Making Ads Work on the Internet

A year ago, everyone was saying that advertising on the Web was dead. But, with online ad revenues rebounding, a ray of hope is finally peeking through those dark clouds and bringing rejuvenation to the market. This just may be the year the Web will come into its own.

As television-advertising revenues are staying even, interactive Web advertising is on the upswing. Advertisers are realizing the Web's potential as a vital piece of a marketing campaign's big picture.

But simply putting a pop-up advertisement on the Web is no longer going to cut it. The solution is to establish an intimate relationship with the consumer. By this, I mean that you have to go beyond simple, meaningless banner ads. They don't work. Consumers need something more flexible and exciting—something that is alluring and has meaning to them.

With a few key strategies, Web developers and advertisers can successfully monetize Web sites.

One important element is to change the look of the Internet marketing unit. Formats that are more like video or television windows, or other formats referred to as "skyscraper" ads, are far more engaging than the traditional banner space ad. Meshing advertisement with Web content also helps establish a meaningful relationship with the consumer. Advertisers want to be associated with content, something that I call "content-supported advertising."

I've found that this form of integrated advertising is what advertisers are interested in accomplishing with their ad dollars and what consumers want to see on the Web.

Serving up more technologically advanced ad formats, or "rich-media ads," is another way to make Web content more attractive and fuel growth in Web ad spending.

A major component of rich-media ads is video and audio clips, which are becoming a more critical success factor in the delivering of any interactive media, but especially on the Web. Using audio and video content makes for a more compelling experience because it can smoothly move the consumer from one place to another, much as a videogame might do.

There is also a unique way that interactivity can facilitate information and knowledge about a product in a much more in-depth way than simple ads. The more tools you have to simplify the creation of rich media, the more appealing and greater the response for advertisers.

Lastly, its essential for a Web site to integrate its content and advertising. For example, Launch, a Yahoo! music site, rebranded its home page for its campaign with Coca-Cola, changing its homepage background color to match Coke's signature red.

This is a viable idea; it's a win-win for everyone. Web content, the advertisements and the consumer are all tied together into a meaningful experience that's lasting—and that's what gets results.

Zetools is a media software firm based in Los Angeles.

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