I promised a long time ago I’d write a follow up the “where and how to advertise” on how to actually make the ads, and explain a bit more about the methodology around the different kinds of ads.

While we are on the subject, I want throw out a quick mention to the Demon Archives which posted their own ad services rundown over at their blog. It’s analysis matches a lot of what we’ve seen and is prettier than our previous write up; it has a lot of numbers and pictures and nice things. Go check it out 😀

Now… onto ads!

Previously I mentioned that some services, like Google Adwords, use CPC – Cost Per Click, and thus I run ads targeting to getting the highest retention possibility there, while other services, Hiveworks, Comic Rocket, Project Wonderful, and Top Webcomics use either time or impressions; both of which are effectively CPM – Cost Per 1000 impressions; for which you as many people as possible to click the ad, you’ve already paid for them.

CPM Ads:

As I mentioned above, the important thing with this kind of ad is that by the time the user has a chance to see your ad, you’ve already paid for them. You have one goal. Make that user click on your ad.

“But” you say “what if they may not like my comic?”; it’s always a greater than zero chance they will like the comic, and there is zero chance of them liking the comic if they don’t click the ad. It becomes a numbers games – what ad will get the most clicks without driving away any core target audience clicks?

The General Categories of A CPM ad.

  • Animated. If you can stomach it, animated ads perform almost universally better than non-animated ads. The animation doesn’t have anything special; something as simple as making the stars in the background twinkle or the character blink is just as effective.
  • Humor. A funny quip is worth more than an insightful summary in the land of CPM; if you’re a gag comic this is your bread and butter, if you’re not, it’s just another tool for the kit. A fake review quote, a frank but humorous evaluation of one of your characters, anything goes as long as it’s short and quippy.
  • Fanservice / Lush-art. Not sure I need to explain this one in depth; no matter what pretty much anyone will claim about what kind of ad appeals to them, ads with pretty people get clicked more. Pour more effort into your ad art / use clips of your best art, and put your most photogenic characters in it. Essentially a SFW pinup is one of the simplest and most effective ads you can run; people will click it, and they will click it in droves.

There is no such thing as a “worthless” click in CPM. If they clicked, saw it wasn’t their kind of comic, and bounced, they are still worth more to you than if they didn’t click; unless you are doing a humor/quip ad, the less words on it the better. Typically just your comics name, and even that is not strictly required. You can include your genre if it’s a pop genre, but generally it’s extraneous; that’s the sort of stuff you save for quality controlling your clicks, and on that note…

CPC Ads.

Cost-per-click ads are an entirely different ball game. You pay nothing for impressions, and only have to cough up money when some one clicks your ad; this is awesome – you don’t have to worry about crappy ad placement. You don’t have to worry about the ad serving the same person forty times. The catch? You’re paying a lot per click.

This means you need to optimize the hell out of whose clicking your ad. You want only the pure fan-material click on that ad.

What does this mean?

  • Keep the art style roughly equivalent to the comics art style. The lush-art ads of CPM will kill you if your comics art falls short and they bounce after deciding they don’t care for it on a page or two; art is the make or break of comic preference for most newcomers, and getting people to sign off on the art before you pay out is a massive win.
  • Include genre, update schedule, title… you still can’t fit more than a one fragment summary on the ad, but you can now definitely fit in a non-quipy tagline to give the potential reader something to chew on before clicking.
  • Text based ads! Adwords is the main CPC provider, and the provide text based ads. But wait, you said make sure they are okay with your art style! Plus text ads are craptastic. True! But they give you a lot more words to refine your readers, and only the most interested will venture into text based ads. Remember, the pendulum as swung and you aren’t maximizing clicks anymore; clicks without intent to read are the enemy, and if you can sell them on quick plot hook, read they will. As long as your art isn’t truly face-melting awful, text based ads tend to have a very good cost-per-actual reader performance; by the time they’ve clicked on one of these, they are already more dedicated and interested than the average clicker.

Personally more and more I’ve moved over to CPC ads, but mostly become Adwords is in general a slightly better marketing solution than the other options currently for those that want to get both reach and cost effective readers. It is certainly not the easiest though.



While targeting is always your friend (aiming for sites that either share a theme or medium with your material) you can afford to be a lot more free with CPC ads – this is because they are a lot more specific. Even if your ad winds up on a drastically off target place, if you have “sci/fi-fantasy webcomic” with a picture of your art style; they aren’t going to click it unless they are potential reader. Even if it’s on a site about anime or building model airplanes where 99% of the people don’t read webcomics, it’s fairly safe to let it run there compared to a CPM ad where you have to pay for all those uninterested 99% of people would be finical suicide.

To summarize targeting:

  • Make sure CPM ads are only appearing on the most relevant sites possibles. You are trying to capture as high a % as traffic as possible, thus you need the highest quality traffic of the site possible to start with.
  • Don’t worry about this much with CPC; you are trying to skim out potential readers; reach matters more than match.

Ending Thoughts.

As always, I will address any questions in email or comments below, and hopefully this was helpful to someone. I know this post comes pretty late compared to when I was hoping to get it out, but frankly I’d intended to something a little more ambitious originally (breaking down the actual ads I use) but it just isn’t really feasible to put the time into that right now; I don’t have much CPM marketing running and I haven’t been combing through my analytics as much recently (as I’ve been busy with other projects).

Hope this is helpful as is, and feel free to let me know if there is anything I could add (within reason) to make it more helpful.