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E-Business Secrets
Brian Livingston
Eighty percent of new sales come without a click-through

Although the percentage of people who click online advertisements is down from last year, a study by a marketing-oriented research institute has found that 80 percent of new business generated by online ads comes from people visiting the vendor's Web site at a later time, rather than clicking on the ad when they see it.

The Atlas Institute, a unit of the Avenue A marketing firm, found that a group which saw an unnamed test company's online ads bought 10 percent more of its products than a control group that didn't see the ads. "Eighty percent of the overall sales increase resulted from customers who didn't click on any ads, but eventually converted [into buyers] on the advertiser's site," the institute says.

This findng implies that the value of online advertising cannot reliably be measured by click-throughs. Instead, actual consumer behavior must be measured scientifically.

The study also reports on a test in which Proctor and Gamble exposed a group of people to ads for well-known brands. Sales of one food product increased by 19 percent in the test group, compared with a control group (although sales of two other products were unchanged). The improved sales came only after consumers had seen seven or more ads for the food product.

A summary of the findings is available free as a PDF file.

Atlas Institute Report (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader):

Livingston's E-Business book review

Affiliate programs, in which various Web sites send visitors to your e-business and receive a commission for each new lead or purchase, are a big part of some successful online business models. Now a new book by two marketing professionals, "Successful Affiliate Marketing for Merchants," reveals a vast array of resources and services for e-businesses and affiliates alike.

The co-authors cite a study by, a poster distributor that was purchased last week by, showing that its cost of acquiring new customers through affiliate programs was much lower than other media:

Promotional Method (Cost of Acquiring a New Customer)

1. Affiliates ($9)

2. Online ads ($21)

3. E-mail ($24)

4. Public relations ($82)

5. Print ads ($958)

6. Radio ads ($1,457)

Frank Fiore is the online shopping guide for, and Shawn Collins is publisher of Their book can help any e-business that needs to create or continue an affiliate program as well as Web site owners who are considering becoming affiliates.

"Successful Affiliate Marketing For Merchants"

By Frank Fiore and Shawn Collins (Que)

Livingston's Top 10 news picks o' the week

1. E-commerce spending is up, despite dot-com woes

2. Poor customer service cuts into business, study says

3. High-speed Net access doubled in the past six months

4. U.S. government sells more online than any e-tailer

5. Experts describe how to charge for Web site content

6. E-tailers raising prices faster than inflation

7. Traffic analysis tools have strengths and weaknesses

8. Web businesses are growing, but at a slower pace

9. Free music at Amazon, plus paid e-books and software

10. 3D technology displays useful Web sites visually

This week's "they can't do that on the Web" page analyzes the sales that occur every day at 250 online auction sites and 2,000 retailers to compute an average selling price for more than 1 million products. The site's "Blue Book Price Guide" is an excellent way for consumers to see what other people are actually paying for computers, cameras, toys, CDs, and many other items before bidding on them.

StrongNumbers also has a beta program called Marketview that provides updated pricing information for particular product lines. E-businesses can use this to help set their own pricing and inventory levels.

Strongnumbers' "Blue Book Price Guide" And Marketview:

E-BUSINESS SECRETS: Our mission is to bring you such useful and thought-provoking information about the Web that you actually look forward to reading your e-mail.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: E-Business Secrets is written by "InfoWorld" Contributing Editor Brian Livingston. Research Directors are Ben Livingston (no relation) and Eryn Paull. Brian has published 10 books, including:

Windows Me Secrets:

Windows 2000 Secrets:

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