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E-Commercials Online ads could benefit your business--but you have to know what you're doing.

By David Doran

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The growing number of Internet users has caught the attention ofbusinesses both large and small, which are spending anever-increasing percentage of their advertising dollar on thisrelatively new medium. According to the Internet AdvertisingBureau, an industry trade group, Internet spending on advertisingin the first quarter of 1998 rose to more than $350 million, anastounding increase of 271 percent from the same period in1997.

There are some very good reasons advertisers are flocking to theInternet, says Pete Petrusky, director of entertainment and mediaat PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. "Those motivations include thetargeting potential of net advertising, its interactivity, the highlevels of user involvement, and the metering systems that are ableto measure the type of traffic being delivered," saysPetrusky.

To get the best value for your advertising dollar, Petruskysays, you must first determine what your marketing objectives are."There's no such thing as a typical return on investmentin Internet advertising," he says. "The ROI reallydepends on what the company wants to achieve and what audienceit's trying to reach. If it has a product or service targetinga specific demographic and it knows that demographic is online,then it can reach them. Internet ads can also help test marketproducts and services. The unique interactivity of this mediumallows businesses to get feedback, generate leads and even closesales. And, of course, they can sell products on thismedium."

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