I’ve been running an ad campaign for Al’Rashad for the past couple of weeks on Project: Wonderful and it has been an interesting experience to see what has proven to be a worthwhile investment. A lot of my initial predictions about which comics would prove the best advertising space have been correct; a lot have not been correct. Meandering thoughts follow:
1. Ad size and placement matter. This is probably so obvious that it does not need to be said, but: leaderboard ads at the bottom of a page are less effective than leaderboard ads at the top of a page. Skyscraper sideboard ads get less effective the further down the page they are. Half-banner ads with less visual real estate are less effective than leaderboard ads that are twice the size. And so forth. This was most dramatic on Girls With Slingshots, where I had a half-banner ad running and which received over two million page-views of the ad itself, but a clickthrough rate that was abysmal. On top of which, while my banner and halfbanner ads were, I think, quite elegantly designed, the leaderboard and skyscraper ads were just better: more art illustrating the fantasy world concept more dramatically, the opportunity to use a cool slogan (“Welcome To The Next Grand Adventure” – I went full Stan Lee on it), etc.1
2. Site selection is harder than it looks. I had a shortlist of sites I wanted to consider advertising on, either because I admired their work or because I thought they’d have a reader base more inclined to click through or both. Many of these ideas did not work on the metric I was using, which is “cost per clickthrough.”2 Girls Without Slingshots, for example, was a relative failure, even if I do love Danielle Corsetto’s work and felt her audience might be receptive to an LGBT/minority-friendly fantasy adventure (the ad campaign started the week of the Alric reveal). Axe Cop was an outright failure: expensive, very few clicks. Hark! a Vagrant and Dinosaur Comics (both of which I wanted to advertise on because, hey, fellow Canadians) were both mediocre advertising opportunities. The Jinxworld forums underperformed sharply and I kept those ads up for “visibility” longer than I should have done. The Giant in the Playground forums were, on the other hand, solid performers throughout, and my MVP turned out to be Gunnerkrigg Court, which sent me engaged comic readers at excellent price points.
3. Avoid overpriced traffic. Early on I decided that I wanted to concentrate on getting clickthroughs as efficiently as possible, and gave myself a certain level of expense per clickthrough in order to make that happen: I wanted the largest number of potential readers as opposed to the more nebulous “let’s raise our public profile” objective some people want out of an advertising campaign. The problem with this is that a lot of PW traffic is so overpriced that getting efficient clickthroughs becomes nearly impossible. H!AV and Dinosaur Comics are both good examples of this: the problem was not that they didn’t send me a reasonable number of clicks as compared to total unique readers visiting their sites, but that because they are Stars of the Webcomic World, the price for those clicks was too expensive; I mean, if I get an engaged reader for my comic, I don’t care if they came from Dinosaur Comics or a furry porn website.3 And those two comics weren’t nearly as bad as Questionable Content (insanely expensive, never justified the cost) or Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal (high-priced, reader base didn’t really transfer) or, and this surprised me a lot, Oglaf. I thought Oglaf readers would be a lock to enjoy Al’Rashad but, although they sent a reasonable number of readers my way, not nearly in the numbers I expected given their readership nor did those readers come at an affordable price point.
All of this said: the advertising campaign was quite a success and readership of the comic has clearly spiked in a sustainable way, because – and I say this with a bit of ego at least – there’s a lot of good comic for people to read, and that’s the most important thing.
- A caveat: all of my ads were static because I didn’t want to try using GIFs on the initial ad buy. I might reconsider this simply because GIFs can cram in more content, but not without sacrificing design. [↩]
- Something Project: Wonderful will measure for you, incidentally. [↩]
- So long as they don’t start harassing me for “more sexy badger porn.” Which they don’t, because come on. [↩]