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Marketing Your Website: Spending Money 3 August 2000 Edition
Previous Edition

Having already looked at a number of methods of building traffic without spending money and how to create an effective brand, it's now time bite the bullet and look at spending money to market your website.

Yes... despite the fact that they're atrociously ineffective you probably can't afford to ignore the banner ad as a method of promoting your website.

If you're really more interested in establishing your branding than driving traffic to your website then you can cheat a little and save some money by purchasing your banner ads on a click-through basis while using a banner that has no "call to action."

This banner could be as simple as your logo and brandname. I know that the ad networks will hate me for telling you this, but designing an ad that catches the eye but doesn't stimulate people to click can be a brilliant way to get lots of exposure at a very low cost if you choose to pay on a per-click basis.

Remember that marketing involves a lot more than just throwing up some ads -- one of the key differences between marketing and advertising is timing. A smart marketing plan might involve some heavy brand-promotion advertising which does nothing but promote an awareness of your logo and your name at very low cost (using the technique described above), followed up by another campaign designed to actually drive traffic but purchased on a per-view basis. When designed and implemented correctly, the result can be quite effective and cheap.

Beyond Banners
This is the area where existing ad agencies have really fallen flat on their faces. Perhaps it's that they're really confused by the medium but the agencies seem to be unable to come up with much more than the extremes of plain old banners or broadband video/audio/shockwave placements.

I've seen very few online marketing mechanisms that take any real advantage of the interactivity that the Net provides. Few agencies appear to realise that there's as much value in getting information from the customer as their is in delivering your message to them.

They also fail to understand that an advertiser's message is far more likely to be assimilated by a Web surfer if its engaging and requires them to interact beyond just a single click of their mouse.

A good example of this is the Java banner that I co-developed with 4 eCentral for the ASB Bank several years ago. Some of you may recall seeing this little banner-sized ad that invited the web-surfer to click on cash which was falling across the banner. By building a small game into the banner, Net users were not only attracted to the ad, but they actually became engaged and interacted.

According to reports from the client, the ad campaign was a huge success with user response far exceeding that of any regular banner ad.

Value Exchange
The entire 7am.com network of more than 165,000 websites which produces requests that see the news delivered more than 1 million times per day was built on a concept I call "value exchange."

7am.com has never purchased a single banner ad. In fact, it has never paid a penny for advertising of any kind -- yet it has an audience that places it ahead of many of the major players in the Net news marketplace -- a large number of which have the benefit of cross-media promotion by way of their TV or print divisions.

That is the promotional power of a well constructed value exchange offer.

The very first thing that 7am.com offered by way of value-exchange was the 7am Java clock. This clock represents a concept I call Brandware.

Brandware is a method of building your branding into something which has value to other parties. A good example of this the way that people buy tee-shirts which are little more than advertisements for well known brands. It seems to defy logic that anyone would pay a premium to buy a garment that carries an advertisement for a well-known name such as CocaCola, the All Blacks, Adidas or whatever -- but they do!

In the case of the 7am.com clock, other websites were offered a pretty piece of "eye-candy" that looked smart and displayed the time -- along with the 7am.com globe. The value given by 7am.com was the pretty clock, the value received in exchange was that 7am's branding was displayed and, when someone clicked on the clock, they arrived at the 7am.com website. In short this clock was really a blatant ad -- just like that All Black shirt.

The clock took about a day to develop and is now seen about 200,000 times per day on thousands of other websites.

If we assume that the current rate of advertising on someone else's site is around US$0.001 per view then it becomes apparent that this little clock is now returning something in the order of US$200 worth of free advertising each and every day. That's US$73,000 per year worth of advertising -- all from a single investment of less than NZ$1,000. Over the past four years that probably comes to a total advertising value of more than half a million (NZ) dollars from that $1,000 investment!

That clock was built and released almost four years ago -- yet it's effectiveness as a branding and advertising tool continues to grow as more and more sites ad it to their pages. This is what I call residual effect.

If you spend $1,000 buying a million banner ads then when your million ads have been viewed you'll have to spend more money to do it all again. Methods (such as Brandware) which offer a residual clearly represent a much smarter way to use your promotional budget because, when implemented properly, their effect continues to increase long after you've made your investment.

And the advertising industry still don't get it -- or perhaps it's just that they don't want their clients finding out that they can spend smarter rather than harder? However -- if the ad agencies want to know how they can turn such residual advertising tools into residual revenue generators for their own agencies, they only have to ask me.

Continued tomorrow...

Government Secrets On The Web?
If they haven't already fixed it -- The government appears to be publishing its secrets on the Web ... or at least that's the only reason I can think of for the behaviour you see when clicking on the "What's New" link on 4 this page

Whose palm do you have to grease to get access?

As always, your feedback is welcomed.

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