How to Negotiate Online Ad Buys

There is one key to negotiating the best rates for online display advertising, and that is knowledge. Knowing what you want, where you can get it, and how much everyone is charging will ensure that you get the best rates possible on the best sites possible.

In this post, we’re going to look at how you can get the knowledge you need to negotiate the best online ad prices possible.

Research the Competition

Your first goal is to figure out where your competitors are buying their ads. Chances are, if they have been using display advertising for a long time, they know which sites will deliver results, and which ones won’t.

Moat is a great (and free) tool to use for this. You can search for a company name and see their latest display ads and where they were published.

Not only will you see where their ads are published, but you will get some great inspiration for the type of design you should use for your banner ad.

You can also use premium tools like SEMrush to find additional information about your competitor’s display advertising strategy.

At this stage, you should have some great publishers to research for display advertising opportunities. But don’t stop here.

Research the Publishers and Options

Now, it’s time to research potential publishers. This is the part where you can start learning about the rates you can expect to pay for advertising. If your competitor’s ad research didn’t help you find publishers, or you want to advertise elsewhere, then one great place to start (beyond the Google AdWords Display Network) is BuySellAds. BuySellAds allows you to peruse publishers that offer to advertise.

Each publisher listing will include costs for specific ad inventory along with traffic and audience statistics.

Beneath this information, you will find sites that advertisers purchased ad space on in addition to the publisher shown in the listing.

You can browse publishers by category, or filter results to show publishers that offer specific advertising options.

Another way to find publishers where you can place advertisements is to do a search on Google for the following.

“advertise with us” keyword phrase

Replace keyword phrases with industry-specific keywords, and you will start to find publisher’s advertising options.

As you scan through your options, make sure to bookmark the ones you like the most. Also, start a spreadsheet with domains, rates, social audience, and traffic statistics when provided.

As you are doing your research, note that display banners are not the only advertising options that publishers have to offer. While some only offer display banner inventory, others might offer email blasts, social media updates, sponsored posts, sponsored reviews, and other options. While you research publishers, look at whether some of these options are included as a part of a package or as individual selections.


Now that you know where your competitors are advertising themselves, what publishers have to offer, and what advertising options you can take advantage of, it’s time to negotiate with your prime candidates. You are in control because you know what you value you can get across different publishers, and therefore you will know when you’ve found a good deal, or when you can get a better one.

There are a few ways you can get some great discounted rates, including the following.

1. Ask for a discounted trial rate to see the results, with the promise of a long-term commitment if results are delivered.

2. Ask for discounted rates based on prepayment for a long-term advertising commitment. Only do this on sites you are confident will bring results or you know you will get brand exposure.

3. Ask for discounted rates based on the placement of the ad. For example, if you can’t get one of the top spots in a block of ads, can you get a discount since others are above the fold.

Besides asking for discounts, you can also ask for additional services on top of the asking price.

1. Ask for the inclusion of one email mention of your brand with your display banner ad per month.

2. Ask for the inclusion of one tweet about your best promotion with your display banner ad per month.

3. Ask for the inclusion of one sponsored post at the beginning of a long-term display banner ad commitment.

Don’t be shy about what you’ve researched during this process. Let publishers know that you’ve found other sites that offer better prices or more advertising perks. That way, they know that you aren’t going to just settle with their standard price list.

Between these two strategies asking for discounted rates or inclusion of additional services – you can be assured that you will get additional value for each advertising dollar spent.

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