Are You Being Served?
By Brian Howard
When the Internet was young and invincible, banner ads and pop-up ads were all the rage. When the curtain was pulled back to reveal that the Internet was less than we thought, banners and pop-ups were a scourge. Now that we're figuring out what the medium can and cannot do, cooler heads are prevailing.
Banners and pop-ups can be an important part of the media mix, especially given the state of the economy. And the way to get these ads on Internet sites other than your own is through an ad-serving company that will deliver your ads to sites you've bought space on and provide reports on their performance.
"When we entered the war in Iraq, we saw lots of our clients who pulled their television advertising, but shifted some of that money and stayed advertising online," says Stacey Nachtaler, regional president of iTraffic, a subsidiary of Agency.com, which is an interactive marketing and technology agency. "Online is something that they see immediately if they're getting results, and it's become a very critical part of their means of hitting their numbers."
But staffing the requisite ad sales and IT force to do it yourself in this ever-morphing medium might not make sense.
Your options range from choosing a full-service agency like iTraffic—which will handle every aspect of the campaign from creative to media buying—to companies like Zedo or 24/7 Real Media that specialize in the technology aspect of the ad-serving equation. And these choices are not mutually exclusive.
"Ad serving has a lot of targeting technologies which can be very helpful," explains Nachtaler. "If a publisher wanted to serve advertising at a specific time of day—let's say British Airways is having a seat sale, and they want to sell leisure economy tickets, and the seat sale has to start at a certain time. … We would use ad serving to set what time we want that ad to be served, we would cap the frequency of how many times we want our audience to see it, and we can even say what days we want it to run."