NET.COLUMNS: Advertising on the Internet

MUMBAI (June 11): Home pages from India are growing rapidly. Traffic to most of these isn’t. Corporate home pages remain well-kept secrets: few companies tend to put the addressess of their sites on their letterheads, business cards, brochures and print/television advertising. Some notable exceptions: Amul, which has its URL on its India Today ads, and most recently, even its annual report, VIP Bags, and Air-India and Kingfisher, which painted their URLs on outdoor hoardings. It is time that companies started advertising their web sites through multiple channels: how else is traffic going to come in? Search engine registration means little and might account for the occasional visitor, but to ensure a steady flow of traffic, it is necessary to advertise directly on the Internet. How you do make it work?

Net advertising is largely in the form of banners or box ads like the ones below, which are hyperlinked to the company home pages. Internationally, most banners tend to be 468×60 pixels. In India, banners come in all sizes and are dictated by the web site where you advertise. So, be prepared to custom create banners to match the slot available. The ads on the left below are 300×60 pixels, while the one on the right is 100×100 pixels.

These ads have to be designed very attractively. When you put up an ad on a site, the two numbers which are very important are: the number of impressions (page-views), which counts the number of times the page, and therefore your ad, was seen, and the number of click-throughs, which tells you how many of the surfers actually clicked on the ad and came into your page. Typical click-through ratios are 2-4%, which means that 2-4 people out of every 100 actually click on an ad and visit the hyperlinked home page. Not bad if you can get 10,000 impressions, and therefore should get get between 200 and 400 people visiting your page.

Do remember, however, that the assumption made is that yours in the only ad on the page. If, as is the case with many sites, you are also competiting with other ads on the same page, click-through ratios are bound to drop further.

Quiz Time: Which of the following ads attracted the highest click-throughs?

The first ad attracted a click-through ratio of 25% on the first day, while the second ad (which is also a teaser) attracted a click-through of 10%. The third ad, a straight-forward statement, had a click-through ratio of only 3% on its first day. Moral of the story: Not all banner ads are born equal. Invite people to action, make the ad dramatic, topical and exciting; make it worthwhile for the to stop doing what they are doing (reading the article), and click on the ad. After all, if there is no click-through, there is no one one coming into your page, in which case impressions don’t really matter.

Also, give an incentive for the person to click on your ad. For example, the Motorola ad above offers visitors a chance to buy a modem at a discounted price. Monetary benefits are always a good attractor.

Next Week: Where to Advertise, and how much to pay?

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.