Thursday, August 06, 2009

Why Intrusive Advertising Is Not The Answer

You’d think we’d learn.

Advertising online is already pretty annoying. So much so that we all try our best to avoid most advertising that intrudes on our enjoyment of the Web.

Because we seem to avoid intrusive advertising, the brilliant powers that be figure that the key is to make it even more intrusive so that it will be even harder to avoid.

It seems to be the type of logic that falls into “The beatings will stop when the moral improves” camp.

One high-placed exec used the following logic regarding the more intrusive formats. “It theoretically makes a lot of sense. It’s a similar type of user-interruption experience as a commercial in the middle of a TV show.”

Huh, huh.

And we all know how well that works.

We need to stop and think this whole Web-based advertising thing through a little before just jumping in and try to implement methods that don’t work on TV.

Otherwise all we're going to find out is that they also don’t work online. I just can’t understand why advertisers want to waste billions of dollars to find out something that they already know.

Then again, maybe I do. It’s easier to lose money then it is to figure out a new way to make money.

To find a way that advertising can actually work online, we need to stop and consider how the paradigm has changed. Online, the user is in control, not the advertiser.

Advertisers now answer to users. Which means the only way for advertisers to regain control is to give the user complete control.

I know. Sounds crazy.

But so did Hyundai’s proposition where they said that if you lose your job, bring the car back. Hyundai realized that before you can solve a problem, you need to stop and figure out what the actual problem is.

Hyundai asked the same question all the other car dealers asked at the start of the year. Why aren’t people buying cars?

The right answer? Because they’re afraid they won’t have a job tomorrow.

Hyundai’s solution? If you lose your job, bring the car back. No questions asked.

Other car dealers asked the same question but came up with a different answer. “Money is tight,” they said. So they lowered prices.

Do you know the only car company that had positive numbers in the first quarter of this year?

That’s right. Hyundai.

So what is the question advertisers should be asking about online advertising? I think it's this. Are people trying to avoid commercials online, or, are they trying to avoid interruptions?

Once advertisers figure out that the answer is the latter, then they’ll realize that the solution to making advertising successful online is to find a way to make it so that their commercials don’t interrupt.

Radical?

Perhaps.

But no more so than Hyundai’s approach when they first launched it.

Funny how "radical" becomes "smart" when it succeeds.

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