Last week we looked at 6 ways to find new B2B advertising opportunities using free resources and a bit of creativity. But how do you evaluate new potential publishers you are not familiar with?

Of course, you can look at each publisher’s own audience profile and costs (and you should), but don’t stop there.

Here are eight ways to dig a little deeper and determine if an online publisher is a good potential match for your campaign, again using only free tools and a bit of creativity.

1. Find the Advertising Link

Where is the link to advertising info on their site? If it is prominent in the main navigation, the site has been designed for marketers and media buyers as much as for its audience. Do you really want to be there?

This is one of the simplest checks you can make, but it is surprisingly reliable. Sites with advertising info buried in the footer are almost always focused on their audience instead of advertising. The rest are a mixed bag.

2. Check Their Focus

You could review all of the content, but you don’t have time. Weed out any options you can before you brew a pot of coffee and sit down to read the last month’s worth of content from each site.

Using a custom Google search, you can determine how common your keywords are in the site.

The following searches can be used to see how many of’s pages include the word backup.

When using this method, be aware of keywords that are included in the site navigation structure. You will likely want to develop a list of three to five terms and combine them in a single search.

3. See Who Advertises

Are there a number of ads clearly targeting a very different audience? The site may not be the right target (or it may be a hidden gem) and is worth looking at closely before committing.

4. Look at Social Media Engagement

Is the site driving sharing on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook? Are there comments or active discussion taking place on the site? Are the tags on Delicious relevant or do they reveal a different focus?

5. Check Demand for Advertising

Small AdChoices icons in the top right corner of an ad usually indicate a publisher sells through networks.

If most of the ads you see include the AdChoice icon it may be possible to purchase the same space at a lower cost through a DSP like Turn or

6. Use SEO Analysis

Information normally considered in an SEO analysis can also be useful for evaluating publishers.

For a quick analysis, look at the domain’s page rank and the number of inbound linking domains when considering smaller sites. If you have time on your hands, comparing positions for your top category keywords can also be valuable.

Established media properties generally have a Google Page Rank of 6 or higher. Page Ranks of 4 or below are generally smaller sites (like my B2B Digital Marketing blog), regardless of what the media kit may indicate.

7. Count the Ads per Page

Which is worth more, all else equal: To have the only ad unit on the page or to have one of 20 ads on the page?

When you check the number of ads, look beyond the homepage. It is not unusual for content pages to have significantly more advertising than the homepage.

8. Read the Content

This is the single most important thing you can do, but it also takes the most time. Eliminate potential partners with the tactics above, then dig in to the content.

Is the content original and thoughtful? Are they breaking news in the market? Is it well written?

These eight tips will give you new ways to evaluate publishers without relying on publisher’s own audience research, which usually cannot be compared across sites.

Your Turn

What do you see as the biggest challenge in evaluating B2B advertising opportunities? Share your perspective in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).

Photo Credit: Magnifying Glass by Todd Petit on Flickr