Archive for the 'online advertising' Category

“Powered by the web, not advertised on it.”

Interesting (albeit very long) presentation on Obama’s campaign and white house online strategy.

Revolutionary concept that brands of all type need to understand:

“Powered by the web, not advertised on it.” Regardless of your political position, Obama’s campaign is one to be studied.

The Underlying Issue with most Online Display Advertising

If you were accosted by annoying salespeople upon entering a store (say an electronics store or a car dealer) would you go back?

If a restaurant served whatever they wanted to serve instead of letting you order would you return?

The online advertising industry often acts like the store and restaurant I describe above.  And it is a real problem.

The problem is one that speaks to the heart of the differences between online and offline advertising.  Offline advertising is about making the most of a limited space or a fixed period of time.  Online advertising may rely on ad units that are relatively small, but the ad provides frictionless access to almost endless information.  The online ad industry has not taken advantage of this.

In fact the effectiveness of online advertising is directly impacted by the typically terrible user experience that occurs when someone clicks on an ad.  The subsequent experience – typically called a “landing page” by those in the industry – tends to be one of three things:

  1. An overly produced experience long on polish and short on information.   People click for a reason and it is rarely to see another ad.  These landing pages often fail to satisfy.  Typical customer reaction – “Now what do I do?”
  2. An experience that has only minimal relationship to the ad creative that prompted the click.  (Think an ad that dumps you on a corporate home page.)  Typical customer reaction – “I’m close, but do you expect me to dig for more information?”
  3. A poorly conceived user experience.  Unclear navigation, insufficient explanation of content, bad url structure, dead end pages, etc.  We’ve all been there.  Typical customer reaction – “You’re wasting my time.  I’m sure what I need is here but I can’t figure out where.”

I believe these bad user experiences do two things that generally diminish the effectiveness of online advertising.  First, they cause people viewing ALL online ads to believe that clicking on an ad will result in one of the experiences described above.  It is like going to a car dealer, I don’t expect to be helped I expect to be hassled.  Sure, some dealers are helpful but I don’t expect it.  Second, bad user experiences prompts advertising creatives to focus on becoming more and more disruptive so as to deliver the information typically found on a landing page without having people click. Kind of like the telemarketer that won’t stop talking because if they do they know you will tell them to shut up.

There are instances where I can imagine putting up with annoying salespeople.  Say the store had great prices or had a selection unrivaled by other stores.  There are restaurants I would go to and blindly let the chef serve me a meal and many super high end restaurants do just that. But generally, I would imagine that most people would avoid the store and restaurant described above most of the time if they had a choice.  And they almost always do have a choice.

Is this why interaction rates with ads continue to decline?

What to do?

If you are a brand marketer, you may not like it but it is necessarily true – you are now also a publisher. Gone are the days where you could create compelling ads and then rely on other groups (your retail partners, your sales force, your event team, etc.) to then expand on your static ad message.

If you work on online advertising creative, hire or become a UI expert.  A rich experience isn’t often the prettiest but it is the most useful and effective.  Talk to publishers about what makes their audience tick and give the audience what they love. Think about how to get people to come back because they want to come back.  Earn their attention and they will give it to you.  You landing page is a website.  Your customers don’t care about microsites, landing pages, sitelets, etc.  Make a great web site.

If you are a publisher, you know how to do this.  You make properties (one would hope) that engage with a market segment and compel people to come back.  You can no longer expect your advertisers to support your site simply by playing within the space or time you’ve set aside for their message.  There is more ad space and time than advertisers need.  You will need to help them understand how to engage with your audience.  You are a solution provider rather than the provider of a solution.

If you are the target of advertising, and we all are, demand the providers you support with your dollars to respond to you.  Having a problem with a product?  Tell people about it or let the company know via Twitter or another service.

Of course I’m being harsh.  There are great online advertising user experiences produced all the time.  I’m painting with an intentionally broad brush because a majority of programs aren’t good and it is causing everyone to expect an extended ad experience rather than a rich, fulfilling, useful exchange.   While online advertising was borne out of the print/tv business it actually has much more in common with event marketing and/or telemarketing.  Create an experience that can inspire your customers to dig deeper and you will earn their attention.

Sharing Some Recent Work

A lot cooking here and I am working on a couple of longer posts.  In the meantime, a long overdue update on some of the work Federated Media is doing that I’m really proud of:

Comcast Fancast A celebration of great TV programming.


BoingBoing Offworld BoingBoing looks at the world from a decidedly different angle.  Offworld focuses on the gaming space and provides a much needed alternative to the mainstream gaming sites.


–  Asus/Intel WePC What do you want in your next computer?  Share these ideas with peers or just browse the ideas from others.  There are already 1000s to review.


Trendhunter TV underwritten by Verizon Wireless Nothing beats a great name and TrendHunter says just about everything you might want to know.  Worked with Verizon to underwrite the next chapter of


Digital Nomads Examines the growing group of workers that can truly work almost anywhere.  Tips, tricks, stories, challenges, a crowdsourced white paper, etc. Sponsored by Dell.


Many more.  Really excited and proud of the work I have the privilege of working on and/or watching and learning from my peers.

A Vast PC Conspiracy? Or Coincidence? Microsoft Ad Campaign Takes Out My Mac.

I went to the new site that supports Microsoft’s “I’m a PC Campaign.”

It crashed my Mac.  Twice.

The Web Wasn’t Made for Advertisers

From Seth Godin today:

Here’s the essential truth:

This is the first mass marketing medium ever that isn’t supported by ads.

If a newspaper, a radio station or a TV station doesn’t please advertisers, it disappears. It exists to make you (the marketer) happy.

That’s the reason the medium (and its rules) exist. To please the advertisers.

But the Net is different.

It wasn’t invented by business people, and it doesn’t exist to help your company make money.

Full post here.

Spot on.  This doesn’t mean the web isn’t a powerful marketing tool.  It simply means that people have CHOICE.  Almost endless choices of what to read and where to go next.

If a marketer can create a product that people choose to use.  To make it into their RSS reader, their bookmarks, etc. they have created something very powerful.

Marketers need to make impressions rather then simply buy them….

Citizen Sports, Lenovo, and Federated Media Olympics Project Covered in AdWeek

Article here.

Take a look at the installs for the top 15 nations:

Goggle vs. Yahoo and MSN – A Battle of Advertising Philosophy

Google =  context.  The act of searching and/or reading is what drives messaging success.

Yahoo/MSN/AOL = demographics.  We know who these people are and messaging to the right people is what drives messaging success.

So far Google has clearly taken the lead but neither camp has done well on both fronts.

Interesting times ahead.