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Impression-based Ads
(for Small Sites <100,000 pageviews/month)


About.com (formerly The Mining Company) has initiated an interesting program in which writers/webmasters are asked to create topical content for the company in exchange for a percentage of their impression-based profits. The About.com staff decide on the topics for each web page, at which time webmasters should apply for the opportunity to create content for the company (including weekly features, link lists and more). The selected guides will be given their own sub-domain, and will earn 30% of all profits generated by About.com through the appearance of ads on their pages. 'SuperGuides' (guides who have completed a 12-week primer course) will also be eligible for a percentage of a half-yearly bonus pool. Guides are promised a guaranteed $100-$500 per month in exchange for completing certain minimum requirements.

AdOrigin took only a few months to develop a wildly negative reputation within the web publishing community. Their program offers a mixed CPM/CPC payment combination on banners and skyscrapers (with forced Superstitial® popups also spawned from the code on occasion) to sites that serve at least 5000 monthly impressions and manage to maintain a CTR above 0.25%. A few points to note off-the-bat are that their system of measuring impressions counts unique visitor sessions as a single impression. Also, their terms allow for popups, CPA banners and makegood impressions to be served without prior approval, for the terms to be changed at any time without notice, for affiliate accounts inactive for 60-days to be deleted and all unpaid revenues forfeited (which is liberal when one considers that their payment terms are NET90). Not to mention that the company seems to have ben unsuccessful at securing many direct campaigns - instead reselling ads from DoubleClick, 24/7 Real Media, Be Free, ClickThruTraffic and LeadCrunch amongst others - and has been plagued with reports of shoddy reporting, poor service, under-counting of resold clicks and, worst of all, wide reports of non-payment, AdOrigin is most certainly a company of which to be wary.

Ad-Up now pays web sites at a rate of between 30% and 70% of the advertising purchase price revenues when you host their banners. Your commission rate is set on a slidescale in relation to the number of pageviews generated monthly by your site. Therefore, as your traffic increases, so does your commission. Ad-Up strives to deliver pay-per-click ads whenever CPM ads are not available. They claim to pay anywhere between $0.5-$22 CPM or 24-74 cents per click-thru, before commissions are taken out. Reported CPM values do not reflect such optimistic rates, but do exceed those seen through many competing networks. Online reporting is available. Payment go out once $50 has amassed. This well-established program is worth exploring.

Amazing Media (formerly ADSDAQ) was one of the first CPM ad reps to offer flat-rate payments for publishers based on the number of ads served. Recently (following two halvings of the base rate), these rates were reduced to very low levels make them a less attractive option than one of the better click through networks. In any case, Amazing Media now offers $0.25 CPM, minus promotional and makegood impressions, which generally drag this rate down to about $0.18-$0.22. Also, since simple-media serving is no longer supported, these banners cannot be used within the default rotation of Burst!Media or Engage Media. What's more, I've heard reports of poor support, late payments and questionable reporting procedures experienced from this agency, so be wary.

Banner Mania apparently resells excess inventory from DoubleClick, which allows the firm to provide small-medium sites with the ability to fill their inventory with low-cost CPM runs. These 468x60 banners, with the odd popup thrown into the mix, generally net sites anywhere between $0.20-$0.40 Net CPM. Defaults are supported, and sites of all sizes are accepted. I have recently received several reports of ad-server outtages, suspected undercounting of ad views, problems with default deliveries and delayed payments, giving Banner Mania the unfortunate not recommended rating.

