Advertising is down this year, as local business owners keep one hand on their pocketbooks at all times amid this pandemic. Still, with budgets so tightly wound across the board, any advertising purchase could help you pay to keep your publication up and running. That makes it very important that you know how to bring aboard that advertiser when they come calling.

With our summer announcement of the new SNO Ads platform came many misconceptions about how you can utilize advertising on your website — with and without our help. So, today, we thought we’d try to squash a few of those for you.

Doing it yourself

Advertising is nothing new. It’s been the life support (or mark of death) for newspapers for longer than most of today’s student journalists have been alive. You’ve had the functionality to freely sell and place ads on your website for years.

That’s what the SNO Advertising widget, on your Widget Control Panel, is for. Complete a sale, pocket all the money, take the ad and upload it in that widget. Put it wherever you want.

And that’s what the Leaderboard and Footer Ad Areas, on your Design Options page, are for. Every SNO Site comes with these tools built in, and they’re exceptionally easy to use. Just upload an ad and you’re off to the races.

We’ve also been selling the SNO Ad Manager add-on for several years to give you a few more tools (beyond the free ones) to hang from your advertising work belt — like creating groups of ads to rotate in a single space and tracking analytics on those ads.

The moral of this story is this: If you have a SNO website, you already have all of the tools you need to display ads on your website. If you want to pay a little extra for a couple more tools, great. But you don’t have to.

We could stop this article here.

You don’t necessarily need anything else to get those ads up and selling cupcakes.

Let that sink in for a second.

*Turns on elevator music.*

*Wishes there was a cupcake nearby.*

But we’ll go on, because the point of this article was to distinguish everything you can do on your own (see above) from SNO Ads, which will show up in the toolbar on the left side of your website’s dashboard even if you aren’t using it. (It’s there just in case you want to.)

Seeking assistance

SNO Ads is basically a free advertising brokerage.

When SNO needs a new office space, the company doesn’t look for one on its own. (Ain’t nobody got time for that.) They work with a real estate broker, a middle man (or woman) to find potential office spaces based on factors like how much the company wants to pay and where they want to be located.

We don’t have to use a broker. We could grind out the search on our own. But we like the help.

Our SNO Ads platform exists to broker some advertising sales for you. We setup the platform on which advertisers can find your website; we execute the sale, place the ad and drop 70 percent of the profit into your account. And maybe that’s best demonstrated by explaining how Windsor, a women’s clothing company, ended up buying ads on nearly 100 of our sites.

Windsor’s advertising manager goes to SNOAds.com and searches for publications at schools near their stores. One they find is Richardson High School (The Talon Online). They see that they can buy an ad in the sidebar for $35 per month (a price The Talon set). To purchase the ad space, the advertising manager sets up a SNO Ads account, pays by credit card and submits the ad for us to review. Searching by the location of their stores, they find many more sites on which to buy ad space.

That’s just one example and isn’t necessarily the norm, but it shows that it can be beneficial. Still, remember, you aren’t required to be a part of SNO Ads. At its core, SNO Ads is a free program we developed to help teachers on tight budgets possibly earn a little revenue to help them pay for their websites. If it’s able to help you do that, great! But it has definitely caused some confusion that we’d like to clean up. It can’t help you if it’s only confusing you.

Here are few important distinctions we should clarify:

  • Opting to participate in the SNO Ads platform is not a forfeiture of being able to sell ads on your own. You could do both if you’d like, actively working to sell ads on your own while benefiting when an advertiser buys an ad for your site on SNO Ads. And you can keep those avenues separate. For example, if you’re a part of the SNO Ads platform but you’ve just sold an ad on your own, you do not have to go through SNO Ads to put the ad on your website. Use one of the tools we referenced earlier.

  • SNO Ads is not a guarantee of future sales. It’s impossible to know if and when an ad will be purchased on any site, so don’t expect ads to flood in right away. SNO Ads is a new platform and we’re still in a pandemic. Be patient.

  • SNO Ads is not a permanent choice. You can opt in and out any time (as long as an ad isn’t currently purchased) and as many times as you want to. You can also control (turn on/off) which ad spaces you make available to advertisers shopping on SNO Ads.

  • You don’t need to create an account on SNOAds.com. Those accounts are meant for advertisers. Everything you want or need to control about your listing on SNOAds.com can be controlled from the toolbar in your website’s dashboard (the SNO Ads section). You can and should edit your SNO Ads listing from your website dashboard, including your site’s name, description, picture and prices.

  • You can upload your own house, or fill-ads, to replace ours. Those should never be real ads you’ve sold to businesses because they will be automatically replaced as soon as someone buys an ad for that space from SNO Ads.

All of this is designed to help you make a little money for your program, whether we’re brokering those sales for you or you’re utilizing the built-in tools on your website to take advantage of an advertising opportunity when it’s presented to you.