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It is better
to not be on
the web than
to be on and
not know why

John Sumser

is more
it seems.
John Gall


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The Electronic Recruiting News is a Free Daily Newsletter For Recruiters, HR Managers, Advertising Agencies and Clasified Advertising Operations

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The Online Ad
(September 27, 2004) There are four parts of an online ad:
  1. The ad (button, banner or other tool) itself (the ad);
  2. The media outlet that features the ad (the property)
  3. The page that the ad points to (the link); and
  4. The content of the page (the sell)
These four pieces work together to produce branding, sales leads and in some cases, actual sales. A good ad harnesses all four into a seamless experience for the user. In other words, the ad attracts the right eyes from the right media outlet; those eyes are given awareness of the name and the opportunity to learn more; the link leads to a well constructed sales proposition and the sell is clearly targeted at the eyes that see it.

The Ad
Graphic Ads appear as buttons, banners or those new huge things - mega popups. Text ads appear somewhere in the body of an email or online periodical. Whatever the size, shape or content, the ad needs to convey the name of the product or company and (if sales are important) encourage the reader to click. Given the tiny space, it's not surprising that many ad agencies are running away from online advertising.

Although advertising agencies and the emerging companies who claim to be able to help with Branding, all generally have 'creative departments', the work of building an effective graphic ad tends to have to low a return for their tastes. Graphic ads beg for a company with rapid turn-around innovation at low cost. Properly positioned, a recurring ad in a high traffic location produces amazing results.

If the ad is going to encourage a reader beyond brand awareness, it has to cross an attention span threshold. That is, the ad that grabs attention will be the one that gets clicked. We favor bright colors and a clear message to "click here". The bluntness required by the space limitations often poses a problem.

The Property
The truth is that you have to understand the property and its demographics before you engineer the ad and the sell. Each web property reaches a very specific set of readers. The Electronic Recruiting News (this site), for example, focuses on issues of interest to decision makers in the Human Capital Arena (leaders and investors). Other Recruiting sites reach lots of entry level Recruiters (good places to advertise for training or purchases in the $300 range). Still others reach Recruiters as a part of a larger audience (general HR sites).

To our knowledge, there are no advertising agencies that serve our niche particularly effectively. That means that you are on your own in terms of figuring out which site works best for you for which things. You may want the entire community of HR professionals to know about your company. Or, you may only want to communicate with interested buyers. Figuring out which property will serve your needs involves fairly intensive research. In the final analysis, you end up making a gut judgment and testing it.

The Link
This is the place in which you can add to your heartbreak by using the new services of Electronic Ad Agencies like Double click. By controlling the link, these firms claim to be able to provide accurate measurement of the traffic generated by the ad. The truth is that the bugs are not worked out of these systems just yet. They tend to be staffed by inexperienced personnel who don't understand the point of their own product.

That said, making a specific link a specific destination for one and only one specific ad can give you a way to count much of the traffic associated with the ad. There are any number of caveats to the idea but at least it can give you something to count. This should give you the ability to see the relative effectiveness of various media properties.

The Sell
This is, surprisingly, the tough part. Knowing what you are selling and who you are selling it to is the essence of good advertising. Our industry has been so tiny and parochial for so long that it's hard to understand just how sophisticated the buyers have become (in spite of their reputation). When a user clicks on an ad, the page that opens up should be directly targeted to sell to that user.

It rarely is.

The page that a user reaches when clicking on an advertisement should be particularly clear about

  • Any actions you want the user to take;
  • The value that the user will get from taking those actions;
  • The features of your product you wish to emphasize; and,
  • the benefit a user will get from discovering more.

There are many additional layers of subtlety beyond these basics.

- John Sumser

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Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
Mill Valley, CA 94941

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         Materials written
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         © TwoColorHat.
         All Rights Reserved.