Are there really any important and influent people on A.net to whom this advertisement page would be destined?
Because I don't really plan on buying a 7E7 right now personally. Not even a 717...
There are a few that at least come close to being important and influential. For the most part, we all know who they are. There are even more on USaviation.com and other "upmarket" sites. Some airline employees who arn't "big shots" now might be in the future, remember, this plane will be in production for a long time. Also, many add agencies are not going to look carefully at exactly what crowd an aviation site attracts. To an add exec unfamiliar with aviation sites, we might look like just as good a bet as USaviation.com or even AWST's site. My guess is they look at traffic figures alone and buy on that basis, hoping to catch the big fish by using a big net.
My guess is most of this public advertising is for four purposes....
1. To reach stockholders. The market is obsessed with short term profit and hates long term R&D. Boeing is trying to educate its stockholders about the importance of this investment.
2. On the net particularly, to influence lower level employees like pilots or mechanics. This does make a difference in some airlines. Employees often have opportunities to make prospective purchases look good or bad by evaluations, cost estimates, surveys, etc.
3. To create some passenger preference for the new plane. This did help the 777 for a while after its launch. Most people don't care which plane they are on but the few who do can influence margins.
4. To indirectly influence airports and government bodies in favor of the plane. Boeing has to deal with a lot of these in certification, etc.
SHORT....General good will toward a good product can do a great deal to "butter up" not only potential customers, but all the constituencies a company has to satisfy. This includes not only airline big shots but also lower level airline employees, taxpayers and voters, and stockholders. These people are often more powerful than they think they are.