What's the Buzz?

Top story honors on the I-Advertising and Online Ads discussion lists last week went to Richard Hoy, Online Ads’ moderator for the past three years, who announced that he’s signing off from that position. George Williams, director of client marketing at Tenagra, is taking over. During Richard’s tenure, Online Ads grew from 600 to more than 7,300 participants.

I-Advertising Moderator Adam Boettiger wrote that he anticipates a seasonal slowdown in “substantial discussion” and an onslaught of “little short questions.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but now’s a good time to come up with a few new topics worth kicking around at length.

As if to prove Adam right, a request for suggestions of a good PR firm with experiencing promoting large e-commerce sites drew as much response as any other topic on I-Advertising.

Jens Jokschat’s request for information about the history of online advertising drew a couple of responses on I-Advertising, including one from Rick Boyce, who was ad director at HotWired in ’94 when the site had 12 advertisers and revenues of about $400k. The industry as a whole chalked up a total of only around $1 million that year. Meanwhile, the IAB announced that ad revenues for ’98 hit $1.92 billion, up 112 percent from ’97.

The questions Mani Sivasubramanian and Brian Petula asked a week ago about e-zine ad networks drew some responses from I-Advertising participants as did Kathy Myers’ question about where to post online media kits. Ryan Johnson got some answers to his question about how to sell his management on the idea of selling online ads.

Dial 800 Online?

An anonymous participant has a client whose customers can’t order online; nevertheless, the client wants to explore online advertising as a way to drive prospects to their site, where an 800 number will be displayed. Does this make sense? Randy Conrads thinks not. He wrote that his site offers four payment options of which the most expensive and least used is the 800 number. “If you’re going to be on the Net you need to use the Net.”

Little Short Questions

D.Dias is looking for interesting examples of interstitial ads and info on the ways they’re implemented. Christina Burrows steered him to Unicast.

Howard Rosenbaum wondered if anyone knows of universities or colleges that have sold ads on their home pages. “The non-profit status of the institution lends itself more readily to trade-outs and sponsorship relationships, rather than advertising space for revenue, wrote Melissa Parrish, who’s pondered the question for her school.

Louis Jay is looking for a software/program that will allow him to track unique visitors and sales on promotions he runs.

Ron Brown wants to know what online advertising agencies charge as a percentage commission for handling a web site’s Internet advertising.


Adam Boettiger wants to add a few email autoresponders to I-Advertising to be used for accessing information. One possibility would be to connect college students majoring in advertising with agencies that offer summer internships. He wants to know what else participants would find helpful, and who’s willing to help.

Search Engine Service – Yuck!

The hottest topic on either forum last week was aired on Online Ads and revolved around — you guessed it — search engines. A week ago Jim Meskauskas put a rap on “the biggest (search engine) on the web” as having “probably the worst service of any media company in operation today.

Todd Baker had difficulty elsewhere but awarded 50 percent of his budget to the biggest search engine and the other half to a couple of other search engines he found moderately responsive. Infoseek was “extremely bad,” though, and he urged the engines in general to hire some “real” sales people.

That drew a sharp response from Infoseek regional sales manager Margaret Nemec, who complained that there aren’t enough hours in the day to respond “in the rapid-fire return customers would like,” not with “150 emails a day, voice mails, pagers, cell phone voice mail, etc.” and advertisers who leave messages with incorrect or no phone numbers or email addresses, or who “send an email and need a reply within two hours and you are traveling, etc.”

Quityerbitchin, Margaret, replied Penny Ortega. “If by chance you lose a potential sale, don’t whine and complain, saying ‘we get a 150 emails a day.’ Fess up and move on to the next client with a fierce determination to give that client 150 percent.”

AltaVista – Again

Speaking of search engines, David Yancey wondered why it’s taken search engines so long to adopt a paid listings model “given the inadequate performance of their search disciplines and their customer service.” The more search alternatives, the better, in his opinion. What the web needs, in effect, is “white pages” — free listings the cost of which is subsidized by advertising.

Rob Arnold doesn’t think Ian Douglas’ Dewey Decimal Number system would work, but something akin to a Notary Public paradigm might.

Rob Frankel thinks search engines are facing a major positioning problem. “The minute that the major engines start charging for their services, an army of start-ups will get financed to promote their ‘all free’ models. The pay-to-play models will be on the run — unless they do some serious brand positioning right now.”

More Questions

Evan Thomas has seen CPM rates of $30-50 but despite his site’s 3.3 million impressions per month he’s not getting anywhere near that. Who is?

Stefan asks if anyone has experimented with banner positioning. His site has all of its ads positioned at the top, but do ads on the bottom get better click-through results? Or ads between content?

Since BannerStake is apparently no longer available, Ian Leicht asks if anyone knows of a substitute tool.

Tranette Ledford is looking for data on online health for an article she’s writing for a Gannett publication that goes to military personnel and their families.

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