Forget The Lawyers--Kill All The Ads! - InformationWeek

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Forget The Lawyers--Kill All The Ads!

Interactive marketers say that banner advertising is on its way out as a messaging vehicle. The question is, what's on its way in? Among the ad-revenue-dependent companies testing various theories are Terra Lycos, Salon.com, and 1Wrestling.com.

Internet network company Lycos has launched Quote.comTV, a financial news service that will broadcast live news and analysis over the Internet. But a service like this requires advertising revenue beyond what typical banner ads offer, so Lycos says it will let its sponsors link their existing TV ads as streaming video advertisements to the site.

Whether the streaming-video concept will be a long-term, effective revenue-generation strategy is questionable, however. Such new ad venues are always exciting and will show spiked responses at first, says Michele Pelino, director of Internet marketing strategies at the Yankee Group, but it might not be long before surfers become bored with the messaging tactic. "As we saw over time with banner ads where we measured effectiveness by click-throughs, the customers lose interest and stop clicking through, so the medium stops working," Pelino says.

Working in favor of the streaming video is the fact that it will be engaging as a more interactive advertising channel, Pelino says. And soon enough, there will be more interplay between streaming media and the TV experience, which should coincide with the growth in a more technically savvy consumer audience that understands how to use streaming media technology, so the reach of such ads will broaden.

Some companies, however, aren't taking any chances on new advertising tactics and instead hope that the value of their sites' content will be compelling enough for surfers to pay for it themselves. Internet media company Salon.com has launched its Salon Premium service, which allows readers to pay $30 annually for access to a mirror Salon.com site that has additional exclusive content, with the option of having all pop-up and banner ads turned off.

A similar idea is being tossed around at pro-wrestling news site 1Wrestling.com. The site carries a letter to its readers in response to complaints that there are too many pop-up, tower, and exit ads. So the editors asked readers if they would prefer an ad-free "mirror" site be set up on a completely separate server, knowing that to have access to it they'll have to pay $5.95 per month or an annual rate of $39.95. 1Wrestling.com is collecting feedback now from its readers to gauge if there's enough interest to justify the thousands of dollars it would cost to build the new site.

Whether these tactics will work remains to be seen. But as 1Wrestling editors apologetically explained to their readers, "The simple fact of the matter is that we have been forced to find ways to generate additional revenue."

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