Making Banner Ads Cool Again

from the is-it-possible? dept

We talk a lot about the idea that advertising is content and content is advertising, and there are always those who get confused and insist that they hate advertising... and that if they see content as advertising they won't pay attention. But explain that to the millions of folks who tune into the Super Bowl each year to watch the commercials rather than the game. If the content is good, no one cares that it's also advertising. Of course, usually when we talk about this sort of thing, we're talking about content/advertising that goes outside the usual boundaries of advertising -- since the traditional forms of advertising have been so overdone and are so painful that people instinctively ignore them.

But could the banner ad, for example, be rescued? I still remember, way back in the early days of banner ads, actually paying quite a bit of attention to an HP banner ad for the Mopier. In fact, I remember the ad so much, I still remember the name of the product it was advertising. That's because the ad itself was fun. It was a game of Pong within the ad itself, with the paddles controlled via mouseovers. That was advertising that worked... But, for the most part these days, banner ads are either boring or intrusive. Yet, sometimes, people still do creative things. Mike (different one, obviously) pointed me to an award-winning banner ad from Pringles, which is quite silly, but fun to click, because it tells a story (and does so amusingly) and you want to find out how it ends. I don't know if the initial call to action is enough to get people to dive in, but if advertisers actually put more thought into making their ads interesting and fun, perhaps people wouldn't just ignore them all the time.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Ilfar, Jun 29th, 2009 @ 3:34am

    Problem with flash ads

    The problem is that you're never sure when you touch one of those ads, if you're going to start something you don't want to... If I click that, will I get something interesting to draw me in, or will it just throw me at the site?(potentially using the same window I'm already trying to do stuff in)

     

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    Michael, Jun 29th, 2009 @ 4:01am

    Agree with Ilfar

    The Pringles ad was great. But had I seen it on any random website I would not have clicked it. Flash ads usually annoy me. They typically do things I do not want like make noise, fill up the whole page, send me to a website that loads more annoying flash, etc..

    However, I hope to see more companies getting a bit more creative with their ads.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2009 @ 4:12am

    Re: Problem with flash ads

    I actually block all the ads I can due to potential security threats. It's unfortunate that so much web revenue and simultaneously, so much spyware can come through ads.

     

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    yogi, Jun 29th, 2009 @ 5:04am

    Great ad

    I just saw it the other and I thought it was hilarious. I clicked on it over and over again.

    But there really is a problem that you never know where clicking an ad will take you.

     

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    Haywood (profile), Jun 29th, 2009 @ 5:15am

    The problem with ads, to begin with; over use

    Most commercials / ads can be viewed once with no problem, twice is usually still ok, but after that it begins to do the opposite of intent, in repelling the intended target. After that it begins to build resentment in the target to the point of product boycott if carried too far.

     

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    chris (profile), Jun 29th, 2009 @ 6:20am

    Re: The problem with ads, to begin with; over use

    ads can be viewed once with no problem, twice is usually still ok, but after that it begins to do the opposite of intent, in repelling the intended target. After that it begins to build resentment in the target to the point of product boycott if carried too far.

    i couldn't agree more.

    there are some films that i still haven't seen because i saw the trailer for it too many times. this happens a lot on basic cable networks like comedy central and spikeTV.

    i have all but stopped watching cable TV and i have found that i am more open to movies now that i am not seeing commercials for them all the time, especially the films my wife likes that are not really targets towards me.

    i hate to say it, but the most interesting ads i have seen in the past few years are from burgerking. between their crazy commercials, xbox games, and crazy web promotions, i find myself paying more attention to their ads than i do to anyone else's. those ads, plus the having a decent veggie burger on the menu make BK a more likely choice for my family when it comes to burger joints.

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 29th, 2009 @ 6:57am

    Advertising hurdles

    "The Pringles ad was great. But had I seen it on any random website I would not have clicked it"

    This is the sentiment that modern day ad agencies are going to have to figure out how to hurdle, and I think it's more major than most realize.

    What do you do when you're watching network/cable TV and the commercials come on? That's when I usually hit the head, grab another drink, let my dog out, scratch myself, etc.

    The problem with banner ads and most internet ads is that they require interaction. You aren't asking someone to VIEW something, you're asking them to DO something. Click me, then actively explore this website I'm sending you to. This can be fun, but imagine if today's banner ads were on TV.

    Today, if I see a commercial I don't really want to view...I don't. No big deal. I do all those other things I mentioned before. But what if the tv commercial suddenly began overlaying other sounds over my tv audio? Or switched channels. Or split the screen between my NCIS and a commercial for Billy Mays' (RIP) Orange Glow? I'd be shouting at the TV as if it had a life of it's own, and then probably turn it off out of frustration.

    The question is, how do advertisers avoid us turning them off.

     

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    Jason, Jun 29th, 2009 @ 7:11am

    Amazing

    Again back to permission marketing. The pringles ad was amazing. We have recently worked on the age ole concept, and get this, providing free apps, games, and such and selling advertising space.

