Thursday, 15 November 2007

Stop pop-ups popping up, online advertising needs to evolve

The best advertising is stuff that's relevant to people and makes the best use of the format it's on.

(I know that some intensely annoying adverts do sometimes work, such as the Michael Winner Esure 'don't panic dear, it's just a commercial', which force the name into the forefront of your mind due to it p*ssing you off. However i'm going to gloss over these as it's not an avenue of marketing i ever intend to get involved with. There's something intensely crass about starting a relationship with your customers by being obnoxious.)

Best TV ads? - Well the ones that use the fact that you can produce film quality video, that people appreciate humour, that people want to be emotionally involved and that people channel hop. I'm thinking the Honda cog advert, most of the Guiness adverts, iconic adverts like Hovis and Flake.

Best radio ads? - Ones that punch through the airwaves, good examples are anything with clever humour. It's so easy to ignore a radio ad so they need to pull you in.

Magazine, cinema, billboards? - I'm sure you can think of your own.

The above i hope shows the importance of adapting to the medium.

Web? Well this is where it get's fun.

Starting off with 'traditional' online advertising. A banner ad that is static is essentialy what every ad in a newspaper is, it doesn't move, it's an image, you look at it or more likely ignore it. Online ads are evolving now, a good example are expandable ads (please leave a comment if this link is dead and i'll find another example). Now these sit like a banner till you put your mouse over them. In theory they let the user choose to interact. Other types of web advertising such as pop ups, floating ads, takeovers are the web equivalent of Michael Winner. Even expandable ads can be annoying when you accidentally hover your mouse over them.

The future? - Well despite this banners ads are here to stay. For the same reason that there are still rubbish sofa ads on TV, boring adverts on the radio and invisible adverts in magazines, somebody (sharp suit, pink shirt, drinks Stella, you know the type) somewhere will always be using the previously mentioned web ad options.

Clickthrough rates are on average 0.4% these days and this falls to 0.04% on Facebook (social networking ad tips article). Unless you're getting monumental site traffic, clever web advertisers (jeans, t-shirt, converse trainers, drinks tea) need to ditch banners and start getting innovative.

There are ways; some are downright scary visions of privacy invasion, others are mild and welcoming, like a bowl of tomato soup.

  1. Targeted advertising - We know so much about people that they can be targeted on their likes and dislikes. For example, my facebook profile contains my favourite films. An example targeted ad campaign would be Amazon displaying an advert on my home page, specifically targeted at me, selling the latest special edition DVD releases of these films i've added to my profile. This i believe is one of those scary invasions of privacy, but it's already happening so be wary, advertisers should atleast give people the choice (Google take notice!)

  2. Contextual advertising - You write a blog article or review about a certain book, Amazon then places an advert on your page offering that book (here's one i made earlier). Similarly, some websites use advertisers that highlight certain words on their page.

    For example the sentence:
    "And JK Rowling earned 3 squillion pounds from Harry Potter"
    would become
    "And JK Rowling earned 3 squillion pounds from Harry Potter".

    Go look at an article on the BBC, how many words in that article could potentially link to an advertising opportunity? Again, this isn't a fave option of mine as it's too invasive

  3. Part one. Engaging with the user - Ah, my favourite, 'tomato soup' option. Sites such as facebook invite advertisers to engage users by doing things such as creating applications. You can play the Red Bull Roshambull 'scissors, paper, stones' game on Facebook - Here Red Bull get some advertising, you've chosen to engage with them and everyone is happy.

    This is the way advertising should be in the future, brands work with you, and NOT just by sponsoring something - that's the lazy way. That means less advertising, but better advertising. More performance per ad pound spent for less ads and more engagement.

  4. Part two. Provide something for the user - The same as above really, let the users come to you by not annoying them and being engaging. A good example is the recent Cadbury TV ad, they added it to YouTube, people created spoofs, the brand lives on. Same thing with the Dove advert. I know this is more viral marketing than online advertising but the boundaries between the two need to be blurred.

Enough of taking offline principles and applying them online, let the web revolution begin!

Related posts
YouTube, Facebook, BBC and Reuters discuss social media (Feb 09)
Monitor the online buzz around your brand (May 09)
What is the average click through rate for online banner ads? (Jul 09)

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