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Janet Roberts

Online Advertising as a Brand Builder
By Janet Roberts

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Day Two in our analysis of advertising-effectiveness studies begins by correcting an oversight in Tuesday's column: I forgot the link where you can download your own copy of the Engage media study.

You'll have to register at the site to receive the report, but it's worth the trip, both for the information and for its easy-to-read presentation.

If you missed yesterday's Ezine-Tip, you can read it here.

Today, we'll cover other studies, done by the Internet Advertising Bureau studies, DoubleClick and MSN, which looked at online advertising as a branding tool. Quick conclusion: Big ads work better! Longer conclusion: Online ads work as part of an integrated marketing campaign which is what good marketing is all about.

The IAB's study found that while standard banner ads helped boost brand awareness, new formats such as skyscrapers (long, skinny ads that run down one side of a page) and larger rectangular ads were three to six times more effective in increasing brand awareness and message association.

Other conclusions:

  1. Larger ads work better than smaller ads
  2. Interactive and "rich media" ads do better than static ones.
  3. Interstitial ads - they show up as you move from one browser window to the next - are better than all banner ad formats.

For the details, read the IAB's press release.

Among its conclusions, DoubleClick had news for people who either hate pop-up ad windows or are debating whether to add them to their sites: Pop-ups are slightly less effective than a same-size ad appearing on a page, although they do boost brand awareness. No indication whether they also boosted reader irritation.

The general effect of all these studies seems to validate moves by some Web sites to stop reporting click-through rates to their advertisers under the assumption that CTR doesn't measure response accurately. Not everyone who watches the online-ad market is clicking his/her heels in joy, however.

Cyberatlas published a two- part story on the ad studies, noting the studies had some inherent weaknesses:

"However encouraging for the online ad world, these efforts are still scattershot, stopgap measures. For one, the studies test only "aided" ad awareness, in which a survey asks respondents to select the ad they saw from a list, rather than entering it without the use of a list. The surveys also generally appeared immediately after seeing the ad under scrutiny.

"The reports also don't consider advertising decay, which is the amount of time it takes for an impression to be forgotten by a viewer. Nor do they look at consumer annoyance to noisy or obtrusive ads, or ad units with a long download time."

Where does this leave publishers of HTML newsletters? Just as with the Engage study discussed on Tuesday, there should be some carryover in effectiveness. And, if you have designed your newsletter just to accommodate banner ads, you could help yourself by redesigning to accept skyscrapers and larger rectangle ads.

Just how effective newsletter ads are, though, nobody knows yet, because no studies have tracked HTML newsletter ads effectiveness in building brand awareness or achieving conversions. (Opportunity is knocking here; anybody home?)

Ezine-Tips for July 25, 2001

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