Reddit Self Serve Advertising Review

I’ve decided to do a brief review on Reddit self serve advertising, which allows you to create your own sponsored link and get it published at the top of Reddit.com or on sub reddits. The ability to post on subreddits only, allows for extremely targeted traffic. For example, posting in the Technology subreddit would be a great place to advertise computer components or anything tech related you are interested in selling.  However, for my first self serve ad, I choose for it to be ran site wide.

I chose to advertise my Auto News site, in an attempt to increase readership and more importantly RSS subscribers.  I was not selling anything directly, so I can’t quite recommend Reddit as a place to get sales…yet.  However, I did find that I got some fairly cheap visitors to my site, who were generally interested in my content, using bounce rates as a gauge of interest.

Setting Up Your Self Serve Ad on Reddit

For starters, getting an ad setup is very easy and probably requires less than 5 mins of work.  The ad buyer simply needs to choose where they want their sponsored link placed, add a thumbnail image (not required), and add a link Title.  The buyer is then allowed to choose whether they want to allow for comments, which could possible make or break certain types of ads on this social bookmarking site.  I chose to not allow comments.

After your sponsored link has been created, simply input the amount of money you are willing to spend per day on that Ad being shown.  One downside is that sponsored link placements can only be placed 24 hours in advance, no immediate gratification.  Then you chose how long you want your self-served ad to run, allowing for the budget you entered previously.

How Reddit Self Serve Advertising Works

Buying a sponsored link on Reddit does not guarantee a certain number of clicks or views.  Reddit will take the total amount of self serve ads for the specified day, then break it down by who bid the most.  The link views are then shown based on the amount you are spending.  For example, if two advertisers picked the same day and both bid $100, each persons sponsored link will be shown 50% of the time.  If one buyer would spend just $30 per day and the other spend $70, the first person’s ad will only be shown 30% of the time, regardless of how many click sit actually generates.

Reddit does a good job of showing you how popular certain days are, so it’s possible to get a ton of views for next to nothing on low self-serve ad traffic days.  I choose a day through the week which had little advertising, so I feel I got a good value for my money.

My Experience With Reddit Self Serve Ads

I ran my ad for 3 days and spent a total of $60, which obviously equals the minimum $20 per day budget.  This self serve ad campaign resulted in 25,708 unique views of my sponsored link and 722 unique clicks through to my site.  Again, I wasn’t selling anything direct, so it’s hard to gauge, other than bounce rate, how well these visitors would convert.  However, I think it does a good job of showing the potential traffic from such a small investment.

Ultimately I ended up with an extra 40 RSS subscribers and I’ve received return visits from people who most likely bookmarked my site after clicking on my sponsored link.  I was happy with the pittance of an advertising investment and look forward to testing out some new landing pages, seeing what converts, and finding out what Redditors are actually buying.

The Future Of Reddit Self-Serve Advertising

My guess is that self-serve advertising on Reddit won’t be around for much longer.  Recently they posted on their official blog that they are hurting for money and while the self-serve advertising is nice, it’s not enough to pay the bills and expand Reddit.  To be honest, it’s a bit insulting that the engineers of Reddit are holding on their hands for money, instead of going after other viable advertising opportunities.  Hell, we already provide all the content, now they want some of our money?

Again, I’m going to try and start another sponsored link campaign, this time with a product for sale.  I’ll be back soon to post the results.

Reddit Self Serve Advertising Results
Reddit Self Serve Advertising Results

Is Chitika Select Right For Your Site?

More impressions. More Revenue.

Hard to pass up a tag line like that, but maybe Chitika Select ads aren’t right for your site.  There have been many discussions surrounding the costs and benefits of utilizing the new Chitika Select addition to Premium ads, which bring up great points, regarding missed opportunities and not just revenue.  Feel free to follow the discussion on the official Chitika Blog’s Chitika Select post.

Darren, from Pro Blogger, made some very important points regarding return visitors.  The temptation of using Chitika Premium ads came from being able to place blocks of advertising to only be shown to search engine visitors, without disturbing normal readership.

Also, the addition of Chitika Select is setup as an Opt-Out instead of an Opt-In, which means if you weren’t paying attention these ads are being served whether you want them to or not.  Luckily, it’s a simple fix and is quickly being made public that the change needs to be made if you don’t want advertisements always being shown to your visitors.  Keep in mind, these ads will most likely be a lot less targeted, since arrival from a search engine is not required to trigger the impression.

