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For business advertisers, effective Web advertising translates to "fulfilling specific business needs in a direct and interesting manner," said Kate Margolese, VP-marketplace development at Cambridge, Mass.-based Nets, a provider of Internet-based business-to-business services, including Industry.net and Business Network.
Typically that means avoiding "loud, flashy colors or gyrating graphics" that might work well in a consumer ad, and sticking to basics, Ms. Margolese said.
"We've had the highest click-through rates and the highest targeted leads," said Ms. Margolese, "when the ad has been specific about business benefits."
GETTING PEOPLE TO ACT
Typically, the purpose of a Web banner ad, like a direct response ad, is to get people to act -- in the Web's case, to click on a banner and go to the advertiser's site. For that reason, Web advertising experts say a strong call to action and strong message are the most important elements of an effective banner.
Or, as Jim Savage, VP and general manager for Cambridge, Mass.-based ZD Net, says, "You want good, strong copy, a clear call to action and an emphasis on impact over design beauty."
Though it may seem obvious, simply adding "click here" to a banner ad can increase response rates twofold, said Scott Rabschnuk, a management supervisor at Anderson & Lembke, San Francisco.
ENTICING WORDS: `PRESS HERE'
"That's because a lot of users still need to know that it's a banner you don't just look at but take action with," he said.
Other enticing words? Try "press" or "enter," Web advertising experts say.
Boldly spelling out the action also can help boost response. For example, a Toshiba America banner ad for copiers combines a "click here" message with a bright red arrow directing users where to click on the ad.
The ad has averaged a 5.7% response on three search engine sites and AT&T's Business Network, said Michelle Rennert, project manager for Internet advertising agency Internet Outfitters, Santa Monica, Calif., which did the ad.
RAISING RESPONSE RATE
That compares with a 1% to 2% response rate that most Web advertisements draw, according to DoubleClick, a New York Internet advertising network company.
Other keys to raise banner response rates include the following:
The idea is not simply adding animation but incorporating it into the overall message.
The most successful ad on ZD Net's site, for example, has been an animated one for ICon CMT Corp., which sells T-1 access. The ad initially pulled a 19% response rate and later averaged rates of 15% on ZD Net, CMP Media's TechWeb and NetworkWorld Fusion sites, said Hans Sydow, managing director of Anderson & Lembke, New York, which designed the ICon ad.
But a recent study of Web advertising from San Francisco-based Internet Profiles Corp. and DoubleClick reported that bold colors like green and yellow outperform black and white, said David Henderson, VP-North American sales for DoubleClick.