(Background: I founded the largest marketplace for direct ad sales. Powers sites like Microsoft, Aol, Gawker, etc)
If you want to sell ads directly to advertisers... that's awesome, but recognize it takes more work than just dropping AdSense on your site. I'm glad you're thinking of it like "how can I attract advertisers (customers) to do business with me?"
I personally don't think gimmicks work well in the long run. It's all about the fundamentals. You are essentially a business (the website) that sells a product (the ad space / ability to reach your audience) to customers (the advertisers).
All the normal fundamentals apply - you have to attract potential customers, sell them on your product, close the business, get repeat business, etc.
So while a gimmick may work to get someones attention, if their experience of doing business with you is terrible they won't buy or won't come back.
We believe the best way to attract, close and keep advertisers is to make your "products" as easy to find and purchase as possible. In the direct ad space, it is way too complicated - often requiring lots of emails and manual effort. Plus they have to find you to begin with.
Some actionable stuff for you to do:
* Do some customer validation. If you want to sell a product (the ad space), how do you know there is a market? Have you talked to potential advertisers about this? Do you have any pre-committed deals? Do your similar competitors do direct sales successfully?
* Have a .com/advertise page and promote it well. You have to let people know you're open for business. Make it easy for people to find it.
* Have a system that makes it easy to place/execute/manage actual ad orders. This is what we do at www.isocket.com. There are other tools for various needs, website sizes, costs, etc.
The best option is Native Advertising, which is identifying the atomic unit of consumption on your site, and creating a paid version of it. (i.e. paid search ads, or preroll videos.)
an internet advertiser will pay for anything that produces a return on investment, or boosts his ego. So, make them look good, and make them money, and you are in business.
What works for me is the deal I have on my blog. I offer to actually blog for my advertisers and for an extra fee, I tweet them to my 40,000+ Twitter followers.
If you offer advertisers more than just an ad, they will see the value and pay you handsomely.
Offer advertisers more than just an advertisement:
Since most websites just offer an advertisement or a banner ad, those ad deals are a dime a dozen on the internet. Go over and beyond like I do and add a small blog post about their business. You can even save yourself time and tell the advertisers to write the blog post themselves and you make the same money either way.
I would be glad to share more advertiser-value ideas with you. I would love to schedule a call with you and I will show you many more advertiser-revenue strategies.