Monday, February 22, 2010

Importance Of Keeping Web Ads Fresh

I redesigned a site a couple years ago for a client who did speaking engagements. The site's purpose was to put content about her field of expertise (white papers, etc.) and in the end everyone was happy, the stars aligned, and it was a rather pleasant experience. As part of the creation, she had me create some 'save the date' ads for her speaking engagements and conferences for the next several years. She had a pretty good following already and was happy with not only the site but the registration traffic that the ads were generating. Fast-forward two years and an e-mail from her wondering why the new registrations were dropping at a steady rate over the last couple months. I queried about the Web traffic and she said that it was steady, growing even, so a new Web design may not necessarily be in the works (bummer for me).

Here is where I began priming myself to explain that the economy has been in a tough spot for awhile, etc., etc. but before I decided to go down that road I went back to her site and noticed that she was using the same ads that I designed over two years ago. I remembered that when I gave her the ads I did explain that those would need to be updated and she told me she was planning on learning PhotoShop to help make small changes to the site to save money. But, she never worried about it since the traffic and the registrations kept flowing in.

I decided to take the time to remind her that the attention span of Web users was like that of a toddler, unrealistically short. On top of that, tunnel vision when dealing with ads has become a must for experienced Web users. Be honest, do you even pay much attention to Web ads much anymore (with the exception of the creepy guy with the beard and the crazy mullet on Facebook ads, I notice him every time)? That is why bigger named sites are now bringing out the elaborate Flash ads that take up the entire screen so the user literally has to find the X to close the damn thing. The advertiser figures in the time that you are searching to close it, you may actually look at the ad.

But she told me that she didn't necessarily have a budget that would fit that kind of marketing so my advice to her was to get rid of the static ads and create new ads as often as it was fiscally possible. Since she had a strong traffic base and a strong following, she would get the user's eyes on her site but she needed to capture their attention and a static ad left up for two years would no longer be able to do that. After awhile ads left on the site too long begin to just look like part of the design to frequent visitors. They stop noticing them.

Even a novice can make simple changes to an ad to keep it fresh. Change the font color, change the background, just moving things around in the adspace itself will at least keep frequent visitors from ignoring the ads altogether. Any good Web site is based on fresh content, but that is not always the only thing that needs updating. The advertisements also need to be kept in mind - especially if it is for your own self interest to do so.

In the end, I think she was happy to find that the drop in registrations wasn't a lack of interest in her site but poor marketing practices. She had me change the ads a bit, and then reiterated that, this time, she was going to take some PhotoShop classes. In other words, I may hear from her again in a few months.

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