Banner, Video, And Opportunity Advertising On Our Network

March 7, 2007

(this article is also available in español

At almost every interview, we’ve been asked about advertising on our site.  People are recognizong that we are getting to a point where we are building a significant audience on our video sites. More importantly, they are recognizing that there is value in connecting with our online audience.  March 2007 has us at an average of just under 4000 page views per day. Not bad for a real estate video site with a base of videos from South America (changing soon). That will mean well over 100,000 page views this month (we had 90,000 last month – even with Carnaval taking away much of our South American audience).  This conversation only is focused on our commercial sites and not our weblog. 

Why did we take the initial approach that we did?  Online real estate video is a fairly new concept.  I wanted to validate that the concept would work and that an audience could be built around real estate video on the web.  We’ve done just that in an online environment where if you build it, they don’t always come.  We’ve been focused on building value and building a following.  5000 daily visitors and 2000 video views per day has always been a key inflection point for planning for us in terms of developing an advertising with enough audience to provide value.  We are getting close enough now to start that conversation.

Another item of importance as context: This entire network is completely self-funded (infrastructure, employees, travel, etc.) Up to this point we’ve had only one angel investor since starting the software team early last year – me – with no partners, no venture capitalists, no sponsors, no nada.  We have incoming revenue and aren’t in financial trouble –  just starting the conversation as we execute against the next phase of our plan as noted above.

How do we view advertising? We’ve met some interesting people over the past year with some very interesting opportunities. We also know that there are many other opportunities out there. Done correctly, it should not be like advertising at all. We’ll be able to introduce our online audience to some of these hand-picked real estate opportunities while inspiring confidence with our visitors that the opportunities are not just the first people to show up with cash in hand.

What are the changes that you might see: We are just starting the conversation around the possible changes. We know that the items discussed in a previous blog posting from April are still valid.  We know that we won’t go down the Adsense road (for a number of reasons – the biggest being validation). We know that we want some seller focused opportunities and not just buyer focused. We know that we want to have a clear set of rules:

– only real estate related advertising will appear on our pages. Any advertising or sponsorship will be clearly delineated as such.

– Scarcity has value. Content should and will dominate advertising, not the other way around. Advertising will need to be as unobtrusive as possible. 

– Pre-roll video has me on the fence – I really dont like it and you likely don’t either. is there a better way? We think so.  Think about the geolocation engine beta functionality that we have built. If other real estate video production companies could include their content in our contextual video search offerings, that wouldn’t seem like advertising or sponsorship, would it? 

– any advertising presented much be in the language choice of the visitor (example: no spanish ads on english language pages). 

– We have a mechanism for presenting content based on user choices.  We’ll integrate this into our advertising engine.

– We are developing a sponsored opportunities page where real estate developers and others with buy/sell/wanted opportunities will be able to pay for the opportunity to meet our audience and the audience will know that they have done just that.  The opportunities presented will need to meet the user context of the site.

Honestly, our first preference would be to have a single major sponsor (our costs would be within a rounding error for most large companies). We’ll also start with some limited and very focused banner advertising on the sites along with the sponsored opportunities page. This should be one area where our geolocation-aware web engine will be invaluable.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on our proposed approach here on the comments or contact me directly at tony@forsalebylocals.com

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