How can I demonstrate the power of online advertising?

What are the key metrics businesses are looking for when they advertise on the web?

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Every day, more and more local businesses invest a greater percentage of their time building up their online presence. In the newspaper industry, those same customers who have been buying "offline" ad space throughout your paper for years are now looking to expand their advertising presence to your website.

Position yourself as an expert so they look to you to guide them through the process. I recommend that all salespeople adopt a consultative approach to sales. Talk with your prospects to figure out what they want and need and then build a solution that helps them reach their objectives.

Regardless of what a business' specific goals are, when they advertise on the Web they are looking for accountability. Other forms of media like radio and television rely on surveys from a sample of the population in order to track usage metrics. But advertising on the Internet is tangible because every action is tracked. Your salespeople should be working with advertisers to optimize the metrics that are most important to each specific business.

There are hundreds of different metrics which can be tracked for Internet ads, but there are four primary data points that almost all advertisers look at –  number of impressions, cost per click, CPM and time spent on site.

"Number of impressions" is how many times a banner ad will be seen over a given time period. Most businesses look at impressions over the course of a month. Most large advertisers will appreciate this metric because it supports branding initiatives. In other words, getting their name and company image in front of your website visitors is more important than a click on a banner.

Direct response advertisers often look at "cost per click," which tells them how much it is costing them to drive someone to their website, or a specific landing page on the site.

"CPM" is an industry standard advertising term which means "Cost per Thousand Impressions." In other words, how much it would cost for a banner to be seen a certain number of times. CPMs can go as low as one cent and I have seen some sites offer hyper-targeted advertising space at $300 CPM. In general, as you are determining the optimal CPM for your newspaper's site, consider raising the rate for more targeted advertising slots.

The last metric I mentioned, "time spent on site," speaks to user engagement. For many advertisers, it's not enough to just get someone to their site, they want the visitor to go deeper into the site and spend more time exposed to the company's branding.

As your sales team works with different businesses, I would encourage them to present an advertising solution, and advertising metrics, which are a fit for that specific business. Optimization of these metrics can help your advertisers see a great return on their investment, which will earn you repeat business.

Allan Barmak is a national speaker and author of "The Accidental Salesperson." He leads a sales consulting and training firm which leverages his 20 years of sales experience in digital media. Over the years, he has worked with a variety of different companies across a wide range of industries, helping each of them expand their sales operations by optimizing existing revenue streams as well as building new ones.

He is available to run customized training for your salespeople to help them sell online media and can also deliver an "Accidental Salesperson" column for your paper if you would like additional content.

He can be reached at allan@barmakgroup.com or (703) 597-1033.

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