The state of internet advertising is abysmal, and it’s everyone’s fault. The advertisers, the website owners, and the surfer – are all to blame – and it may kill the internet as you know it.
Let’s start with the advertiser since I’m bothered most by their unreasonable expectations from website owners. Advertisers have gone from overly generous with unrealistic sales expectations to downright cheap, and they still have few clues as to how to regard advertising on the internet.
Advertisers started off like kids in a candy shop. With unbridled optimism, they threw incredible sums of money at website owners. When results didn’t match the frenzy they’d worked themselves into, they said it doesn’t work.
Now they want you to pay like a cheap affiliate program, which is diddley-squat, and expect the world from the website owners. They want you to pay pennies for thousands of ad displays, or don’t want you to pay for ad displays at all, but instead want you to pay for click-throughs or even just for sales only. In essence, they want the website owner to bear the cost burden of their ad campaign.
That’s ridiculous. They don’t tell television and radio stations, magazines, newspapers, or any other media that they’ll pay per inquiry. In addition to direct sales, they also use advertising in all other media to build name recognition and eventually make sales. Yet, on the internet they expect instant results. Get realistic, just because immediate results are possible on the internet doesn’t mean your not getting any value from advertising if it doesn’t happen.
Then purchasing ad space on the internet, advertisers tend to place all value on click-throughs and sales. If you’re a website owner it’s a mistake to think that’s the only value to the advertiser. There is value in just being seen on quality websites. Branding and name recognition works on the internet as it does in other media, and your ad space should have value regardless of click-throughs and sales.
Advertisers should design a campaign for the internet with all the resources, research, and intelligence they do for print, television, or radio. If you don’t get enough instant results, don’t expect the website owners responsibility to ensure the sales campaign you designed works and works well for you!
Do your homework, accept the responsibility for your efforts, and know that advertising is not only measured in click-through rates and sales, but also in name recognition and long term goals. When most people see your ad they won’t be in the market for your product at that instant, but you do want them to think of you when they ARE in the market for what you offer. Advertising, and only advertising, does that.
The website owner has no control over the ad campaign or how well the advertiser sells the product one someone does a click-through. They don’t control the advertisers’ customers relations, support, services, quality of product, how well the sales process is designed once a potential customer is there, or anything else – and a good many potential sales are lost because of poor customer service and sales presentation. To expect a website owner to give free or nearly free space to an advertiser is patently unfair to the website owner who can only offer space for your advertisement.
Website owners are to blame too. They’ve accepted giving space to advertisers next-to-nothing. They hope to earn money from click-throughs, sales, or sign-ups. Even if someone signs up for a trial, some advertisers don’t want to pay until a sale is made. If your product doesn’t after a free trial, it’s definitely not the fault of the website you advertised on. A website owner has no control over anything except the space they rent, and they deserve to be fairly compensated for that space.
But, webmasters stand like pigeons in a park begging for a handout from the advertiser’s bag of seeds. Hey webmasters, if you’re going to accept pennies per thousand from advertisers you might as well advertise affiliate programs. At least when you join an affiliate program you can target a program related to your content, and you do have some control over how you present your affiliate links. The advertisers would be forced to pay better if website owners didn’t offer space for the price of bird seed. The internet is too large an audience to ignore forever. They must be made to pay to play.
Surfers are at fault too. Like spoiled children, they’ve come to expect everything for free. They ignore ads even on their favorite sites. They even write the site owner and complain about the presence of ads. They want all the free content they can eat, but do nothing to help support the suppliers fo that content.
Even worse, many surfers use ad blocking software and take away what few pennies the website owner does earn from advertisers. Keep that up and one day you’ll find all the useful free content gone. Everything except home pages will be pay as you go. If you don’t let the advertisers pay for the free content you enjoy, you’ll have to pay or do without for anything and everything.
It will be the end of the internet as you know it, and it’s already started. Some sites have moved to pay-for-content models, search engines are charging for listings, and a good many site have simply closed up shop. You don’t have to look far into the past to see the trends of the future.
So what’s the solution ? Between advertisers and website owners, balance. Advertisers should pay a reasonable price fo the digital real estate they use. They could pay a higher CPM rate alone, or lower CPM rate and pay an additional amount for sales or click-throughs. Be fair, the website owner has little control over your campaign. It’s unreasonable to expect something for nothing. If you’re not willing to compensate fairly, you’re of the same ilk as the ungrateful surfer using ad blocking software. You’re both wanting everything for nothing, and you know that isn’t right!
For the surfer, support your favorite sites by at least looking at the ads. Click one if it looks interesting, and quit complaining to website owners about ads and quit using ad blocking software. So a little gratefulness for the free content you enjoy instead of robbing the site owner like a thief in the night.
Dennis Gaskill is the creator and owner of Boogie Jack’s Web Depot at Boogie Jack’s a popular webmasters resource site ranking in the top 1% of the most linked to sites on the internet. He is also author of the book Web Site Design Made Easy and publishes Almost a Newsletter, named the best Ezine of 2000.