    And not in the way you may think, there is not a break in the service for a commercial. Almost everything is ad content. If a character wears a shirt, there is a logo or brand attached. If its a baseball game the area behind the catcher has a banner.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2009 @ 7:12am

    Sadly, the banner ad for most people is a blank spot on the page, something that is entirely ignored. Even as entertainment, you have to first overcome the concept that nobody is looking.

    Some of the most unique ads were the apple ones on CNN.com that used both a top scrolling banner (full width) plus a flash video on the sidebar that actually played together. It was one of the rare ones that would encourage people to click just to see what they were talking out. Unfortunately for Apple, it was the same old same old (PC vs Mac ads) that really didn't need all the reinforcement like that.

     

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    Urza, Jun 29th, 2009 @ 7:16am

    Re: Advertising hurdles

    "But what if the tv commercial suddenly began overlaying other sounds over my tv audio? "

    Obviously you don't watch MTV. Not that I blame you...I generally avoid it as well...but they've begun doing just that. Right in the middle of a show - even if it's a brand new episode - they'll cut out the image and throw in a commercial. They leave the audio from the show running, so that you know that you're missing things, but they completely kill the picture. The first time I saw it my thoughts were 'wow, someone screwed up pretty bad...' but apparently not.

     

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    Ikonoclasm, Jun 29th, 2009 @ 7:20am

    What Banner Ad?

    Surely I'm not the only one that has developed selective blindness to banner ads of all kinds? At home, AdBlock takes care of them, but at work or whatnot, they don't even register except as blocks of not-content that can (should?) be safely ignored.

     

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    GTMoogle, Jun 29th, 2009 @ 8:38am

    Re: What Banner Ad?

    Yeah, I had a hard time finding it on the page. At first the page was grayed out, so I allowed some scripts, then some ad appeared. I tried to right click it and remove it with Nuke Anything Enhanced (firefox plugin), but it was flash, so I ignored it. Went back, tried to click through the link on twitter, and then realized that THAT was the ad we were talking about.

    My selective blindness is insane. The advertisers are boned. Also the ad was hilarious.

     

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    maniac in a speedo, Jun 29th, 2009 @ 8:43am

    Re: Re:

    Cute ad, but this is nothing new or special.

    Children that lack the skill to make animated flip books of stick figures with exploding heads do this kind of thing instead. And it's usually funnier.

     

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    Petréa Mitchell, Jun 29th, 2009 @ 9:18am

    No

    "Banner blindness" is so pervasive that it not only affects actual banner ads, but also any Web graphics that look remotely like them. It's even been documented outside the Web.

    So no, I don't think there's anything that can revive the banner ad.

     

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    Marcus Carab (profile), Jun 29th, 2009 @ 9:59am

    Bing banners

    I would love to know what kind of response Microsoft got from the plain black Bing banners with the active search box. I'm sure they still got ignored a great deal but I bet they were somewhat more effective than usual -- SIMPLE and FUNCTIONAL are the two watchwords for online advertising in my books.

    Oh, and *stay the hell inside your space*. Expanders/flyovers are the worst.

     

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    John85851 (profile), Jun 29th, 2009 @ 12:05pm

    Banner ads are still around?

    I say that sarcastically, but I'll admit to being one of the people who switched to Firefox and installed as many ad-blocking plug-ins as I could find. :)

    Yes, there are some great banners out there, but I think too many people have been bombarded with bad banners that they block them all out.

    Years ago, I got infected by a Flash-based ad while checking my Yahoo mail. It was partly my fault since I didn't install that day's IE security patches. But, this taught me to use Firefox and block every banner ad and Flash ad without question.

    So, like the posters are saying: the first job of advertisers is to convince us that their banner ad is somehow different from all the crappy, flashing Flash ads out there and that it's worth viewing.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2009 @ 2:19pm

    Re: What Banner Ad?

    I couldn't agree more. I followed the link provided in the article and of course it was blocked by ABP and NoScript. Even after I enabled it, I had to refocus my attention to even spot it. Finally once I spotted it, I realised it was another mundane banner ad and didn't bother to click it.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2009 @ 4:44pm

    Banner Revenue

    Before working in the online Ad industry I hated banners, all of them, and then I realised how much money every site makes from them. Thinking about it I realised how small the internet would be if sites had to pay for everything themselves without the revenue stream from advertising. If everyone uses an ad blocker then where will the money come from to pay for the servers and bandwidth? Online communities will perish, more likely the larger than the smaller.

    I think google have the right idea by keeping their sites ad free and pumping out ads onto other non-owned sites to our annoyal...

     

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  19.  
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    howardamin, Jun 29th, 2009 @ 9:32pm

    billy may's death

    Check out http://billymayes.blogspot.com/ for his last interview it is sad

     

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    lydiaphilpot, Jun 29th, 2009 @ 11:04pm

    billy may's death

    I bet he had a brain bleed from the hit on the head. I know too many people and stories about the same situation. Hit on head by something and within a month or just days, they die. Get checked out at the hospital if you hit your head.......... Mandatory people..... http://billymayes.blogspot.com/

     

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