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The Magestic Splendor of Online Advertising! or some damn thing like that.

Best of the Banter: Traditional vs. online advertising
by Donna Stryk, Moderator of the Online Ads Discussion List

Advertisers around the world continue to question the effectiveness of online advertising as well as its relationship to the more traditional advertising mediums. On February 15, Alan Beim asked members of the Online Ads List, "I was wondering what people thought of the effectiveness of radio and television advertising as compared to banner advertising in general."

The first thing to consider is whether or not the two can be directly compared to each other. Anne-Marie Burns doesn't think they can. "The Internet only has a 34 percent reach versus television which has around a 98 percent reach. Also, television can communicate a feeling, as well as verbally and visually communicate a message," Burns said. Another point that Burns brought up was the fact that a television commercial has a much higher recall than a printed banner ad.

Another major difference that should be considered is the percentage of display occupied by the ad. In other words, what else is competing for the viewers' attention? John Gaskill said that, "A 468x60 banner takes up just 5.8% of an 800x600 display, whereas a TV or radio spot takes up 100% of the bandwidth, unless it is a billboard." He attributes the results produced by these online ads to the "randomness of the ad being in the right place at the right time, or good targeting of the banner to the site audience." Based on the measurements he provided, it's a wonder that the online banners have any response at all.

Probably the most significant difference between traditional and online advertising is the type of messages the advertiser is able to communicate within each type of media. Dr. Andree Bates said, "Offline advertising uses Indirect Messaging, which is the repeated use of slogans and images to condition the customers to the brand that includes things like advertisements on television, logos on products and so forth. ... Online advertising allows you to directly experience the brand and what that means."

According to Dr. Bates, the direct messaging technique can prove to be far more effective because of the interaction between the user and the brand. Unfortunately, she also indicates that this type of message is much more difficult to design and implement. Dr. Bates pointed out that most advertisers are using the "traditional offline advertising technique of flashing a messages at someone repeatedly" rather than developing a new, direct from of advertisement specifically tailored to this new media.

Clint Ballard provided insight into the effectiveness of banner advertising, which many people believe has diminished significantly in its short history. "With the proper expertise and management of campaigns, banners can be as effective as any other broadcast media," Ballard said. As for generating quality branding via the Internet, Ballard points out that, "Branding doesn't happen overnight and requires massive investments, probably one hundred million dollars is the entry fee into that arena. That will buy billions of banners, which will probably have a meaningful branding effect!" He suggests buying online media based on a per event basis rather than CPM. According to Ballard these types of campaigns tend to get higher ratings from clients.

As you can see, the differences between traditional and online media make it difficult to make direct comparisons. The big thing to remember (as always) is carefully identify your target audience and their needs. The only way to know what will work best for your particular site, product or service is to know who will be interested in it, where you can find them, and what they will respond to. The reach of a particular media is very important, but it's more important to find your particular demographic within that audience. I do not believe that banner advertising has already seen its glory days. We are still perfecting the online techniques for messaging, targeting and creative.

Please, read all of the comments made on this thread and decide for yourself. You can find all of the posts in their entirety at

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