The NY Times has two articles today that show the changing face of intrusive internet advertising. First, we find out that, as more and more people are using pop-up blockers, companies are beginning to realize that it's finally time to give up one of this annoying advertising. A recent study suggests that between 20 and 25% of surfers now have some form of pop-up blocking technology installed - and that number is only going up. Some folks in the article complain about how this is taking away their living, but that's a weak argument. If your "living" is based on annoying people, don't be surprised when they figure out a way to deny you of your living. No one has a right to make money annoying the crap out of people. Instead, they should look towards creating something that people value. Of course, that seems unlikely. Instead, advertisers are just looking for newer, more difficult to block, intrusive advertising techniques. The latest, launching tomorrow, is full-motion, 30 second television ads using technology from Unicast. While plenty of online ads now use video, this one is different in that it loads quietly in the background while you're surfing, and when you try to move on from the current site you're browsing, it starts to play the commercial at 30 frames-per-second - much faster than most video you see online. The companies offering this are betting that it won't be too annoying, because the brands involved (Pepsi, AT&T, Honda, Vonage and Warner Brothers) are brands people like. However, surprising people with 30 second videos when they're trying to go to a different page doesn't seem likely to make many people very happy. In fact, some sites have already opted out, pointing out that the web is not TV, and a 30 second surprise ad seems a bit too much. The only way you're going to make people willingly sit through such ads is if viewers search them out - and the way to make that happen is to make them entertaining by themselves - such as what Honda and BMW have done in the past with their online advertising efforts. Those got people interested in finding the ads, and thus, people were willing to spend a lot longer than 30 seconds to watch the ad. However, throwing up a surprise 30 second ad, when people are actively trying to go somewhere else, is only going to piss people off. I also wonder about the technology - and whether or not such sneaky downloading is going to anger users who wonder why their bandwidth disappears for a while (no matter how "behind the scenes" the downloads are supposed to be).
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