When the Web was born, it was free. That lasted all of six months until marketers realized that the Web is a cheap and effective medium for advertising. And so the noble banner ad was born.
You can see ads on almost any website that you visit. Certainly sites such as CNN, iVillage (see Figure 1), and MSN are bombarded with them. Even the noble Yahoo!, that last bastion to hold out against over cluttered adverting, has succumbed with the new release of the site.
Figure 1 Check out the advertisements at iVillage.
But there is a change a coming... online ads are receiving a well-deserved upgrade.
Why Online Ads Are Successful
In the wake of the collapse of tech stocks in 2000, many analysts have predicted the death of online ads. If this were the case, then AOL would be giving away commercial space on their site (see Figure 2). Last time I checked, they would not give me a free ad.
The bottom line is that ads work. The $20 million campaign for ClassMates.com is one of the most successful online ad campaigns ever. Online ads are here and here to stay.
Figure 2 Ads are still prevalent on the AOL website.
But, like everything in the tech world, online ads need to change to keep themselves up to speed with technology. For example, there is a definite new series of ads appearing on popular websites that can only be classified as "Generation Next" advertising.