Meet the new girl! Introducing Caitlin…

Hey everyone! It’s Caitlin – the “new girl” on the Design*Sponge Ad team. Before I introduce myself, here are some things you might want to know about me:

  1. I love looking at things. Any and all things. The brighter, the better.
  2. I love advertising. My dream dinner party guest list includes Marshall McLuhan, commercial artist era Andy Warhol, Milton Glaser (a long time faculty member at my alma mater School of Visual Arts), Rhoda and quite possibly Jon Hamm from Mad Men just for fun.
  3. I like analysis. I love to take a peek behind the scenes and try to get a glimpse into the hows and whys of just about everything. This makes time management a bit challenging at times but over the years I have becomes skilled in developing priorities based on my criteria du jour.

So when Design*Sponge put the word out about an available Advertising team opportunity I nearly spit my coffee all over my computer. Why? Because I knew all those internet breaks I’d taken with my favorite blog (D*S) along with my day job skills (producing endless spreadsheets of forecast and performance reports) were coming together perfectly for this job. I applied and to my excitement- I got the job!

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Fancy Targeting Techniques (and when to use them)

I know Aaron is working on a post for you about Ad Serving and what it’s about, but in the meantime, let’s learn a little bit about the different targeting options you will often have when you advertise online.

For the most part, the biggest options you’ll find concern when and where your ad will appear.

Targeting your ad to a specific time or place can be a very useful tool for creating a successful campaign, but like most things in online advertising — it’s the way that you choose to use it that will determine whether or not it is effective (or worth it).

Geo-targeting: this when your ad is shown only in specific geographic locations.

This kind of targeting is the most intuitive for advertisers to understand. There are many circumstances when it is necessary to use geo-targeting.
• If you have a brick and mortar store with no on-line capabilities.
• If you are promoting a live event in a specific region.
• If you do on-line business and know that most of your customers come from a certain region or country (or you have shipping constraints).

Trap to avoid: over targeting. Many times people get a little too hung up on saying they ONLY want their ad to appear within a certain radius of their physical store because most of their sales happen in person.

Here are some things to think about before you put unnecessary constraints on your ability to generate revenue:

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So, tell me what you want (what you really, really want)

When you are first thinking about online advertising (and pretty frequently after you get started), you should begin by setting some clear goals for your campaign

Begin by asking yourself a few questions about WHY you want to advertise in the first place.

Are you advertising to:

  • To improve your sales?
  • To increase brand awareness?To sell one particular product or bring attention to a sale, event or opportunity?

When you’ve really thought about this, you’ve determined the purpose of your campaign. A good start!

Now, it’s time to get to some specifics:

  • What would a successful campaign look like for you? (How many clicks, sales, leads, etc.)
  • What is your time line for achieving this goal?
  • Is this a short term goal?
  • What would these goals look like in the long term?

Once you think about these goals and have an idea about what you would like to get out of your campaign, it’s important that you share them with the site(s) you plan on advertising with.

Help us help you! If we don’t know what you’re trying to do, we can’t make use of what we know to help you succeed.

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The report is live!

We’re happy to announce that we’ve finally released a free report that we’ve been working on for months.

It’s called “The Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts of Creating Ads for Design Sites.”

It started based on some internal conversations we were having when we were trying to come up with a good answer to one of the most common questions we got from new advertisers – “what works?”

To figure out a good answer, we started researching.

We went through the performance data of ALL the ads that ran on Design*Sponge over the past year, digging through the data for trends.

The key questions we set out to answer were:

  • What did the ads that performed the best have in common?
  • What did the ads that didn’t do so well have in common?

You can get a copy of it here.

(You might also be able to get it from that form on the right…)

Read it, and let us know what you think in the comments!


The Design*Sponge Ad Team

Numbers Big and Small

One thing that takes a little getting used to when you enter the world of online advertising is the large and small numbers you are dealing with.

For example, on Design*Sponge, if you advertised with us for a month, your ad would likely be seen more than 7 million times. That’s a lot of times! And it sounds like a lot of times. But if your ad is seen 7 million times, how often can you expect your ad to get clicked on? 20%? 10%? What if it is a really good ad? 30%?


Above average click thru rates are not in the 10-30% range. They are not even in the 1-3% range. That’s right– an amazingly successful ad on a design site will likely not even have a click thru rate of 1%. According to industry standards, your ad is doing above average if its click thru rate is above .1%. Talk about sounding small.

