)

I am asked this question daily. Here are some questions you should be prepared to answer before we can figure out the right price:

  • Approximately how many impressions (page views) will the ad get in a 30 day period (since ads at BSA are sold at fixed 30-day rates)?
  • Do you have current advertisers? If so, how much are you charging them per month and are they happy?
  • What size ad(s) are you planning to sell and where will they be located on the page?

Answers to these questions will help us figure out the right price for you to set. A useful metric we use when we talk about price is called eCPM (estimated cost per mile). eCPM represents an informational factor in our directory so advertisers know approxitamely how much the publisher is charging per 1000 impressions.

eCPM = cost / ( total impressions / 1000 )

What’s a good eCPM?

Let’s say you are in the design niche, you own a photoshop blog for example, your next smart move would be to check out the directory and you’ll definitely come up with PsdTuts+ : they have fantastic stats, eCPM is showing $0.26 for the 125×125 spot, this is very attractive for the advertiser, you might not be able to pull down such a good price if you’re thinking of competing with them, but you should take this as a reference.

What’s a low eCPM?

It really depends on the niche, a low eCPM might be hard to guess. Never go too low, always do some calculations on how low your eCPM can be.

What’s too high eCPM?

Based on what I’ve seen, $2.5+ eCPM is a very high eCPM, and the risk is simple, advertisers might feel that they are paying too much for that amount of traffic. It might still work though, it all matters on the niche and how other factors bind together, so don’t get discouraged but keep eCPM in mind and do a bit of research in the website directory.

Now, we have set our price by comparing the directory of sites and checking the eCPM and overall traffic.

2. Ad placement

This can be even more important than pricing, and here’s why: pretend you are the advertiser, would you enjoy paying $20 for a small banner at the bottom of the website that will generate 5 clicks – or – pay $100 for a big 720×90 leader board on the header which will generate 200 clicks?

You will be able to charge more money for larger ads (300×250, 728×90, etc) and more money for ads that are placed above the fold or in highly visible areas of the site. Google AdSense has some nice graphics and advice on this as well. This doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t use smaller sized ad units and units that are not above the fold. There are actually some great places below the fold to monetize.

3. Content

Content is king, for real. Therefore, imagine yourself having a website with huge traffic but the content is a bit doubtful, maybe too much text, maybe a bad layout. Who will the advertiser pick, you or a website with a great design and a good overall feeling that the webmaster really invests money in it’s usability and design? You guessed right.

Produce quality content and you will have advertisers that stick around for months and months. They might test the waters with multiple sites, if yours has better quality content and is updated consistently, chances are you also have a decent following and will be able to produce results for your advertisers. Remember, when you sell ads with BSA you’re not just trying to get a quick hit for a 1 month campaign from an advertiser – you are trying to make them an advertiser for 3 months +.

Consider content as the best long-term trap for advertisers.


  1. Breaking the ice should be the first priority, thus setting the price should be easy with a bit of research in the BSA directory of sites.
  2. Ad placement is vital, the advertiser needs results and you must give it to them by placing the ad in the most proper position.
  3. Quality content should persevere on your website, this is the best way to attract advertisers on a long term.

Follow these 3 golden rules and you’ll make more money.