Each year at about this time, we launch our online advertising campaign where we place ads on other sites. After a few years of experience, we have a pretty good idea of which sites perform the best and warrant being considered for inclusion in the buy the following year.

This year’s online campaign began during the first month of April so we do not yet have a full month of numbers, but we do have some preliminary figures that look fairly strong.Since we have been actively trying to promote the download and use of our HAR family of apps, we started with those as the basis for the initial run of the campaign. The great thing is that if a consumer accesses the website with our HAR ad on it from a mobile device, it will automatically detect what type of device it is and direct them to the appropriate app: iPhone, iPad, Android or mobile web.

In consultation with our interactive media buyer, we determined that MSN, Yahoo!, United.com and the Texas Tribune made the most sense for our members’ ad dollars. MSN, Yahoo! and United have all been consistently strong performers in past years and made the cut. The Texas Tribune is a new addition to the buy. It is a non-profit news outlet that has an impressive stable of reporters and a strong following, especially in the political arena. It is whole-heartedly non-partisan. It also spends a considerable amount of its resources developing databases that are of use to its readers in areas such as public education, higher education, health care, energy and more.

We also separately entered into an agreement with the Greater Houston Convention and Visitor’s Bureau to advertise on its www.visithouston.com site. Our targeted message there was: “Why just visit when you could live here?” This placement has actually been our best performing, when judged based on the click-thru rate. This site is followed by Yahoo!, the Texas Tribune and United. We are actually about 14 percent ahead of last year’s campaign with regard to the click-thru rate. Since this is an incomplete initial report based on only two weeks of ads, it is difficult to assess the campaign based on the number of impressions delivered. That being said, the HAR ads have been displayed more than 800,000 times so far, which compares to nearly 14 million for the entire campaign last year.

Additionally, we were able to obtain better rates on some sites based on timing. The MSN placement will begin on July 2. We will also begin a “custom channel” on June 1. This will allow us to target specific users based on their behaviors, such as those searching for mortgage or home improvement information. It will also allow us to re-target those visitors who were on our site and then go to another site. They will see an HAR ad served on subsequent sites to get them to return to HAR.com.

All of these efforts will lead to more traffic for you and your listings. We will continue to keep you updated as the campaign progresses and will make tweaks to it as warranted, based on the reports we receive