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Advertising online is a no-brainer. But what sites? That’s tricky — but a fun question to answer. Here are a few ideas.

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(Note: Sitegeist has invited Rob Armstrong, owner of Matador Creative, to be a regular contributor to the blog. Rob does most of the writing at Splat Productions and, additionally, takes on clients of his own, under the Matador name.)

Not long ago, my friend David Hitt brought up an interesting aspect of online advertising.Specifically, just how does one determine where to do it?Once you’ve created banner ads, what websites should you post them on?Not being a media specialist, I can only hypothesize based on my experience as the guy who writes the ads that find their way into the daily papers, monthly glossies and yes, the Internet. I won’t waste time discussing real estate sites.Nobody needs me to tell them to post ads on their local paper’s website, local Realtors’ websites and national sites like wallstreetjournal.com or REALTOR.com.And despite how unglamorous it is, the good ol’ MLS should be on a must-post list as well.Those are easy choices.It’s obvious they get scanned by people actively looking for homes—that is, when those people are actually making the effort to look. Hit them when they’re NOT really looking.

Homebuyers don’t just comb real estate sites all day looking at pictures of pretty condominiums.They’re real people with busy lives.They’re checking their bank balances, shopping on eBay, searching for the meaning of life on Google…People in homebuying mode will go a lot of places online.The trick is to figure out where.You have to start thinking like a grocer.It’s no accident they put the raisins in the same aisle as the oatmeal and the peanut butter with the jelly and bread.

One place to start might be sites about home-related stuff.Furniture, interior design and even home improvement websites.“Hey, why fix that roof again? Buy a new condo already!”Then there are the more esoteric choices.Think about music sites like rhapsody.com or the iTunes section of apple.com.I mean, why not listen to that new Alicia Keys mp3 file (or the latest from Paul McCartney for you Boomers) in the comfort of the living room in your brand new home?Liberty Mutual and Logitech were hitting customers there on my recent visit.

Think about what your prospects enjoy doing. If you advertise where homebuyers are buying music, why not where they’re buying food—or at least getting recipes and tips on entertaining like marthastewart.com?By advertising on specialty sites, you can customize the message and make the connection between your new condo high-rise and, say, those freshly baked sticky buns from Williams-Sonoma—they’ll taste even more delicious in your new home’s designer kitchen. More food for thought—newlyweds!They’re part of many developers’ target demographic.Young, and some not-so-young, professional couples seeking digs that suit their lifestyles.How interesting then that on theknot.com, a wedding planning site, I found a link to thenest.com, its sibling site all about setting up house together.And smack dab in the upper right, a prominently placed banner ad for the Dodge Journey crossover, PERFECT for small or growing families.Just like your new building in Center City.

Another way to show you “get” your target audience’s needs and interests—YouTube.One of the most popular sites on the Internet.Why not put your two-or-three-minute virtual tour or “commercial” on YouTube and send a link to your whole e-mail distribution list?Then link them from YouTube to your site.You could continue adding videos like footage of the building in progress there, or shorts on the neighborhood, the lifestyle… Most developers limit their distribution to the property’s website.The whole world could be seeing them!And you won’t spend one extra dime to do it.

Go green—if you’ve got the guts.

My last idea (for now) would be on a site related to environmentally conscious products and services, like green.msn.com.Chevrolet is doing it with their hybrid vehicles.You can do it, too—provided you are a genuinely green company building a genuinely green residential destination with earth-friendly products and building practices.

I’m working with such a client here in Naples, Florida.Still in the planning stages, São Grato promises to be a Brazilian-inspired mixed-use destination with eco-sensitive features in place.Beyond building materials and practices, the community will have recycling programs as well as incentives to donate towards rain forest conservation.Be warned—going the green route is like running for public office.Absolutely everything about your company will be scrutinized for its innate greenness, and if any fatal flaws are exposed, you’ll be vilified by the media and granola-crunching tree-huggers alike.This is not one for the faint of heart.

The best thing about advertising on the Internet is that you can change your mind on a whim, adapt your placement almost immediately and adjust your strategy based on the results you get in a very cost-effective way.So just do it—experiment.Put your property out there where few, if any, competitors are.You’ll be the sharpest developer on your block if you get it right.

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