What Should I Charge for Banner Ads?

by Phil Rappoport

In a recent post on ASAE’s Collaborate message board, a meeting planner asked, “We are working on developing a pricing structure for banners within our event mobile app. We launched the app last year and have some statistics that we are looking to use to build a pricing structure for rotating banner ads and splash pages within the app. I’m trying to figure out how to price these ads and would appreciate direction or guidance on where to start.”

Since every meeting is different given the number of attendees and pricing levels for print and signage opportunities, it’s difficult to give one answer on how much to charge. For example, asking for one thousand dollars for a banner ad for one meeting might be reasonable, yet it could be cost-prohibitive for another. We’ve seen one client charge $100-$200 for a banner ad, and another client charge considerably more.

 Here are some things to consider:

– How many attendees do you have, and what percentage of them do you anticipate installing the app and using it? This goes to the “reach” of the audience for your advertiser.

– Will you have a printed program, and what is the range for your program ads? In other words, what pricing levels have you already set for your sponsors? Going outside that range might be uncomfortable for sponsors if they don’t understand the value.

– Going paperless or reducing your print commitment makes the event app significantly more valuable to sponsors.

– How many banners do you want in the inventory? Fewer ads will create more of a premium for the app.

– Can your app provider broadcast the ads based on levels of sponsorship that you set, so that higher level sponsors will receive more impressions?

– Do you want the ads to be clickable, to send the user to either the sponsor’s page on the app, or a website?

– Will your app provider deliver a comprehensive report after the event, so that you, in turn, can give your sponsors some data?

– The quality of the graphic design of your sponsor ads should never be underestimated. Large type and fewer words make ads much easier to read and memorable.

– The ad message is important, such as directing the attendee to a booth number to get a free sample or be entered into a drawing, rather than simply using the ad for branding.

We’re seeing more of our client partners incorporate banner ads as part of an overall sponsorship package instead of selling banners. It’s more of a merchandising opportunity, to include the banners as part of an overall sponsorship that likely includes signage or a presenting sponsorship. But even if they are offered separately, the app ads are usually a great value.

Notwithstanding large ads or prominent inside/back cover ads which we’re all used to seeing, ad impressions from your printed program are essentially your circulation — the total number of copies distributed. And while banners are small, they’re viewed within the context of the app schedule and all the networking, and they are viewed for as long as the attendee uses the app on their device. The data from apps can be much richer.

There are many factors to consider when deciding how to price banner ads for your app and meeting.  A careful evaluation of these factors and discussions with potential sponsors and advertisers can help determine what pricing structure will best optimize your revenue stream.