What is the best way to handle the invoicing for "sponsor" ads? Do you just set a CPM price point and just track impressions and send out an invoice for each month? It seems like it works the same way as an ad network at that point. Isn't a sponsor more than just a label for an advertiser?
I already have "sponsorship" ads in addition to ads served by an ad network. I originally just agreed to run each sponsor's ads on every page for a certain length of time (1 month, 1 year, 6 mo etc), which I now realize was not scalable. However, I'm thinking I can just ask the sponsors' permission to modify their existing deals at a specific date so that their ads continue to run until the ad has been served the same amount of times I originally promised. And new sponsors after that date would pay for a certain number of impressions.
But is this the normal approach taken on sites that use "sponsors"? For example thedailywtf.com. Did I do this right?
At the end of the day, banner advertising is bought and sold by CPM (Cost Per Milli). Whether it's packaged as fixed-placement "sponsorship" or bundled via CPC, the cost can always be translated back to CPM.
That's important, because most buyers prefer to buy a known quantity, and CPM offers just that. Once a publication has been tested/vetted by an advertiser, they can then buy a well-known quanity (X impressions spread over Y days) to deliver them a predictable amount of business. Anything on top of that is a bonus.
As for the differences between advertisers and sponsors, it's tantamount with the difference between customer and client. Same difference.
Generally speaking, folks that you sell ads to directly will pre-empt the ads served by a 3rd party network. Regardless, it's probably best to sell a pre-set number of impressions, and then ensure the impressions they bought are delivered in a preditable fashion. IOW, don't give a price (CPM) and send a bill for impressions at the end of the month.
Don, do you already have sponsors? Ask them what is the best way to invoice. However, it sounds like you're talking about ads, which is not the same as sponsors. If you don't have either, I'd suggest using one of the ad networks -- they'll handle the accounts and all you need to do is place the ads on your site to generate either actions or views (depends on ads and networks).