Home  › Marketing › Strategies

The One-Second Law of Online Branding

  |  February 14, 2001   |  Comments

Call it the One-Second Law of Online Branding: Whether developing (or approving) ad banners, sponsorships, tiles, or buttons, make sure that a one-second glance at your creative is enough to drive your message home.

For much of its short history, online advertising has been seen solely as a vehicle for direct response. The reason is simple: Behavioral metrics such as click-throughs, sign-ups, and purchases can be easily quantified, allowing for cut-and-dry evaluation and aggressive optimization.

There has always been something scientific about direct response advertising on the Web. Like direct mail, it relies on systems of testing that are very effective in driving response up and costs down.

Put It Out There

It's fairly simple to determine whether an ad banner will garner a high level of response: Put it out there, and see how it does. Over the years, experienced direct response advertisers have developed best practices for advertising creative. A strong call to action, a compelling message, and high visibility all contribute to getting clicks, sign-ups, and sales.

But what kind of online creative is best for branding? Until recently the answer was to develop ads that followed the rules of offline advertising. Humor, punchy taglines, visual beauty, and high-tech "cool" were the main elements of developing branding creative for the Internet.

This sufficed when the word "branding" stood for "the banners nobody clicks on." But now, with traditional advertisers demanding accountability for their online branding initiatives, agencies and publishers are asking themselves: What are best practices for branding on the Internet?

Eyeballing It?

A key to answering that question is a recently published finding from the Poynter Institute, a school for journalists. It found that people look at online advertising banners for an average of one second. One second -- that's the time you have to communicate your message and convince people that your product is worth buying.

Call it the One-Second Law of Online Branding. Whether you are developing (or approving) ad banners, sponsorships, tiles, or buttons, make sure that a one-second glance over your creative would be enough to drive your message home.

Corollaries and Implications

This law has a number of corollaries.

First of all, throw subtlety out the window. If you are trying to build brand awareness, make the logo large, and put it in every frame of an animated unit. If you want to drive home a message, make it omnipresent -- don't make viewing it a game of chance.

Second, size matters. The new ad formats running on CNET and News.com are well suited for branding campaigns -- they are LARGE. The bigger an advertisement is, the more likely that your customer or prospect will see it.

The One-Second Rule suggests a number of implications for media planning as well. Low-frequency caps minimize the likelihood that people will see your message and that it will make an impact. And finding the right spot for your advertisement, where people are likely to glance over it, is very important.

Plan Well, and It'll Work

My friend Tom Deierlein likes to say that half of online advertising will always be below average. I guess most of the time he does have logic on his side. But most well-planned online branding campaigns I have seen have been a success.

If we apply discipline to the craft, and a little common sense, it can only get better.


Jeffrey Graham

Jeffrey Graham is vice president of client development at Dynamic Logic, a company he joined in January of 2001. Dynamic Logic specializes in measuring the branding effectiveness of online marketing. Jeffrey has served as research director at two online advertising agencies, Blue Marble and NOVO, and has worked with clients such as General Motors, Procter & Gamble, and Continental Airlines. He has taught Internet Research at New York University and has a Masters degree in the subject.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Marketing newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!



Featured White Papers

US Consumer Device Preference Report

US Consumer Device Preference Report
Traditionally desktops have shown to convert better than mobile devices however, 2015 might be a tipping point for mobile conversions! Download this report to find why mobile users are more important then ever.

E-Commerce Customer Lifecycle

E-Commerce Customer Lifecycle
Have you ever wondered what factors influence online spending or why shoppers abandon their cart? This data-rich infogram offers actionable insight into creating a more seamless online shopping experience across the multiple devices consumers are using.




  • SEO Specialist
    SEO Specialist (Marcel Digital) - ChicagoSearch Engine Optimization (SEO) Specialist   Marcel Digital is an award winning digital marketing...
  • SEO / SEM Manager
    SEO / SEM Manager (CustomInk) - FairfaxAre you a friendly, motivated, and inquisitive individual? Are you a positive, out-going leader? Are you...
  • SEO Analyst
    SEO Analyst (XO Group) - New YorkSEO Analyst @ XO Group About this Job, You and Our Team: The XO Group SEO Team is looking for you, a passionate...