Building An Ad-Network Is Hard

I once haboured the thoughts of building an ad-network.

I want the sites I like to be associated with the products and services I admire. It sounds like a plan. A neat idea that brings mutual benefit to both parties – the sites will be able to receive additional revenues. This can be handy to offset the cost of hosting and other expenses like engaging a proofreader for their work. For the sponsors, it’s an opportunity to get their names out to the selected audience. For the readers, it’s a tasteful way of being informed and reminded of the better brands out there. Reading experience won’t be compromised, and there would be minimal distraction.

But advertising is hard.

Marcelo Somers, ex-founder of The Syndicate gave his inputs on the stressful conditions he had to work in.

But that’s not sales, especially online ad sales when you have no existing relationships. I found myself having to schedule calls at the strangest hours, and I was hustling 20-30 hours per week outside my 40+ hour per week job. Sales also came in waves. One day I’d be scraping to get the next week’s sponsor booked, and the next I’d be booked out two months unable to serve everyone emailing me. There was even a day that I was away from my computer for my day job and my entire URL redirection platform went down for over 6 hours, meaning no sponsor links worked.

It takes hard work, perseverance, connection and a little bit of luck to be sustainable. Contacting site owners, getting in touch with sponsors, negotiating the rates and everything in between. Chasing after payment and constant liaising that goes on at the back.

It certainly sounds like a lot of work to put in, and it’s not something I can commit to on a long-term basis. Hearing it first-hand from people who have done it before confirm this.

Advertising is indeed, hard.