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Advertisers and Online Advertising Agencies

Ten years ago I founded NetMediaReps, Inc., an advertising agency for online companies, specifically online newsletter publishers trying to find advertisers for their publications. My decision to found my own company grew out of my frustration in trying to obtain agency representation for my husband's company.

After calling more than 25 ad agencies, I discovered that most agencies charged exorbitant commissions and were only interested in representing large companies with deep pockets. As a new startup, my husband's company fell under their radar and follow up was minimal to nil.

Back then, the internet was just emerging as the new frontier of business and it was apparent that small and medium-sized businessses needed effective marketing representation to compete in this new marketplace, to receive the broadest possible exposure and to find other companies which could help facilitate their growth.

My thought was that these companies had an even greater need for a marketing platform than larger companies to be competitive in the growing online commercial market. I decided to fill that niche and started by signing contracts with several online publishers who needed assistance in selling their ad inventory. The rest is history - NetMediaReps.com was born.

Knowledge of how to do business, and advertise, on the internet has grown significantly over the years and data tracking of take rates, website conversion rates and ROI have become increasingly sophisticated, helping online businesses to better target their advertising dollars in a successful and productive way.

Despite these advances in knowledge and technique, there are still a surprising number of individuals who display a remarkable naivety regarding advertising and who ask questions that indicate the lack of a well thought out marketing plan or a basic understanding of the advertising mediums available to them online. Below are some examples of not so uncommon questions we receive and our responses to them:

Question: Your publisher mails to a list of 500,000 subscribers so I should get 500,000 responses - right ?

Answer: An online publication using a mailing list is like a newspaper. Recipients don't always feel like reading or looking at the publication on a given day. They may be busy, on vacation, disinterested in the topic, or otherwise indisposed. And, like a newspaper - just because they see your ad doesn't mean they want to buy from you - at least not at that given moment. It is, however, a good idea to advertise in publications that archive past issues or editions providing advertisers with permanent or semi-permanent back links and the opportunity of receiving trickle through clicks and sales at no additional cost.

Other factors that can affect response rate are:

* The number of links in a publication. Newsletters typically run 1 to 2 web pages in length and are comprised of several sections all of which contain a few to numerous links. As a result reader interest and click activity is diffused across the newsletter rather than focused on a particular ad or link.

* Ad clarity. A concise, definitive statement describing what your company is selling and how it benefits buyers is essential as is an unequivocal call to action.

* Ad Uniqueness. An ad that stands out generally performs better.

* Spam triggers. Generally, words and phrases that are the most effective in evoking reader response are also the ones that trigger spam filters both at the ISP level and the reader's Inbox. Blatant commercial message subjects and ad copy rarely do well.

* Message Subject. Shorter subject lines are usually more effective than longer ones. More imortantly, large web-based mail services like Yahoo! Mail, MSN/Hotmail and AOL truncate message subjects that are greater than 38 - 47 characters.

Question: (After receiving ad specs, including dimensions and file sizes.) Will my 700 x 300 pixel ad be accepted?

Answer: Most publishers will strive to assist you in placing your ads but are restricted by their newsletter templates from accepting ads that don't conform to the specs provided. Submitting an incorrectly sized ad simply delays the start of your ad campaign.

Question: Why should I advertise when we are obviously in a recession? Does that make any sense?

Answer: McGraw-Hill Research analyzed 600 companies and their marketing spending from 1980 to 1985. After 1985, the facts showed that the firms which had kept or increased their advertising budgets during the recession in '81-'82 boasted an average sales growth of 275% over the next five years. The companies who cut their advertising? They experienced paltry sales growth over the next five years of just 19%.

So, when is the right time to market your business? All the time.

Question: I noticed my competitor in your publications - can you tell me how they did, so I can decide if we want to use you?

Sorry. You wouldn't want the details of your campaign provided to your competitors. Our advertisers have an expectation of privacy and confidentiality in regards to performance criteria such as click-through rates, sales and ROI. Ad agencies and publishers have an ethical obligation to keep campaign results confidential.

Even if such information was made available, it would not be that useful. Campaign results can vary significantly depending on the product/service offered, price point, message subject, ad copy and numerous other variables.

Any questions?... e-me ! :)

Karin Gamble is the CEO of NetMediaReps, Inc., an online advertising agency specializing in ad sales for newsletter publications and web sites targeting a webmaster audience. Karin can be reached by email at [email protected] or by telephone at (204)254-1750.

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