Figuring out an advertising strategy

Created in Birmingham is currently funded in a very roundabout way by the Arts Council via Creative Republic. If I haven’t been too transparent about this it’s because to be honest I never really knew who was paying for it and I’ve always had complete editorial freedom over what goes on here. Basically I just send Helga at Fierce an invoice each month and she sends me a cheque. No questions asked. Did I mention how lucky I am?

But I digress. Relying on funding isn’t necessarily the most sustainable way to finance a website so Stef (who appears to have evolved into my “band manager”) and myself have been thinking about strategies for getting advertising and sponsorship onto the blog without messing everything up and making it an ugly Nascar of a site. Before reading on be aware that we’re just talking about this for now. Nothing has been decided and we’d welcome any and all feedback on this subject, especially as we think the readers of the blog are going to be the advertisers.

Here’s some ground rules.

  • We won’t accept any ads we don’t approve of or that aren’t relevant to the blog. Money is not the only criteria.
  • We want ads to be of use to the readers. If they are then people are more likely to look at them, which is better for the advertisers.
  • Advertisers will have no say in the content of the blog, nor on the placement of their ads regarding content.
  • Anyone who wants to place an ad that moves in any way will be shown the door. Static images only.

A model that Stef came up with (and, again, this is just an idea) was for four 200 pixel-wide boxes at the top of each page selling for £50 a fortnight each. I’m not completely sold on the format but the spirit is right, keeping things relatively affordable and simple. You’re not paying for clickthroughs or page impressions – just the presence on every page of the blog.

So what sort of ads are we thinking are a good thing?

  • The main impetus was to give people a way of effectively staying at the top of the blog. I might post about an event a fortnight before it happens and then it slips down into the archive. So time-specific stuff will be of use – festivals, conferences, gallery shows, that sort of thing.
  • Created in Birmingham does seem to get a lot of touristy type traffic through Google for people looking for arts stuff to do in the city so the likes of Ikon and the Symphony Hall would be potential clients.
  • Training courses that are looking to target creatives in the city might find this a useful thing. Let people know when the next rounds of funding are coming up and so on.
  • New websites and blogs could use it as a launch tool. Also those sites that want to push their arts / creative coverage.
  • Jobs is an interesting one. I know of a few people who’ve gotten jobs on the rare occasions I’ve posted about them. Looking for a new graphic designer or photographer?

You’ll notice that a lot of these are things I’d hopefully be blogging about anyway and I intend to continue to do so. CiB isn’t going to become a paid-for-placement blog (please shoot me if it does) but this will allow people to have a presence at the top of every page and in doing so support the work that goes into the blog (and it’s future expansion).

And if you just don’t like ads then switch on AdBlock. I’ll make sure the images are stored in a consistent place so you never see them. But hopefully they’ll be useful enough that you won’t want to block them.

There’s other things to think about. What about the RSS feed? Is that sacred? And who are the readers of this blog anyway? I think I have a pretty good idea but it’d be good to get some figures. Speaking of which we’ll get some decent and accurate readership figures together soon so people have an idea of the numbers they’d be reaching.

What kinda excites me about this is the core readership of the blog will also be the main group advertising on it, making it into a nice community of checks and balances. Advertisers know how the blog works because they read it regularly so they’ll keep things relevant.

This ain’t gonna happen until well into the New Year (as part of a wholesale overhaul of the site) and we’d welcome your opinions on this. Would you buy an ad on the site? How much would you pay? What sort of ads would you find useful?

Further reading:


  1. I wouldn’t have Bearded advertise through the site but that’s only because all the money we have goes on the magazine.

    I do think that your ethos is right though in the sense that you only want ads that complement the site and I personally wouldn’t mind nicely placed ads regardless of their usefulness. Also the blog is pretty interactive in the fact that plenty of people from throughout the creative community in Birmingham comment on here regularly. I think that would encourage people to advertise.

    The readership of the blog is easy to pinpoint and I see no reason why people wouldn’t want to advertise local creative events to local creatives. Whether they would pay £50 for the privilege is another matter, I personally would certainly consider advertising the latest issue of Bearded here (if the budget was there).

  2. I think thats the problem, “if the budget was there”
    the reason this blog has been invaluable is because you have covered all sorts of events/exhibitions regardless of size. For many of us smaller independent organisations we don’t have a marketing budget and it would be a shame that those with larger budgets get prioritised. I think that this blog has a good case to get continued support from funders as its probably the most used and useful creative website in the region. Thats just my two pence worth:)

  3. A slight aside but could I ask for a bit more info on Creative Republic…all seems a bit mysterious at the moment and their also seems to be a slight confusion about what is the West Midlands and what is Birmingham…would be good to hear a little more about what it is, what it’s trying to do and how organisations get involved in it all…
    Aside from that this all sounds good in terms of a sustainable and non-intrusive way of funding a great resource for those in the city…

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