How could that be true? Well, how many websites do you look at a day? How many times do you go to Google? The NYTimes? Facebook? Or maybe you are like me and have a fondness for sites with pictures of cute animals on them (I’ll see you over at Cute Overload in a few minutes!). Just think about how many times a day you look at Design*Sponge.

Chances are you spend a good portion of your day online and look at many different web sites. And probably every single one of those sites are showing you ads-not just one ad but many ads. Ads of different sizes and shapes. Text ads, animated ads-great ads and terrible ads. How often do you click on those ads? Probably not that often.

Did I really just write that? On a blog about online advertising? That you probably don’t click on online ads very often?

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Meet the Team: Leslie

Hi everyone!

My name is Leslie and I am the Associate Relationship Manager at Design*Sponge. My main focus for the Design*Sponge ad team is also my favorite part of the job: helping our small business clients, who are often new to the world of online advertising, get up and running. Like Felice, I did not end up at Design*Sponge because of my background in online advertising. In fact, my experience lies in the education and the nonprofit world.

In 2008, I left the Boston area to follow a dream I’d had since I was 11 years old: to move to San Francisco. I picked up and left everything I knew to move to my favorite city in the U.S.

In between job searching, doing freelance work and strapping on my sneakers to explore the great neighborhoods in San Francisco (including visiting many of the shops that have been highlighted on D*S), I found myself with a little bit of extra time on my hands.

During a conversation with my brother Aaron, (a.k.a. “AC”) about Design*Sponge, he happened to mention that there was plenty of work to go around on the ad sales side of things. I am an avid fan of Design*Sponge and I was excited by the idea of working for the site. I loved the idea of learning a new field and doing my share for what seemed to be quickly becoming a family business—so I jumped on board!

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Learning the Lingo: The Basics

To get started with on-line advertising it helps to have a grasp of the lingo. There is a lot of insider vocab that may be thrown around willy-nilly but the first tip I am here to share is: ASK! You are definitely not the first person to question what a certain term might mean. Your ad sales team is prepared to help you. Even if you think you know what something might mean but aren’t 100% sure—ASK! It is okay and we would much rather you understand all of the intricacies before you get started.

I am going to give you a few of the basic terms to get started:

ABOVE THE FOLD: the highest placements on the page that can be seen without scrolling down the website.

CAMPAIGN: your ad sales strategy in order to bring more business to your company.

CLICK: when a viewer on a site clicks on your ad and is brought to your site (different from an impression or pageview when a viewer just views the ad and does not click on it).

CPM: Cost Per 1,000 pageviews. Ads are often sold in this way and often means that they will not appear on the page all of the time (unlike a flat-rate ad).

CREATIVE: your ad image.

CTR: Click Through Rate. During your campaign we can determine your CTR by dividing how many clicks your ad has received by how many pageviews you purchased. This number can give you an idea about how well your campaign/ad is doing and how the viewers are responding.

IMPRESSION: Each time the site is viewed on someone’s computer, the site is re-loaded or a different page of the site is viewed.

PAGEVIEW: For our purposes, this is the same as an impression.  (However, it is possible to have a pageview without an impression – if there is no ad on the page.)

VISIT: Each time a viewer looks at the site (different than a pageview because a viewer could look at multiple pages on the same site and it would be one visit but multiple pageviews).

I hope this helps you to get started and begins to decode a small part of online advertising for you!

Meet the Team: Felice

Hi everyone!

My name is Felice Cleveland, and I’m the Relationship Manager for the Design*Sponge Ad Sales Team.  It’s my job to make sure that our advertisers are taken care of when they do business with us. I answer questions, monitor campaign performance, and generally just do my best to make sure that everything for our advertisers is going smoothly.

In this post, I’d like to share a little peek into the sometimes mysterious and overwhelming world of online advertising. But first, I want to let you know that just a couple of years ago, I was the perfect example of an online advertising rookie.

Let me explain.

By day, I am a museum educator, a returned Peace Corps volunteer and an avid letter writer.

I am adept in the fine arts of pompoms, shrinky dinks, and exquisite corpses. All of which I love to share with students.

I train docents in the obscure knowledge behind visionary art.

I have degrees in Contemporary Art History and Art + Design Education.

I don’t have a blog.

