Banner bust Featured

9:56am EDT July 22, 2002

Most Web sites rely on the revenues generated from advertising sponsors to survive, but click-through rates have been on a downward trend, raising questions as to whether online ads are effective.

147;If you are looking at just the pure number of impressions, as a mass market medium, the banner ads are not delivering,” says Michele Slack, an analyst with Jupiter Communications, a technology research firm. “The most value — and what advertisers are waking up to — is the need for more targeted advertising. There are different types of content and channels for different users.”

Advertisers are realizing that many of the same rules that apply in the offline world apply to the Internet as well. Different Web sites have different demographics, resulting in different responses for specific ads.

147;The site user base needs to be qualified, and the same demographic information that exists in the offline world needs to be provided,” says Slack.

Sites targeted at a specific, qualified demographic group will charge higher rates, but your ad is being put in front of people more likely to respond to it. Sites that have little information about their users will likely see a drop-off in ad dollars.

  • Choose your target. “If you are looking to advertise to a targeted audience, the Web can deliver,” says Slack. “Content targeting is relatively cheap. Offline media, such as the local newspaper or radio, can be very expensive.”

    Advertising with one of the major portals, such as Yahoo, probably isn’t a good idea because of its mass-market appeal. Advertising can usually be tied into keyword searches, so when a certain combination of words is searched for, your ad appears. The portals offer a lot of exposure, but can also be very expensive.

  • Smaller can be better. Using a banner exchange, such as LinkExchange (www.linkexchange.com), can be a very effective way to reach your market. Exchanges usually require you to show two of their members’ ads in exchange for your ad being shown once. This is as simple as putting the proper coding on your Web site — the exchange handles the choosing of ads. If you don’t have your own site, or want a more targeted audience, premium services are available for as little as $10 to $15 a month, which will often get you thousands of impressions.

  • It’s still advertising. “You don’t want any one of your banners to be appearing in front of a single user more than three times,” says Slack. Set up a rotation of several banners for each campaign you create, if possible. People become oblivious if the same image if presented to them more than three times. The longer your campaign, the more banners you have to create.

147;Just remember, the same rules apply to Internet advertising as traditional forms,” notes Slack. “Make sure you know your audience base, the audience base of the medium you are considering, and do your best not to waste any ad dollars.”

Todd Shryock (tshryock@sbnnet.com) is SBN’s special reports editor.