Expand Your Online-Advertising Horizons

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Many of today's savviest advertisers are now allocating more and more of their advertising budgets toward the Internet. Companies like Ford and Samsung are leading the way. In fact, online advertising will reach about $9 billion this year. And the online-advertising market is growing at a rate of 29%, which is far outpacing the growth of other advertising forms.

One factor contributing to this growth is the rising popularity and accessibility of high-speed Internet. Making the Internet more convenient to use, these faster connections used to be available only in limited areas of the country. Now, half of American households have broadband Internet connections, and they spend approximately 14% of their media time online.

The Internet offers advertisers many unique opportunities to target users. Advertisers can target their messages more effectively, communicate on more-personal levels, and measure responses with great accuracy. But as with any type of advertising, you must purchase and place Internet advertising effectively.

If you want to shift your advertising efforts to include online media, use the following tips to plan an effective strategy.

Know Your Target

The first step in any advertising plan is identifying your target audience. Then, you develop a campaign strategy that will efficiently reach your target and attain an acceptable return on investment. But when dealing with Internet advertising, this may be more difficult than it seems.

The nature of the online medium fosters a convergence with other mediums. More than half of the people online are also watching television simultaneously. And 15-40% of people who purchase products from direct-response television commercials or infomercials are making the purchases online rather than calling toll-free numbers. So television and the Internet are converging in a number of ways. Broadband connections even allow advertisers to deliver television commercials to consumers online.

People tend to go back and forth between the two mediums, which expands your advertising horizons. Therefore, advertisers should develop strategies to integrate television advertising with Internet advertising to maximize their responses and results. But this requires insight into your target audience's online habits.

Some of the more-sophisticated advertisers who make media buys on the Internet use a technology called behavior targeting, which allows them to see which sites someone came from and which ads they clicked on. This anonymous information allows advertisers to customize their messages to various site visitors depending on what types of ads they click on.

Consider Your Options

Many types of online advertising and marketing services exist, such as pop-up or pop-under ads; banner ads; rich-media ads, which include flash ads, interstitials (a page inserted in the normal flow of content between a user and the site), and superstitials (a page that loads behind an active website, meaning the user doesn't see the ad until it's totally downloaded and ready to run); streaming audio/video; skyscraper ads; rollover ads that expand as your mouse runs across them; email-sponsorship ads; newsletter and e-zine ad sponsorships; advertorial placements; search-engine optimization; and affiliate programs where one website promotes another website's products in exchange for a commission and transactions are tracked through unique codes. Each of these options offers advertisers unique advantages for reaching their target audiences.

A huge demand for Internet advertising on the major net portals such as CNN, Yahoo, MSN, etc. exists. This demand has actually caused a shortage of timeslots. As a result, companies who are interested in running their ads or commercials online should consider doing so on their own websites. Recent technology enables anyone who comes to your site to view your commercial, regardless of what type of browser they have. So when a person goes to your site, the commercial automatically starts playing.

The complexity of all these online-advertising options requires that you work with an ad agency that has a thorough knowledge of the medium. An experienced online agency can help you decide what Internet options are most cost effective and effective for your company.

Incorporate Online Advertising into Your Budget

Any company can advertise on the Internet; you can even sell business-to-business products and services online. If you currently advertise in television, radio, or print, and you'd like to move into the Internet, try allocating five to 12% of your budget toward online advertising.

However, not all online advertising is inexpensive. Some big brand advertisers pay $300,000 to be on popular websites for a day, which is equivalent to what you would spend for a 30-second primetime television spot on a major broadcast network. But Internet advertising, especially on the big sites, is very valuable.

Some companies put all their advertising online because they find it most efficient for generating leads or new business. But sometimes the quality of the online leads you're generating need to be qualified, since the Internet attracts a wide range of prospects.

Online advertisers like the measurable results they get from the Internet. Results are typically measured using some kind of tracking system. And typical means of measurement are cost-per-click, cost-per-impression, cost-per-acquisition, or cost-per-sale. This information allows an advertiser to see the effectiveness of their ads in more-concrete terms than with television or print.

Taking Your Business Online

Many companies are interested in moving their advertising campaigns online because this medium is very precise, and the results are measurable. Plus, you can tell it works from the number of big-brand advertisers who have recently taken their campaigns on the Net. But the online medium is also very complicated. You have to understand your target audience's browsing habits so you can effectively reach them. And to put together an effective Internet-advertising campaign, you really have to understand how to use the different options. A savvy media buyer can help you navigate through your world of online-advertising possibilities.

When you use these tips to develop an Internet-advertising strategy for your company, you can keep in touch with the huge number of people who are spending more and more time online and ensure you stay ahead of your competition.

About the Author

Peter Koeppel is the founder and president of Koeppel Direct, a leader in direct-response television media buying, marketing, campaign management, and creative strategies. With more than 20 years of marketing and advertising experience, Peter has helped Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, and entrepreneurs develop marketing campaigns to increase profits. Peter is a Wharton MBA and has improved the media-buying strategies and advertising for clients such as The Hair Club for Men, Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals, Ben Hogan Golf, H.J. Heinz, and DIRECTV. For more information on his work, please visit www.koeppeldirect.com or call 972-732-6110.
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