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Saving the banner ad system

By maleficent in Internet
Tue May 22, 2001 at 08:35:53 PM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)

Take a look at the plethora of companies driven under by the fallout in the past year. Many of them, like daily radar provided a useful service for free and planned to make money through the banner ads. This obviously didn't work.

The amazing part is that it can work and I believe that it will work. Here's how.

We all see banner ads all the time. This page itself has a banner ad. You most likely haven't clicked the ad to see what's behind it, and the message in the ad is probably already forgotten. No wonder companies won't pay for this. They get essentially nothing out of the current banner ad system. It's simply not cost-effective to run a banner ad.

What they're forgetting is that banner ads simply aren't effective for many of the products they're selling. Banner ads, and ads of all types, are most effective when they directly relate to something you're familiar with; they directly attack a basic need or idea that you have. Take a look at television advertisements, for example. We all have seen countless commercials in our time, and virtually all of them have been forgotten. Every once in a while, though, one of them sticks in our consciousness. It implants a corporate idea or product into our mind, sugar coated by a creative or oft-repeated idea. And it sticks.

Take a look at the banner ad on the top of this page. Does it do anything interesting that makes it stick in your mind? I looked at a great number of banner ads on this site (and I probably contributed to Rusty's bottom line by doing it) and not a single one stroked my imagination in the least.

The problem here is that the ads aren't being carefully thought out. It's much like seeing television commercials for local used car dealerships. They're just plain uninteresting, because it's clear that the creator of the ad hasn't put in the effort or the time to come up with an effective advertisement. It's as if they grabbed an intern, tossed him in front of a computer with Photoshop, and ordered him to churn out something in the next hour.

The failure of the banner ad system isn't in the technology or the idea itself; no, the failure is in the banner ads!

Advertising revolves around Maslow's hierarchy of needs, which are roughly as follows:
  1. Physiological, or hunger, thirst, reproduction, shelter, clothing, air and rest.
  2. Safety-security, or the need for security, stability, dependence, protection, structure, order, law, tenure, pension and insurance.
  3. Love-belonging, or the need for belonging, acceptance, love, affection, family and group acceptance and friendship.
  4. Self-esteem, or the need for recognition, respect, achievement, responsibility, prestige, independence, attention, importance and appreciation.
  5. Self-actualization, or the need for satisfaction, the desire to achieve fulfillment through reaching self-set individual goals or aspirations.
Effective advertising appeals to higher levels of need. It uses entertainment value as a kicker, as self-actualization is the easiest goal to achieve. That is exactly why physically attractive males and females are often used in advertisements; they entertain (appealing to our need for self actualization) and they often trigger our desire for sex (i.e., reproduction, or our physiological needs).

I evaluated the banner ads at kuro5hin to see which of these groups the ads were trying to appeal to. Approximately half of them made some attempt at self-actualization; about twenty percent or so shot at my self-esteem. A small number (less than ten percent) even attempted the other three levels of need.

You know what? The ones that even attempted to appeal to my base needs were more effective. I felt much more of a desire to look at the ad that directly attacked my physiological needs than the other ads. In other words, I paid attention to ads with pretty girls in them.

Try it yourself! Look at some banner ads and ask yourself which ones actually do appeal to you.

The startling result of this bit of research is this: a fair number of the "advertisements" made no appeal to me on any level. I looked at the ad and felt as though I didn't want the product and had no need to be interested in the ad or the product. It's the old "used car dealership" problem; where's my motivation to be interested?

The solution to the entire problem of banner ads is this: simply put effort into making banner ads! What needs does your product actually meet on the hierarchy of needs? What needs can you make your product appear to fulfill on the hierarchy of needs? The greater the number of needs fulfilled, the more effective your ad will be.

Simply design the ad with some intelligence. If you include attractive people, you'll be targeting physiological needs to some degree. Include something humorous and you'll target self-actualization needs. A well-designed and "slick" ad attracts our needs for self-esteem. The possibilities are endless.

What are the results? I'm more likely to click through a well-designed ad. I clicked through three ads during my meandering search. Two appealed to my physiological needs and one appealed to my safety-security needs (related to my job). All three also included a degree of humor to them. The rest? I clicked on by them.

If ads are clicked through on a regular basis, then the effectiveness of the advertisements can clearly be demonstrated. Well designed ads trigger a higher click through rate. So, well designed ads are more effective.

It's an obvious conclusion, but banner ad practitioners seem to be missing the boat.


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How far off base is this idea?
o Right on target!!! 15%
o Pretty close 19%
o Interesting idea... 5%
o At least he put some thought into it 29%
o Pass me some of whatever you're taking. 23%

Votes: 51
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Kuro5hin
o daily radar
o Advertisin g revolves
o Maslow's hierarchy of needs
o Also by maleficent

Display: Sort:
Saving the banner ad system | 60 comments (43 topical, 17 editorial, 0 hidden)
Effectiveness of the Medium (3.66 / 6) (#5)
by MrAcheson on Mon May 21, 2001 at 04:38:00 PM EST

Now to me the whole problem here is that you ignore the fact that banner ads make crappy advertisements. Lets face it, how often have you actually looked at one? I basically unconsciously filter them out and I'm sure I'm not alone. The advertizing medium of banner ads sucks because it fails to draw peoples attention and allows them to easily look right past.

