The Secret Behind BuySellAds’ Big Success

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If you haven’t literally lived under a rock for the last 15 months, you already know that BuySellAds is one of the fastest growing startups and the most popular advertising marketplace in the design / developer online niche. Somehow, in just a few months, Todd Garland (the brain behind BSA) managed to motivate tons of publishers to constantly deliver useful posts and to gather a strong advertising crowd to invest in these publishers by getting their ads in front of the readers.

But this is not rocket science, right? How could this service become so popular by doing just one simple thing (matching good content with relevant ads)? Well we must take a closer look at the BSA ecosystem to clear things out. So we have a bunch of websites with great content (more than 2.000 actually), and some advertisers (over 200) that want their ads to be viewed by the right target. Now add to the equation the facts that more than half of the BSA system actions are automated, that the most advertisers have useful services for designers & developers and that almost all websites are updated every single day. What you get? The winning formula, described below in (not such a glossy) infographic piece.


Disclosure: Inspired Mag is one of the BSA publishers and I am very happy to help Todd with the Twitter stream. The numbers above are estimative, based on the public BSA listings, not the official numbers.

What do you think? Do you use BSA, do you have some tips or maybe another theory? Please leave your take in the comments!

Catalin is the founder of Mostash - a social marketing boutique - and he's always happy to share his passion for graphic design & social media.
  • BSA definitely has a good operation but I wonder how long it will last.

    I look at the rise and (infamous/impending) fall of Federated Media. In its hey days, it has Digg, Techcrunch etc in its portfolio. Inevitably. as those blogs got bigger, they opted out.

    BSA is plagued with the same problem. As soon as the top blogs (that make most of the money “find their feet”, they’ll opt out and take the advertisers with them

    The self-service ad systems that make it possible are already available. You’ve got Trafficspaces, iSocket etc.

    As for BSA, as long as they can keep replenishing their bloggers, they probably will be fine.

    my 2 cents.

  • I have heard lots of great things about, and have been following their progress for some time now. Not only the quality of Service seems great, the modern design and streamlined ad management, for sellers and buyers is impressive.

    Unfortunately our site hasn’t been accepted on the first submission so can’t tell how things are working from the publisher side, hopefully once we are more established, we’ll be accepted and will be able to report back to ya. This just shows you BuySellAds cares about the quality of their network and won’t accept every website even if you think your site looks great.


  • @Justin hey, thanks for sharing your opinion with us!
    I think between BSA and FM there’s one big difference: in the FM network (at least for the BIG websites) there is a limited number of advertisers per website (5-7 a year, maybe a little bit more sometimes), so it is indeed possible for the publishers to “opt out and take the advertisers with them”.
    But in the BSA ecosystem the situation is different: on the big websites we have 10-15 advertisers at any given moment, and if you look closely they’re changing all the time, because it’s simple and effective for them to be ‘live’ on different websites all the time and not being such an exclusivist network almost anybody could become an advertiser. So it’s much harder for the publisher to remain in contact with every sponsor and to be sure that he can get as many new advertisers from his website rather than being discovered in such a transparent and well organized list of publishers.
    So basically I think the biggest advantages of the BSA marketplace over the old business model of online ad agency are the clean and automated dashboard, the huge but easy to scan list of publishers (long tail FTW), the small fee and – last but not least – the possibility to also sell banners on your own if you like; BSA doesn’t require an exclusive contract.

  • @Premium Business Cards
    “the modern design and streamlined ad management, for sellers and buyers is impressive.”

    i agree with you

  • I think click through is very small with such services althrough they’re targeted.

  • As a publisher, I love the BSA system, and think that it makes advertising easy when my design blog eventually reaches critical mass.

    However, I’m not sure the same can be said of advertisers – clickthrough ratio is often sub-one-percentage in most cases, and when ads cost several hundred dollars on top blogs, that can’t be too good.

    I think, sooner or later, the web will slowly move to subscription based sites (like TUTS+ family) where the content is sought-after, and to a CPA model where it isn’t.

  • BebopDesigner

    I think BSA is a brilliant idea and its self-service ad system is very innovative. There are others maybe, but the smart bit here is that BSA found its niche: DESIGNERS. And so far everyone seems quite happy with it. Well done guys!

  • thanks for the feedback guys!

  • I saw the headline and was looking forward to viewing some kind of “how it works” article. As it stands, I see no “secret” revealed in this article. In fact, it looks like an advertorial for BSA.

  • I’ve been using BSA for a couple of months now and have to say i’ve been very impressed with their level of customer service.

    I’m by no means one of BSA biggest publishers, so it’s nice to find a company in this day and age that treat all of their customers respectively and politely, regardless of size.

    On the few occasions I have needed to contact their customer support, the response has been rapid, polite, friendly and helpful.

    I’d certainly recommend them to any medium sized blogs in the web design niche.

  • I think they are a niche business, targeting designer community did work well in the beginning especially providing robust service with usable ajax interface jived very well with the design community.

    Sustainability of this success will depend on the strict selection of publishers. If they start to take all kinds of websites that are not so ‘up to the standard’ in terms of their website design and content, then designers might slowly disassociate themselves from buysellads.

  • Roni

    I am publisher with BSA and can only say best things about this network. Everything works perfectly, they pay on time and customer service is just amazing.

  • Nice article .Recently my website accept BSA. I think this is nice service to web publishers. Thank you very much BSA.

  • I find it hard to believe it would have been a success without Todd on the staring wheel for various reasons.

    We’re on a highly positive trend on 2010 ;)

  • couldn’t agree more buddy :)

  • great post man…very useful especially for a full time blogger like myself…keep em coming mate…cheers

  • i like BSA network,really brilliant idea