Originally Posted by RayGoneFishing
I agree with this thinking, but I want to point out that this should not be a question of what is better or to have to choose one over the other, but to think both. Also I agree that if your site is just too small, itís not worth the effort, but whatís too small also depend on the topic of your site. If your site is about very generic subject with low traffic itís perhaps not worth it, but ifí itís a very niche subject, then even with lower visitor numbers it can be quite valuable for someone selling something in that subject area, particularly if things sold are some what expensive.
Also there are free tools like openx http://www.openx.org/
that after you have set it up, it will allow you to easily manage your own direct ad positions
Hereís is how I see it:
First you should start with choosing one or few ad networks and design you ad positions in your site/blog layout on all pages. Via ad networks you can get all position filled out and your ad revenues started.
After you have done this. You have already done big part of what you need have to show to advertisers, where in your site the ad positions are etc.
Depending on what ad network you use and what tools you are using, you will get lots of statistics of your ad's performance on your site and what kind of ad's and advertisers will start to pop up in your site.
Using this information, you can pick up the best performing ad positions and start creating your own ad rate card to promote and attract direct advertising for those.
For pricing. From the statistics you are seeing what the average revenue per position is. Start by multiplying that by two to five. And then offer 20% from that price to first time advertisers. You can search online to see at what prices others are offering, but the right price depends on your audience and readers. The more targeted your site/blog is to particular topic, the more valuable it is for advertisers. So price depends on the volume and profile of your readers.
After you have your ad rate card visible on your site, you can ad that to directory, where advertisers can search for sites to advertise. Now you have done the minimum to open up the door for direct advertisers to find and contact you.
And as you can see it's not really a big step or lots of work if you already have some ad network ads on your site. And naturally you only replace direct ad from network ad's if/when you get them.
The next step beyond this is to promote/sell your ad space, but that's only if you choose to go this far. Creating advertisers an option to buy direct, does not mean you have to start selling too.
If you would also like to sell, then the next step from this is to see what ad's are performing well on your site from these ad network ad's and contact them or their competitors directly to offer your best positions to them on fixed term. For advertiser this allows them to "own" your best position and shut the competitors out from that.
oooops - this became a bit of a long post