the most annoying banner ad of all time

Here’s one of my online marketing rules. Audio that auto-plays on a website is bad. The main reason is simple. Studies show that the majority of web browsing is done at the workplace. Auto-play audio alerts fellow cube dwellers or the Bobs that they’re slacking. They surf off the site when you disturb the peace.

Personally, I just like my web silent. If I want to hear something, I’ll unmute my speakers and hit play. Thanks.

The most annoying of these auto-play audio ads are when a “person” tries to talk to me in an one-to-one manner.

Alltel is currently running a skyscraper with their publicly-hated spokesdude, Chad. Instead of clicking, the ad’s audio goes live when you mouse over.

So I’m on a website and I accidentally mouse over the Alltel ad and Chad starts talking. I see there’s a volume control on the ad and I click it. It mutes Chad. Chad stops talking and looks up at the volume control and looks back at me with a hurt look on his face. Then he starts talking again (muted) and keeps looking between me and the volume control shrugging his shoulders and looking hurt and confused. This goes on the entire time I’m on the page reading the material I came for.

And the whole hurt act annoyed me even more than the sound being on. So much so that I grabbed the attached screenshot to use in this post.

No Chad, I don’t want to hear your pitch. The whole ad represents the main problem that ALL marketers have trying to reach an audience. Not everyone wants to hear your company’s marketing spiel. No one really cares about your marketing except you and your agency (maybe).

I’m sure the Alltel ad wizards thought it would be a cute way to work the creative with a target who wants to disengage. But at what cost? Seems the public hates Chad. Why give them even more reasons to hate him?

Don’t look hurt, Chad. Just don’t place an annoying audio banner ad in front of me. And let’s keep it down in here.

BTW: If you google the phrase i hate alltel, you’ll find that this post that I wrote back in 2005 is the top result. In fact, that post is also consistently one of the most trafficked posts on the entire blog. When I look at my stats, I try to ignore its effects on keyword searches and overall traffic. So I’m interested in how this post will affect all that.

Users First

There’s been quite a bit of talk over the past few days about some remarks that Jim Buckmaster, an executive at Craigslist, made at a media conference in New York last Thursday.

It seems that Buckmaster stated that he has no intentions of “monetizing” his online classifieds service with any sort of advertising. The room full of ad and media folks apparently looked at him like he had a second head.

Why no ads? Get this….It seems that Craigslist’s users haven’t expressed an interest in seeing ads…..Mmmm.

First off, they ARE making money…( a few million a year). They just aren’t doing it with “ads”. Craigslist does a fabulous job of hitting the sweet spot on pricing. The rates they charge for job and for-rent ads in a few of the many cities they serve are high enough to pay the bills, keep other sections and cities free, and still make a very respectable profit…but the price is low enough that competitors can’t keep up.

And that may be one ulterior reason that Craigslist is still ad free. Their success is coming out of what used to be spent in newspaper and other print classifieds. Craigslist may be handing out the free classified smack to get people addicted. When the local newspapers decide that the classifieds aren’t worth the dead trees and ink, the papers will discontinue their classified business. At that point, Craigslist may suddenly decide to monetize their monopolistic position with ads or other items.

But there may be a more pure motive.

Maybe they understand that the user/consumer/reader is what “monetizes” the business. Maybe they see that the most effective long term marketing strategy is to grow a base of dedicated loyal users.

Maybe they realize that a clean uncluttered useful page invites people to return and build loyalty to a site. They see that the customer (the single most important element of a business)should not be harassed by pop-ups & pop-unders, irrelevant email, interstitial ads, floating & expanding ads, trick banners, and everything else that webmasters slap onto a website to make a dollar today…only to cost them $100 dollars tomorrow. They see that you can train a customer to mistrust ALL the content on your page because you’ve tricked them too many times into clicking.

Maybe Craigslist sees that simply because you CAN place an ad on a web property (or any place), doesn’t mean that you SHOULD.

It’s a lot like the story of the goose that laid the golden eggs. The biggest mistake that alot of today’s web (and brick&mortar) businesses are making is developing short term strategies that kill long term gains.

But why worry about tomorrow…when you can make 58 cents today off an AdSense sidebar?

tags::

Ain’t Gonna Be Banner Ads

A caveat before I begin this post – He who looks into the crystal ball…eats glass.

An updated forecast from JMP Securities says that online media will account for more than $1 of every $10 spent for advertising by 2010.

Mmmm…seems like you should go ahead and put together an online media buy for 2006-2010. Be ahead of the curve! But, I think you’d be wrong.

We’re used to looking at past indicators to gauge future perfomance. For example, take TV…
The smart company in the late 1940’s and early 50’s would have sunk all their ad money into TV as it was starting to explode. The problem is that with the exceptions of color, cable, and DVR…the basic TV model is still pretty much the same as it was in the 50’s…shows, advertising, primetime, etc. The advertising media buy that worked in 1958 still worked in 1988.

Now look at the Internet…Does today’s web look like the one in 2000?…or the one in 1995? While we’re moving (have moved) into Web2.0, I will venture to say that Web3.0 will come even faster.

The point is that you can no longer look at what has worked in the past for advertising and expect it to work in the future. But, that’s always been somewhat of a given.

Here’s the new truth for marketing. You can no longer look at what’s just starting to work now and expect it to work in the future. Largely, because “the future” is changing much faster than it used to.

In today’s marketing world, long term predictions are now useless.

tags::