Editor's note: In today's edition of MediaPost's Just an Online Minute, we lamented the fact that the online ad industry has come under some serious fire lately and very few have stuck their neck out to defend it. The problem is, whenever the question of online ad effectiveness arises, skeptics rightly say, "prove it." Ken Alexander, Account Executive/Creative Director of STI Creative in Erie, PA, offers just that. ***
By Ken Alexander
I don't understand why so many people miss the obvious. At their WORST, web banners and buttons can be compared to billboards. No one questions whether billboard advertising, if properly used, is an effective medium for advertising some things. Outdoor advertising is NOT a be all and end all for every product and service. Nor is it expected to be. Yet it is sold quite successfully.
Web ads have several advantages over their outdoor counterparts. They are usually in front of the viewer longer than billboards are in front of an average commuter. They can be animated. (Streaming, etc., etc.) The audience can be better targeted. Best of all, they can be made interactive to take the viewer to a new site for more information. Read: response. And often information about the responders can be captured.
What more could an advertiser want?
Now compare web ads to print advertising. Why can't you provide the same sort of information people base print buys on? Tell them the "circulation" (how many people visit the site in a given time period), give them the visitors' demographics & psychographics. Tell them the impressions, reach and frequency of the sites.
If the advertiser is looking for a certain number of responses (click-throughs, total site visitors, e-mail or [horrors!] phone calls.) develop a realistic number to aim for. If the advertiser has other objectives, show how proper research can measure shifts in awareness and attitude from your online advertising program.
Based on the objective, the data and budget, show which are the best sites to advertise on and for how long? Y'know, develop a media PLAN.
ALL of this is do-able in traditional media planning, why not for online?
The one thing everyone seems to want to do is compare Internet advertising to television. While the delivery vehicle is similar, it isn't the same. Not even close. But that's another story...
The biggest problem, as I see it, is that the medium has been so oversold and so hyped that few can separate fact from fiction. (Myself included.)
If the expectations are brought more in line with outdoor or print advertising and the additional features sold as added bonuses, I believe clients will be more comfortable with online advertising. As things now stand, they are bombarded with techno-jargon, acronyms and conflicting data that baffle rather than clarify.
Is it any wonder that advertisers shy away from using the internet when the industry can't even agree on what they ar