Automotive Mileposts
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Welcome to Online Advertising 101! If this is all new to you, I'd like to share a few things I've learned. First of all, the number of hits a site gets means absolutely nothing! There is a big difference between hits, page views, (or impressions), reloads, and unique visitors. Many sites that will tell you how busy they are really aren't. And part of the problem is the statistics services that monitor site activity. Reporting a hit as useful information to anyone other than the Webmaster or the person responsible for paying the bandwidth charges is a mistake. Here's what these terms mean:
Hit--The number of requests a server receives from a computer in order to properly load a page. For instance, each image, banner, button, etc., on a page will generate a hit. So, if you have only one ad on a particular page, but there are twenty-five other items that have to be loaded on the page, that page will receive twenty-six hits each and every time it loads in a browser. These hits obviously add up pretty quickly, so a site with 500,000 hits per month may sound better than it really is. Using that example, with twenty-six hits per page, and 500,000 hits per month a site would generate 19,230 page views per month. There is a more realistic statistic, as you will see.

Page views or impressions--This is how many times a page is loaded onto a computer. All of the items count as one. Which means an ad placed on that page would have one impression, because the person requesting to see that page has viewed it once. This is a good indication of how successful a site is, since one interesting page makes the viewer want to see more.

Reloads--Simply put, a page that has been viewed before is loaded again. This could be due to something interesting a viewer wants to look at again, or the page could be slow to load due to a large image or a problem somewhere on the Internet. So, a viewer using the back button on their browser to go back for navigation purposes would generate a reload, as would someone that's trying to get the page to finish loading by clicking on "refresh."

Unique visitors--Probably the best statistic to a site's popularity. A unique visitor is one that arrives at a site. It doesn't make any difference how many pages they look at while there, nor does it matter if they have entered the site URL by accident. They still count. There is a problem with this, though. You knew there had to be a catch, right? When you connect to the Internet, you are given an IP address. This is your identification while you are on the Internet. It is a unique number consisting of four parts separated by dots. For example, 123.456.789.0. Also known as a "dotted quad," these numbers are what actually allow Internet traffic to flow. So what's the problem? The problem is that some Internet service providers (ISPs) will reuse the same numbers over and over again, with different customers.

Let's say John signs on and visits a particular site. After signing off, he decides to go back to the site again. When he logs on and enters the URL, he may be picked up as a unique visitor because his IP has changed. Meanwhile, across town Tom decides to go to this same site. He has the same ISP as John, and when Tom logs on he gets assigned the same IP number John was using earlier. So, when Tom goes to the same site John visited earlier, he doesn't count as a unique visitor because the tracking service thinks John is coming back to look at the site again. Confusing, huh? Let's just say it hasn't developed into a perfect science yet.
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Traffic monitoring services (like the one Automotive Mileposts is currently using) are able to provide information about visitors that return to the site within one hour or on the same day, depending on their programming. They all seem to provide different statistics, which makes it more difficult to expect the same information from all Web sites. Ours also provides us with the period of time a visitor stays on our site. Currently, that figure is over an hour and a half! This indicates quite a few of our visitors are staying on the site for awhile.

Advertising on the Internet is different in many respects from other forms of advertising. Due to the ability to track whether ads are being clicked on (or not), some may tell you your money is best spent in other mediums. Because online advertising is the only form of advertising that is monitored so closely, its success is determined by a different set of standards. There are those that will tell you online advertising has seen its heyday, and indeed online ad prices have come down substantially in the past year or so.

The Internet is still quite young, so there are many of us that believe this is just the growing period, and the best is yet to come. The Internet is visual, audible, and interactive. Unlike television, you have to participate with the Internet. And unlike printed media, the Internet is three dimensional, taking you places that the printed page cannot.

It is not possible to hold television and printed media to the same level of performance, since there is no accurate way to track their effectiveness. Special phone numbers and codes can be assigned to individual ads, and they work if people use them. But what if that particular ad isn't responsible for the customer's interest? Perhaps they saw the same ad in another magazine, or on another television station, and that was the ad that sold them, not the ad they're calling from. Not very accurate, but that is how it's being done.

Ask yourself this: when was the last time you paid attention to an ad on television? Just sat and watched it. Other than the Super Bowl, which has hyped its advertising to the point that almost as many people watch the game just to see the new ads, most people grab the remote and switch to another channel. Technology has made it possible to ignore the things we aren't interested in. And if a newspaper or magazine ad doesn't have a headline or a picture that grabs our attention instantly, they go largely ignored as well.
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The cost of advertising is based on ratings, circulation, and/or site popularity. If there's a targeted audience, expect that the cost will go up. But how does an advertiser determine if they're getting their money's worth out of their advertising budget? Obviously, if sales are up, or if their Web site is busier, both are good indications that they're doing something right. On the other hand, do slower sales necessarily mean that the ad dollars they're spending are wasted?

