No advantage in Internet advertising? Think again. A US survey says online advertising is more cost-effective and beneficial to advertisers than radio and television advertising.
The survey, conducted by the Advertising Specialty Institute, concludes that the Internet is a cost-effective way for distributors to add an extra level of service to their clients.
Meanwhile, annual Internet advertising revenues in New Zealand are put at less than $1 million, from an advertising industry worth more than $1 billion a year.
In the case of print media, a magazine can state how many people receive the publication by having an independent audit performed. From these figures readership profiles, overall readership and various demographic information can be garnered. The same is not true for Web sites. In most cases potential advertisers have to rely on figures supplied by the site operators — something akin to agreeing with the mileage on a car simply because the salesman says the figure is accurate.
To compound the issue, site operators are seemingly unable to agree on the best way to quote site figures. The battle for advertising space and mindshare gets lost on the muddy field of hits versus visits, versus impressions, versus click-throughs ... well, you get the picture.
So where does it all end? As far as Lou McDowell, director of Internet media placement agency Net Space, is concerned, content is definitely king. “At the moment what we are seeing is a situation where the more targeted a site is, the better the response for advertisers,” he says.
McDowell says the process will be simplified when standards are in place, particularly because Net advertising is something generally not understood by advertising agencies. The sooner black and white standards are in place, the sooner the spend will increase.
“At the moment the market is still very much driven by advertisers, as opposed to advertising agencies.”
The company spearheading the move to independent audits is market research company AC Neilsen, which is currently responsible for the readership-viewing surveys the majority of the media use to present demographic profiles to customers and agencies. The next issue facing the company is Net usage.
Brian Milnes, regional director of business development, says the company will be auditing and verifying log file details at clients’ request so that figures can be verified. However, this can only be done at a company’s request. That means the market will have to adopt this method as a de facto standard if it is to succeed. If that happens, the same rules will apply as with circulation figures, and advertisers should ask why a company isn’t audited.
“The idea is growing in popularity, with Web-based publishers both here and in Australia,” says Milnes. Growing quite dramatically, in fact, as most Web publishers strive to have their figures taken seriously in the face of some less than honest companies with dubious figures.
AC Neilson will be launching a subscriber product called Net Panel later in the year. “Essentially, Net Panel is a peoplemeter for the Web. We will be able to establish almost in real time what New Zealanders do collectively in terms of their Web browsing behaviour.”
Also on the agenda is a package called Ad Audit. This product allows publishers to independently verify the number of people who see a banner advertisement in a given period of time.
“Longer term, the beauty of this is that as Web advertising grows you’ll be able to incorporate the data with traditional reach, frequency, cost efficiency data from other mainstream media,” says Milne. That will enable you to position the Web as an option beside all the other mainstream media.”