Your idea is to click on them based on their quality as advertisements and so generate better ads through feedback. I suppose thats nice, but it neglects the problem that any banner ad will be easily ignorable. Perhaps if the ads were for things I care about and not networking equipment I might pay a little more attention, but not much. I come to kuro5hin for articles not ads.

So I think the real question is "what is the best way to advertize on the web?" My guess is that pop-up ads and page-through ads are far more effective. You can't ignore them, which makes them annoying as hell but better at selling a product and generating meaningful eyeballs. Plus I can actually remember a couple pop ups for webcam type stuff I saw on the sevtrek website. I can't say the same for any banner ads I've seen lately.

These opinions do not represent those of the US Army, DoD, or US Government.

If they weren't boring you would notice them.... (3.00 / 1) (#6)
by maleficent on Mon May 21, 2001 at 04:43:30 PM EST

It's easy to filter out boring ads. If the ads were better, it would be harder to filter them out and thus they would generate a better click through rate.

[ Parent ]
Maybe (4.00 / 2) (#9)
by MrAcheson on Mon May 21, 2001 at 05:01:33 PM EST

But in the end I think that there are limitations to what you can do with a banner ad space placed at the edge of a page like on k5.

The last banner ad I remember seeing is the penguin computing "I'll be your server this evening Mr. Gates" ad. It managed to catch my eye for some reason. But I never bought anything because of it. Great ads for something I don't want and I know I don't want will still be ignored.

So I still think banner ads are too ignorable a medium especially the way that they are used now. They are too small and too removed from the actual site content and too devoid of desired content.

These opinions do not represent those of the US Army, DoD, or US Government.

[ Parent ]
Exactly (3.50 / 2) (#12)
by vasi on Mon May 21, 2001 at 05:29:37 PM EST

The main difference between banner ads and TV ads is that we are forced to watch ads on TV much more than banners.

To avoid a TV ad, you have to bring something else to do during the ad, and then you still have to tune out the sound. Even if you're completely habituated to doing this, the ad still disrupts your focus on the TV show, making you more likely to focus on something else--like the ad.

On the web, banner ads do nothing of the sort. Half of them I never even see, just reading the web page without paying any attention to the ad. My focus is never interrupted, and so the ad doesn't even register with me, even if it is a good banner.

My point is that for ads to be effective, they need to get more attention; to get more attention, they have to disrupt the attention a viewer is giving to the web page. Think of the last few pop-up window ads you've seen...assuming you've given them time to render, don't you at least remember them better than the banners on the last few web pages you've viewed--assuming you even noticed the banners at all?

Unfortunate as it may be, the only effective web ads will be like TV ads--some will be pop-ups, some will delay the appearance of the rest of the page, some will have sound, but they'll definitely do something to make the viewer have to notice them. And we'll have the same choices as we do with TV: put up with annoying ads, or pay for access. Of course, some sites will be sponsored, which is much more effective: Imagine "Moderate submissions, sponsored by VALinux". *sigh*


[ Parent ]
Video / tivo (4.00 / 1) (#37)
by pallex on Tue May 22, 2001 at 12:44:14 PM EST

"To avoid a TV ad, you have to bring something else to do during the ad, and then you still have to tune out the sound. Even if you're completely habituated to doing this, the ad still disrupts your focus on the TV show, making you more likely to focus on something else--like the ad. "

Simple - video anything you`d normally watch and watch it later, without the ads. You`d be suprised how long it actually takes to watch a 2 hour film minus all the junk (not just ads) that goes along with it.

`Who wants to be a millionare` only takes 20 mins to watch (an hour show) when you skip all the fluff, the sub 1000 questions etc.

Actually, i`ve heard a little about Tivo, but it sounds a bit crap, as you have to pay a subscription etc.

It would be trivial to get a tv tuner card, save tv programmes to hd (maybe with compression) and with the help of a like-minded community on the net, share details about when the ads were shown (ie. 400 seconds at 21:25) and be able to upload those details into your pc, which would just remove that section from your file. Ditto for intros, fluff and nonsense.

I dont see much of a future for ads, to be honest, in any form.

[ Parent ]
Think of Public TV (3.00 / 1) (#47)
by mami on Wed May 23, 2001 at 03:07:18 AM EST

I would rather pay for a subscription than put up with pop-up ads, delay of page appearance etc. The survival of public TV with the help of viewer's donations has resulted in quality programs with no advertisement and no sound bites.

Of course, if you want your viewers or readers to have input and choice and want their donations, you can't be in favour of trolling at the same time. If I would pay subscription to K5, I would want to be sure if I deal with facts or fiction. Now, if VALinux would stop sponsoring K5 and K5 had to decide to get income from banner ads or from subscription fees, which one would you choose ? Under which conditions would you choose to pay subscription fees ?

