I cannot speak to the effectiveness of billboards or TV ads.
I do know that people who spend money advertising online DO have VERY specific methods of measuring return on investment.
And when you see a $10,000 investment result in only $1,000 in sales (if you are lucky), you seriously question whether there could be $9,000 or more in indirect benefits (like brand awareness).
I know this: there are very specific Internet marketing methods our company uses that show an IMMEDIATE positive return on investment.
Examples include running auctions on eBay, paying for search position advertising on GOTO.COM, and paying small fees to get people to download a trial version of our software.
In fact, for every $1 we spend on GOTO.COM we see more than $5 in sales.
For every $1 we have spent on eBay, we have seen between $3 and $5 in sales.
For every $1 we have spent on banner ads, we have seen less than 10 cents in sales.
Broad arguments that Yahoo will have better pricing leverage in the future do not convince me. For example, while Yahoo, MSN and AOL may have an advantage over lesser known brands, marketers are NOT going to pay more than the value they deliver.
Over the past two years, an incredible amount of "easy money" has been thrown at the likes of Yahoo. That "easy money" is getting much harder to come by.
Yahoo has to figure ways to deliver value, and one thing they ought to start with immediately is to emulate the GOTO.COM paid search engine placement model.