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Commercial Site Advertising: Which Way to Go?

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When advertising your Web-based company, you must choose a campaign that best fits your company and products. David deBoer discusses some of the most effective ways to promote your services and products both online and offline.
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Advertising can help boost your company's image, Web site hits, and product sales. Although virtually all big Web-based companies are advertising their products in some way, it is important to choose what kind of an advertising campaign fits your company and products best. In this article, I discuss some of the more popular and (arguably) most effective ways of promoting your services and products both on- and offline, from a Web-based company's point of view.

Online Advertising

Online advertising comes most frequently in the form of banners. And, let's face it, most of us find banners extremely annoying and rarely click them. This annoyance has only increased as popular software programs have started implementing rotating banners into their programs to "keep their programs free"—think of Kazaa and ICQ—due to the cost of increased usage of these programs over the years (as well as software designers becoming much more commercial). This is one explanation for the decreasing average "click-through rate" of banners on the Web.

I have also noticed that banners have become less "to the point" over the years. It seems that many advertisers try to trick you into thinking that the banner will take you to a different site than it actually does, or that the site in question contains different information than you think. These are so-called "trick banners." For example, think about those "If this banner is flashing, you have won!" banners, or even the classic animated "Click the [Insert Any Animal] to get 500 Dollars!" Now, this may trick you into actually clicking the banner (I must admit that I was one of those people who just wanted to catch that moving monkey), but I can assure you that, after finding themselves on a site they didn't ever want to get to, people will never click the banner—or any similar advertisement—ever again.

This is a technique I actually encouraged in one of my previous articles, but now the "novelty" has worn off and these banners have started to annoy me. Interactivity in banners is still recommended, though (more on this later)!

Companies that try to trick people into visiting their Web sites are giving banners in general a very bad name. Now that it has become common knowledge that banners are deceiving and annoying, click rates are decreasing much faster than in previous years.

So does that mean that banner advertising is never a smart way to advertise online? No! If you follow certain guidelines and know where to place your banners, banners can pay off!

The positive effect of people losing interest in clicking banners is that the prices of placing banners online has decreased dramatically over the years. Although banner cost used to be evaluated most by the number of clicks, nowadays advertisers often pay per "impression": One impression is added to your bill every time a visitor loads a Web page with your banner on it. The cost per impression has decreased rapidly and is still decreasing today as sites become more popular but click-through rates still keep falling.

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