Spanfeller said his intention is not to make the Journal look bad, adding that he would have just as much confidence offering the same challenge against any print publication with a high percentage of C-suite readers.
"The Web is the most important source of business information for C-level decision-makers around the world," he said. "We're just trying to get that message across to the marketing community in a creative way."
The "Challenge" campaign builds on a message Spanfeller has been trying to convey for years: The Internet is a great direct-response medium, but it's also a great brand-building vehicle. "Ninety-nine percent of the ads that don't get clicked on still make an impression," he said. With 10 million monthly users, that adds up to a lot of impressions on Forbes.com.
So Spanfeller unveiled a "brand increase guarantee" more than two years ago. Any advertiser that spends $150,000 on the site over 60 days-originally $100,000-will see an increase in brand metrics as measured by a third party or get that money back. More than 70 different clients have tried the brand-increase guarantee, representing $5 million to $10 million worth of advertising, said Spanfeller, and Forbes.com hasn't refunded any money. "We really can't lose here."