Have you heard the term "branding" thrown around a lot? Ad agencies are big on that because it encourages their clients to spend money even though there might not be an immediate return on the investment. The theory is that you have to "keep the name out there" so that folks don't forget about you. And, there's always the thought that maybe it is paying off after all, but the response to the ad isn't necessarily a direct one, and therefore can't be measured.

Good advertising is subtle; it doesn't have to scream at a client to get attention. Good advertising is placed where it enhances the subject matter instead of detracting from it. People are hit with advertising from every direction today. And we have become conditioned to ignore it. Magazines are scanned for the articles. If you buy a publication that consists of mostly ads, you might look at the ads pertaining to the item you're interested in, but little else. The remote control is our best friend when ten minutes into your favorite program, four minutes of ads are run. In the car, you find another station on the radio to listen to when an ad comes on. And on the Internet, your eyes search for text and other components of the Web site. You realize the flashing boxes and streaming banners are there, but you ignore them. Why? Perhaps they don't look like they belong. Or maybe you've seen them before. Might be you just aren't interested in what they have to offer. So, if they don't "fit" the content of the site, why are they there?
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The reality of advertising is that it pays the bills. The bottom line is, there are a lot of really great sites that wouldn't make it without advertisers. And there are a lot of companies that would never make it without the ability to "brand." The secret is to locate the niche market that will be interested in what you have to offer them. And your ad must fit the site it's on. It must look as though it belongs with the content of the site. It must become a part of the site, so much so that the site would be missing something without it. It must have something to offer the viewer. When these conditions are met, your ad will be noticed.

The word "free" gets a lot of attention, it's one of the most popular words used in advertising. But it might not be attracting the type of customer it's meant to. If your target customer is one that seeks something for free, that's fine. But most aren't. Most want to know what you have, how it benefits them, what it costs, and where they can get it. And you have a very small window of opportunity to show all of that to them.

How Internet advertising works. There are many variations of Internet ads. Some ads are exchanged for ads on other sites, in order to attract traffic. No money is exchanged, but the hope is that someone from the other site will come to your site and see something of interest to them. If they return and eventually do business with an advertiser, it's a win-win deal.

Click-through ads are popular. The advertiser doesn't pay anything unless someone clicks on their ad and comes to their site. It normally only pays a few cents, although you can bid for better positioning or a higher ranking if you are willing to pay more money to be there.

Cost per thousand (CPM) is another method. The advertiser pays a set amount for each thousand impressions of the ad. Normally, there is a minimum and sometimes a maximum number of impressions per contract. If a higher number of impressions is selected, a discount is provided. The CPM varies widely around the Internet, with very high traffic sites commanding a premium for the space. One of the drawbacks to this system is site traffic can vary somewhat from month to month. If a new article or feature is published, traffic can increase quickly. This may leave some advertisers without ads in place. The six month ad campaign may turn into a three month campaign. Your ad budget has to be somewhat flexible.

Monthly rate. Similar in concept to most printed publications, a flat rate is charged for the month. Higher traffic pages and choice locations will command the highest rates, and discounts are sometimes offered for length of contract and multiple pages.

Sponsorship allows for one advertiser to capture the market with exclusive placement of ads on the site. This can be the entire site, or a complete section of the site. Special promotions and site content can be coordinated to target the viewer.
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The Internet is the future. Below are a few facts and figures for you to consider. I think you'll agree that no other medium has the ability to affect people's lives and target their interests like the Internet. Automotive Mileposts, like the Internet, is young. We are uniquely positioning ourselves to be the dominant vintage luxury car presence on the Web, and to quote one of our viewers, "I don't believe there's anything else quite like Automotive Mileposts." I'm inclined to agree with that.
What can Automotive Mileposts do for you? We can help put your business in front of dedicated classic car collectors and enthusiasts, who are searching for information, and often need help with their cars. There will never be more of these great automobiles built, and the interest in them will only continue to grow as they age.
I will be happy to answer all of your questions, and look forward to a mutually-rewarding relationship in the future. For additional information on advertising with Automotive Mileposts, please refer to our Advertising Rate Card page.
John Lewis
Advertising Manager
(918) 812-1774


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