6 Platforms Hyperlocal Publishers Can Use to Fill Unsold Ad Inventory

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“The best thing a publisher can do is effectively sell their own ad inventory — packaged correctly — to their local advertisers,” says Dick O’Hare, founder and CEO of Local Yokel Media. “But, the industry average is that 50%+ of those ad impressions are unsold.” Rather than letting unsold inventory go to waste, hyperlocal publishers are increasingly turning to larger ad networks for help.

Ad inventory sold by networks typically doesn’t command the high CPM (cost per thousand impressions) that individual publishers can charge when they work with local businesses directly. However, these ads do give publishers a chance broaden their advertiser base and earn revenue for space that would have otherwise gone unused.

Here are six platforms that hyperlocal publishers are using to earn extra revenue and fill their unused inventory with targeted ads.

1. adBrite Exchange
Publishers of all sizes can use adBrite’s self-service platform to sell unused inventory on their sites. The platform lets publishers determine how much they’re willing to sell their inventory for, and uses that information to sell ads to its client partners. Publishers who are afraid of cannibalizing their own sales team’s efforts can place limitations that prevent businesses in their local areas from running ads through the adBrite network. adBrite offers a “real-time pricing” solution, charging a 25% commission on publisher earnings, with the remainder paid out 60 days after an ad’s purchase.

2. Lijit
Acquired by Federated Media in 2011, Lijit provides an additional revenue stream for publishers who already have a sales team in place. Publishers can manage their own ad placements, set floor prices, and use pass-back tags to increase fill rates. Lijit also offers audience analytics and reader engagement tools that publishers can use to better understand the relationship between their readers and their content. Lijit publishers are free to work with other ad networks, and they don’t have to sign any long-term agreements to join the program. Publishers are eligible to receive payments once they accrue at least $25 in their accounts, with payouts occurring once every 30 days.

3. BuySellAds
Publishers selling anywhere from $100 to $50,000 in ads per month can use BSA to sell and serve display ads, text ads, and background takeovers on their sites. Publishers can list their inventory on the BSA marketplace, deciding for themselves where to place ads and how much to charge. Although publishers can use the platform in conjunction with Google’s AdSense, they can’t use it in conjunction with any “materially competitive services.” BSA takes a 30% commission on a publisher’s earnings, and pays out the remainder via PayPal or check.

4. Local Yokel Media
Local Yokel is an ad platform that hyperlocal publishers can use to capture small business advertisers and national brands running local campaigns. Local Yokel says it helps hyperlocal publications, local blogs, and community newspaper sites in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut sell ad impressions at higher CPMs through “increased ad efficiency,” and by working with larger regional and national marketers than a small publication could expect to sell to on its own. Publishers also maintain the right to accept or reject any campaign for any reason. Campaign rates vary based on market conditions, and most publishers are paid within 45 days.

5. AdSense
Local publishers who have extra inventory that they’d like to sell quickly can sign up for Google’s AdSense platform to start running display ads on their sites. Although AdSense works with more than 1 million advertisers and runs targeted ads based on a site’s content, publishers still maintain control over the types of ads that appear. Publishers who work with AdSense receive a 68% revenue share from all content ads sold against their sites. Payments are typically sent within 30 days.

6. Chitika
Chitika’s local ad exchange lets publishers display ads based on the geographic location and intent of their visitors. The platform aims to get publishers the “highest CPM possible” by using a proprietary algorithm that displays ads based on the keywords a visitor used to search for a site. These targeted ads are more likely to get noticed and clicked, bringing in more revenue as a result. Chitika provides a 60% revenue share, with payments going out at the end of each month.

Know of other platforms that publishers can use to fill unsold inventory on their sites? Leave a description in the comments. 


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Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.