Discusses t he brief history of online advertising through specific ad strageis and discusses where online advertising is headed.
Is there such a thing as “traditional” online advertising? If there is, it started with banners, moved to FFAs, took a step backwards with SPAM, a hard right with classified advertising and then shot forward with pay per click search engine. So how do you know where to spend your advertising budget in the current market? If you’ve been responsible for your company’s web advertising efforts over the years you might agree that the traditional means of advertising worked; as least for a little while. So as new types of advertising penetrate the market with increasing frequency, what do you do with those proven stand-by methods of generating links and traffic? Throw them out? Keep them around for posterity? Maybe give them a facelift? Let’s review those traditional ad models then look at some experimental models. TRADITIONAL ONLINE ADVERTISING MODELS
Banner ads in the form of animated gifs are the most common and widely used form of online advertising today. Banner ads reach the widest possible audience because practically 100% of Internet users can view them without any special plugins. Web marketers, advertisers and promoters have quickly realized that banners under 12k in file size puts the ad in front of the visitor as quickly as possible, increasing the chance of click-through even though surfers are growing increasingly immune. New styles and shapes of banners (such as skyscraper ads) have grown in popularity recently, which is addressed in the “Experimental Advertising” section below. SPAM
What does SPAM stand for? It’s not “Stupid Pointless Annoying Message” (which in some cases it could be) but rather “Sending and Posting Advertising Messages.” It’s hard to believe SPAM is effective, but unarguably, it is. While click-through rates continue to fall and legislation begins to rise, it is a savvy advertiser’s best bet to stay away from it, unless of course you’re selling Pasta Pots or Viagra. Rich mail – “Fancy SPAM”
Most likely, the e-mail messages you receive on a daily basis are text only. Rich mail, on the other hand, allows graphics, video and audio to be included in the e-mail message. When you open up a rich e-mail your e-mail client automatically calls up your Internet connection and launches an html page in your browser. E-mail clients that are offline will invite you to click on the link when you have your Internet connection open again. If your e-mail client does not support graphics you will receive the e-mail in text only. While SPAM is still SPAM, rich mail has proven to be much more effective than standard text messages. Pop-Ups/Pop-Unders:
This creative, yet completely obtrusive and annoying means of advertising was once celebrated in some circles as the most innovative ad concept since banners. It only took a short time before many users, sick of being trapped in a never-ending onslaught of such ads, voiced their rejection. One can only wonder when advertisers will recognize the public dissatisfaction and move on to another more effective means to promote their companies. Institutional Advertising:
While institutional or “in-house” advertising has been available since the inception of the Internet, few companies have made an effort to utilize the many different aspects of online advertising in one format as has 7Search.com with its Direct Pay-Per-Text advertising. 7Search, a leader in the pay per click search engine arena, has recently introduced this program which enables its advertisers to advertise outside of its search return lists using the same titles and descriptions seen on its search engine. The pay-per-click model enables interested advertisers to leave behind the CPM impression model and focus on the click conversions. Direct Pay-Per-Text is a patent-pending concept from 7Search which will be released to the general public in the coming months. Pay-Per-Click Search Engines
It’s hard to think of PPC search engines as a “traditional” means to advertise online, but the ratio of those advertisers who do versus those who don’t is staggering; in fact the majority have at least tried their hand at leasing traffic. In a PPC agreement, the advertiser only pays for qualifying clicks to the destination site based on a prearranged per-click rate. The response on ads with well-written titles and descriptions targeted to the users query pull response rates unseen in the ad industry previously. The greatest advantage arguably is the ability to measure precisely the rate of return versus your investment. Some of the most popular PPC search engines are FindWhat.com, 7Search.com, Ah-ha.com and the industry leader Overture. EXPERIMENTAL ONLINE ADVERTISING MODELS Traffic Exchange Advertising:
Hit exchanges, actually a form of banner exchange, are a recent phenomenon on the Internet. You will visit the site of a member of an exchange, and in exchange, another member of the exchange will visit your site. The recent explosion of hit exchanges on the web has diluted the effectiveness of such a method of advertising. There have also been many instances of cheating, in which a script is used to generate visits to a site. However, if you have a product that is of interest to webmasters, and is low cost or has a free version, there is no harm in giving hit exchanges a try. Shockwave ads
Shockwave is best suited for campaigns that want to utilize out-of-banner real estate, such as applets, trading cards, and games. Director and Flash provide the ability to embed interaction, video, and audio within the file, making Shockwave files some of the richest ad units on the Web. Viral marketing and strong brand interaction are two of the key strengths of Shockwave ads. As these ads are typically “bandwidth monsters” the adoption has been slow and will most likely remain that way. Other downsides include development costs and the fact that it just won’t work without the Shockwave plug-in, which (though downloaded by millions of users) is far from being a mainstay. Interstitial ads
Interstitials are ads that play between pages on a website, much like television ads play between sections of a program. There are several variations on the interstitial model: some play in the main browser window, while some play in new, smaller windows; some are pre-cached, while some stream ad content as it plays; some provide the ability to create very rich ads, while some focus on smaller, faster-loading ads. Whatever the format, nearly all interstitial ads perform very well if measured by both click-through rates and brand recall. Floating ads and DHTML
Types of floating ads include DHTML sponsorships, in which advertising objects "fly" across the page on a preset course; cursor sponsorships, in which the cursor turns into an advertising image; and scrolling ads, in which an advertisement moves up and down the edge of a page as the user scrolls up and down. Floating ads give the advertiser and publisher the flexibility to achieve nearly any effect. However, as this is one of the more daring types of online advertising, advertising and content must be balanced on any given page. Floating ads (especially DHTML and cursors) are best run for short periods to create brand awareness—running them for longer periods can bring negative user feedback. It is important to understand that online advertising is only effective if it generates significant response and this applies to both traditional and experimental ads. Unfortunately, the only way to discover the efficiency of your campaign is to test in every format at least once with as many ads as you are able.
About the Author
Pete Prestipino is the founder and CEO of SCG - Swirling Circle Group, a consortium of online marketers, promoters, SEO's, web designers, and Internet consultants. For more information visit: www.SwirlingCircle.com