The Home Depot Inc. is pulling back this month from selling ad space to third parties on its web site, an experiment it had launched in July, saying it would return HomeDepot.com to its original function. “The Home Depot reviewed its online advertising program and determined that our resources would be better utilized by focusing HomeDepot.com on its core mission of supporting our online and store customers as they research and shop,” a spokeswoman says.
Home Depot had used SendTec Inc., a direct marketing firm, to manage the sales force and the creation and deployment of the ads on its site. SendTec also handles third-party online ad sales for the web sites of Netflix Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., among others. Contributing to the Home Depot’s decision was a recent reorganization that moved Home Depot Direct, which manages the web site, into its merchandising group.
On HomeDepot.com as on other retail sites that sell ad space to third parties, many of the ad buyers were manufacturers who put up branded microsites within the hosting site to provide more information about their products. Advertisers also had the option of buying space on the home page, category pages, product pages and numerous “how to” guide pages. The ads included interactive demonstrations, streaming videos and more in-depth product content designed to keep them on Home Depot’s e-commerce site. Industry experts say such extra content can make a difference in product categories that are heavily researched prior to purchase.
Home Depot would not disclose how much the program cost, saying only that the ad sales on its site represented only a fraction of its e-commerce sales, which were $280 million last year. Erik Obeck, president of SendTec, contends that selling ad space on the billions of e-commerce pages served up on web sites each year is a largely untapped revenue source for e-retailers. “Offering advertising spots on e-commerce sites is a huge opportunity that’s just not getting much attention,” he says.