Amplify Your Non-Dues Revenue With This Beginners Guide to Banner Ads

Categories: Association, Chambers of Commerce, Marketing & Strategy, Non-Dues Revenue


One of the things that WebLinkers often talk about with associations when we’re designing and building their websites are banner ads – how they work, what they should cost, and why to even bother with them. Yes, digital advertising is a monster, but by understanding the basics your association can build itself an easy to manage, super profitable non-dues revenue stream.

As someone who used to manage digital ads for five different websites and their mobile apps, one thing I can tell you about the digital advertising industry is that it’s still so fluid. Every day developers are creating new ways to integrate ads into the digital experience – which is great for giving advertisers more options, but difficult for setting industry standards that will stand the test of time.

The good news is, you don’t have to know it all to produce a robust and profitable banner advertising program for your association website! I’ve put together a few basic concepts to help guide your understanding of banner ads, and some packages you can get started with:

The Lingo

Let’s start with some basic definitions:

  • Impressions: What advertisers care about getting. An impression is every time a banner ad appears on the website – or, as I like to think about it, every time a banner ad has had a set of eyeballs on it.
  • Cost Per Thousand (CPM): Traditional pricing method for banner ads. A CPM determines how much money an advertiser is paying for every 1,000 impressions.
  • Pageviews: The number of times any page on your website has been visited in a given time period.
  • Placement: Where the banner appears on any given page. Typically, you’ll see one “leaderboard” at the top and one to three “medium rectangles” on the right rail.
  • Ad Sizes: And typically, those leaderboards are 728×90 pixels, while the medium rectangles are 300×250 pixels. This becomes important when making sure advertisers are providing the correct sized creative.
  • Run of Site (ROS): Any ads that are placed ROS means they can appear on any page within the website, in its assigned placement.

The Pricing

I know I’m preaching to the choir when I say, this is when it gets confusing. There are a couple of routes you could take – let’s start with the easy one!

  • The flat rate route: Make your lives a little easier by working with a flat rate. Maybe start by offering advertisers six months of ROS banner ads for $500 and see out it goes. Whatever you decide, keep your pricing the same for at least a year so you can gather performance data. It takes some time to gather good data, but once it’s there you can use it to start informing your banner ad sales strategy: where to increase price, where to decrease, how to bundle assets together, what advertisers to approach because you’ve proven that it works in their category, etc.

If you’ve stuck with me so far – thank you! This part gets a little complicated. It won’t hurt my feelings at all if you decide “You know what, I am going to stick with the easy way” and totally skip it. Or, read on and learn a little!

  • The traditional route: As you read above, banner ads are traditionally priced on a cost-per-thousand basis. Industry standard CPM for banner ads hovers around $10, but that can be increased or decreased based on how many impressions a website has to offer, or its “inventory.” It’s all supply and demand – if a website has a small amount of inventory, but high demand from advertisers, it becomes a premium opportunity and price will increase.Impression inventory is determined by the number of pageviews a website gets, and how many banner ad placements are on each page. Let’s do some math: if a website gets 50,000 pageviews a month, and has three different banner ad placements on each page, then it has roughly 150,000 impressions available to offer advertisers each month. At a $10 CPM, that’s a potential $1,500 in revenue every month. Cha-ching!

The Why

What’s great about your association website is, it’s a very targeted channel for advertisers. It’s hard to cut through the ad clutter sometimes, but by creating a website that is the authority on your industry or community, and attracting that unique audience, it becomes a more valuable space for advertisers.

Think about it – who visits your website the most? Your members and potential members. A maintenance tool supplier, for example, would have a way better chance of reaching apartment maintenance managers by advertising on your apartment association’s website than any other.

Take a good look at your membership and start thinking about who would want to reach them. That will get you started in a list of potential advertisers, and boy do you have a compelling story to tell them.

Of course, members are potential advertisers too! What do they have going on that needs some attention? Offering your resources and expertise further demonstrates the value of their membership. Consider offering banner advertising at a discounted rate for members.

At the end of the day, the fact of the matter is your website has all this real estate that could be monetized. Don’t leave that non-dues revenue on the table!

The Packages

As promised, here are some bundles to get you started – but remember, track performance and adjust your offering as necessary!

For more on banner ads, visit the WebLink Help Center!

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