Best of the Net: Portal/Search Engine
Yahoo! Yahoo has been a trailblazer when it comes to advertising, debuting many groundbreaking campaigns. It was one of the first sites to embrace Flash campaigns that move across the screen—the soda bubbles, and the automobile ad with the birds being two of the more recent examples. Free instant messaging and free fantasy sports are among the offerings that keep Yahoo sticky. And its search engine powered by Google is hard to beat.
AOL Can 31 million users be wrong? For many of its members, AOL is more than a portal—it’s synonymous with the Net itself. The proprietary service is a “walled garden” containing a captive audience. For those accessing it via a browser, AOL.com automatically becomes the home page, and can be personalized to display everything from a person’s stocks to their horoscope and favorite comic strips. The ads on AOL’s main page are block ads on the right hand side. They are easy to see as soon as the site loads. Clickable links pop up new pages, as AOL’s main page never loads another page on itself, and each story comes equipped with a new opportunity for a targeted banner placement.
Lycos Lycos includes very little advertising on its main page, but after clicking on one of the topics, one finds banners and boxes on the right-hand side that are often related to the subject clicked on. Lycos’ “Top 50” ranks the most popular search terms; it is perhaps the only place you’ll find the NFL, Afghanistan, and Britney Spears together. A fascinating window on pop culture, it can also be a powerful advertising tool, as advertisers can see where people’s interests are—and advertise there.
msn MSN’s homepage has something that most of the others don’t: photos. That may not seem like much, but they definitely help maintain a surfer’s interest. MSN has limited ad space due to the amount of content displayed, so it usually bears one small banner ad and a text ad. The text ad can be highly deceiving, and effective, because it appears disguised as a story. MSN recently hooked up with ESPN.com, so all of MSN’s sports link directly to ESPN, making targeting sports fans a cinch.