NET.COLUMNS: Do’s and Don’ts of Web Advertising

MUMBAI (June 25): Internet Advertising in India is beginning to take off. Most of the top Indian sites have ad banners animatedly beckoning with their “Click here” messages.

c|Net’s recent booklet on Online Advertising lays things out in perspective by saying “Do the Right Thing. Advertise Online” because: You can reach high quality customers You can place your ad in targeted content environments You can target your ad to specific audiences You can track and measure the effectiveness of your ad program

Make Your Ad Banners Attractive.
After all, they carry the message that will get people in. Be concise in your message (you have limited space, anyway). Use animation (2-3 frames) to make the ad stand out. Use words that initiate action from the surfer (a phrase like “Click Here” can be very effective).

Keep Your Ad Sizes Small.
The smaller the file size, the faster it loads. Not everyone has high-speed lines. Try and keep ad banner sizes to less than 10 KB in size.

Impressions v/s Click-Throughs.
The number of impressions (people who see your ad) does not matter as much the click-through rate (people who click on your ad and come into your page). A site giving you 1,000 impressions with a 2% click-through rate will send 20 people to your site, while a site giving you 200 impressions and a 10% click-through rate also sends 20 people to your site. If you are paying by CPM, you will end up paying 5 times more if you pick the first site.

Advertising Campaigns.
If you are planning a long campaign via the Internet across multiple sites, it is a good idea to try out the sites for a short initial period. Do not commit for long durations up-front. Try out for 1-2 weeks initially, measure the responses, and evaluate the feedback received before committing to long-term advertising on the Web.

Choosing the Right Advertiser.
Favour sites which tend to have only one advertiser per page: the last thing you want to do is to start competing with other advertisers on the same page! Also, if there is just a single advertiser, then the size of the banner ad also tends to be larger, giving the advertiser more space to get the message across. Sites like Yahoo! and Excite tend to give pride of place to the lone advertiser: after all that’s where the money comes in.

Change the Ad Frequently.
Ads are like hoardings: if the same hoarding is in the same place, then after a few days, you tend to ignore it. On the Net, it costs very little to change the ad. It is a good idea to change the ad every week (like the Amul topical). Having different messages on your banners and monitoring their responses also gives you information on what people tend to react to.

Evaluate the Site You Want to Advertise On.
What is the editorial content on the site? Do you visit it regularly? Do people you know visit it? Does your target audience visit it? Just because the print medium of a web site (if it has one) does well does not necessarily imply the web site is a success. Also check how often (and when) the site is updated. One approach is to serve the ad from your own site (where your server is) – this will give you statistics on page views and geographical distribution of the audience.

Which Products can be Effectively Targeted via the Net?
As of now, products and services which have an appeal for non-resident Indians (banking and finance-related, real estate, recruitment) tend to do better than ones which do not (export-oriented, joint venture/trade-related). This is likely to change as more business/trade sites come up.

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.