Net advertising innovates

By , agencyfaqs! | In | December 16, 2000
As online advertising slowly but surely catches up, media planners innovate in the battle for eyeballs

Sabil Francis
NEW DELHI, December 16

Now. Now. Now.
Or maybe a little later.

That has been the story of the much-awaited dotcom bloodbath. But the number of people on the net is going up. That means more and more people to advertise to.

So the clamour for online advertising has been going up as well.

Till August this year, according to NASSCOM, there were 1.6 million connections in India, and 4.8 million users of the net. By March 2001, NASSCOM estimates that there will be 2.5 million connections and 8 million users. The business Internet market grew by 118 per cent last year while the home market grew by a whopping 205 per cent, according to the IMRB. And most surfers are between 18 and 35, many of them with Rs 10,000 and more as monthly income.

And the US market has been no different. According to, net advertising in the USA this year was worth $6,000 million, and by the year 2003, is expected to be worth $17,000 million. IAB reports that online advertising would increase to $4.1 billion in the first half of 2000 from $4.6 billion in 1999.

Slowly, but surely, the online ad market is catching on. At the same time, there is more and more innovation. Currently, there are standard ad units, non-standard ad units, interactive standard ad units, and new ad units.

Standard ad units are banners and buttons. There are eight standard sizes, and this is the most dominant type of ad unit. The simple banner belongs to this category. Squelching speculation that the banner is dead is T.S Mohan Krishnan, research director, IMRB, "Banner ads do work. It is a question of using them effectively. Though pop-ups generate better recall, they can irritate the surfer unless used judiciously." Adds Rashmi Sharma, client servicing executive, interactive division, TBWA Anthem, "The banner must be as focussed as possible. For example, gender specific advertising for products have the most attention."

At the same time, most Indian companies are focussed only on net advertising, rather that seeing the Internet as a dynamic medium. Says Ashok Ghose, vice-president, marketing,, "Today we are at a very nascent stage, but soon, companies will have to become online marketing solutions savvy."

The figures too say that banner ads are quite effective. DoubleClick alone serves over 40 billion banner ads a month, and there are about 200 billion buttons and banners delivered across the Internet each month. The most widely accepted banner size is the full banner, 468 x 60 pixels.

The non-standard ad units comprise non-traditional sized banners and buttons, text ads and sponsored links. An increasingly popular type of inventory is the standard ad unit. Animated ads, streaming and audio banners and pop ups are examples of these.

Innovations on the anvil are many. Like branded cursors, where the user downloads an applet that allows their cursor to change usually to a site's logo or other object of user's choice.

In dynamic banner resizing, a small ad is placed on a web page and when the visitor clicks on the ad it rolls over the content in a larger ad space. This allows the visitors to access the ad while never leaving the site. Persistent ads are ads are constantly on the user's browser, usually not in the traditional ad slots. One example of this was the way GM bought all of Ford's keywords. Whenever a user searched for Ford, their search results included a GM ad somewhere on the page.

In fact, in the West, top companies pay to come in the first five results for searches done on certain sites. Now, the trend is catching on in India. Thus a search for housing on the net would automatically bring banner ads of HDFC on to the net.

ScreenMates, by the US-based, is coming up with an innovation in which the user downloads a screenmate (a logo or figurine) which stays on their desktop and can be activated to perform activities even when the user is not online.

Sponsorships are also coming in a big way. Analysts say that the key to a successful sponsorship is to give the sponsor plenty of exposure by using different ad units in multiple sections within the site, threading and, most importantly, dominance. Many sponsorship programs include bundling multiple ad units and bringing various types of units together to focus attention on a particular sponsor.

And so, as the internet moves on into more and more homes, internet advertising, now estimated under Rs 60 crore, or 0.6 percent the total ad spend in India, may move on into the top slots.

© 2000 agencyfaqs!