Website hits are no substitute for ad environment

Companies would do well to invest in new technology to boost users’ impressions of Website quality, rather than focus on page impression.

The incredible speed with which the online market has grown – from its birth to its present state – could have been achieved without many of the foundations that were laid in between.

The tendency has been to choose an easy route to market, without taking into account the various idiosyncrasies which stimulate – or, depending on your point of view, plague – our brave new world.

There is undoubtedly a difference between the TV advertising environment and that of the Web.

On TV, brands fight tooth and nail to secure slots in which to best fit their message and hit target markets hard. Planners ponder long and hard over schedules. Environment, increasingly, is king.

But, when it comes to the Web, the importance of the ad environment is all too often ignored. Everything comes down to the most basic common denominator: page impressions.

G-wizz.net, which is both an Internet service provider and a portal that acts as a gateway to other Websites, has invested heavily in Flash technology. For instance, in our children’s area, Flash runs for up to ten minutes, creating a fully-animated domain. Yet the positive impact this environment has on perceptions of online ads is often overlooked by the market – and this has to change.

Straight page impression counts no longer cut the mustard. It’s time for a radical overhaul of research methodologies to account for new technology and how it affects the way a branded message is received online.

Additionally, we believe the market underestimates the branding value of Website banners.

It is time to “invest to prove”. We are considering a new, industry-wide initiative and inviting other key players to join us in producing research to meet these goals.

First, we need to convince advertisers of banners’ true branding potential. As Mark Twain might have put it, reports of their demise have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, when combined with new technology, the power of banner branding could be greater than ever.

Second, we have to demonstrate the impact of progressive technologies on brand profile.

Finally, we aim to develop a reliable method to calibrate the positive effects that an attractive online ad environment can have on post click-through conversion.

Mark Brandon is commercial and marketing director of Granada Media interactive.

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