I just moved from EZBoard in July to vBulletin (with a lot of help--I'm not terribly proficient in the IT department and am a one woman shop so contract out all the pieces I can.)

But the company seems to be growing at a nice little clip and this is my question:

According to Google Analytics, I am averaging 845 unique daily visits to the message board ant 11,500 page views. I have nearly 1,000 members since launching in July and typically have an equal number of unregistered viewers or more at any given time (although sales are in a slump...I use the message board to drive traffic to my estore.)

I'm desperate to monetize the board and install text and/or banner ads and I assume those numbers will support a healthy program. It is not yet ranked. What ad management software do you recommend? What affiliate program is best? Should I hire a consultant to provide me with some advice? I'm a pretty good guerilla marketer but I want to do this right. (I'm in the US, btw.) Also, will I need to re-design my message board to accommodate banner and text ads?

Sorry to go on so long.

I am very happy to have found this board! TIA for any and all feedback!

Northern Mamma

Hi. Firstly, I need to commend you on your very active membership - it looks as if the average visitor visits 10+ pageviews at a time, so congratulations on making your site very "sticky". That's something I need more work on, myself.

Unfortunately, a sticky site does come with a very big downside. When you have such active visitors who are so enthralled with your site, it's very hard to convince them to click on the advertisements. In other words, there would be less banner blindness and more ad clicking if people DIDN'T want to stick around so long, and were semi-consciously looking for other places to go to. And the higher the click-thru rate, the more money you could get for the advertisements.

One of the best ad agencies I could recommend is Tribal Fusion. However, you might not yet have enough pageviews for them. I believe they have a 20,000/day minimum (I could be completely wrong on this), so you're halfway there.

Something that you may wish to try, however, especially because your site is so sticky, is to sell stickied threads within your forum. In other words, a company would write a thread advertising their product or service, and you would make it a sticky within a forum for one month for a fixed price. I think this would do very well on your site because forum members won't learn to ignore it as quickly as they would traditional banner advertising. Additionally, it's a good way to get some revenue coming in when you're still small.

Of course, I also highly suggest Google AdSense. For forums, the best ad spots are right beneath the first post in a thread, right after the last post in a thread but above the Quick Reply box, and right above all of the threads but below the navigation bar.

I just wanted to add, I don't see a need to hire a consultant, especially when you can come here and learn this way. There's no secrets to it that a consultant can tell you, and everything works differently for every single site, so there's no tried and true method either. For example, some sites, such as DaniWeb, where most visitors come in via Google to individual articles, read them, and then are ready to move on to something new, do very well with banner advertising. A site which is very sticky, with only 800 unique visitors resulting in 11,000 pageviews, would do very well with paid memberships (vBulletin subscriptions which give members additional privileges for a monthly fee) and sponsorships that are more targeted towards registered, regular members.

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