Aardvark Daily aardvark (ard'-vark) a controversial animal with a long probing nose used for sniffing out the facts and stimulating thought and discussion.

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Why e-tail (still) Sucks, Part 2 21 November 2001 Edition
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Million $ Ideas
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As I mentioned yesterday, online retailers need to advertise and create awareness of their online presence -- and that generally means advertising.

Now, if you read the industry newswires, you'll have heard that the bum has dropped right out of the online advertising market -- so buying a whole bunch of banner ads ought to be dirt cheap right?

And, because of this crash, anyone who has contemplated trying to earn some extra pennies by carrying banner ads on their own websites will have soon realised that it's hardly worth the effort.

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Unless you have massive traffic (we're talking tens or hundreds of thousands of visitors a day) then the returns simply aren't worth the hassles -- and if you have that much traffic then your site is probably costing you a heap to run so you're still going to end up in the red.

However, things seem to change dramatically when you go out to buy a bunch of banner ads. Suddenly the price seems inordinately high and, given the incredibly low click-through rates most online advertising produces, one really has to question the overall cost-effectiveness.

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Now that the "let's spend money like water" attitude of the late 1990s dot-com boom has passed, the online advertising industry is really going to have to come up with something a little better than banners, bigger banners, even bigger banners, pop-ups, pop-unders and interstitial advertisements. None of these seem to be producing satisfactory results at an affordable price.

One has to ask however, is the reason that online advertising is such a poor performer due perhaps to the fact that most of the stuff being advertised is just dead boring and unattractive to Net-users?

When I see yet another advertisement for a product or service that represents neither a great bargain nor an innovative breakthrough why on earth would I bother clicking?

A growing number of TV ads are entertaining and humorous; print-media ads are often interesting and informative; but most web-based ads just seem to be boring and intrusive.

So what can we do about it?

Well as regular readers are aware, Aardvark is an ad-free zone -- supported by the kind donations (hint, hint) of readers. However, I am quite happy to promote products and services that meet the criteria of being either exceptionally good value or interesting and exciting.

In order to help out those online entrepreneurs, I am about to add a new page to the Aardvark site that will carry advertisements for qualifying products or services. No, there won't be any banners on this page so your daily read will remain ad-free.

By keeping the "advertising page" filled with great deals that will almost certainly be relevant to Aardvark readers I'm hoping that most visitors will view that page and its ads on a regular basis. This should provide the advertisers with the exposure they're seeking without irritating the several thousand people who drop by to get the latest industry news and commentary.

Advertisers will also know that people have made a conscious choice to view their ads so those impressions will be significantly more valuable than just another involuntary appearance on some other site.

If you're offering a product or service that you think might qualify then drop me a line and, if I agree, I'll give you a couple of weeks *FREE* advertising with no obligation to continue.

Now *that's* a deal worth advertising -- right? :-)

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Yes, I have had several donations to the Aardvark fund and I thank those who put their money where their mouse is :-)

If guilt is gnawing away inside you then there's still time to donate.

Just drop by and hand over your loot.

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