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Study: Advertisers go unnoticed online

E-commerce companies are looking to online advertising to sell products, not build brands, according to a new study.

E-commerce companies are looking to online advertising to sell products, not build brands, according to a new study.

In its "Advertising on the Internet" study released today, The Strategis Group said many advertisements focused on promoting transactions rather than brands, allowing people to click on a link and immediately buy a book or sell stock.

However, this strategy may not be as effective as some retailers would like. According to the survey, many Internet users are tuning out online advertising. In the past week, approximately 52 percent of Internet users had not clicked on any online ad. Of those who had, 40 percent could not recall the ad, the report said.

Jeff Moore, Internet consultant at The Strategis Group, said that unlike television, where advertisers can promote a product with a jingle or with flashy video, most online advertisements are little more than glorified links.

But Moore said online advertisers have little choice in how they may promote clients' goods and services. Because few Internet users have high-speed Net connections, many advertisers have been reluctant to use bandwidth hogging graphics or audio to make their ads more memorable.

"You can only serve up what people can access," Moore said.

Amazon.com was the most visible Internet advertiser, followed closely by Barnes & Noble. Microsoft, NextCard Visa, and CDnow rounded out the top five, the survey reported.

The study also found that both on- and offline companies are using television, print, outdoor, and radio campaigns--instead of the Internet--to build their brands.

Though a company such as Coca-Cola can present Coke as the feel-good soft drink through it's "Have a Coke and a smile" television campaign, "a banner ad cannot convey the same image," Moore said.

Many top companies--including Wal-Mart, Pepsi, and Nike--have resisted online advertising, he said, along with online powerhouses such as Priceline.com and E*Trade, whose ads were much more prevalent offline than online.

The study looked at nearly 7,000 advertisements from 50 of the Internet's top Web sites between April and June. The survey of Net users had a margin of error of 4.78 percent.