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5 Questions Every Publisher should ask when Picking an Ad Network

Monetizing a website can be a difficult and arduous process, and can often take a fair amount of time out of a publisher's day.

Here at Sortable, we believe a trusted ad partner can be extremely beneficial  for your business, taking the stress out of selling ads, allowing you to put time back into creating content and improving your website.

Finding a trusted ad partner is challenging; how do you know if they have your best interest at heart? Are their client lists enough to sell you on their effectiveness? Will they make your life easier?

These types of questions and concerns can be difficult to assess through sales pitches, so we've compiled some ways to test your potential network partners whether you choose Sortable or a different service). The next time you head into a sales call, make sure you ask some of these questions.

How will you provide me value?

This should be your first question, because frankly, this is the most important one: how will your ad partner (or any other partner really) benefit you as a publisher? What's their promise to making your life better?

At Sortable, we recognize that our clients spend half their day creating their site and half their day monetizing it. We want to help publishers monetize their sites better so they can refocus their energy on creating content or improving the user experience. Effectively, we want to give you control over your day, not worry about how you're going to pay the bills at the end of the month.

Can you be trusted?

Trust in your partners is paramount, but how can you ask a potential ad partner if they are trustworthy?

Trustworthiness is something that's proven over time; anything they say in an early pitch will probably feel canned or taken directly from their website. It's important to ask to be walked through a product to see for yourself if it meets your needs, but don't be afraid to test your potential partner.

For example, don't follow up with them after that initial meeting; instead, see if they reach back out to you when they said they would. Do their office hours line up with yours? Are they available after 6:30 p.m.? Are they attentive to your needs or does it feel like they're just trying to get out of the office?

Reference checks, of course, are a great way of gauging a company's reputation. But rather than relying on the ones provided by them, ask to be put in touch with whichever client they happened to have worked with last. Was that person happy with the service they received? Did the network manage to solve whatever issues were brought forward? Would the client recommend the network? And why? What could the company improve upon?

While this might feel intrusive, remember; it's easy to say you're trustworthy, but it's a lot harder to show it.

What's your company vision?

Some ad partners are strictly focused on their own bottom line, driving sales for publishers so they can satisfy their own shareholders.

While it's easy to say your vision as a company is to work in the best interest of your clients, but does your staff breakdown accommodate that?

How a company is staffed is a key indicator of their vision: are the majority of their employees in the marketing or sales department (a.k.a. emphasizing ad inventory sales) or is there an emphasis on engineering? Here at Sortable, we want to put the emphasis on continually improving our product, so our company has a large development team.

Why are you doing what you're doing?

You might get a cookie-cutter answer, but it's still important as it can often shed light on where a company's priorities are. For example, at Sortable we want to solve problems in the ad market, and make a product so good that we're impossible to replace.

Does working with this ad partner accomplish my long-term goals?

How do you want your website represented? Can the ad partner best represent that?

This one might be best represented by another example: say you're a food website looking to monetize your content. In an initial conversation with an advertising partner, you say you want to focus on premium ad sales. However, because of your long-term ambitions, Kraft is an important partner and you'd like to give them priority. Does the ad partner's technology only allow inventory to sell to the highest bidder or can you tailor the costs to different brands?

If Kraft is an important partner, is the company okay allowing you to maintain the contact, letting you as a publisher represent yourself? Or do they simply say send Kraft to us “ we'll handle it. That should be a red flag because you lose control of those relationships

Systems like ours allow you to go in and manage your own inventory; we think this is an important feature for publishers because it allows them to control their own long-term goals. You should expect the same from whichever network partner you choose.

Whatever partner you choose

Of course, you should always ask about how a potential partner's product works. How are ads sold? What types of ads are you serving? What does your targeting and retargeting abilities look like? How can I manage inventory? How does your algorithm work? How do you present reports? How is your revenue share structured?

These technical questions are equally important to ask. However, some of those issues are going to come down to personal preference, and it's really easy to get caught up in the flash of a sales pitch.

The ad network space is a super hot market right now, with plenty of competition popping up, all after your inventory.

Whichever partner you choose, however their network system functions, it's really important to understand what makes them unique, and what makes them a company that's going to work for your interests. After all, it's your website, and your interests should pretty much be the only thing your ad partner cares about.