About two years ago, HAR embarked on a pilot program for online advertising. The results showed that online ads are great at branding (impressions) but are less effective for actually getting people to take some action (click-thrus). That doesn’t mean that online ads are not effective; it just means you have to manage your expectations. That was also two years ago, and that is an eternity in the online world. The latest surveys also show that more than 80 percent of homebuyers look online as their first step in the homebuying process.

With all of this research and information at our fingertips, HAR launched an online advertising campaign in April. The campaign will largely target Houston-area Internet users who have shown some interest in real estate, mortgages, home improvement or other real estate-related activities online.

The ads will appear on Yahoo! Real Estate, Yahoo! Finance, MSN Real Estate, MSN Money and MSNBC Business as the national sites that are a part of the advertising buy. For more outreach into local markets of the greater Houston area, we will have ads on FortBendNow.com, as well as Houston Community Newspapers’ sites for the Fort Bend Sun, Katy Sun and West University Examiner. Additionally, the Houston Business Journal’s website offers a great demographic profile for our members, and we are waiting on a proposal from Continental.com to potentially advertise on the airline’s site (which can be targeted to only First Class, only OnePass members, only people travelling from specific cities, etc.). And no online advertising campaign would be complete in today’s world without allocating at least a little bit for Facebook.

The ads are all animated so that we can place more text on them…and so that they will catch the eye of someone looking around on the Internet. You may see still shots of one of the ad sequences below.

Don’t worry if you haven’t seen the actual ads while you’ve been surfing the Web. You’ll have plenty of time. Plus, we will have different messages throughout the duration of the buy. The ad campaign will continue through August so that we make sure to keep REALTORS® and real estate in front of consumers during the busy summer selling season.