Pay Per Click in Emails?

All hail Google AdSense! Well, at least on the web, where Google has paid out millions of dollars to publishers, website owners and content creators. Not only are the big sites like MySpace cashing in on AdSense but so are bloggers like gossip blogger Perez Hilton and popular political blogger Peter Daou. The idea is simple – include ads on your website and as people visit your site and click through those ads, you get paid per click. Google\’s ad technology enables them to scan the keywords being referenced by a consumer and then serve up ads that correspond with those keywords. So, for instance, if there is an article on Hawaii, the ads might be from Hawaiian Air offering inexpensive plane flights, or Hilton offering you a vacation package. Each time the ads are clicked on, Hawaiian Air and Hilton pay Google and in turn, Google pays the website owner. The more traffic you have on your website; the more ads will be clicked; and the more money you will make.

Throughout the last year, there has been a lot of talk about ads being inserted into emails. A few writers have posted about this, asking the questions when and if this was going to be available. I was able to dig up some information that Google is currently offering this but to a very select few companies. I believe these are called \”platinum publishers\”, all of whom receive over 1 million unique hits per month. That is a lot of traffic if you wanted to test out ads in your email marketing campaigns.

In theory, this seems like a great idea, but there are some drawbacks. The big ad companies like Google and Yahoo would have a PR nightmare on their hands if they allowed spammers to start using their ad serving technology. I could easily see spammers having a field day with this. More than likely, this is the biggest reason why Google and Yahoo have moved so slowly with allowing people to run PPC campaigns in their emails. With billions of legitimate emails are sent globally each day, who wouldn\’t want a piece of this action?

We are currently working with a partner of ours who is rolling out a service that will deliver ads in anyone\’s email campaign, and believe it or not, it\’s actually pretty good technology. Their system can read the content in the email and serve up relevant ads.. I cannot get into detail how they are doing this, but let\’s just say it\’s a pretty simple idea that has been very well thought out. However, I see two potential issues why publishers would not want such ads in their emails:

  1. Competition: A lot of companies are not going to want to have ads served in their emails with links to a potential competitor. Our partner says they are talking to one of the big ad serving companies about filters, but it\’s unclear how effective this will be.
  2. Linking elsewhere: If someone clicks on an ad in an email, they are linking to another site and are not being driven back to the publisher\’s (email marketers) website. A lot of publishers want traffic back to their site where they are already serving up ads.

Can you think of anymore reasons why a publisher would have issues with this? What do you think of the idea overall? I would love to know your thoughts.

Jared Reitzin
Serial Entrepreneur Blog