Tuesday, March 15, 2005

We're not in right now, please take your business elsewhere

In the heady days of the Internet boom, countless companies were born and subsequently died on the advertising-based revenue model. The bursting of the dot com bubble showed that business fundamentals still apply and that over optimistic advertising forecasts just did not materialise.

Thankfully for the industry, things have largely stabilised with better balanced business models, based on a careful mix of advertising (especially the saviour paid search), subscription services and e-commerce. However, the case for digital media is still being made and the arguments have still to be won in convincing the major advertisers to apportion ad spend commensurate with consumption of the media.

Given this background, I was amazed when putting together a media plan this week at the lack of responsiveness among certain prominent sites.

- To begin with, when it's such an important revenue stream why make it so difficult to find out who to contact? Some sites hid the information in 'About Us', one 'Advertise' link was a dead link, others resulted in a form to submit (I'm sure I'm not alone in finding these too impersonal and wondering who actually answers enquiries and when...)

- One website helpfully listed three contacts and their direct lines. All were on voicemail. I left a message for one of them and sent a cc'd email to the two others and await a reply more than 48 hours later

- Of those I emailed, I am still waiting more than 48 hours later for even an acknowledgement of my request for information having said I had a deadline to meet

With a big name client and money to spend, the response across this range of sites gets a 'must try harder' on the half-term report, especially as we're not talking about one-man sites with limited resources.

The exception that proved the rule, was the site that published a direct line from a prominent 'Advertise here' link, answered their phone and sent through a proposal in the time requested. Guess who's more likely to get the business?

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