Sunday, October 4, 2009

What Is a Good Advertising Agreement?

If you offer advertising to web site owners, either as an advertiser or as some kind of broker or advertising representative, you have to have some kind of agreement with the site owner. Often that agreement is unspoken, or only mentioned informally in a phone call or email. Whether you have formal written contracts or just a verbal or handshake agreement, you have to have some rules about what you will or won't do, or what you expect from advertisers or site owners.

Below are a few suggestions for what you should look for from your advertising partners, or from your own organization. Even if you don't use a formal contract, you would be wise to have some ground rules written out ahead of time so that you can refer to them if someone asks or if you come across a problem with site owners or advertisers.

Please note that these are guidelines, and not a legal contract. If you need something that will stand up in court, please find the appropriate professional assistance.

Definition of Roles
Be clear about what you do and what you expect of the others involved in the agreement. For example, if you are an advertiser, say so. If you are acting as an advertising broker, don't hide that fact.

Advertising Type
The typical kinds of advertising types are plain text links or some kind of graphic or banner that has an embedded link. Most advertising is static in that they don't change over time, or they could be a type that changes over time or that is animated.

Advertising Location
Typical locations are on a particular page on a web site, in a particular post in a blog, or visible on all pages of a site or posts on a blog.

Duration of a Placement
Usually, an advertisement is in place for a fixed amount of time (month, year, etc.), or until some other specific event occurs.

Payout Rules
Typically, a site owner is either paid up front or paid after the fact. Pay may either be a flat rate, or based on performance like the number of times a link is clicked or based on sales of goods or services. Whatever the system is, make it clear to the site owner.

Change Rules
Most advertisers will expect a reasonable number of changes to the ad during its placement period. How many is reasonable is usually up to the site owner. For example, for a month-to-month placement, one or two changes per month should be expected. If a site owner insists on zero changes, it may make the site much less attractive to advertisers.

Advertising Visibility by People and Search Engines
Site owners should not do anything to undermine the ability of the ad to be useful. The typical advertiser will insist that the ad be visible to people visiting the site or blog. Most, but not all, advertisers will insist that the link within an ad be visible to search engines. This means things like no redirects or nofollow attributes, and use of plain HTML links. Both the advertiser and the site owner should be clear on what is allowed and what is not allowed.

No Abuse of Insider Information
If you have an agreement with an advertising broker, and you find out sensitive business information such as what advertisers that broker is using or what other sites that advertiser is working with, you should not approach those other businesses unless you first clear it with that broker.

Full Disclosure to Site Owners
In the online advertising universe, site owners often have the least information about what is going on. Advertisers and brokers are usually much more savvy about how the game is played. If a site owner, wants to know what's going on, tell that owner everything you can within reason. For example, if they want to know what percentage of the advertising dollar that they get, there is no reason to hide. If they want to know if you are the advertiser or the agent of an advertiser, just say so.

Things You Won't Do
Typically, this would include the kinds of advertising your wont' deal with, or what you would do if an advertiser did something underhanded like change the page behind a link to inappropriate content.

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