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Interview with Jacob Stansky, XOPandora.com

Jacob Stansky, XOPandora

Jacob Stansky, XOPandora

Jacob Stansky of XO Pandora has been a customer of Ad Agency for some time. He’s always given me some great feedback. I first met him at CMS Expo and then again at the last Joomla World Conference. Since I don’t always get to connect personally with our customers, seeing him again was a great opportunity to discover a real-life success story using Ad Agency. It was also a chance to pick some valuable insider tips that will help other customers create a successful, professional advertising program.

Jacob, tell me a little bit about you and how you came to create XO Pandora.

I am the lead web developer / designer / programmer at XO Pandora. I graduated college in 2000 as an English major and had no clue what I wanted to do with my future. One of my last classes before I graduated was an advertising class. Completely in love with this course, I pursued a way into the ad world. Long story short, the process was go to ad school, get an internship, shop your portfolio for a job.

I went back to school and just before graduating, had a huge distaste for the ad agency world. One of my last classes before graduating a second time required an online portfolio. Making the website reinvigorated a love of computers I had as a kid. Instead of advertising, I forged ahead with pursuing a life of online production.

What made you choose Ad Agency?

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I choose Ad Agency for a few reasons

  • I met you at a CMS expo. I like knowing there are real people behind real Joomla products.
  • It had a thorough landing page explaining the component features.
  • It had a video. I like to see what a component can do before I promise it to a client.
  • The modules. A component needs good modules.
  • Geo-targeting. A major feature that beats others.
  • And to be honest, Google DFP does not play well with Joomla and there are no components, modules or plugins out there to mesh this.

How long have you been using Ad Agency?

More than two years.

How much money have you and your clients generated from Ad Agency so far?

This is tough to tell because the primary client that uses Ad Agency offers page ads to his major sponsors. These deals range from $5,000 to $100,000. The sales team throws the banner ads into the package. We recently calculated that a $5 CPM on a niche topic website would garner about $600,000 for the client if broken into four geo regions.

What have you found to be the elements for creating a successful advertising program?

A successful program needs four elements.

1) The Map – You need to create a workflow and financial outline map of the service as a whole. Know every step that you’re asking the potential advertiser to go through and then map out every possible scenario. This will outline all the areas you need to set-up.

The first workflow is your perfect system. The following workflows will show what happens if there is a technical problem, when an advertiser requests a report, and so on. This will then highlight all the areas you need to put in place for a sales step. It also forces you to budget time for all scenarios or put personnel in place to manage various workflow scenarios such as tech support, customer service, etc.

2) The Sale – You need to know the full revenue matrix beyond the simple logistics. How much inventory can you handle? How many impressions you can deliver with that inventory? How you’re going to increase impressions for your inventory in multiple timelines (six month, one year, two years, etc.) What’s the industry average for the pricing models you’ll use, and so on.

When you know everything about your revenue matrix you can make your sales tools stronger and simpler.

The next step is to take the info and present it in a simple and modern designed way on a special landing page. You should also produce a single-sheet in PDF format. Not all sales will come from crossing traffic. You’ll network along the way and you’ll want to give someone a digital file or hard copy “sales one-sheet” immediately.

3) Management – The system will demand babysitting. You need dedicated time available to get on top of situations immediately. The manager should ensure that the checkout process is simple and working. He or she will need to answer pre-sales questions and be an account rep for all the advertisers. The manager should also have several protocols to follow that were outlined in the map process, such as marketing outreach, client contact, sales follow-ups, and customer service surveys. Each advertiser should be taken care of individually from start to finish.

The manager will provide advertiser analytics upon request and by protocol after seven days and after the campaign ends. The manager should also steer growth on the timeline outlined in the map phase.

4) Tech Support – Don’t just have a tech support structure in place; advertise it as a major strong point. Make such services clearly advertised on your sales landing page:  “live chat” support, FAQ section, Forum / Knowledge base, direct support e-mail, support ticket system and so on. People need to know that their investment is going into something solid. It makes them feel good and have positive expectations in the opportunity you’re providing.

If you want to make real money, you have to have every situation outlined and know how long each situation will require. If your production or management time is too stretched, your profit will be minor and you’ll be doing a ton of work for little pay. If you realize that the project could potentially overwhelm you because of time restrictions — if you have a day job or you’re a single mom, etc. — don’t do it! Go willy-nilly into an online advertising program and you will lose time, money and relationships with advertisers. If you need to put a manager in place while you do other things, compare the revenue to the costs.

An online advertising program is a not a turnkey operation. A $300 component does not mean you don’t have a $1,500 start-up cost. The Ad Agency component is only one piece of the opportunity. It is the keystone piece but only a single piece overall.

What is your preferred package type? Do you opt for impressions, clicks or a fixed date?

For sponsorship packages it’s fixed date. For general revenue, we prefer CPM.

How many people work on the sales force of the advertising program?

For my major client there are two people. I’m the manager of the program and we have one sales person pushing the banner sales.

How do you find the advertisers?

It’s a niche industry so going to the industry rags to find advertisers is easy. The client is also a beacon in the industry so people call all the time to inquire. And they put out extensive marketing and media kits to a lot of related industry businesses.

What is the minimum traffic one needs in order to sell advertising on their site?

Probably about 25,000 visits  per month. I mean you can sell a banner ad to someone for $10 per month with only 100 clicks if you want. If it’s niche, it can be anything. You have to value your time to manage the ads and the system against the revenue you pull in. You also need to balance impressions against inventory. Too few impressions with too many ads is a disaster. I feel around 25,000 monthly page visits will give your inventory a fair shot at 5,000 to 7,500 impressions per month. At $7.50 per 1,000 impressions you might make a few bucks.

Do you use the remote feature to show ads on other sites?

Not right now. This would require me to have another Ad Manager in-house which would require hourly pay and would have to be justified by revenue. With no time to develop this in-house, I can’t establish the need for this feature yet. The worse thing I can do is play with features just because they are there. Time is the enemy of curiosity.

How do you use geo-targeting to generate more sales?

For me, this is easy because our primary client has events in fourteen states across the US. We can sell east, central and west coast advertising, and the full scope of the company’s fans are exposed to relevant ads. There are national brands that go into all three regions, and we sell a nice three-play package for this. We make three times the revenue on the same module area by selling the area to all three regions.

What is the best way to display your advertising program on the website? What should be there?

This is best answered by standing on the shoulders of giants. Check out these guys:

Hundreds of companies have great methods of promoting their services. The two keys:

  1. Make it look real good. People trust well-designed things just like people like a well-dressed salesperson.
  2. Make it simple but cover the basics: The “how it works,” the “how much” and the “what it is.”

What do you think about social targeting?

Social targeting is like anything else in advertising: it’s a numbers game. Go where the numbers are and you’ll take away a percentage of them to convert into revenue.

How do you determine the price of advertising packages?

We shop the industries that are comparable to our clients that offer similar advertising. We check out Google AdWords and then we evaluate the value of the page content of the client’s site. We take these considerations into account and run that value basis against our site traffic and available impression counts.

Thank you Jacob!

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Merav Knafo

Merav Knafo is the founder and CEO of iJoomla, Inc. She loves writing about Joomla, usability and Social Networking.

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