Party Like It’s 1999?

I was just reading an article on WSJ (subscription required) about the VC funds going towards web-based companies whose business model is selling advertising on their sites.

I can remember back to the “glory days” when I worked for Lycos selling advertising and funded companies were buying everything that they could get their hands on (keyword banner/text advertising, “integrated” programs, and of course the 468×60 banners).

What makes me go “huh?” is that the same thing that caused the bubble burst in early 2000 still exists. Click through rates for banner ads, which started out WAY BACK on HotWired.com so long ago, dropped from the momentus 40% click through rate experienced on the initial days of the banner to around 0.3% on average by the time the bubble burst.

Have click through rates increased that much? Certainly, people are spending more time on the web now, and finding more – and better – ways to use the web. So, as I suspected even shortly after the bubble burst, media planners/marketers should put money where their audience spends their time. But, have click through rates increased much/any? Or, are the mass marketers getting involved and turning Interactive marketing into a medium which is measured in more of a fair fashion with “traditional” channels? Perhaps reach/frequency is good enough? Perhaps it doesn’t have to be about “click through rates” and “cost per acquisition”? Perhaps the fact that the web offers the ability to track these things is good enough?

I have been involved in radio, television, print and web marketing. I have a strong passion for web marketing and believe that it is the most effective and efficient medium available. I believe that you can brand your company on the web, and I believe that you can grow your company through targeted direct response initiatives on the web.

With more people pushing marketing dollars to the web, let’s hope that they’re not as “short sighted” as they were in early 2000 when the budgets went away after the demise of the click through rates of banners. Let’s hope that people understand that the web is another (great) channel for their marketing efforts and that the fact that initiatives can be measured to ANY degree of sophistication is what makes the web a great tool. Let’s hope that this will not be a repeat of 1999/2000 when people bailed out on Interactive marketing because of its measureability. Let’s hope that we are seeing a movement towards a reach/frequency AND direct response measurement of all media. That’s the way it should be and the way that it should have always been.

Every media buy has its own unique set of criteria. Direct response, branding, promotions…you can do it all on the web. If a fair comparison is made across all channels, I believe the web can measure up against any traditional marketing methods. And, for reaching specific audiences, PPC management and search engine optimization will always be the most efficient and effective methods.