On Wednesday, February 3rd, the SEJ ThinkTank was joined by SEJ Founder Loren Baker to talk about how SEJ’s revenue grew through native advertising. This hour-long webinar was moderated by our own Brent Csutoras and included a short Q&A session at the end.
Here are a few highlights from Loren’s very informative webinar presentation:
- In 2014, SEJ’s income was only based on Google AdSense and Ad Exchanges. It was a very passive form of income from Ad Formats which was dependable, but relatively low. But SEJ had goals of scaling quality content and editorial, and started to explore direct advertising sales and launching new media channels.
- SEJ had a lot of challenges in the beginning:
- We had NO internal sales process, and working with external sales people resulted to problems.
- We hadn’t fully set up our accounting system.
- We wanted to protect the overall user experience in our website.
- We wanted to maintain SEJ’s integrity, to implement advertorials while separating the sales from the editorial team.
Making SEJ Adblocker Proof
Studies show that the average users in the US with Adblockers is 9% of the over-all internet users. For SEJ however, 24% of our site visitors have Adblockers, so that posed as a challenge for us to deliver our commitments to our advertising partners, and at the same time provide a smooth, and non-intrusive user experience to our visitors.
SEJ strategized and made use of native advertising to counter-attack this challenge, with the ultimate goal of satisfying our advertisers and site visitors alike.
SEJ’s Native Advertising
We wanted our takeovers NOT to takeover the entire screen. So, we’ve put together a take over or skin of the site that shows high branding, and not take away the user experience. It replaced the traditional leaderboard, shown on all pages of the site, with a clickable call to action. It is typically aligned with an informational content offering, so whatever users see on their screens are relevant to them.
As SEJ’s advertising progressed, a lot of our partners started to ask for other channels that we can utilize. So, we also made use of our email database as a form of direct advertising. We started with our weekly WrapUp on Fridays, and expanded to bi-weekly ad blasts. We also have email blasts that are based on-demand and competitive researches, and event emails. To be more personable, we added a “Post of the Week” email blast to deliver value to our readers as well.
However, we know that email is intimate, and that we value our readers. We understand that it’s not about numbers, but it’s about people who open, read & exist with us. We keep an ongoing communication with Aweber, and keep our lists clean and up-to-date.
At SEJ, we continously explore what other channels we can utilize. So, we thought of category sponsorships to be placed at the top of each post. It proved to be beneficial for us, because it’s low maintenance. and somewhat passive. It provides great branding exposure to our advertisers, and at the same time maintains a good user experience. We also abide by the rules, as all links are no-follows.
We started out the webinar platform based on demand from our sponsors for leads. We realized that it is a relatively easy entry point, that shows brand strength, and a good resource to create an active list of leads. We have one sponsored, and one internal webinar per month, to provide a good balance. It is also important to note that our webinar attendees opt-in to join the webinars voluntarily, so that in itself is a good jump-off point for our advertisers.
SEJ’s Adnouncements are transparent sponsorships, where we publish an article featuring an advertiser’s products and services. It provides instant sale, and a quick turn around for them. However, we maintain that it shouldn’t be all too hardsell, and be just a written pitch about the brand. We still have the end goal to provide value to our readers, so the AdNouncement articles should be informative, and relevant to our readers as well.
Other Practices Outside of SEJ
Native Advertising Marketplaces
Watch the Full Recording of the Webinar
Want to learn more? We recorded the webinar so you can watch it from start to finish.
View Loren’s Slides
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Featured Image: Image by Paulo Bobita