The Internet ad space is witnessing a radical transformation with the advent of social networking ads and online games. With the Web helping gather likeminded people, advertisers find it easy to reach the target audience. Jacob Nizri, President, Display Ad Networks of the digital marketing solutions company Ybrant Technologies shares with eWorld his views on the emerging trends in the Web sphere. Based out of Israel, Nizri was recently in India during the launch of Ybrant’s city-based Web search YReach.

What are the important emerging trends in the online ad sphere?

We are witnessing dramatic trends in Internet advertising. What’s hot are the social ads. The perfect “foot in the door” to the young, trendy and popular world of social networking like Facebook, Twitter and blogs, they have assumed strong advertising relevance. We can zero in on the right audience at the right time and place.

Console games too are emerging as an important source. A popular online pastime for young adults – mostly women, advertisers here can reach target audiences when they’re most relaxed and accessible. Advertising on popular gaming Web sites sees the market’s highest conversion rates.

Now there are tools to help advertisers pick trends and statistics. A powerful and creative blend of advanced technologies and analytics helps advertisers determine customers’ online habits and search out similar customers online. Contextual ads, dynamic banners and real-time bidding, too, are turning into a good means to reach the audience.

Have companies started investing on Internet ads?

Internet advertising has picked up since end-2009 and the beginning of 2010, reaching literally hundreds of millions of new customers each month. Online sales, according to Paypal, were up 34 per cent in 2009 over the previous year.

The Web outperforms other sales channels; and when organisations look at the paths leading to sales and income, the Web almost always gives one of two assessments: Either it’s a leading sales channel or it’s deemed to be an area with the greatest opportunity for growth. In both scenarios, Web marketing takes centre-stage.

What’s even more interesting is that traffic will be relatively unscathed by the market. Sales might drop, conversion rates might falter a bit, but raw search traffic isn’t going anywhere. A recession doesn’t mean that people stop searching the Web, and with broadband adoption rates, Internet penetration and searches per users consistently rising, it’s here for the long haul.

How has the year been for Internet ads during the recession?

Last year there was a drop in Internet advertising, specifically in the US, the world’s largest marketplace. Certain businesses are still recovering from the dotcom downfall of 2002, but despite the recession Internet marketing hung on strongly and managed to weather the storm of the past year.

Unlike other media such as newspapers and broadcasters, which had more severe advertising losses, the Internet has just become more ad-driven.

Even before the Internet reported a decline in ad revenue, US advertisers spent over $6 billion on search, display, video and other Internet ads during the first quarter of 2009. A quick comparison – 2009’s first quarter nearly surpassed the $6 billion that was devoted to online marketing during all of 2002. Even if spending on online ads were to erode, 2009 Internet advertising in the US pulled in well over $20 billion.

What do surveys say about the reception and adoption of online advertising?

Internet advertising is a multimillion-dollar industry, and it’s fast rising in popularity because this new medium has brought advertising to a whole new level of involvement and interactivity.

The Internet is the only medium where it is possible to tailor-fit the kind of advertisements a visitor sees because some information about the visitor can be gleaned. For example, a visitor who frequents console gaming Web sites is more likely to buy a game-related product he sees bannered on the site.

One effective way of ensuring that a Web site visitor will not ignore your ad is by using the optimal ad format.

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