Buying a Website

I’m advising a client who is buying a developed web site — content, domain name, all of it. It gets around 6k pageviews/month, so it’s not big, but he wants to make a partial living off its ad revenue. Super, let’s do this.

Ad Revenue GOOD (Hulk)

Yea, we all want ad revenue. So should we run Google AdSense ads and press the Easy Button, or make private ad deals by calling real people on the phone… doing it the old fashion way? The latter is going to be more lucrative. BUT you need to maintain relationships, invoice them, and take a paper check to the bank every month. So let’s do private ad deals. More work but more money.

But what to charge for advertising?

I advised doing CPM deals like I do with my Volvo Forum. Cost-per-click deals are risky and technically more difficult. But in figuring out a CPM number, my client ran into a problem: figuring out a CPM number. Five dollars? One dollar? I told him to create a CPM campaign in Google AdWords to get to where he can bid — and thus find out the cost — on CPM ads. In other words, get on the OTHER side of the field, and play ball. But Google has made AdWords progressively more difficult to use over the years so that most new users will just go with it and do the more expensive “recommended” settings. Thus he wasn’t getting any numbers. But all is not lost with AdWords:  you can actually run the ads and drive traffic to your (or anyone’s) site, and figure it out that way if they won’t tell you their estimate.

He Mentioned $5 CPM

As for $5 CPM, it sounded a little high to me. The Volvo related terms I used to run CPM ads on were $1-2.

But what’s really at play here is his relationship with his advertisers. That’s going to be a bigger variable than these numbers. At huge ad buys it’s all numbers, like the ad agency I used to work at and its $100k/month budget, but at this level it’s all personal relationships.

“Be a transparent, upfront, honest publisher and advertisers will want to work with you.” I told my client to ask THEM for ideas about how they can work together. I bet none will ever have any ideas, they never seem to with me, but it promotes trust and transparency when he solicits their opinions.

Be Careful Buying a Site!

I told him I hoped he’s as focused on the technical nitty-gritty as he is on his future revenue. Web servers, hosting and domain name transfers can sink your ship faster than the subtleties of advertising relationships. That’s a post for another day…

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