Peter Borden, SumAll’s resident growth hacker and online advertising overlord recently sat down with me in the office meditation/yoga room (seriously, startups are weird) so that I could pick his brain about the ad ops biz.
I’ll be honest — like Spam and a 40-hour workweek, I don’t understand what ad ops really boils down to. You can’t major in it in college, but you can get a great salary doing it. For this reason, I like to think of it as the polar opposite of an MFA.
Anyhow, like I was saying, Peter let me in on a few secrets about how to kick start in-office ad operations and how to do perform the tasks down and dirty on your own if need be. Here the rundown:
Me: What is SumAll doing in term of ad buys these days?
Peter Borden: We buy advertising for our free product and our paid product. We buy ads in a variety of different places. We’re doing some very limited Google Adwords advertising on our brand keyword and other keywords related to the business.
We’re doing Facebook advertising and Twitter advertising, which has been very good to us lately. We’re advertising in Gmail, and we’re doing a lot of remarketing right now (remarket = the ads that follow you around from site to site). We’ve tried a lot of different things. We have so many users coming in for free to the platform, we have to keep our ad spend very low. For other types of businesses, it makes sense to pay $50 – $200 per lead.
Is there a way for a very small team with no ad buying experience to start purchasing ads? For instance, can you just have a designer create a “Buy ad here” block on your website and start calling up companies to see if they’d be interested in putting an ad in that space?
I would say that it depends on the type of startup. SumAll doesn’t do any of those guerrilla style buys. When we do buys, we do them on the major networks.
The reason being is that, on the major networks, if you set everything up right, they perform very well. There’s a lot of information out there on how to set it up right, but ad platforms are kind of like Chinese finger traps. There are a lot of places you get stuck or put the settings wrong, so you spend more money then you want to.
What you’re talking about, I’d almost describe as very targeted ad buys. It can work provided that you know your audience extremely well.
So, you don’t even need an ad ops team for the guerrilla tactic. You just need salespeople.
Yeah, you just call people up!
What are some options for other good, guerrilla ad buys. If you company can join an ad network, is that beneficial?
That can be hard to get right. The largest network, I think, is probably the Google network, so you can buy display ads through Google. The problem there is that it’s very hard to get the targeting right. I almost never recommend that people start there. Start with an individual site or a collection of five different sites. Get super targeted.
What are the best ad services currently out there?
Adroll, Perfect Audience, and Google. Adroll and Perfect Audience are roughly similar. The terms of service for Perfect Audience is a little bit more lax.
Perfect Audience is also good if you’re running multiple campaigns across multiple accounts because it’s got some agency features. Google Adwords will work better or less for your business. Sometimes it can get very competitive and very expensive. The thing that always works really well is advertising on your brand name. It sounds silly — if people are already searching for SumAll, why would you put an ad on that term? However, more people will ended up on your site via brand name advertising site verses not doing it, in general.
I feel like the ROI on Facebook ads are decreasing, but if you’re a local business, it can be very, very helpful. The key with Facebook is making sure you’re as narrowly targeted as possible. SumAll has seen some good wins with Twitter advertising. Twitter is a very hot platform right now.