Despite the fact that online ad revenue continues its torrid double-digit growth rate year after year, every sales force I work with has online laggards who cry, "Web advertising is great but it just doesn’t work for us."

Typically these advertisers made an online media buy that went bad, or know someone who did. Instead of rethinking strategy or creative, they blame the media.  

Create a Personal Experience
You can counter a negative online personal experience with a positive one. Because all media buyers are also potential online media consumers, try hooking them with a personal interest.

A buyer once told me, "I don’t read all those online newsletters and no one else does either." Then I discovered he had a deep personal interest in NASCAR racing and a simple online search showed me over a dozen newsletters on the topic. I started forwarding him a different NASCAR newsletter every few days. When I called him two weeks later he had subscribed to two of them and had become an online newsletter reader and personal convert.

That Was Then, This Is Now
Another way to win over a Web laggard is to make it safe to change his or her mind with news of change. Your emotional message: "You may have been right in the past, but things are different now. It’s OK to change. Can you give online ads another try?"

Starting in 2003 the Online Publishers Association ( measured how much time people spend on different Web activities. At that time, communications (e-mail, messaging, etc.) topped the list with content, commerce, and search trailing behind. But as the years ticked by, the percent of Web users’ time spent on content (accessing information, reading articles, etc.) steadily grew until a year ago it almost tied communications.

Now the big shift. In the past year, content shot past communications as the activity people spend most of their Web time on. In just one year, content-related activities now account for 49.6 percent of online users’ time compared with only 32 percent for communications.

Since most of the ads and sponsorships you sell are associated with the content part of the Web this is a very big deal.  

Help Them Take the First Steps
Because of its interactive nature, the majority of online media is sold on repeat business. If an initial buy generates results a bigger buy follows. Here’s the catch: If your Web laggards understood the Web they would probably be using it already. How effective do you think a banner/sponsorship they design is going to be? If the banner bombs so does your media buy.

You do not want to design their creative, but you can advise to execute more successfully by asking the following three questions:

1. What will motivate Web visitors to click on your banner? The wrong answer is to visit the advertiser’s home page. Correct answers could be to get something useful such as product information, news, a contest entry, a game, an insider’s view, a free sample, a bargain, or something free. If you can get them thinking about marketing in an interactive world they will buy more interactive media from you.

2. What happens once they click through to your Web site? The wrong answer is that they see our products and leave. Correct answers invite interaction such as registering for extra content, a newsletter, a contest, or an event. If they think of their Web site as a key interactive part of their marketing program they will buy more interactive media from you to drive traffic to it.  

3. How will you evaluate the media buy? With a measurable media there are no excuses for not setting goals. If you are to be judged on clicks or brand measurement, you better understand it.

Helping Web laggards allows you to be a true consultant, and deepen relationships. It is well worth the extra time because there are none more loyal than the newly converted.

Josh Gordon is president of, a training and consulting company that helps publishers grow their online business. Gordon also publishes a blog at