have independently sounded the death knell for Internet advertising. Widely
respected usability expert Jakob Nielsen believes that the strategy of building
businesses based on getting revenues from selling ad space is no longer viable.
Infoworld columnist Dylan Tweney goes further, and predicts the demise of the
Internet advertising industry. Tweney cites declining clickthrough rates and
the estimated spending for television ads to promote websites in 1999, which
at $3.5 billion is larger than the total $3 billion estimated for all Internet
advertising for the year. Nielsen suggests that users simply ignore ads, and
says that branding on the Web comes from experience rather than banner ads.
Both are right,
in that they identify real symptoms. But as the docs on ER will tell you, the
jump from symptoms to diagnosis is never clear-cut, and you never pick the time
of death ahead of time. We believe that the Internet advertising industry will
save itself by reinventing itself, a process which has already started.
in a study done for CBS SportsLine by AdKnowledge, as reported in The Industry
Standard, clickthroughs turned out not to be as important as previously thought.
While 12 percent of sales attributed to an advertising campaign were the result
of clickthroughs, 49 percent came from people who had seen the ads but not clicked,
and another 39% were from repeat visitors who had either clicked or viewed the
ad on a previous visit. The British magazine The Economist points out that the
amount of web inventory is so huge that most of the time visitors will necessarily
see ads of no interest or ads that they had already viewed. Conclusion: don't
look at the ads that people ignore, look instead at the few they attend to.
are doing exactly this. NetGravity (Nasdaq: NETG) has a product called Boomerang
that lets advertisers target ads to people who have previously been receptive
to them. Engage (Nasdaq: ENGA) accumulates detailed profiles of surfers that
its AudienceNet product can use to serve ads based on their interests as revealed
by previous surfing.
also be new technologies coming soon to make the transition from ad to sale
smoother, including rich-media banners that can effect a sale without taking
the surfer to the advertisers' site. And one web site has been launched, with
more than $10 million in first round funding, to provide surfers with a new
randomly chosen web site whenever they want. Priority positions in the lottery
will be sold to "advertisers." A study by Quicken.com found that 84 percent
of respondants have employed non-banner-advertising. Companies look at e-mail,
new technology, and sponsorships. However banners, at 58% of all creative advertising,
remain the most prominent category.
are many vertical portals whose users actually want to see the ads. Just as
professionals and specialists look at the ads in the magazines they get, they
see the ads on specialized sites as a primary source of information about vendors
on the Internet is not going away. A case can be made that banner ads will disappear,
but we doubt it. They have a certain success rate both in branding and attracting
clicks, and by their presence provide useful information to feed the more directed
kinds of advertising like AudienceNet. Things will change, to be sure, but the
continuing growth in revenues from selling "advertising" will remain the same.