These are hardly banner days for banner ads, says the new study "Online Promotions: The Big Shift" from Borrell Associates. "We are seeing a distinct shift of business spending away from classic online advertising per se," states the study, "toward non-advertising marketing expenses – the more nebulous category of ‘promotions’." Those include contests, sponsorships and incentive marketing.
Borrell is issuing a wakeup call "for media companies trying to use the Web to merely attract a big audience with local news or classified listings and then sell banner advertising around it." Online display ads and paid search advertising have lost their luster, says the report, while online promotions was an $8 billion category last year–and is expected to grow to a $22.8 billion category over the next five years.
"Online contests, give-aways, coupons and sales of half-price gift certicates are proliferating – many of them bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars annually," says Borrell, "and generating warm partnerships between the media company and the advertiser."
Among the innovative Web promotions mentioned in the study are a Pizza Hut/The Office giveaway at WECT Wilmington (NC) and a Kentucky Derby contest on WAVE Louisville’s Web site.
The Borrell study offers a few pointers for stations looking to increase their take from online promotions. Among them, create a promotions sales team "comprised of your most creative people," and establishing a coupon program "allowing local businesses to design, print and publicize" their own coupons.