Today, I had the honor of one of my articles appearing on MediaPost. I mean it when I say “honor” as I have found the MediaPost newsletters and websites to be populated with some of the most generally useful articles. (There are also some other great sites out there too but I find myself coming back to MediaPost time and time again.)
My article appeared in Engage Kids: 6-11, the newsletter for folks marketing to kids. It was about what happens when kids move from the “kid” part of that age group into the “tween” age group — what happens as kids outgrow your website.
As a product of the article appearing, I received emails from several people, even got back in touch with old buddies — (everyone wave “hi” to Liz!) One of the questions was an excellent one and instead of answering it as a one-off, am taking the liberty of answering it for everyone as it is a question I have been asked before.
The gist of the question was around advertising sponsorships for kid-focused websites. How do I get them?
Any online brand today MUST use a multi-faceted strategy when it comes to monetization. With the current economic woes, advertising alone probably isn’t going to be enough to support your business but you may be able to build a positive cash flow through things like:
- Partnerships, sponsorships and underwriting
- Virtual goods and currency
- Sale of related real goods
- Purchasable downloads
- Coupons, gift certificates and specials
- Consulting or sale of knowledge garnered through the act of running the website
- Affiliate programs, online advertising networks, Google AdWords, etc.
Please don’t look at investors as a monetization strategy. Frankly, in this economy, I can’t see getting investments without a monetization strategy but you never know — stranger things have happened (Twitter.) But selling your company or getting capital for it is not the same thing as creating a profitable business model.
As for advertising, any sales rep is going to tell you that the first rule of selling advertising space is to look for “like-minded brands.” Where’s the match between age group, demographics, and psycho-graphics? What advertisers have a similar look and feel to yours? Look at your competition or adjacent spaces. Who wants what you have to offer?
Look for the networks who are already selling into your space. A partnership with one of them may be necessary to get your website into the right circles to get sponsors and ads for your site. Several exist and represent lots of the well-known websites for kids, tweens and teens. As an advertiser, you think to yourself, I can deal with one organization or I can deal with a couple dozen. Easy decision.
(Note: In today’s market, you also need to look for signs of success. Does the prospective advertiser have the means to purchase space from you? Do they run ads on competitive websites? Do they have a winning business model?)
For kid sites, make sure you match the over and under 13 brands when you seek out advertisers. If you have a COPPA-compliant under 13 site, you may find potential advertisers trying to do things that you just can’t do. Lots of promotions and contests want to take your site visitors to inappropriate places. Or, they try to collect more information than you are allowed to. Be careful.
And, good luck! This is one of the worst markets for advertising sales but it should also be an opportunity to gain audience when others may be cutting back. Smart marketers see downturns as opportunities.