What's the Buzz?

In their second week, ClickZ Forum members continued to chew on rich media, expanded their discussion to include rich (HTML) email and talked a tad about how much is too much for an online ad sales rep to blab about a prospect’s competitors.

Carol Dawson contributed a brief but articulate tutorial on future trends. ” The Net is not going to stay text and graphics based for long. Network bandwidth is coming down, cable modems and ADSL are being sold by the largest companies in the USA, and processing power increases by the day to the point that Intel is optimizing its chips for streaming media,” she noted. She made the point that rich media and multimedia are the waves of the future.

The time to act is now, she urged, suggesting that a presumably media rich bank site she named would likely beat up text-based bank sites in a couple of years.

Muhammad Lee begged to differ, at least with regard to the bank site. “I can go to my bank’s text-based site and (do a bunch of useful stuff) On your rich media site, I can see a neat little interactive presentation that takes three minutes to load from my modem It’s not simple, easy and intuitive for me to find the info I need.”

In that same who-needs-rich-media vein, Sean Carton, obviously not loathing to speak his mind, observed that “most banner creative sucks.” Gee, Sean can you tell us how you REALLY feel?

Carton said, “With so many ‘me-too’ agencies jumping onto the bandwagon by converting their print design staff into interactive designers by giving them a copy of Adobe ImageReady and a copy of Dreamweaver, you’re going to get crap.”

In contrast, Sean’s agency has hit 14 percent click-through rates on static banners because in Sean’s view, it knew its audience, targeted its ads and “designed creative that took into account the conventions that people have come to expect on a computer, namely buttons and scroll bars. The ads looked like they should be clicked, so people clicked them.”

Sean’s gripe with rich media is that “most folks just don’t have the bandwidth for it or the computers to handle it.”

“It seems new rich media solutions crop up weekly, increasing choice while adding hassle,” wrote Keith Pieper. “Slowly, the market will consolidate around a few technology bases, and once again adopt some standard rich media technologies,” he predicted.

On the HTML email front, ClickZ Forum moderator Richard Hoy proposed a new acronym, CPOE (Cost-Per-Opened-E-mail), as a basis for pricing in email advertising.


I-Advertising moderator Adam Boettiger posted an Ad Age article on Thinking Media’s user-side (versus server-side) ad tracking technology. “Will this be the silver bullet that allows the industry to agree on one common measurement format and finally agree on the definition of what an impression is and how it is counted?”

Asking how I-Advertising members establish the value of their unsold ad inventory for barter or trade, he announced that I-Advertising is getting as many as 200 new member referrals a month.

Jesse Poppick said he’s spent a year puzzling over impression/click-through counting discrepancies and he ain’t optimistic: “The biggest constant problem is that there is no consistency to the problem,” he wrote. “Discrepancies can range from 5 percent to 75 percent within the same campaign using all the major ad networks, all the top ad serving software, or any of the top third party serving firms.”

Flycast’s Heidi Kay offered some tips on how to minimize discrepancies. “One solution we find that works wonders is to double and triple check the precise syntax of the redirect URLs that are uploaded into the third-party server. It is essential that anti-caching methods prescribed by the other ad server be implemented correctly in these redirect URLs.”

Angela Skinner was among the I-Advertising members who responded to Adam’s question about bartering. She said that since February she’s negotiated well over $85k in advertising for her site in print media and on other sites. What’s key is assembling win-win-win “strategic partnering” packages that benefit her site, the partner, and customers.

Simon Goodlad recalled the good ol’ days: “By offering a barter (or ‘contra’ as the Brits sometimes say) to several organizations for print media, I managed to fly first class to South Africa, charter a BeechJet for a week, and stay in a five-star hotel. When on terra firma, I’d pootle around in a Lexus. All gratis.

“The secret was in the up-front concept sell — something that is possible with print media because the clients concerned buy the ‘story’ up to a year before they see the product/reap its responses. As far as I see it, the problem with online advertising is that whenever one charges X for Y click-throughs or page-views I would presume that the client thereafter gets exactly what the client pays for.”

Online Ads

We’re eating leftovers on Online Ads this week. Not that that’s bad. Members picked over search engine submission software, ad-blocking software, support for smaller-sized banners and buttons, and how to deal with overly long email messages . but there was little that could pass for real debate.

The issue of using sex to sell — more the word than the deed — generated as many posts as any other topic. ” There is a better way to sell than sex: honesty,” suggested Ken Jenks.

“We’re all conditioned by millions of years of evolution to pay attention to sex cues, and advertisers know this and use it effectively. But once you’ve drawn the user to the product, when you try to shift your message from ‘SEX! HEY YOU! THERE’S SEX HERE!’ to ‘Pardon me, sir, but can I interest you in a great deal on a (blank),’ you’re going to lose the user’s interest along with your own credibility.”

Picking up on Ken’s point about honesty, Online Ads moderator George Williams said he hoped that Ramon Ray’s original post on the sex topic “did not mislead any of you into thinking that reading the post would get you any.”

Kick ‘Em When They’re Down

Rick Bruner asked earlier for recommendations of truly bad web sites. Tina Reed suggested that he check out the Coca-Cola site. Got any others? Email Rick.

It’s the Content, Stupid

Sadiq Jaffer pondered whether sites with “gripping and high-quality information” are likely to have lower click-through rates than sites with “rubbish” content. If you were reading through a web page and saw an advertisement, you are more likely to click on it if the page content isn’t gripping and high quality.

Maybe, but if the site’s content were rubbish, would you be likely to stay on the site long enough to bother clicking?

Jeff Allen provided a thoughtful and comprehensive response to Abe Gottesman, who’d asked about advertising on a small budget.

Sign Up

Join Online Ads at www.o-a.com, I-Advertising at www.internetadvertising.org. and the ClickZ Forum at www.clickz.com/list/.

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