Misconceptions About Online Ad Misconceptions

from the oh-well dept

Adam Penenberg has been doing a great job with his column for Wired, discussing ways that online media is changing. However, his latest piece is a bit weak. He takes a look at some “misconceptions” about online advertising and tries to set the record straight. The main gist of the story is that annoying advertising works. Of course, in order to support that statement, you have to explain what you mean by “works,” and the article doesn’t do a very good job, other than to bring up something of a self-fulfilling definition: if it didn’t work, advertisers wouldn’t use them. However, taking a longer term view of annoying advertising suggests its only meant to be successful in the short term before people learn how to avoid it. Also, most of the “misconceptions” aren’t misconceptions at all. Plenty of studies have shown that there is a small percentage of people out there who buy from spam, so that’s not much of a misconception. As for popups, which get the “they must work because they’re there” treatment in the article, studies have shown that most clicks are accidental as the pop up gets in the way of a mouse click or it happened as someone was closing the browser. Studies have also shown that, long term, popups are bad for business because they give people a negative impression of the companies who use them. The last two “misconceptions” Penenberg lists aren’t really misconceptions at all. The first deals with Claria, concerning whether or not it’s okay to show competing ads next to a website if the user chooses to see them. Beyond noting that his support on this point is just from Claria itself, this is, as we’ve pointed out before a simple trademark issue. The final misconception is that internet advertising doesn’t work. Anyone looking at any report on the online advertising market in the last twelve months clearly knows that hasn’t been true in quite some time. Besides, part of what made internet advertising valuable again was exactly the opposite of Penenberg’s premise. It wasn’t the annoying or intrusive ads, but that toned down, contextual or highly targeted ads became more popular.

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Comments on “Misconceptions About Online Ad Misconceptions”

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blairkincaide says:

poor targets...

Besides the self-fulfilling definition that online ads are often annoying just because they are, aren’t most advertisements overlooked because they are mis-targeted (or “shotgun” targeted)? I’m no guru on the topic, but it seems that most of what is advertised online seems out of place, is from an unrecognized company, or has a poor design or interface and is undesirable. Pop-up ads have become almost synonymous with spam and at this point I have not seen a need for pop-up windows that can’t be solved in another manner (I’m sure someone will come up with one). That’s not to say that online advertising is bad. I believe it has the opportunity to be quite good, but there needs to be some better delivery and design elements created.

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