There Be Monsters In These Waters!

Last night I was poking around on the web looking up information on click-through rates (CTRs) of display advertising. Yes, in my free time. As I was surfing, I came across an interesting weblog entry from another display advertising company whose entry title read, "MySpace Revenue Down Because Banner Ads Suck."

Oh really? I asked.

After letting the professional language of the title ferment a bit, I read on to see what the fuss was all about. They were linking to an article on TechCrunch, which was reporting on how MySpace — and therefore News Corp. — has fallen short of its one-billion dollar goal this year. TechCrunch quotes Google founder Larry Page:

On social networking monetization, it is an area where we have tried a lot of new technologies. Demographic targeting has been successful. The challenge and the opportunity is that there is a lot of inventory. Part of it is just getting the advertising ecosystem built up and targeting in a way that makes sense. We have made some improvements but there are more improvements to be made. It takes time for advertisers to [get up to speed].

TechCrunch disagreed, arguing that Larry Page is blaming the advertisers, and the blog I was reading went on to argue that the problem isn’t targeting but that audiences are no longer receptive to ads on the internet. And can you blame the audiences? We’ve all become programmed to fear ad popups, ads that suddenly take control of your webpage, obscuring 25-50% of the webpage your viewing — and quite possibly simply by accidentally rolling your mouse over an ad banner; or worse, the fear of malware or virus infection.

We (the ad industry) have lost their (the users) trust and we need to regain it. The point is not to overwhelm and annoy our target audience. The point is not to bombard them with messages until they are numb. The point is to be the treasure map. Beware, for there be sea monsters in these waters! Let us show you the safe path to the treasure. There is a fine line between advertisements that become flashy distractions and those that help the audience to learn more about what the advertiser has to offer. The challenge — and the reason I got into this business — is not only identifying that razor’s edge, but knowing how (and why) to traverse it in order to bring together the people interested in a product or service with those who can provide it.

After all, we’re all in this to provide a service, not an annoyance right?

What I love about Linkstorm’s solution — I have to talk some about what we do, after all — is that not only can we provide the information, but we can take the next step. Our display advertisements offer the promise of more information without annoying potential customers. Our method doesn’t steal users from the publisher website, doesn’t overpower the publisher website (the user can simply take their mouse off) and does provide users with information that both piques their interest and actually presents them with more detailed choices related to the item that has already caught their attention!

So not only do Linkstorm-powered advertisements get higher CTRs, but more qualified clicks. In other words, the people clicking the ad are not only interested in what the advertisers have to offer, but have already started interacting with the advertiser! After all, are advertisers in the business of clicks or product? That’s a win-win situation if ever I saw one.

So it’s not so much that most banner ads suck, it’s that most advertisers are in it for the wrong reasons. The old adage does hold true.
It’s not quantity, it’s quality.

—Bill  Bill

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