5 Benefits of Webserts

4 Mar

Originally published in Target Marketing’s Tipline E-Newsletter
by Britt Brouse
Sep 3, 2008

Webserts are emerging as a digital version of traditional insert programs, where advertisers pay for a link or banner on, for example, a host’s post-transaction page. The beauty of the websert is that it attracts confirmed Internet buyers during the purchase process – a time when they are most likely to respond to additional offers.

Fully trackable, webserts generate traffic to the advertiser’s own site, and payment is usually made to the host or program owner, on a cost-per-thousand or cost-per-acquisition basis. Using a third-party vendor to host the ads on an intermediate server, negotiate placement and costs, and advise on partnerships can make the entire process operate seamlessly. Two websert vendors explain the benefits of testing into this online channel.

1. Webserts Are for Everyone
“Webserts are a good option for any advertiser, whether it participates in insert media already or not,” says Jeff Savastano, sales executive for the Online Marketing Services Group at Millard Group, a Peterborough, N.H.-based direct marketing service provider. Advertisers can profit both from using webserts as stand-alone channel and as an add-on to a print insert program. “We’ve had people test the websert that haven’t tested the insert component,” says Robert Stanton, VP of business development for Stanton Direct Marketing in Elmira, N.Y. – which recently launched eSert Network, a turnkey solution for websert advertising.

“When used in conjunction with a package insert, it can be used to reinforce or point out a forthcoming offer or sample,” Savastano adds. Stanton points out that smaller marketers can find a good online opportunity in webserts, bypassing the bigger online ad networks which often limit advertisers’ control.

2. Achieve Quick Results With No Cost Barriers
Traditional insert programs involve a lot of time and costs to design, print, ship and track the promotion. The turnaround time, Stanton says, for a package insert program may be up to five months or more. By comparison, digital inserts are quick and inexpensive. “The advertiser is immediately able to see the traffic from the source of the ad to their Web site, and the design work required for these ads is minimal … there are no costs for printing, paper, ink [and] freight as with traditional insert media,” Savastano explains. “This offers an opportunity to do something very quickly with results that could be pretty immediate,” Stanton says. Savastano warns that traditional package inserts still have a higher response rate and suggests marketers weigh the rising cost of printing inserts against the webserts’ lower response rates.

3. Find Qualified Web Buyers
You want to find your target audience where it lives, and for many segments that is increasingly the online channel. “If they’re thinking of Internet buyers … they know that they’re getting that target,” Stanton says. Since the up-front costs are so low, he sees many marketers tailoring their landing pages to the websert prospect. “It winds up increasing that implied endorsement between the two companies, and if that happens it’s a successful piece,” Stanton says.

Stanton advises websert marketers not to be blinded by the online component of the customer base and to look for the same affinities that align two companies in a successful print insert program. “They [should] look at a lot of the same demographics that they would if they were going to place an insert … those affinities wind up really being more important than the fact that they’re an Internet buyer,” he says.

4. Websert Programs Owners Benefit, Too
The websert employs unused space on online communications to generate what Stanton calls “free revenue.” That’s why program owners are warming up to the idea of allowing third-party ads on their sites. “People were protective of their brand identity and things associated with their site. Now they’re a little bit more open,” Stanton says.

“Consumers have been conditioned to seeing advertising in new and unusual places,” Savanstano says. And he points out the fact that webserts are exhibited after the sale and are not detrimental to the list owner or the consumer.

Additionally, the program owner gains a larger awareness of who its target audience is. “It might give them some ideas about a number of product offerings they might want to add depending on who that insert advertiser is,” Stanton explains.

5. Success Begets Success
When planning the pricing, placement and distribution of a websert, it benefits both parties to honestly serve the best interests of the advertiser. The more successful the websert, the more revenue the host makes. And with a limit to the number of ads available in a program increasing competition, only successful relationships will perpetuate. According to Stanton, the most effective place for a websert is on the confirmation page, near the total order cost and above the fold. “If they [advertisers] have to report sales back to the site owner, and if the space is really valuable to them, they’re going to report a number that is accurate or at least very competitive with something else that might be vying for that space,” Stanton says. That also means that the owner must keep testing competitive ads in its program to see if new offers can beat the controls.

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