When it comes to marketing, sometimes you just have to be creative. It’s hard getting people’s attention these days, because so many of us have become blind to advertising. We tend to zone out during television commercials and it’s not uncommon for web surfers to turn a blind eye to ad banners. More subtle forms of advertising just might be more effective.
Consider the last time that you went shopping for an item. If you’re a keen shopper, there’s a good chance that you did some research online beforehand, looking for reviews and the opinions of others. Maybe you came across a forum and there was a thread on your product of interest. Those forum posts can’t be advertising, can they?
“Welcome to Advertising 2.0.”
Those are the first words that you see when you arrive at In Forum Advertising, the relatively novel advertising service by PostingDirect that ordered up this review. You can probably guess what they do.
Advertising in a Forum
There are tons of popular forums on the Internet, each of which caters to a particular niche. You’ve got forums dedicated to everything from the iPhone to Indian cuisine, Volkswagens to bargain-hunting. If you’ve got a hobby, there’s a good chance that you can find a forum that caters specifically to your particular area of interest.
Seeing advertising in a forum is nothing new. There could be banners near the top of the page, skyscraper ads in the sidebars, and maybe even a few ad boxes embedded into the posts themselves. It’s very obvious that these are forms of advertising. The service offered by In Forum Advertising is much more subtle than that.
What they do is get a team of writers to attack the Internet on your behalf, putting up “real” forum posts that are designed to advertise your product or company. People place much greater trust in the casual opinions of their fellow forum members than they do in prim and proper press releases sent out by the companies themselves.
By setting up these forum threads and posting within them, In Forum Advertising sparks discussion of your product and guides the conversation toward the positive. The paid posts are interwoven with the organic contributions of other forum members, so casual Internet users won’t know that they are being “sold” on something. As you can imagine, you can get some SEO juice out of this too.
Defining Your Ad Campaign
Naturally, in order to set up a marketing campaign with In Forum Advertising, you must first create an account. They do not require anything from you other than a full name, email address, website, user name, and password.
In Forum Advertising has kept the user interface incredibly straightforward. After creating an account, the second page allows you to set the parameters for your first campaign. These include the number of forums that should receive the advertising, number of writers, number of posts per day, and any additional instructions you may have. It is here that you can tell In Forum Advertising to focus on one particular product or to link to your website using a specific anchor text.
After that, you are sent to the payment page. The billing cycle is weekly, so each campaign lasts exactly seven days. You can choose to do a one time payment (one campaign) or to opt for a weekly subscription. In either case, payment is accepted via PayPal only.
How Much Does It Cost?
There does not appear to be any minimum length to the forum posts provided by In Forum Advertising. In this way, you can’t really be sure about the quality of the posts until you’ve run your first campaign either. That said, each post only costs you a dollar.
It may only be a dollar a post, but those numbers add up very quickly. In the screenshot above, you can see that I have selected five forums, two writers, and five posts (per forum) per day. To run a one week campaign under these parameters, it would cost $350. The minimum number of forums, posters, and posts per day are 3, 1, and 5, respectively. This generates a net minimum charge of $105. If your campaign cost reaches certain thresholds, you also unlock some bonuses.
In Forum Advertising says that they don’t just go to the forums and spam your product. Instead, they “contribute to the communities and become valued members.” In order to prevent detection, the hired writers put up four “helpful posts” in the community for every one post advertising a website. This is absolutely critical, because you want your advertising to hold some weight with the forum community. Otherwise, they’ll just turn a blind eye or, worse yet, the In Forum Advertising writers will get themselves banned.