As its website states, "Project Wonderful makes advertising awesome." All advertising through Project Wonderful is bought and sold using its "Infinite Auction" system. The advertiser that is willing to pay the most for a spot at that exact moment gets it, and only pays for the time to the nearest second that the ad remains in view before another advertiser outbids the first. The unique ad bidding system rules out impression and click fraud that is prevalent with so many other online advertising brokers, as the bidder can weigh results and cancel at any time. Pretty neat, hmm?
After seeing many Project Wonderful ad spots sprinkled throughout my fantasy art and handmade craft web browsing, I decided to try it on my own blog in May 2010. I started with one button in the right hand column, but within a few weeks I received such interest that I added another 125x125 button, plus a 728x90 banner on the very bottom. Project Wonderful automatically splits each spot up into four traffic regions - United States, Canada, Europe and Elsewhere. That way, if you want to advertise an Etsy shop but aren't keen on shipping internationally, you don't have to pay for your ad to be seen in other countries.
I set my minimum bid to $0, so please grab an ad for free promotion if the space is open! If you're not a member yet, please click Project Wonderful first so my referral ID is counted when you join. Then click "Your ad here" under the spot where you want to see the current rate. You can only bid $0 for 2 days at a time, so it gives other curious souls a chance to try it out. I usually bid $.01 on sites, even when they're at $0, so I don't have to set an expiration date. I still only have to pay $0, until another bidder comes along. Currently I'm bidding on over a dozen sites and only pay a penny or three a day for all of them. I've only paid $.33 for 59,253 impressions and 112 unique clicks on one of the sites I've been bidding on for 11 months! Granted, I've bid on a lot of sites to find a handful whose target audience fits my fantasy art ads so wondrously - but that was half the fun for me.
There are oodles of interesting blogs and websites with inexpensive or even free advertising opportunities, easily found by clicking "Search for new places to bid" under the Advertising dropdown menu. Advertisers can search by traffic thresholds, bid amounts, sizes, categories and tags. In addition to bidding on the results manually, PW offers the option to run automated campaigns on those search parameters where the user can also specify time of day, bid amount and budget. Most of the bids I get on my ad boxes are through campaigns. I've dabbled in several myself, using a budget of only $1 at a time to promote my small business. My worst results were 21,555 hits, 7 clicks; my best results were 35,414 hits, 32 clicks. Again, it takes some trial and error and Lady Luck twisting her magic to get results on the best end of the spectrum - but I'm still amazed at how effectively I can promote my artwork for less than the cost of a hot fudge sundae at McDonald's.
Has anyone else had success advertising your website for free or cheap with Project Wonderful? If you're a publisher, please also share your experience and leave your link!