Wednesday, December 26, 2007

More on interruption vs. engagement

The other day, I was researching online advertising options for a client. Most of what I was presented with depended upon interruption of some sort, with ads morphing to become larger/longer and obscuring news content. This screen shot of a Kentucky Lottery ad shows just one example:

The idea here, obviously, is to make the ads more prominent. But much like the previously discussed video ads, they're so invasive that the result is a negative net effect on the advertiser’s brand. At worst, these ads seem like a bait-and-switch tactic where the reader is promised news and information, and instead is force-fed ad content.

This approach seems no better than the universally-reviled and presumed-dead pop-up ad. You’d think media outlets would have learned from the backlash that pop-ups engendered, but it seems like interruption is enjoying new life online. In his list of Top 10 media trends for the new year, for example, Didit vice president of industry relations Mark Simon predicts that more ads will try to shove news content aside in 2008:

In the last six months, online display ads seem to have reverted to their ugly circa-2000 selves, with pop-unders, pop-overs, takeovers and other intrusive behavior that would have been unthinkable a year ago. Now, we're told that "widgets" are soon going to be added to this smorgasbord of intrusive interactivity. So much for the "relevance revolution" of a few years back; instead, look for 2008 to become the "irrelevance renaissance" in adware.

What can online media outlets offer instead of ads that interrupt? How about ads that are relevant to the news they appear with, so that they’re more likely to meet the audience’s needs? How about ads that are creative in content instead of “creative” in their capacity to get in the way? How about ads with a specific, relevant offer that encourages intentional click-throughs (instead of the unintentional click-throughs that are bound to happen with ads dancing all over the page)?

Think it’s impossible to make money by making your ads less intrusive? Here's one little company that figured out how to do just that, and made a few bucks along the way.

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