Burst! Media has long been a leader in the CPM market for small-medium sites. Their strength is due as much to the level of respect and support that they show their publishers, as it is to the rates that they return. In fact, Burst! has been plagued by the same challenges that have hit all CPM brokers this year. This has driven their CPM rates down, resulting in publishers having to serve high levels of default (unpaid) ad views. The effect of these can be minimized, though, by selecting Burst!'s optional CPC (cost-per-click) campaigns, by sending your default impressions to another ad agency, or by promoting your Burst! demographic survey (which additionally increases your chances of landing a targeted campaign). Rates seem to range from $0.25-$3CPM, and 10-30 cents/click (gross rates), depending on the creative and the level of targeting provided. Burst! supports both above-the-fold and below-the-fold banners, as well as buttons, cubes and optional popup and popunder campaigns. Requires a minimum of 5000 impressions/month. Stats are updated daily, and the user interface provides publishers with the ability to select exactly which campaigns they are willing to run. Payments terms are NET60 for amounts exceeding $50, and said payments are dispatched like clockwork NET60. Recommended.
UPDATE 11th January, 2002: As of January 31st, Burst will be phasing its 120x60 space out, and substituting it with support for the popular 120x600 skyscraper space. In fact, the skyscraper space will technically be a 160x600 window, able to support both skyscraper sizes, as well as the 120x240 vertical banner format. The skyscraper option also gives Burst! members the ability to deliver rich-media content within the space as a default, whereas Burst's banner default campaigns support only simple-media.
UPDATE 20th April, 2003: Burst co-founder and CEO Jarvis Coffin has performed an interview as part of Deloitte & Touche's Fast500 CEO Profile series. His insight into Burst's history and plans for the immediate future are transcribed here.
UPDATE 15th November, 2003: Recent developments at BurstMedia include the introduction of a new dynamic code format, and added support for 728x90 leaderboard creative sizes.

Casale Media represents web publishers in the sale of popunder inventory. They offer some of the best rates in the industry, due in part to their presentation of 70% of gross campaign revenues to publishers. Online, real-time statistical reporting is available, and the optional entry of default campaign settings is supported. Payment is made on a NET30 basis, for amounts exceeding $25. Recommended.
UPDATE (Jan 19th, 2005): Casale Media now supports 300x250 rectangle creatives, with most campaigns CPM-based.

click2advertising is a promising network to launch from the Middle East. Using DoubleClick's DART to serve, track and report ads, the company offers quality support for sites that meet their content standards and serve in excess of 5,000 unique users per month. In order to qualify, sites must display the company's branding button on their site, and also fork out a $100 annual membership fee. Payment is issued quarterly, and rates vary according to the sellout rate and perceived value of your site's audience. Since I have yet to hear from any publishers about their experience with this new firm, I cannot effectively pass judgement on whether or not the $100 fee makes for a worthwhile investment, so if anyone has any further information, please email me.

clickXchange.com takes the basic affiliate marketplace one level further, offering both advertisers and affiliates the chance to facilitate transactions on a CPM, CPC, or CPA basis. The system also presently supports the gathering of email leads, and offers publishers the chance to display ad creatives in popups if they so choose. This program offers great diversity, and thus can help any site to generate additional revenue (through either text, image and transaction-based links). I've participated in clickXchange extensively, as both an advertiser and affiliate, and do recommend their services as part of any online advertising or revenue-generation plan. You will, however, need to be diligent in the management of your dealings with the company's many merchants, as several shut down their programs or exhaust their deposited funds without warning. Worth exploring.

Compact Banner has a somewhat checkered history, but seems to have reformed into a mature ad network that offers both banner and popup sales representation for small-medium websites. The company's product range includes 468x60 banners without pops, banners with a single pop, multi-pop banners and their proprietary CompactBanner display (essentially a banner, button and small text menu in a frame seperate from a site's contents) that may be placed in either an above-the-fold or below-the-fold position. Sites are offered flat CPM rates that presently range between $0.20 and $0.41, but it's important to note that CompactBanner does filter traffic aggressively so as to pay only for US-based traffic, and only for unique impressions (ie their rates are effectively $0.20/1000 visitors, not 1000 pageviews). Payment is made via check or PayPal for amounts exceeding $50, on a NET45 basis. Worth exploring

Everyone.net Plug-in Ad Sales has developed such a remarkably poor reputation, that it's a wonder that they have not yet been involuntarily shut down. Since late last year, the company, who primarily resells excess inventory from third-party networks such as Engage Media, has pulled a variety of delay tactics that have seen them retroactively alter their payment schedule from NET30 to NET90, retroactively reduced rates (and consequently cutting past due revenues), and postpone the issuing of payments without adequate explanation. Not recommended.
UPDATE 29th July, 2002: After a long hiatus in which Everyone.net's network product was virtually ignored, the company has again started promoting Plug-in Ad Sales via unsolicited email. Their track record remains unimpressive, but the verdict is still out on whether the latest incarnation (which is still offering rates in the bottom-crawler range) is worth exploring. Stay tuned on this one...

