Three Seconds

That’s how long anyone, ever, will look at an online banner ad to decide whether it’s interesting or relevant enough to do something about it.

The “doing something about it” part, 995 times out of 1,000, is not to click on the ad!

Think about it: People are visiting your website for a reason. Maybe it’s to get the latest news, weather, sports, or funeral notices. Maybe it’s to see what’s new on the morning show page, or register for your big promotion.

I guarantee you they’re not coming to your website to sort through your banner ads and click on the ones that matter.

Nobody, ever, said, “I’m going to the WXXX website to read all the ads.”

Three Words

Meanwhile, advertisers want what they always want: to cram as much data into their ads as the laws of time and space will allow.

If you’re lucky enough to capture someone’s attention to your online banner ad, remember, you have about three seconds to make your point. And that translates to about three words.

Consider these two ads. The one on the left was done by the client. The one on the right was composed by my web-services team.

Our Ad, Deconstructed

Let’s take a little side trip and talk about the ad we composed for the client.

First, we took some liberties with the logo to make it more visible by removing the words encircling it and made those the focus of the ad. That way, the logo could be larger and therefore more visible.

Second, we removed the unnecessary components in the address to reduce the number of words, and make them larger and therefore more visible.

If you are in Greensburg or that general area, do you really need to be reminded that the city is in Indiana? Will the ZIP Code be important? (If you were in a market where the telephone area code is the same throughout, you can reduce complexity and improve visibility by including just the seven digits of the phone number, without the area code.)

In an ideal world, the headline would be about the customer, not the client. Instead of describing what the client is all about, the headline would relate more to the customer, as in, “Eliminate Printing Snafus.”

Of the two, which one actually tells you more about Circle Printing? Which one has more impact? Which one stands the greater chance of being remembered?

(The client, by the way, earns extra credit for using “all your [whatever] needs.” As Sam Goldwyn might have said, “If Larry Fuss were dead, he’d be spinning in his grave.”)

A good way to think of online banners is to compare them to outdoor ads. In both cases, you have a limited amount of time to grab the consumer’s attention in a crowded environment.
cramming as much data as possible into the space allotted, thinking that every word is as vitally important to the viewer as it is to him or her? Or do we passively accept an ad that we know will do the advertiser no good whatsoever? (Sound familiar?)

In our interview with Beth Mann—who has become sort of the poster child for all things radio-related Internet—for the Small Market Radio Podcast, she laid out an effective formula not only for capturing an advertiser’s online business, but for establishing expertise and credibility in that space as well. She will go to a client and say, “Rather than putting your advertising money with Google or Facebook or some agency that sells them, why not allow someone you know and trust, and have a long-standing business relationship with, manage your digital budget?” That gives you a little more leverage to combat the syndrome with which we are all too familiar: “Because I am an expert in one thing, I am an expert in everything.”

If you can win that leverage from your client, it must be applied carefully—in two key areas: First, to help the advertiser understand that click-throughs are useless as a measure of the effectiveness of online advertising. Second, that online advertising in fact boils down to what all advertising boils down to:

• Does the ad fit the medium?
• Does it speak to a need or a desire?
• Does it provide a clear and simple call to action?

If you can gain that position of trust and credibility, and can use that position to influence an advertiser’s message—whether on the radio or online—you are going to get boxcar results, the word will spread among the advertising community, you and your staff will be so busy taking orders that you no longer have to invest in sales training, and you will be able to finish that cabin on Lake Wobegon, where you will spend all your time managing your stations from your laptop on the porch while watching the trout dancing on the lake.

You wish.