September 9, 2000
Banners are Blunted - Other Options for Buyers and Sellers
We all know it. The only banners that are clicked on these days are those that are either incredibly creative, target newbies or offer some kind of giveaway, be it one million dollars or 20 "banana bucks." It's the truth. The net-savvy population has learned to skim lightly over the banner ads and get to the guts of a page, the content. As the Internet public evolves, so must Internet advertising.
Fortunately, there are some highly valid alternatives which can greatly increase click-throughs and create a better deal for both the advertiser and the site owner.
- Ezine Advertising
Ezine advertising is the most common alternative to "traditional" advertising methods. Usually, a 5-10 line plug will be situated towards the top of a content filled Ezine. These usually have quite a high CPM. Advertisers will not even look at an Ezine with a subscription base of lower than 1000 readers. To effectively promote the ad, a statement of support from the publisher is also helpful. For an example, see the endorsement that Sitepoint.com includes in its newsletter: http://www.sitepoint.com/newsletter/sample.php3
The most effective Ezine ads are those which are not easily distinguishable as advertisements that break up the text of a feature article. There has to be a place where you draw the line, however. Don't attempt to fool your readers into thinking that an advertisement is your editorial content, and don't let your content be prejudiced by advertiser affiliations in any way. Your readers will see through it, unsubscribe and never come back.
- Interstitial Advertising
In recent times, some sites on the Internet have taken a leaf out of commercial television's book and adopted similar forms of advertising "between" pages. It involves a 5-10 second Shockwave Flash, Real Media or even a plain ol' gif image, which appears in between a link from, say, the site's homepage to an article, streaming media feed or other piece of content. Prices for this are usually relatively expensive compared to more conventional forms of advertising, but these ads are usually quite effective.
This advertising form is not currently very widespread, due largely to the fact that the technologies used to present them requires additional download time as well as a very fast modem for it to be effective. In the future, however, this may well be the way to go for many Web sites seeking an advertising alternative.
- Content Sponsorships
Mentioned briefly my the recent article on selling advertising, content sponsorships are fast becoming the staple on successful Web sites. In this arrangement, a company sponsors a specific section of your site in exchange for their name being all over the section. The advantage for the advertiser? They target not just your site, but the *exact* audience they want. The advantage for the publisher? They get a ridiculously high rate in exchange for this precise targeting.
A perfect example of this is http://Clickz.com.
They have sections, all with high quality content, which have sponsors all over them. For example, Commission Junction sponsors their Affiliate Marketing section. CJ get a detailed vertical banner, as well as countless other benefits including all valuable text promotion. For a content rich site, this strategy is perfect, bringing much needed revenue and great value for the advertiser.
- Text Ads
On the front page of a site, a short text ad may well be appropriate and effective. This will generally consist of 2-5 lines of clickable text featuring a plug for a company. Text ads are effective and desirable because they flow easily into any page, increasing comprehension for the user with little-to-no formatting changes required of the Web master. Additionally, the drain on bandwidth is virtually nothing and users can download the page just as quickly. For an example of this, go to head to: http://www.EchoDev.com
- Giveaways and Cross-Promotion
There are those of us that dislike banner ads - and then there are those that absolutely hate them. For those that want to get rid of any form of noticeable advertising on their pages, and have a reasonable level of traffic, then there may be a solution for you.
This strategy involves giving away a product of an advertiser, or sponsor as a prize or a reward for several months' membership. This improves brand awareness of the target audience and is something that most users will value, as it is something they've worked towards. The product will be kept, and possibly bought again in the future. Even if the user does not buy the product again in the future, the free goodies will have created brand awareness, and alerted them to the advertisers product.
A good example of a site that uses this very effectively is http://www.purple-moon.com. Purple Moon is an adventure-gaming site targeted towards 12 and under girls. Because of the sensitivity of this audience, they decided to create a separate section utilizing the techniques outlined above and make money that way. To date, they have succeeded.
The potential of online advertising is practically limitless. With a bit of creativity and originality you can find the perfect solution for your site.
About the author: Adam Laitt runs the soon-to-launch AdsSuite.com, an online advertising resource site. Visit the site today to sign up for launch notification. In addition, he works as a full-time Web consultant, specializing in advertising strategies and techniques for internet startups at reasonable rates. Adam can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org .