Advertising on the Internet
Like broadcast or print, the Internet is an advertising medium. Companies and organizations working to promote their products and services must consider this medium as they would television, magazines, outdoor, and so on. Advertising on the Internet employs a variety of forms.
The most common form of advertising on the Web is banner ads. Banner ads may be used for creating awareness or recognition or for direct-marketing objectives. Banner ads may take on a variety of forms as well as a number of names such as side panels, skyscrapers, or verticals. Initially banner ads constituted the vast majority of advertising on the Net, but studies indicating their questionable effectiveness have led to a decline in usage. Reports on click-through rates vary, but most studies indicate a less than 1 percent response rate. Afew studies have shown an increase in response rates in recent years. These findings may lead to increased use of this method of advertising in the future.
Another common form of advertising is sponsorships. There are two types of sponsorships. Regular sponsorships occur when a company pays to sponsor a section of a site, for example, Clairol’s sponsorship of a page on GirlsOn.com and Intuit’s Turbo Tax sponsorship of a page on Netscape’s financial section. A more involved agreement is the content sponsorship, in which the sponsor not only provides dollars in return for name association but participates in providing the content itself. In some cases, the site is responsible for providing content and having it approved by the sponsor; in other instances, the sponsor may contribute all or part of the content. Due in part to the lack of effectiveness of banner ads, sponsorships have been increasing in popularity. Notice the number of partners on the iVillage site in each of which provides content.
When you access the Internet, have you ever seen a small window appear on Netscape advertising AOL’s “Instant Messenger”? Such Windows are known as pop-ups, and they often appear when you access a certain site. Pop-ups are usually larger than a banner ad but smaller than a full screen.
Pop-unders are ads that appear underneath the web page and become visible only when the user leaves the site. For example, if you ever visited a travel website, you probably were hit with a pop-under ad for Orbitz—one of the heaviest users of this form of web advertising. Go to the Los Angeles Times website, and when you leave, you will almost certainly see an example of this form of advertising.
While some companies like Orbitz believe that pop-ups and pop-unders are effective forms of advertising, others disagree. Consumer complaints have led Google.com, iVillage.com, and Earthlink (among others) to no longer accept these advertising forms. (According to iVillage, its research indicates that as many as 90 percent of its users dislike such ads.) Nevertheless, indications are that despite the annoying qualities of popups and pop-unders, more and more websites are offering this type of advertising. Interstitials Interstitials are ads that appear on your screen while you are waiting for a site’s content to download. Although some advertisers believe that interstitials are irritating and more of a nuisance than a benefit, a study conducted by Grey Advertising found that only 15 percent of those surveyed felt that the ads were irritating (versus 9 percent for banner ads) and that 47 percent liked the ads (versus 38 percent for banners). Perhaps more importantly, while ad recall of banner ads was approximately 51 percent, recall of interstitials was much higher, at 76 percent. Recently, Acura introduced its Integra Type R model using an interstitial. Coca-Cola, TriStar, and Macy’s commonly employ this ad form.
Push technologies, or webcasting technologies, allow companies to “push” a message to consumers rather than waiting for them to find it. Push technologies dispatch web pages and news updates and may have sound and video geared to specific audiences and even individuals. For example, a manager whose job responsibilities involve corporate finance might log on to his or her computer and find new stories are automatically there on the economy, stock updates, or a summary of a speech by Alan Greenspan. Companies provide screen savers that automatically “hook” the viewer to their sites for sports, news, weather reports, and/or other information that the viewer has specified. Users can use personalization—that is, they can personalize their sites to request the kinds of specific information they are most interested in viewing. For example, if you are into college sports, you can have updates sent to you through sites providing college sports information. The service is paid for by advertisers who flash their messages on the screen.
While considered by some as not a type of advertising, links serve many of the same purposes as are served by the types discussed above. For example, a visitor to one site may click on a link that provides additional information and/or related materials at another site. At the bottom of the homepage at women.com are a number of links to magazines, including Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping among others. Clicking on one of these takes you to the magazine’s site and usually a pop-up for a subscription to the magazine appears. Other forms of advertising, such as ads placed in chat rooms, are also available. Given the limited use of many of these alternatives, we suggest the reader consult additional resources for more information.