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Get the most from banner exchange programs

Free banner exchange programs are set up on the "You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" premise. The problem with this premise is you have to scratch someone else's back two or even three times for every one time they scratch yours. Most free banner exchanges are based on an n to 1 ratio, meaning that for every n of someone else's banner you display on your page, someone else will display one of your banners. This is not a bad deal if your site already receives high traffic volume, but what if you're trying to boost your low traffic site? There is also the loss of control issue to consider. Who decides what type of banners are displaying on your site?

Additionally, free banner exchange programs mean giving up valuable real estate on your web page to advertise other peoples business'. Frequently, this real estate is required to be positioned in prime areas such as "above the fold". Above the fold is usually defined as being fully visible on the first screen display of a page when viewed at 640x480 resolution. The value of the real estate being demanded is a matter for consideration when using free banner exchanges. Whether or not the value of the advertising exceeds the value of the real estate you are giving up is an individual decision and should be made on a case by case basis.

The alternative to the free exchange system is offered by many of the banner exchange programs. For a price you may run your banners on other web sites, but not have to display their banners on yours. This option eliminates both the ratio and control issues presented by the free exchange programs. There are generally two methods of charging for banner programs: by the impression or by the click through. An impression is defined as an instance of your banner being displayed. A click through is when someone actually clicks your banner and visits your site.

The most commonly used method of determining charges is a number of dollars per thousand impressions basis (CPM), usually with some minimum number of impressions as a base. This means that you pay a flat rate per thousand of impressions and that you must purchase a minimum number of impressions to get started. This will guarantee your banner will be displayed an minimum number of times but does not guarantee you any traffic. The positive side is that the cost of impression based advertising is usually lower than the alternative.

Clearly, you get the most bang for your buck if you can purchase your banner program based on click throughs. You only pay for actual visitors to your site and your visitors are pre-qualified by your banner. Therefore, the theory goes, you are probably getting a higher quality of traffic. The disadvantage is that the cost of a click through based program is usually significantly higher than the per impression programs.

Regardless of the type of banner exchange program you participate in, you want to be sure that the statistics related to you banner are available to you. I prefer that the exchange program make the statistics available on-line, so I may check them in near real time whenever the mood strikes me. This allows you to really keep your finger on the pulse of your banner program. You should be able to track trends, see quickly which types of banners are working and detect when your banner may be starting to falter. If you are not interested in that level of information, a monthly report detailing impressions, click throughs and click through ratios may be enough. The key is, you must have some statistics with which to measure the success of your banner program. If the exchange program does not offer the type of statistical reporting you desire, keep looking. Someone out there offers what you are looking for.

Banner exchanges can be a wonderful way to get the word out about your web business. All of my web businesses take advantage of one banner exchange program or another. A word of caution is in order here: Do not expect to sign up with a banner exchange program, sit back and watch the traffic pour in. A banner exchange program is only one more facet of a complete, successful web promotion campaign.

About the author
Copyright 1998, 2003 Tony L. Callahan All Rights Reserved
Tony L. Callahan, is a successful Internet Promotions Consultant with more than twenty years of industry experience and is president of his own Internet marketing company, Link-Promote. He also publishes Web-Links Monthly, a newsletter full of tips, tricks, tools and techniques for successful web site promotions. To subscribe, send e-mail to: Web-Links-subscribe@topica.com. For an online archive of Tony's articles available for reprint, visit: http://www.link-promote.com/articles

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