May 29, 2001
Alternative Online Advertising
If traditional online ads aren't getting the response you want, it's time to take a look at your online strategy
Low click-through rates on traditional banner ads and other types of online ads have caused many companies to re-evaluate their online advertising strategies. These companies are evaluating what they expect from online ads, if those expectations are realistic and what can be done to make online advertising more effective.
When advertising in print and on television, companies don't expect consumers to respond to the ad as they see it. But for some reason, when advertising online, companies do expect consumers to respond right away. Ad click-through rates are one of the main ways advertisers determine an ad's effectiveness, and some companies only consider an ad effective when consumers click on it and then make a purchase. With that in mind, many companies and analysts are wondering if click-throughs really matter. Some suggest online advertising may be better for brand-building, and click-through rates don't accurately determine how effective ads are in that respect.
Companies who have changed focus from click-throughs to brand-building are taking a different approach to online advertising. Some continue to run banner and other online ads, but make sure to emphasize the company name, Web address and brand message. Others take a whole new approach and sponsor content Web sites or create their own informational Web sites. These companies are trying to impress customers by providing information rather than selling products. The hope is that when those customers make purchases, they'll buy the brands that provided them with valuable information.
Consider Kimberly-Clark Corp., the company that makes Huggies diapers. After realizing traditional online ads weren't working well enough, the company decided to build and sponsor ParentStages.com, a site for people with young children. They hoped people would find the site useful and keep coming back as well as develop a devotion to Kimberly-Clark products. According to the company, its new approach works. In February, the site had over 150,000 unique visitors, and site users have indicated in surveys they are more likely to buy Huggies now.
Sponsoring or building a content site for consumers does present some problems. Companies must be careful not to overdo the promotional parts and cause the content to look fake or questionable. One way to avoid having a sponsorship backfire is to avoid content that promotes the sponsoring company's products. The content should be informative, and the ads on the page should be promotional.
If you are interested in sponsoring a content site or just a section of a site, be sure to find a site that would interest jeweler shoppers. Consider a site that targets women or helps shoppers make purchasing decisions. If you want to build your own content site, it's a good idea to get articles from other content sites rather than writing them yourself. That will help keep the site informative without making it seem like a self-serving presentation. Most importantly, be different and provide information that will keep people coming back for more.
- by Julia M. Duncan