Adventures in Developer Advertising

During the month of January I have been doing some advertising for EclipseCon 2012 and Agile ALM Connect.   This year we are in a new location (Reston, VA) and Agile ALM Connect is a new conference, so we wanted to make sure the word got out.  I am a big believer in sharing data and marketing experiences, so I thought it might be interested to share the experience we had with the different advertising outlets.

We setup  (or at least attempted to setup) advertising campaigns with Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Stack Overflow.   Stack Overflow is one of the top sources of referrals to the web site, so I thought it would be interesting to see if we could drive traffic to the site.

First off, Twitter was quickly disregarded since you needed a budget of at least a $5000/month.   My budget across all media outlets was less than the minimum required by Twitter.   It is obvious Twitter is for the big-time advertisers, not the long-tail.

LinkedIn allowed for small budgets but the results were very disappointing.  I setup campaigns for each EclipseCon and Agile ALM Connect.   After 1 week, I had a total of 5 clicks, at a cost of $3/click.   [As an aside, advertising is often measured in click-thru rate (CTR) and cost/click.]  LinkedIn kept recommending for me to increase the cost per click but frankly paying $5 for someone to click on a URL is hard to justify, so I ended the campaign.

Stack Overflow required a minimum of $2500/month but considering their importance in the Eclipse community I decided to give them a try.   The results were disappointing.  We had a 0.07% CTR and that results in an average $5 cost/click.  Not really the best results.  Half way through the month we updated the ad and started to get closer to a 0.1% CLR but still not great.

Facebook drove the best results for the money.   The Facebook CTR was a dismal 0.02% but they charge by the click, not by impression, so the campaign averaged $1/click.  From an advertiser point of view, the nice thing about Facebook is that I was able target the ads to specific countries, states, cities, companies, keywords etc. etc.  Facebook’s ability to target ads is definitely impressive from an advertiser perspective.

In summary, Facebook was definitely the best value.   There also seems to be a lot of Eclipse community using Facebook, we have 20K people following the fan page, so something definitely worth pursuing in the future.

FWIW, we also advertise EclipseCon and Agile ALM Connect on the home page.  In fact, we also sell advertising space to Eclipse Foundation member companies that want to reach the Eclipse community.  Based on past experiences, the click-thru rates for ads on typically range from .1% to .3% and a cost/click at $1.37-$2.00.   We also have Promoted Downloads where the CTR ranges from .4% to 1.4% and a cost/click at $0.53-$1.80.

What are other people finding from your advertising experiences?   Any suggestions for other sites or other experiences?

5 thoughts on “Adventures in Developer Advertising

  1. We are in the process of launching self service advertising within the walls of the Twitter so I’ll let you know when we get close.

    The results don’t really surprise me.

  2. Find out what NewRelic is using for their ads. I see their ‘Data Nerd’ T-Shirts everywhere I look, and I’m assuming it’s because i’ve somehow been profiled as “someone interested in Software Development”. Maybe they pay a small fortune for this, I don’t know.

  3. @dberkholz we actually promote EclipseCon on all of our pages at the top banner so it is not a true apple to apple comparison. For a typical ad we get between .1 to .3% CTR.

    @chris I’d love to try it out

    @ian I have seen the NewRelic ads. I am betting they have a significantly larger budget than I do.

  4. I have a similar experience promoting software tools online. The results are generally appalling in terms of RoI.

    One channel you did not explore that I found in the end to be the less waste of my budget was putting banner ads on specialized sites through a marketplace like BuyAndSellAds. Display ads are sold on a CPM basis for various formats (cheapest being a 125×125 stamp in the sidebar)
    If you choose your sites well, the returns are less appalling in terms of RoI than the “mass” advertising through Stack Overflow, for instance.
    Software development tutorials sites were in my experience the ones providing the best RoI.

    Another channel was to use a Search Engine Marketing company placing sponsored links in search engines on specific keywords. This drove a huge traffic, but not as qualified as through specialized sites/blogs. Hence a very poor conversion rate. If you optimize the user experience of your site and its SEO, you can improve your conversion rate.

    Having said that, I found that advertising online was on the whole a loss of time and money.

    Nothing beats having thought leaders / evangelists / prominent industry figures promote your stuff for free in their blogs and twitter timelines.

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