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How to make online advertising work and avoid pitfalls

How to make online advertising work and avoid pitfalls

By Julia Pflaum, junior search planner, Yucca

Given the current economic turmoil, the pressure is on all forms of advertising to deliver measurable returns. Internet ad spend grew by 21% year-on-year in the first half of 2008, while the price for TV ads is at its lowest rate for 15 years.

Online seems to offer accountable and targeted advertising, however, it is easy to alienate customers and damage brands with clumsy campaign execution.

Orange and Virgin Media are part of an investigation by the Internet Advertising Sales Houses after their ads appeared on barred websites in the US. Research has shown that intrusive content such as pop-ups, moving screens and ads which are unrelated to the host website make 95% of viewers less likely to buy the brand.

The success of paid-search marketing platforms, Google Adwords in particular, is testament to the kind of advertising that users do respond to online: that which is relevant, unobtrusive and useful. Google is now using this principle to expand its product range.

The appointment of the Chief Executive of Doubleclick, David Rosenblatt, to the new post of President of Global Display Advertising at Google confirms their continued efforts to generate revenue through online advertising. The introduction of Adsense into online games, an industry which has year-on-year growth of 17% and involves around 217 million gamers, represents another potentially vast revenue stream.

The continued rise of online advertising is contingent on ad serving becoming even more relevant. For a marketing department to shift budget from print and radio to an online medium and change years-long habits, they need a reason to trust that they will reach more potential customers and increase sales.

It has been difficult to measure the effectiveness of offline advertising, so the obvious appeal of online ads is that each click and purchase can be tracked.

With the ever-growing list of hosting platforms for ads, from emails and blogs to RSS feeds and games, the potential for reaching receptive groups of consumers has never been greater. With near-instant performance data from your banners and ads, it is also easy to detect when a campaign is not working.

Google aims to provide advertisers with the best chance of a profitable campaign by learning as much as possible about their audience.

For online advertising to maintain its rapid growth, we need to learn more about viewer habits and present them with ads which enhance their experience instead of causing the irritation we have all experienced with particularly intrusive ads. For example, BBC Worldwide will start using behavioural targeting across to bolster its projected £70 million ad revenue and present viewers with highly relevant ads.

Sensitively placed ads within games have already been well received in the gaming community, demonstrating that advertising works when it is contextually relevant, while poorly placed ads will continue to damage brands.





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