What is “remnant traffic”, and why it is good for advertising?
‘Remnant traffic’ myths.
There are a multitude of myths and misconceptions concerning different aspects of online advertising which are still misleading for both Internet users and advertisers alike. One of these misconceptions is the definition of ‘remnant traffic’. Some advertising networks and agencies have their own glossary open for public use, where remnant traffic is often defined as “the most inexpensive ad inventory traffic by disreputable sites or empty ‘parked domains’ advertising inappropriate content”. Is remnant traffic really as bad as we are led to believe?
In order to understand what remnant traffic truly is let’s look more closely at what the traffic is the remnant of.
Premium traffic: The easiest way to understand is to imagine the banner of a famous brand on a top website’s homepage. In fact premium traffic is the “cream” of a website’s audience. Websites that provide premium traffic are guaranteeing to the advertiser that the audience will note the ad. They will primarily display the banner at notable places so ALL visitors to the site will see it.
This gives us our opposing definition of ‘remnant traffic’. First of all this term had been considered as the unsold inventory of our big brand advertiser above. Another stereotype is that historically remnant traffic was thought of as sold by low traffic ‘unpopular’ websites only, as they have no hope of attracting big name brands as advertisers. In the absence of alternatives these low traffic sites place banners from blind networks, which offer inexpensive ads often of doubtful content and quality.
Thus there formed a situation where premium traffic is considered as top websites traffic and remnant traffic is the traffic of the other less popular resources online. That would sound quite reasonable if it wasn’t found to be largely untrue under detailed consideration. In order to sort out the fact from the fiction let’s look at the nearest relation of online ads – advertising on TV, radio and traditional print media.
As it turns out there was already a very close definition of ‘remnant advertising’ in TV, radio and print media.
Is there ‘remnant advertising’ in the other media?
TV remnant advertising is advertising at any time except prime-time. The further from prime-time an advert is shown, the more discounts a channel offers to advertisers. Discounts on TV may reach 90% for unsold inventory. Discounts on radio are also prevalent and depend on time of broadcast and usual audience listening figures. These discounts may range from 25% to 75%.
Another rule operates for printed media as they are selling physical advertising space. Advertising space nearer the middle of the newspaper is priced vastly differently from a front page advert cost. In this case a direct comparison can be made between advertising on the front page of a newspaper with a banner on the homepage of a popular website.
The win-win nature of remnant advertising was accepted long ago in traditional media advertising and so the approach to premium and remnant ads was formed as the market matured. It is obvious and logical that those media may offer discounts up to 90% for unsold time or space. This is called remnant advertising. In this case both the channel and the advertiser are gaining. The channel covers 100% of scheduled advertising inventory; the advertiser is placing his advert with resources required with a great discount. So as we can see the place for remnant advertising was found in traditional media. Further remnant advertising is working effectively and not giving rise to the rejection of potential participants whether they be advertisers, advertising agencies or publishers.
‘Remnant traffic’ as it is.
Now let’s return to the Internet. If you look through the homepage of any top website, you will usually see only big-brand advertising in all the most notable places. Obviously this is premium traffic, somewhat analogous of prime-time on TV or magazines’ or newspapers’ front pages. If however you leave the page and return to it once or twice, the displayed advertising begins to change before your very eyes from a big brand to smaller or less well known advertisers or brands.
It turns out that as well as TV channels sell their prime-time, large websites sell impressions with a ‘first demonstration’ privilege. By refreshing a page several times we leafed through the big brand premium ad traffic and may now in fact see true ‘remnant advertising’ on a popular website. So that means top sites also have remnant traffic don’t they? Undoubtedly they do and they monetize it as well as traditional media do with their remnant advertising through great discounts. Separately it should be noted that this is the same mythical remnant traffic, which some networks and agencies associate with something inexpensive, negative and full of inappropriate content. These terms are obviously mismatched with the reality of remnant ads on top websites. On these top websites, remnant inventory may still be very expensive and high quality both for ad placement and ad content. Thus we have dispelled this particular myth.
But what should small low-traffic sites do? They do not attract huge site traffic numbers and thus cannot place premium class brand advertising. Are there any alternatives except the placement of inexpensive ad of sometimes very doubtful content, as described at the beginning of this article’s?
Can we benefit from using ‘remnant traffic’?
There are currently four main alternatives each with different pros and cons:
(a)You may place contextual advertising from one of the big search engines. Such services offer banner display advertising too. Among the advantages we should mention flexibility and adaptability of ad settings, rotations, localization etc. The disadvantages include delays with site verification and authorization to collaborate this program and delays with revenue payouts for displayed ads. Example: Google AdSense
(b)You may place a banner from one of the ‘blind’ ad networks. The principal advantages are that it is fast, simple and will generate money for anybody without exception. The disadvantages are lower revenues and the very real possibility of the appearance of inappropriate or shocking advertising content. Example: Clicksor
(c)You may register at a specialized remnant traffic ad network. These networks specialize in monetization of remnant traffic only. Both medium and high traffic sites use their services to fill their remnant ad inventory. The principal advantages are a generally high return in comparison with the alternatives and guaranteed clear and appropriate ad content. The main disadvantage is the current inability to monetize Chinese, Korean or Indian traffic sufficiently using these ad networks. Thus this alternative should be chosen in the case of sites with predominantly European or US traffic. Example: Fidelity Media
(d)You may place social (or philanthropic) advertising. The advantages are worthwhile ads, wholly appropriate content and you can improve your karma by doing social good. Disadvantage: it is generally free and thus not for profit. Example: Ad Council
Hopefully after considering these options there will be an obvious conclusion so do not hesitate to experiment. Earn money from your website and don’t get fooled by pseudo-authoritative statements that your traffic is worthless to advertisers. In most cases it is simply not true.