CIMedia banner ads try to drive site traffic

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Clickhaus, Cox Interactive Media's in-house interactive shop, this week breaks three new banner campaigns to advertise three Web resources. CIMedia is a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises, Atlanta, and is a network of 25 city Web sites.

Banner campaigns advertise CIMedia's Auto Channel, Real Estate Channel and Search, three online resources running on most CIMedia city sites. Clickhaus, an in-house arm devoted to designing banners and buying online advertising space, created the banners.

Banners will run on AltaVista, Excite, Netscape, and Yahoo!, said Cindy Gray, director of marketing for CIMedia and director of Clickhaus.


"We purchase advertising to drive traffic to our city sites or components of those sites," Ms. Gray said. CIMedia will spend $1 million, about one-third of its online budget for the year, on the ads.

Also this week, CIMedia launches CIMStudio, an in-house staff of media buyers and designers devoted to assisting CIMedia's advertising sales force. CIMStudio borrows a page from Clickhaus, which opened last July. Before that, CIMedia worked with K2 Design, New York.

Moving in-house "allowed us to negotiate directly with portals and other Web sites rather than dealing with a middleman. Not paying a fee to an outside agency leaves us with more money for media buying," Ms. Gray said, noting that it has saved $700,000.

Clickhaus argues its banners generate higher click-through rates--an average of 2.9% vs. the industry average of 0.5%. The interactive shop never puts logos in its banners, all of which pose questions as a call to action. Banners also match content served on a particular site. And rich-media banners work best, Ms. Gray said.

"We are looking at banners not as advertising but as real estate," she said. "When our banners are adlike, our click-throughs go down."

Copyright April 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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