So you know nothing about the internet. You think Jesus HTML Christ - how am I am going to transfer all the knowledge in the online space to my brain into the other completely open brain next to me. Well here is the answer - A Guide to Online Marketing. It assumes no knowledge whatsoever and doesn't involve going on an expensive course.
An introduction into Online Advertising. – How it all began.
If you ever wondered when it all started, the answer is October 1994 on HotWired, the predecessor to today’s Wired News. The ads were for Zima, Club Med, and AT&T and measured 468 pixels by 60 pixels. This seemingly awkward size effectively filled the horizontal length of a maximized web browser using a monitor resolution of 640x480 pixels (the standard at the time). This banner size became the de facto standard is still widely used today.
Banners were triumphed as being the first form of advertising to provide an accurate means of success measurement. After all, a user saw the ad, clicked and visited the advertiser’s website: Voila, a success! The Click-Through Rate (CTR) was born. CTRs soared at first – proving, of course, that banners were an astonishingly lucrative form of advertising… until the novelty wore off, banner ads became commonplace and click-through rates dwindled correspondingly.
The decrease in clicks is not the only worry in the world of online advertising. In the last few years, a backlash towards it has arisen from the surfing public. Unfortunately, the advertisers and publishers themselves are largely to blame, principally through overexposure and use of obtrusive ad technologies. The pop-up ad window seemed like a great idea until the rallying cry of website users lead to publishers banning it from their sites.
To this day, in the quest to “get seen” advertisers still resort to tactics that rankle end-users: a giant jug descending from above to fill the web page with orange juice or an SUV trundling a path across an article are examples of ads that have irritated many web surfers. Who can blame them for being annoyed? After all, visitors are there to read articles, find a new love interest, or see what movies are playing and pity the ad that gets in their way… or more accurately, pity the user who was just trying to accomplish a task.
A Word on Pop-Up and Pop-Under Ads
The pop-up is probably the most widely despised of all internet advertising. The pop-up came into vogue because they were successful. How could something that provokes such a hostile response from the web-viewing public garner such high click-through rates? Viewed as an effective way of grabbing a user’s attention, pop-ups quickly became horribly overused resulting in a backlash from users.
Several publishers like iVillage ceased to offer them due to customer complaints. In April 2003 26% of people reported using pop-up blocking software, whereas in September 2004 the number increased to 69%.* The number is most likely much higher now that pop-up blocking is an easy to use feature in all of the four major web browsers (Microsoft Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator, Opera and Firefox).
This dislike of pop-ups extends beyond the ad format itself and directly transfers to the advertisers and the publishers. In a survey of 18,808 users, more than 50% reported that a pop-up ad affected their opinion of the advertiser very negatively and nearly 40% reported that it affected their opinion of the publisher very negatively.
A pop-under window behaves in much the same way as a pop-up, except that it is placed beneath the user’s web browser. Pop-unders are prevented from appearing as well when a user has selected to block pop-ups. The consensus is that pop-unders are no better than pop-ups.
If you need one more reason to avoid pop-ups (and pop-unders), it is the widespread use of them by the unscrupulous internet advertisers: cheap Viagra dealers, products like X-Cam (spy on your neighbours!) and pornography sites all make wide use of this format. They deploy their ads through spyware (which installs itself computers without the knowledge or permission of users) which spawns several pop-ups as users surf the web. It has become such a nuisance that many people now routinely use anti-spyware software and the major virus protection packages even provide spyware elimination.
Imagine your legitimate pop-up ad on a publisher’s website amongst several unsavoury ads spawned by spyware. Would you want to be associated with that crowd?
“The Most Hated Advertising Techniques”. Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox, Useit.com. December 6, 2004
So does Online Advertising really work?
Even if your ad has a low click-through rate it does not necessarily mean that people are not paying attention to your message. Think of it this way: if someone sees an online ad for Tasty Beverage, get ups and goes to the fridge to get one, is that not a success? The person did not need to visit the site of Tasty Beverage Company – although perhaps the banner also prompted a visit to the online grocer website to order another case.
At the end of the day, the number of users who clicked a given ad can be a misleading as a measurement of success or failure. A lack of click-throughs does not necessarily mean that your message was ineffective.
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