Ask Anna Q: What do you think of this iSocket thing? A guy there told me they’re “interested in my vertical” (why thank you, sir!) and all this other stuff. I had filled out a thing on their site not thinking that I had enough traffic to really join up. Now they’re talking about the next step and I’m realizing I don’t even know how it works. I do feel like there might be more growth potential than with [my current network], but it’s also just the simple truth that I don’t want to work very hard. What is your impression of this operation and is it a good idea? I thought of you and figured you would have an opinion.
Ask Anna A: I met the iSocket guys at BlogWorld and enjoyed talking to them about their product. I think iSocket is a good product, but the truth is that I have mixed feelings about its utility within this niche (ie the mommyblogging niche). On the one hand, the service has a real utility, and for the right site, they would make a lot of sense. First let me explain what iSocket does, in case people haven’t heard of them yet: it is a way of making the process of buying private ads on your site self-service, and technologically hassle free, so instead of having to email back and forth with people who want to buy private ads, and then mess around with code, the advertisers can just buy it directly and all the publisher has to do is approve the ad. This kind of funcitonality is already available in some services (for example, you can do it with my site through BlogAds), but the difference with iSocket is that they don’t take a commission on each ad. Instead, they take a monthly fee. This may seem like a small distinction, but if you are a site that is selling a large number of private ads each month, this can lead to a ton of money staying in your pocket, which is why iSocket has a real utility for some sites.
Here’s the catch: I do not think this niche is, generally speaking, going to have a bunch of publishers who should be signing up with iSocket. At present, there are not many mommybloggers who are regularly selling enough private ads on their own to justify the monthly expense of iSocket. The smallest package available is for sites with traffic up to 500,000 pageviews, and most mommybloggers never even get to that level in the whole of their careers, and even if they did, they aren’t selling enough private ads to justify paying for a service to manage their ad sales. I have been in contact with the guys at iSocket about this and I think we just don’t agree on this point, which is fine, but in my mind $49 is a lot of money to pay, at least for many of the people who are out their in the trenches selling private ads within this niche. The people with high traffic in this niche tend to not sell private ads, though for the life of me I will never understand why they don’t.
Here’s how to decide if iSocket is right for you: Do you spend more than $49 worth of time dealing with the technological aspects of managing private ads on your site every month? Personally, I do not. I also have the luxury of already having a self-service ad management system on my site, and so I know that there’s really not much of a reason to install iSocket — though I’ve made some sales through that function on BlogAds, most of my BlogAds come through their ad sales team, and that’s why they get a commission. Please note that at present there is no ad sales team with iSocket, so you are not going to just get ads by signing up with them, either — they are not a typical ad network in that sense, at least not at present. I will not be using iSocket on my site right now because it doesn’t make fiscal sense for me right now, but I do think it’s a good product in general. My thoughts are that there are a few sites, mostly in the design community who could really benefit from iSocket, but I cannot really think of any within the mommyblogging niche that are likely to greatly benefit offhand, though I might be incorrect on this.
As a parting note, Google recently launched a private beta version of this kind of ad management system. It is not available to everyone at present, but if things continue as they usually do, my guess is that iSocket will get purchased by Google and this will all be free at some point anyway. This is all totally unsubstantiated conjecture on my part, obviously.