I’m not on Facebook.

I am the exact opposite of anyone who you would imagine would work in Online Advertising.

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Before You Get Started: Traffic Sources

Visits are listed in the top line graph.

As I mentioned in my previous post, my background is in buying advertising and managing campaigns, not in selling advertising. And one of the things I’ve noticed as I’ve been managing the Desing*Sponge ad program for the past few years is that there tends to be a major knowledge gap between professional media buyers and the average small business owner buying ads to promote own business.
The good news is that the information you need to bridge the gap is out there, and one of the purposes of this blog is to help share that information.

In this series, “Before You Get Started” we’ll discuss things to know and/or think about before you get started in Online Advertising.

Today’s topic is Traffic Sources.


1. how much traffic you’re getting

We’ll talk more about setting campaign goals in a future post, but an extremely common goal for online advertising is generating traffic to a website. For today’s article, we’ll assume that’s the reason we’re considering advertising online in the first place.

It stands to reason that before you start spending money to generate more traffic to your website, you should know how much traffi you’re already getting. The first thing to do is to make sure you have Google Analytics installed. It’s easy to install and it’s free, and it’s the most accurate gauge of your site’s traffic. It’s also incredibly powerful, and can give you just about any data that you’d need.

For now, the only data you need is how many “visits” you’re getting per month.  [I’m not going to focus on “unique visits” for the moment, because when we measure advertising, we’ll be mostly looking at how many “clicks” your campaign got, and there’s really no metric called “unique clicks” – a click is a click. So for our purposes, we’ll be equating a “click” to a “visit”.  If you have any questions about these terms, feel free to post them in the comments and I’ll address them there.]

If you know how many visits you get on average, per day, then we can start trying to figure out how many more visits you need to start meeting your business goals. The way we do this, is by learning thing #2…

2. how much your traffic is worth

Let’s assume for the moment that you run an e-commerce site.  You look at your Google Analytics and see that you get 25,000 visits per month.  Then you look at your PayPal account (or whoever you use for your merchant account) and you see that you make, on average, about $5,000 in revenue per month. That means we can estimate that each visit to your site is worth approximately $0.20.

That’s valuable information! Now you know that if you can bring in similar quality traffic (more on that in a moment) for less than $0.20 per visit (or “click”) your ad campaign will be profitable.  You’ve now got some good benchmarks (or numbers you can use for comparison) for your next campaign.

If your cost per click stays below $0.20, and the quality of the traffic you buy is consistent with your current quality, you should buy as much traffic at whatever price you can get at that price.  Why? Because every click you buy makes you money.

A couple of points about this:

  • the quality of the traffic you buy may not be the same as what you’re currently getting, it may be better or it may be worse, but even if it’s worse, it can still be profitable if you can get it at the right price.
  • depending on where you choose to advertise, you may not be buying the media on a cost-per-click basis.  You may pay by the day, week, or month, or you may pay by the impression (or each time the ad is shown), or some other arrangement.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t calculate the cost of each click you get from your campaign (especially if you have Google Analytics installed – because you’ll be able to see all the clicks that came in from your campaign).

Once you know how much traffic you’re getting, and how much it’s worth, there’s only one piece left to know…

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Meet the Team: Aaron (aka AC)

Hi there, I’m Aaron, and I’m the Director of Advertising for Design*Sponge.  Readers of Design*Sponge know me as “AC”.

I want to welcome you to the Building A Better Advertiser blog.  We set it up so that we could share information that would make the world of online advertising a little less scary for beginners.  If you’re already experienced, we’ll also be sharing information that will allow you to take your advertising efforts to the next level.

I’ve been working in online advertising for the past five years.  I started out doing what is called Search Marketing (also known as Pay-Per-Click or PPC), and I worked at a digital marketing agency managing large scale campaigns (thousands of keywords and hundreds of thousands of dollars of spend).

After a few years, I began managing Display campaigns (also known as banner ads, or the type of non-text ads you see on websites throughout the internet) for clients.  I was amazed to learn how much technology and methodology goes into running a professional advertising campaign.

My involvement with Design*Sponge’s Advertising began in 2007, and it started as something of a side project for me.  As the site’s traffic grew, Grace began to get more and more requests for information about advertising, and it was distracting her from what she loves, which is creating content for Design*Sponge.

I had no experience in Advertising Sales.

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