For a month or so I’ve been running (or should I say rolling?) my ads with Adroll.com. I want to briefly introduce this cool niche network ad service to other programmers, so that we stop receiving travel ads whenever we talk about Rails.
Traditionally website and blog owners put Google Ads up on their sites. In most cases, unless you are uber-popular, Google gives you peanuts. This is particularly true for technical sites where the audience is very web-savvy and rarely clicks on ads. On top of that, and rightfully so, many programmers use Adblock Plus and won’t see your ads either, unlike the viewing public of more general sites. Granted ads are there mostly to recoup expenses for the server and they aren’t expected to turn a profit in my case, obtaining a decent eCPM with a programming blog is not an easy task for anyone. There is a big earning difference between the obtainable eCPM when running Google Ads or when serving ads for a Sponsor’s campaign. Sponsors’ campaigns, whether click or impression based, can give you a lot of cash to buy allthosecoolbooks and even a nice treat. The problem is that unless your site is popular, you won’t be of any interest to advertisement agencies who work on behalf of big companies. They are looking for millions of impressions and chances are that your programming blog won’t ever reach anything remotely close to that. So you are stuck with ridiculously low eCPMs from Google, which serves thousands upon thousands of impressions for less than a breakfast at Starbucks.
This is where Adroll kicks in. Adroll isn’t too well known yet, but they are growing steadily and are “revolutionary” in their own way. Adroll allows advertisers to buy ad campaigns on your website. Nothing new there, I can hear you say. The innovation relies on the fact that with Adroll you can create or join topical communities of sites. When you start to have a group of, say, a few dozen car sites and blogs, the number of pageviews and unique visitors becomes sufficiently large enough to interest the agencies who work on behalf of BMW or Mercedes, for example. And that’s when the real dough arrives. Sure, your site won’t be making a huge deal of money if it’s small, but the earning per thousand clicks or impressions is going to be far greater than what Google usually offers. And more importantly, ads will be relevant to the topic of your site and more likely to interest your visitors. With Adroll, you can also set the minimum amount of eCPM that you require from advertisers, therefore excluding campaigns that pay too little.
Not only that, but you can let your site participate in different topical communities, therefore increasing your chances of being part of a campaign from a good advertiser. If all this wasn’t neat enough, their service is simply perfect for managing your existing Google ads. You can even use it to rotate your typical ad services (Google, Yahoo, etc…) or your in-house ads, and Adroll won’t make a cent off you. You will still get paid 100% from Google and these other services, while Adroll just serves their ads and doesn’t enter into the monetary picture at all. For example, right now, as I wait for a few of you to join me, I’ve been using it to serve Google ads in two spots, and “advertise here” in a third spot. Adroll provides you with detailed and up to date statistics and also shows advertisers the most common keywords used to reach your site.
Here is an illustration and their own description (from the about) of their services:
“Problems we solve for advertisers:
It’s too hard to find and access all the small sites that are well targeted for my products.
It’s prohibitively time consuming to buy and manage campaigns across these targeted sites.
Problems we solve for online publishers:
Advertisers don’t know about me because I’m a smaller niche site.
Selling to direct advertisers is manual and requires negotiating individual contracts, and switching ads by hand.”
Long story short, I was able to obtain 50 invites for their private beta. These are going fast, so grab one for your programming blog or site now. I also created a Programmers Ad Community, which I invite all interested programming and development bloggers (and site owners) to join.
You simply need to do the following:
Register and use ZENOFPROGRAMMING as your promocode to be accepted to the private beta.
Once your site(s) is(are) all setup within Adroll, add it(them) to the community: Programmers Ad Community.
For those who are curious, this San Francisco company is powered by Python and proudly uses Twisted Matrix. Their team has hardcore hackers like my friend Valentino Volonghi and SQLAlchemy’s creator Mike Bayer. Those are just two of the smart cookies who have been hired by this company. And in fact, Adroll works very well, which is rare for a beta product. I strongly believe that they will succeed in their intent of changing the ad market by providing relevant ads to niche content providers.
Since I’m on the unusual (for this site) topic of ads, I’d like to bring another cool startup called Zooppa, to your attention. This site is innovative and very popular in Italy and Europe, but it has been completely ignored by US tech bloggers, perhaps because it doesn’t burn millions of VC dollars and it’s not based in Silicon Valley or this side of the Atlantic. Techcrunch should really talk about this one.
Regardless, take a look at this site and you’ll be hooked. It works in the following way: an advertiser asks the community to create a video, print or radio ad for their product. The creative process starts and the participants’ work is voted on. The winner(s) gets the money and gets to see their work used by big companies like HTC, Citroen, Fineco, et cetera. This is good for big companies because each video, including those that don’t win, give the product a lot of exposure. Each clip boosts the brand’s image. It’s also good for creative people, who get rewarded with hard cash for their work, and non-professional filmmakers have for the first time a shot at working for a big company. For us spectators, the site is quite entertaining and there are plenty of funny clips to watch. I wonder how long it’ll take before YouTube adopts something similar?
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Antonio Cangiano is a Software Developer and Technical Evangelist at IBM. He authored 'Ruby on Rails for Microsoft Developers' by Wrox (2009) and 'Technical Blogging' by The Pragmatic Bookshelf (2012). He is also the Marketing Lead for Cognitive Class, an IBM educational initiative which he helped grow from zero to 1 Million students. You can follow him on Twitter.