Targeted traffic: the demographic
Assuming your business is motorcycles, my first guess at your target demographic would be 16-25 year old males and 50+ year old wealthy retired couples. Breaking it down further, if you sell Suzuki crotch rockets, you can safely discard the wealthy retired group. Narrow the demographic as best you can to target potential customers. Paying for traffic that isn't dense with people interested in what you're selling is a waste of your advertising dollar.
Once the demographic is well defined, you can begin identifying and sorting out perspective advertisers. Determining whether a particular advertiser or marketing group is going to work for you can be rather difficult, unless you've personally used them before. This is where experience and networking with other webmasters comes in very handy. Talk to other webmasters who've advertised with the company, find out what they were advertising, and ask them how the campaign went and if they plan to advertise on that website again. I don't generally use an advertiser unless I've heard very good things from other webmasters or they have a trial ad setup, where you can commit a small amount of money to testing out the traffic before you make a real investment and buy several weeks or months of advertising with them.
An important consideration when buying ad space on a specific website is the focus of that website. If you're considering advertising on a service oriented website, make sure your product or service compliments that website's service. For instance, if you sell shoes, advertising on hotmail.com is going to be very inefficient and expensive. You'll be paying to advertise to a bunch of people, the mass majority of which aren't looking to buy shoes. However, if you're selling a spyware removal tool, email services could be a great place to advertise. Most internet users have spyware on their computers, and most are aware of and concerned about spyware.
Advertising on content based sites
When I need to advertise, my favorite place to go is still a content oriented site with a close relationship to my product or service. If I'm selling Gregory backpacks, I'll look for advertising opportunities on websites related to backpacking and hiking, such as outdoors guides and wilderness survival websites.
Web traffic at some content based sites is not particularly targeted, while others have a specific topic, like a gardening tips website. Finding a website with a very specific interest may or may not be as important, depending on what product you're selling, or what service you offer. T-shirts may sell well on lots of different content based sites, while the gardening weasel isn't likely to do well on places not related to gardening.
An update schedule of content based websites you're considering advertising on is rather important, depending on how you advertise. A website that updates every other day or weekly will have many visitors who come for the updates and leave. A website that updates sporadically will have more people who come just looking for something new. When there is nothing new they're more likely to look for other related links, which is where good advertising kicks into high gear. Of the three major advertising types, I tend to believe in doing my homework and paying flat rates for given periods of time. This seems to work best, because it depends more on you to build an intriguing advertisement, and rewards you for doing so.
Buying ad space on a per click basis can be a better bet if you're trying to build a brand name, because your ad might get 50,000 impressions before the 1,000 click-through you paid for happen.
Conversion rates are key
For most of us on the web though, our main goal is to sell the product or service. This is why I contest doing your research, finding the best websites, and purchasing ad space on a weekly or monthly basis is the best method of promotion in the long run. If you're smart, you'll monitor your traffic from different sources and determine the cost per sale to see which sources are providing the best conversion rates. In the case of buying click through traffic, the monitoring program should give you the traffic conversion rate.
More targeted traffic suggestions
Additional information can be found in the subscribers area of www.webmasterarchives.com, specifically information on what to look for when considering traffic trades with other websites, where to get started with traffic building, good approaches when requesting a link trade, how to jump start your traffic building efforts with very minimal cost, and methods to making your website so attractive webmasters will be knocking down your door with link trade requests.
Copyright 2004 Harley Barnett Some Rights Reserved This article is licensed under the Creative Commons License, which allows for non-commercial use under conditions of attribution and share-alike. For more articles like this check out the author's website: Webmaster Archives.