I left the Chitika Ads Select run on my automotive website and after a little bit of tweaking on location I managed to increase my revenue by 50%.  My impressions were up a full 30%!  I’ve yet to see the result after Chitika’s dreaded audited report, but for now it looks like I’ll be leaving Select ads running.  I’d also recommend to almost anyone to leave  them running as well, just understand what you are doing. 😉

Pepperjam Network and AutoPartsWarehouse.com

Honeymoon is over PJN, time to start offering as many linking options as CJ in regards to the advertisers you carry.  I still stand behind my statements that the Pepperjam Network is one of the best online, but they are only as good as the tools they offer.  From where I’m setting, Pepperjam Ads just isn’t cutting the mustard.  Lastly, for the life of me I can’t get Pepperjam Store to convert, so what does work?

Currently on my automotive website I’m taking a much more proactive approach at attracting visitors for very specific products.  AutoPartsWarehouse.com seems to have plenty of products that can turn into a virtually endless amount of content for me to write about, but how best to link to what I’m trying to sell?  With Pepperjam my options are limited to banners, coupons, and some text links, however Commission Junction offers some fantastic Advanced Link options.

Specifically within AutoPartsWarehouse.com link catalog on CJ you are able to create interactive product searches.  More importantly there are figures published on CJ that prove these types of linking strategies work.  So why hasn’t PJN offered these advanced links yet?  Is it a problem with Pepperjam or with the individuals in charge of AutoPartsWarehouse.com’s affiliate program?

Chitika Placement Failure

I’ve spent some time discussing the virtues of using Chitika ads next to Google Adsense, but my latest experiment has left me looking for lost revenue.  In this experiment I placed Chitika Ads in my highest click-through location, where I used to keep Adsense ads, directly below my post title.  The result was surprising to say the least.

My impressions dropped by almost half and my clicks fell even further.  I can honestly offer up no reasonable explanation as to why Chitika would fail so miserably in prime realestate.  Keep in mind that I removed Adsense completely from the equation, which would lend Chitika to receiving even more clicks.  What happened?

The lack of impressions I can’t explain, considering statistics for my site remained virtually unchanged, in regards to search visitors.  But perhaps, looking at the CTR, the reason is because Chitika Premium Ads look like ads.  Cheesy I know, but Adsense does a phenomenal job at blending in with content and looking natural.  I think that my visitors liked the natural look rather than the picture next to an ad trick.

It will take more testing to know for sure, but lets just say for now I’ve moved Chitika back down to the bottom of the page.  Time will tell if Chitika will ever warrant the #1 paying spot on my automotive website.

3 Day Chitika Review

Get Chitika | Premium

I know I promised my results of using Chikita 3 days after my first impression post, but I’ve been struggling on my approach.  See, there is one side of me that is extremely disappointed and some what frustrated, but another side that sees how Chitika can work and does fill the niche that Chitika is aiming for.  So, as a disclaimer, let me stress the following.

“Chitika is not a replacement for Google Adsense, nor is Chitika trying to compete with Google Adsense.”

After listening to Chitika’s sales pitch I would have thought that I would be receiving comparable CPC’s on my automotive blog.  However, that was not the case and averaging out it looks to be less than half.  Taking it a step further, after the auditing process it potentially could be lowered again, which is where the frustration comes from.

In all of my sites I try to monetize in a way that does not affect readership.  I view my sites more often than anyone, so I attempt to make them as void of Ads and marketing as possible.  So, Chitika just doesn’t seem to be fitting in with my own business model.  I have trouble justifying ad placement when it earns me less than half of the cost of a stamp per click.  Higher CPC’s may be found in different niches, I’m only comparing Adsense CPC’s in the automotive category to that from Chitika.

Chitika Shines

The CTR is of course much higher than Adsense, which is to be expected since they use the tried and true ‘image-next-to-ad’ technique.  Google banned this method over a year ago because it created less than optimal traffic for the advertisers.  Essentially, you are tricking visitors into clicking on a link, nothing more, nothing less.

A higher CTR would be super awesome, if only it paid out decent.  Where it stands right now, I would need 5-6 times the amount of clicks just to equal one click from my Adsense Ads.  So why even bother taking up valuable real estate on my site and just annoying my visitors?

I’m struggling with the answer to that last question.  Be damned if I’m going to sacrifice my Adsense earnings.  That’s why Chitika focuses on alerting Publishers that Chitika can be used alongside Adsense ads.  It doesn’t make sense for me, because I’m getting clicks, why would I want to sacrifice half my clicks for a lower paying ad?  I wouldn’t.

