Just because online advertising is a revenue bust doesn't mean there are fewer ads crowding your Web browser. The number of online "house" advertisements, self-promotional banners placed by a host site, are on the rise, according to Jupiter Media Metrix, an Internet analysis firm. On some sites, particularly those devoted to gaming and entertainment, as many as 30 percent of the banners are self-referential. Portals and news sites place house ads on about 20 percent of their banners.
With advertising dollars vanishing in all media, there are few alternatives to the filler. But Rudy Grahn, analyst in the online advertising strategy group at Jupiter, says that just dropping in a company logo can do more harm than good. "When the sites are not generating any value from these [place-holder] ads, they are just contributing to the clutter and diluting the effectiveness of their advertising overall," Grahn says. "Over time, repeated exposure to meaningless and redundant ads is training people to tune them out."
A better solution might be to leave the space blank, making the banner the same color as the background. Sites could also donate the space to the Ad Council, which produces public service messages. But Grahn concedes that not all house ads are bad. For example, a magazine's Website might have banners that refer surfers to a subscription special. "Using the space for cross-selling is a fantastic use of the inventory," he says.
Michelle Jeffers, Business 2.0. June 12, 2001
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