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Reason for low clicks

I have earned my living in the media for over 35 years. For the past six, I've been president-co-publisher of The Auto Channel (www.theautochannel.com), an advertising-supported content Web site that features information and entertainment from and about the automotive universe. I read "Poor rich media" (AA, Feb. 5) and have also been immersed in the continuing groundswell of bull about how rich media banners are the answer to raising click-through rates. Here is what I think: Low (whatever that means) click-through rates are simply a result of unrealistic expectations, the message being placed in the wrong context and talking to the wrong audience, or having the right message for that audience but executing it poorly.

These same things have happened and continue to happen in every medium-but the ability to instantly determine just how poorly your advertising is doing is virtually impossible in TV, radio, magazines or newspapers.

Only the Internet gives advertisers a real-time scorecard tool with which to judge their ads' effectiveness. And it's absolutely unfair to this fledgling medium. Every other medium would fold up its tent and die if measured by the same judgment criteria as Internet advertising.

Instead of excuses to smokescreen poor decisions and another techno-subterfuge that preaches, "rich media is the way and the light," advertisers should demand that their agencies produce more effective messages and place them in a context that is relevant. The correct combination will induce viewers to respond to the offerings, not only with their mouse but also with their checkbook.

The real message of low click-through rates, or CTRs, is "how little interest a company's message elicits from the viewers." Our real-world experience over the past five years has proven that creative, and where it is placed, has everything to do with CTR. Banners placed on The Auto Channel have CTRs ranging from 0.01% to 35%. In fact, when one company changed its creative, the CTR instantly dropped from 4.6% to 0.30%-same site, same company, same message; just the creative changed.

As a publisher I have struggled against the "common knowledge" that the Internet and banners just don't work. Bull. In this difficult economy, I would think advertising directed at audiences that pre-select what they are interested in would supersede the bull of rich media banners. Let's hear a story about that, please.

Bob Gordon

President, The Auto Channel

Louisville, Ky.

Not my Kelly story

Anyone who knows me knows three things: I don't watch basketball; I don't use words like fan-tastic; and I haven't written a print ad since 1992. They also know that I'm an extremely handsome man, but that's not relevant to the point I'm trying to make, which is that I did not write last week's letter to the editor ("My Kelly award story" (AA, Feb. 26) regarding the `96 Kelly Awards. From what I can tell, it was a practical joke by one of my co-workers. Unless, of course, there's another Steve Dil-darian out there who's really good at print.

Steve Dildarian

Goodby, Silverstein & Partners

San Francisco

Rx ads in `real world'

The editorial "Side effects in FDA Rx rules" (AA, Feb. 12) inspired me to comment. "Call your doctor." "See your doctor." "Ask your doctor." These messages are choking TV these days. Do these prescription advertisers know what goes on in the real world?

Doctors these days are so busy that it is fantasy to believe patients can reach them as easily as they can call for a restaurant reservation. A far more reasonable approach would be to ask viewers to discuss the drug during their next medical visit. As it is, most of us just laugh at the idea of calling our doctor to discuss a TV ad we just saw. Case in point: I just called for an appointment for my annual physical. My date is for four months hence.

Ed Stern

Scottsdale, Ariz.

Ratings for TV ads?

Four stars to Bob Garfield's take on Miller Brewing's "drastic leap to the cultural bottom" ("Bad beer: Miller's new MGD effort is weak and tasteless," AA, Feb. 19). Perhaps a rating system should be established for TV ads as well as programs.

Gary Burbage

Washington, N.C.


* In "Crash affects campaigns" (Feb. 26, P. 4), the following quote was incorrectly attributed to Brian Morris, president of Interpublic Group of Cos.' Dailey & Asso-ciates, West Hollywood, Calif.: "One hundred eighty thousand people are going to [Nascar races] over the weekend and they are hoping to see a crash. It's a blood sport." The comment was actually made by Jim Smith, founder and managing partner, Ground Zero, Marina del Rey, Calif.

* In "Comings & Goings" (Feb. 26, P. 43), John Meyer was named senior VP-creative director in the Los Angeles office of directDeutsch.

* In "The price of exact change" (Feb. 19, P. 31), MasterCard supplied incorrect spellings for the credits on its spot from McCann-Erickson Worldwide. The correct names are: Art Director: Chris Cereda. Copy-writer: Eric Goldstein.

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