Chitika Customer Service

I had the opportunity to talk with Ryan Travis, Director of Client Services at Chitika.  My initial phone call was a service issue, dealing with accurate impressions, but all was working well(I’ll save info for another post).  Ryan and I ended up talking about optimization, where Chitika see’s itself in the marketplace, and where they hope to go.  Ryan was quick to respond to emails, a pleasure to talk with, and part of the reason why I will continue to use Chitika at some level.

Who Should Use Chitika

The only people who should be using Chitika are those who receive a lot of traffic from search engines.  Of those people, the only ones who should be using Chitika are those who can’t get Google Adsense to convert.  Chitika Premium ads are only shown to search engine traffic, so those of you getting traffic from other sites need not apply.  And as mentioned above, don’t risk losing higher paying Adsense traffic to get a few more clicks on your Chitika ads.

Conclusion

I will continue to use Chitika in hopes they will increase their Automotive inventory of ads and eventually increase CPC’s.  Ryan feels that the online marketing industry as a hole is trending toward higher search traffic CPC’s, rather than content related marketing like Adsense for content.  I hope he’s right and I wish Chitika luck in their niche.  We need options in the market place as both a publisher and advertiser.

In the not to distant future I will be publishing some more results from my Chitika ads.  The Chitika ‘auditing’ process could prove to be a deal breaker, but I will reserve judgement.

Get Chitika | Premium

How To Find Your Adwords Quality Score

Adwords is a phenomenal and arguably the best PPC advertising medium currently available.  It’s easy enough anyone with 5$ can get started, but advanced enough to meet any veterans needs.  Adwords operates on auction style pricing, meaning those who bid the most for keywords get highest placement, more visability, etc.  However, an individual ads pricing may need to be higher based on an ads quality score.

The qualitys core is described by Google as a dynamic variable, which takes into account many on page factors (your ad landing page) to determine keyword relevancy.  The more relevant the landing page is to the keyword you are bidding on, the lower your bid must be to gain placement.  There is an easy way to find out what your Adwords Quality Score is, for each individual keyword within your Adwords campaign.

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account at https://adwords.google.com.
  2. Select the campaign, then select the ad group for which you’d like to see keyword Quality Scores.
  3. Click Customize columns at the top of Keywords tab in the ad group table.
  4. Select Show Quality Score from the drop-down menu.
  5. Click Done when you’re finished.

For more official tips on maximizing your Google Quality score and finding out the official Google word, please view their Quality Score Help Page.  Getting a high quality score is extremely important to get low cost bids on keywords to maximize the ROI for any campaign.

Advertise.MySpace Sucks

Maybe the title is an unfair assesment of the new self advertising medium MySpace is now providing.  I mean, I’ve yet to actually see the results from the network, since my ad has been pending approval since Sept 24th!  That’s going on 13 days that my ad block has been setting in the hold bin pending approval.

Completely and utterly unacceptable.

Furthermore I contacted them, letting them know how long it had been and looking for some sort of indication when I could expect the campaign to run.  I was responded to within 24 hours, but no real information was given, only that they had a back log, sorry.  Such terrible execution of what could have been and may in the future be a good program.  For now and in the immediate future I will be taking my business elsewhere, it’s obvious MySpace doesn’t want nor need my advertising dollars for now.

Maybe I would have saved some time had I snail mailed my ads to them with an out-of-state check.

Snail Mail
Snail Mail

Cinema Gouging

My wife and I used to go to the movies almost every single week. We love movies, we love seeing them in the theater, the experience, everything. One of the best parts of going to the movies was getting a taste of the previews, to see what we could look forward to in a few months. That ‘good point’ about going to the movies has now been bastardized, at least on a local level.

Last Saturday I went and saw the new movie Cloverfield and mixed in with the previews were national ads for shit I could care less about. An ad for Musinex sinus medicine, the Marine corp, something else, and something else…I was so disgusted. I’m a paying customer who has already paid a fee for seeing a movie which may or may not be good, why am I being subjected to advertising at this point?

Maybe I’ll get a discount on the price of my ticket since the Cinema owner just whored out my eyes.

Nope, I still paid $9 per ticket and a $8 for a coke and popcorn. What a rip. Am I the only one who is outraged by such senseless advertising and selling of ones soul? I’m strongly considering boycotting the local theater because of this, but it looks like there are no alternatives in my city. It’ll go on and it’ll just get worse, because no one speaks out, especially since no one is listening.