You don't have to pay a lot to announce your site. A good writer can come up with a press release for a few hundred dollars. (You're not expecting a campaign, just an announcement.) For a few hundred dollars more, you can get that release distributed through the press lists at InternetNewsBureau.com or InternetWire.com.
You know your market and the value of a lead, you've built your site and gotten the word out, now how do you market the thing?
The good news is the cost per thousand impressions for online advertising continues to fall. With banners costing just $2,500 to $10,000 each to produce and sites charging less for even targeted campaigns, you can get a lot of bang for even a $50,000 budget.
Sites and agencies are also beginning to do things like pre- and post-campaign tests of brand awareness so online ads can be compared directly with other media, said Robin Webster, new CEO of the Internet Advertising Bureau Inc., New York, which represents Web sites.
"It's got to be just like print and TV. It's got to fit into the system," Webster said. "The good news for 2001 is that it will."
E-mail lists from companies such as NetCreations Inc. are also being inte-grated with direct mail list brokers, improving list quality and giving you more media options, said CEO Rosalind Resnick.
You can break through the clutter further by using new formats such as superstitials. Unicast Communications Corp. created the format, which uses caching to guarantee that even slow modems can view 20-second multimedia spots made of 100K files.
Creating such ads costs $10,000 to $40,000, and the 300 sites that accept them charge an average of $50 per 1,000 impressions, said Allie Shaw, VP-global marketing, Unicast Communications Inc. But the results can be compared directly with TV ads and click-through rates averaging 6%, against 0.3% for banners.
"Nextel now puts 90% of their online budget into superstitials, and we've seen companies like Agilent do some branding with them," she said.
The impact of the Internet slow down, then, has been good all the way around. You can make do with a lower budget, get more of an impact, measure that impact, and even deliver TV-like ads on a print budget. That is what makes this the best time to launch an Internet business.
Dana Blankenhorn is a free-lance journalist who specializes in Internet issues. He publishes the Web site www.a-clue.com.