Website Advertising Will Not Hurt Your Members

Over at Association Media & Publishing's blog, Blurb, Jim Elliott talks about how web advertising will not hurt your members.  Here's the full article:

Because my company is charged with selling advertising, we are always looking for ways to reduce obstacles to sales, increase web traffic to the sites we sell, and keep the CPM (cost per thousand) at a level that makes the sales effort worthwhile.

Sometimes we find ourselves with a legacy situation, facing unnecessary obstacles. One of those is the existence of a smaller subsidiary commercial website run by the association's publication. Sometimes this commercial site is reachable via the association's main member site, and sometimes it is separate. Either way, selling the subsidiary site is tougher than it needs to be.

Often, this occurs when the main association site historically has not carried advertising. This is frequently due to a presupposition made by the association's elected board or paid staff when the main site was first being established that it would be preferable to protect their members from commercial interests. Later, as it became more important to raise non-dues revenues, some organizations whose publications already carried advertising got around the problem by simply branding a subsidiary site with the name of the association's publication and authorizing that new site to accept ads.

Under this somewhat common scenario, the publication's sales people sell the commercial site as well as they can, but traffic is usually just a fraction of the main site, and few advertisers really think that the publication's site is equivalent in value to the main site. The result is that the association receives less revenue than it could have by allowing open access to the primary site.

These days, more and more associations are discovering that their members are not helpless rubes who must be protected from advertisers, but rather, are very capable of discerning which commercial offers are worth their attention. Those associations are opening up their main websites to advertising and are benefiting from the free flow of commercial information about topics of interest to their members. The sky has not fallen, and the associations have not lost credibility.

Where is your association on this issue? Do you set the stage for interaction and engagement between members and suppliers by accepting advertising on your website, or do you believe that a website free of advertising is a better service to members?

Reprinted with permission of Association Media and Publishing.