ValueClickMedia (formerly FastClick) is a quality ad network that offers banner and popunder support for sites on a non-exclusive basis. In order to qualify, your site must deliver at least 2,500 pageviews/month and must maintain a CTR above 0.25%. Banners must be placed above-the-fold, but can seemingly be complemented by a below-the-scroll banner from another agency. Payments are made monthly, within 21 days after the month in which revenue was earned. Gross CPM rates hover around $1.00, with optional CPC campaigns coming in around the 20cent/click mark. Supported formats include 468x60 banners, 120x600 skyscrapers, 728x90 leaderboard ads, 300x600 half page ads, 180x150 rectangles, popunders, InVue overlays and timed interstitial ads. Highly recommended.

focusIN (formerly DataCom Advertising) supports both CPC and CPM campaigns (with the split between these reportedly at about 50:50). Their banners are rotated automatically, with a great proportion of their inventory sold, and all sites are eligible for inclusion in the network, regardless of their traffic volume. focusIN offer real-time statistical reports for host sites. Note that focusIN impose limits on your maximum click-thru ratio, meaning that sites generating an excessive quantity of clicks will have their payments reduced. This is a safeguard against host sites that aim to abuse the system by artificially inflating their stats. On the upside, focusIN also safeguard publishers by providing support for a default campaign.
UPDATE 9th July, 2001: Note that FocusIN have reportedly been delaying the distribution of payments lately due to an inability to collect funds from some of their advertisers. In addition to this, some members have reported statistical discrepancies. The company's service remains worthy of exploration at this stage, but don't put all your impressions in the one basket. For more on the extent of payment delays, read this.
UPDATE 24th January, 2002: ZAQ Interactive has completed its seamless acquisition of focusIN, and is off to a good start as the program's new management team. ZAQ have, much to publishers' delight, settled all outstanding payments in full, and have successfully returned to a NET40 payment schedule. Amongst other changes are a seperation of stats and campaigns based on whether thay are delivered via 468x60 banners, popups or both. Additionally, in a move that is arguably representative of industry trends, but could lessen one's earnings, the group has established a 28-day unique cap to limit the delivery of paid campaigns to a specified number of impressions/user/month. Now, more than ever, worth exploring.
UPDATE 11th August, 2002: Well, the positive influence stemming from the ZAQ acquisition seems to have officially tempered. According to reports from several publishers, FocusIN has fallen back into its own routine of unreasonably delaying payments, tying pop campaigns into its 468x60 banner code (without an effective opt-in procedure) and, worst of all, has crawled into bed with Gator - delivering an aggressive download-prompt campaign for the scumware posterchild. The network has also killed its 2-tier referral program. Not recommended.
UPDATE 15th November, 2003: FocusIN now offers popunders as a stand-alone product from its banners. Another recent addition to the line-up includes support for 728x90 leaderboard ads.

Senac.com operates both a low-ball CPM banner program and a $3CPM interstitial program. Both have been criticised heavily, with complaints ranging from spamming on behalf of the network's founder to possibly illegal reselling of inventory from competing ad networks, through to non-responsiveness and non-payment. Not recommended.

Suite101 has set up a program similar to that offered by About.com (see above). While not essentially an impression-based program, Suite101 does agree to pay editors a set amoount for creating content for the Suite101 site. The amount ranges between $15 and $25 per month, depending on the frequency by which the page is updated with fresh content. For an example Suite101 site, see our Australian Cinema page.


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