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Forbes.Com delivers on ad RoI guarantee; Net advertising looking up

MUMBAI: A number cruncher might claim not be too impressed but Internet advertising looks to be on the up and up. For those who can deliver quality that is.

First some numbers. Internet ad revenue in the United States was $5.95 billion in 2002, a 17 per cent decrease from 2001, according to trade group Interactive Advertising Bureau. Also, Net ad revenue was $1.5 billion for fourth-quarter 2002, down 9.8 per cent from fourth-quarter 2001, the IAB has said in a report released with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

There is an upside though. Ad revenue rose 2.3 per cent in the fourth quarter from the third, the IAB reported. "Those who monitor the industry know that a few predominant factors contributed to the [year-over-year] revenue decline, including the conclusion of some long-term advertising deals. What's important to recognize is that the majority of online publishers are profitable, and their revenues continue to rise year-over-year," Greg Stuart, IAB president/CEO, was quoted as saying in a statement.

?The improved performance over the past two quarters reflects a stabilizing online advertising market, highlighted by continued strength in paid-for-search results. The recent upturn, coupled with forecasts of continued expansion of broadband distribution, bodes well for a strong year in 2003? said Tom Hyland, Chair, PricewaterhouseCoopers New Media Group.

The report is based on data from the top 15 online ad sellers, which account for 80 percent of online ad sales, the IAB said.

Coming to the quality issue, forbes.com is a case in point. Last September, forbes.com introduced a "brand increase guarantee" scheme wherein it announced it wouldn't charge advertisers for placements that prove completely ineffective.

The offer was only made available to advertisers willing to spend $100,000 (enough for a measurable quantity of impressions) and run campaigns for two months before the tests were conducted to determine whether the advertising has worked. The guarantee was that the advertising would boost at least one of four brand metrics: awareness, message association, purchasing intent and brand favorability, as measured by Dynamic Logic.

Blue chip marketers like AT&T, Samsung, Acura, LG and BearingPoint were among those that bought into the idea and forbes.com says none of them have come away disappointed.

The aggregated results of the program show a lift in each of the four brand metrics measured as follows:

Message Association: +28%

Purchase Consideration: +14%

Aided Awareness: +11%

Brand Favorability: + 6%

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