To publicize the services of one online property I own, I am buying advertising space on another online property I own. I am remarkably close, therefore, to a developing online advertising story with access to stats on both sites. I share with you my insider's view in hopes that this will be a case study for all of us to use to better decide what to do about online display advertising to promote our sites.
In Would You Advertise on a Site with Stats Like These?, I shared site stats from She Chooses(TM) which I and three others co-founded. I explained my analysis of the stats' value to me and my site's goals as the founder of Handshake 2.0. I decided to advertise on She Chooses, posted a landing page, and asked She Chooses to post a tagged Google Analytics URL that links to the landing page on Handshake 2.0 from its ad on the She Chooses home page sidebar.
The ad for Handshake 2.0's services was posted on She Chooses on Sunday, July 24, 2011. Here is a screenshot from Google Analytics for the first two weeks of the ad's posting, from Sunday, July 24, 2011 through Sunday, August 14, 2011. I included July 23 to show where the graph starts at zero.
According to Todd Wasserman writing for Mashable in June, 2011, click-through rates on display ads are only 1 in 1000. Evaluating the success of advertising, however, is complex. He continues:
The purchase funnel [Handshake 2.0 uses the term sales funnel] is well-known in marketing circles. Now, ask yourself: Can you create awareness with a banner ad? Can a banner ad make you like a brand more? Can it convince you to consider possibly buying a product at some point in the future?
The answer to all the questions is yes, even if you find banners annoying and never click on them. Advertisers know this. That’s why they’re shoveling piles of cash into display advertising…
Advertisers also know that banners don’t exist in a vacuum. The TV ad you see builds on the foundation laid by a banner ad plus a billboard and a mention on Facebook. It all works together, and if you’re not running banners online, your competition will.
As both the buyer and the seller in this online advertising experiment with She Chooses and Handshake 2.0, I'm satisfied with the first two weeks of results. That zero on July 23 makes me particularly thoughtful. There was nothing, then there was something. And we've got a nice ad on a nice site, possibly creating brand awareness that could lead to activation of the sales funnel. Yes, for both buyer and seller, this could all work together very nicely.