Use ad space to make the right impression

There’s gold in tham thar hills, they used to say, at least in the black and white movies that graced our screens in the fifties and sixties every time there was a film shot about the gold-rush. Pointing the way was a Steptoe-like figure with a chin you could hang your coat on, a single tooth and the odd white whisker jutting from said unnaturally long facial protrusion making the character look a few nuggets short of a pan-full.

The gold in the hills may well have long since been excavated, but there is a modern-day mine which has seemingly bottomless reserves with ‘trending’ companies throwing their stashes at it to make the public at large aware of their presence and that the brand they purport is a must have. The hill is the Internet, the nuggets advertising space and the folks throwing money at it are, at least in Australia, dating sites.

Of the top three online display advertisers in Australia, two of them are the larger corporations behind several online dating sites, with only the National Australian Bank separating pole position and third. Strangely enough, weight watchers is fourth, so you can pretty much imagine the average Aussie’s night in –

  1. click on Match.com,
  2. see if I’ve got money in the bank for another dating site membership,
  3. yes I have, so click on be2,
  4. better lose some weight if I’m going to pull him/her, ah, good, there’s weightwatchers.

In the top ten, there were other holding companies behind other dating networks featuring strongly as well as other dieting sites, making up the 15.5M+ total of display ad impressions shown across Australian cyberspace for the month. The PPC/CPC rates must be horrendous to service advertising that is so popular. And these are not just displayed ads – these are results of people genuinely clicking through to see who could possibly be waiting for them behind an online dating portfolio or how they can best shift that annoying spare tyre.

comScore, who compiled the results, admitted that being able to implement the technology to break down which of the ads clicked on where hosted freely or which an affiliate had paid to position where they thought it may receive the most traffic was nigh on impossible. Their data represents only the fact that the ads deemed legitimate to qualify for the data gathering exercise had been ‘absolutely seen’, in other words physically clicked on to transfer the images and Alt text from the hosting server to the consumer’s PC. That is a lot of revenue generated by advertising in this manner.

According to the statistics that accompany this report, regular Internet users in Australia see in the region of 1,000 of these ads per month, displayed in search engine results, alongside e-mail inboxes (boy, that gets my goat – if your inbox isn’t safe from third parties, what next?) and on individual blogs and websites – every spare pixel, it seems, is taken up by an advertiser who wants to separate the consumer from their hard-earned cash. If you use free dating sites, you’ll know exactly what this feels like as the absolute majority of their income comes from advertising revenue.

So next time you log on to your dating site and it’s boasting ‘millions’ of members, they may just be telling the truth…