A while ago I decided to do some experimenting with different forms of advertising to see which type worked. Well today, I’ll discuss sidebar advertising. That’s where I chose a well followed blog/review/book website and placed an ad for one of my books to be featured on their sidebar for a month.

The cost of the ad was cheap enough. $35 bucks for a nice size of my cover which would rotate onto different pages of their site.

The site I chose claimed to have over 350,000 unique visitors per month from desktop users. That’s not including mobile phone visitors. That’s a ton…right?

What is a unique visitor, you ask? Okay. Simple answer, a visitor to your site who are tracked by their IP addresses, and are counted only once no matter how many times they visit the site. This is different from page views, which are tracked by the number of files requested from a site.

There’s all sorts of software to keep track of that stuff and if you sell advertising, then potential clients, like me, pay attention to those figures. The more visitors a site has, the better chance of people seeing my ad.

Another plus to use the site I chose was they furnished a weekly report of how many impressions their site got during that period, and how many actual clicks my ad got.

What’s an impression, you ask? Simple answer, impression = search result. Let’s say I search for Sterling Silver belly button rings. The page for BellyBling shows up 40% of the time as a result due to their search engine optimization (SEO), which means 40 out of 100 times, they will show up for the same search. That doesn’t mean the site was clicked. Just means it showed up on the first page of your search choices.

That’s a good thing, because most searchers don’t look beyond the first two pages. So with all those things in place, my ad should receive some good traffic, hopefully resulting in sales. Well, let’s see how I did.

I chose a book that had performed well since its release, but after eight months, sales had pretty much died. I thought it would be the best one to give me a good idea of what ads could do.

During the first week of the sidebar ad, the site got 48,596 impressions, and my ad got 28 actual clicks. That week, I sold 11 books, and loaned 44. Keep in mind, loans pay royalties, too. Sometimes as high as $1.60. Most of the time they average about $1.35 per loan.

The second week, the site got 104,388 impressions, my ad got 13 clicks, but again, I sold 11 books, and loaned only 28.

For the third week, I’m only going to count the first 6 days, because on the 7th day, I started another promotion with the same book. This week, the site garnered 172,157 impressions, and my book got a total 126 clicks. On May 17, it got the most clicks of 78 and that’s odd, because the next day a Kindle Countdown Deal started, but I didn’t have it listed on the sidebar ad. Anyway, I sold 9 books, and loaned 11.

For the final week, I’ll skip these figures, because my Kindle Countdown Deal ran from May 18-22, and I definitely saw an increase in sales during that time. More on that later in another post.

To summarize, for the time period of the sidebar ad…April 28-May 25, (29 days minus the 5 I omitted because of the other ads=24 days) I sold 36 books and loaned 101. Do I think the ad did any good? Certainly I made back my $35 ad fee, but did it increase sales? I don’t think so.

For comparison, I took the previous 29 days, without the ad, and looked at my sales for the same book. Remember, I didn’t count May 18-22, because I ran another ad due to the Kindle Countdown Deal, so to be fair, I took out my highest grossing 5 sales and loan days during the prior 29 days without the ad and the results still prove my point.

Before the ad, the same book sold 77 and loaned 197. Even with the sidebar ad and 167 actual ad clicks on my book, my sales continued to decline during that time period.

My conclusion is, for me, a sidebar ad, even with a site that has lots of traffic, is not a good investment of my ad money.

Maybe you’ve had a better experience. If so, please feel free to comment so readers get a better overview than just my opinion.

Soon, I’ll be back to discuss how I advertised my Kindle Countdown Deal and the results I got. Also, advertising with a fairly well know book promo site that sends notices via email to subscribers.


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