[ Parent ]
They want you to filter (3.00 / 1) (#14)
by delmoi on Mon May 21, 2001 at 06:50:31 PM EST

I basically unconsciously filter them out and I'm sure I'm not alone.

That's what they want you to do. unconsciously filter them out, and slowly get hypnotized : P

Seriously though, net adds arn't any worse off then magazine adds, when you think about it. If an add catches my eye I'll look at it. And I might just remember the products name...
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Magazines (3.00 / 1) (#21)
by MrAcheson on Mon May 21, 2001 at 10:16:38 PM EST

Sure they are, when was the last time you saw a full page ad in a netzine? Banner ads are unfortunately so small that its really hard to catch the eye or have any content at all. Sure the content to ad ratio might be about the same, but you can do a lot with fewer bigger ads.

These opinions do not represent those of the US Army, DoD, or US Government.

[ Parent ]
Clickthrough ratios and the future of commerce... (3.33 / 3) (#10)
by Office Girl the Magnificent on Mon May 21, 2001 at 05:03:49 PM EST

In this comment, I discuss the same idea...text is attached below for your convenience :)

...advertisers know that if they advertise on television, they will see results. I believe the author's point here is that they don't demand the specific kind of information from television stations that they demand from webmasters. They do research, yes -- but it is not to determine whether they will advertise on television, but merely what kind of ads they should run.

Meanwhile, web advertisements not only get the product name out, but also serve as a direct link between the consumer and the producer. Very few people have ever bought a Coke(R) (or Coke-related merchandise) from their television. How many people have purchased Coke(R) mugs, glasses, clocks, refrigerator magnets, etc. from the Coke(R) website?

One would think that advertisers would be clamoring to put banner ads on websites, regardless of the actual click-rate. While one can channel-surf during television ads, it's nearly impossible to ignore banner ads. (Especially those "Punch the Monkey" ads...damn them!) But, alas, they are not. So the garbage on television gets funded like mad and some of the best quality free sites on the internet are struggling to keep afloat.

Just to pre-empt any criticism, I just want to say that I watch exactly one (1) hour of television a week. I go to my mother's house to watch ER and eat ice cream every Thursday. Other than that, I get all my news, information, and a good deal of my entertainment from the computer. I think that my behaviour (I'm American, but I can't spell) is becoming more and more typical, and it won't be long before advertisers realize this and concentrate more of their efforts towards bombarding us with more banner ads than we could ever dream of.

Enjoy it while it lasts.

I think that the banner ad system is the key to all the free services availible on the internet. If we run from banner ads, we'll be subject to such phenomena as micropayments and required registration at virtually every site out there. Does this bother anybody besides me? I say, if the Coca-Cola company is willing to pay for my access to my favorite websites, more power to them.

The Experiment: III

The fun thing about click-throughs (4.00 / 3) (#20)
by psctsh on Mon May 21, 2001 at 09:39:49 PM EST

I'm not sure if this has been discussed yet (I read your excerpt, not your source), but I don't see how companies decided to use click throughs as a measure of an ad's success in the first place. Rarely will a person be in need of "item" or "service" the exact moment it's advertised--which is exactly what the concept of a click through is based upon. On television, there's more control over factors such as this (show food commercials at dinner time), but for the most part commercials want you to remmember their name so in the future when you do need a new lawn mower (or whatever) you will go to them.

If I need a some kind of a nerd-shirt I'd probably go to thinkgeek directly, in order to realize my nerd-shirting desire. Why do I choose thinkgeek? Simply because it's the only web site with a nerd-shirt presence on the web that I know of.

[ Parent ]
You win (none / 0) (#33)
by Office Girl the Magnificent on Tue May 22, 2001 at 09:44:45 AM EST

You said it...better than me. :) Thanks. I guess I was beating a dead horse around the mulberry bush.

Maybe I'll run for president.

The Experiment: III
[ Parent ]

Punch the monkey (5.00 / 1) (#53)
by greycat on Wed May 23, 2001 at 02:42:54 PM EST

it's nearly impossible to ignore banner ads. (Especially those "Punch the Monkey" ads...damn them!)

Y'know, it's a funny thing.... I've seen that punch-the-monkey banner ad (and its clones) dozens of times. But I couldn't tell you what it was advertising to save my life. And I sure as hell never clicked on it.

Then again, I'm probably not in their target audience. Anyone who understands how the WWW works is going to know that they don't really have to click on the monkey -- it's just a hyperlink, not an image map! So they must be targeting users who are extremely naive, and think that they're actually entering some sort of hand-eye coordination contest.

But that begs the question -- if I'm not in their target audience, and if their ad is so lacking in information that I don't even know what it's an ad for without clicking on it, then why am I seeing that ad in the first place? Someone could've used that space, and that bandwidth, to advertise something that would appeal to me. Like -- oh, I don't know -- look at my IP address, figure out who my ISP is, and display a banner ad that advertises competing ISPs in my area? Maybe that's not going to appeal to me, but it's gotta be better than that wretched monkey!

[ Parent ]
Um, not quite (4.00 / 1) (#55)
by jacwhite on Wed May 23, 2001 at 04:17:19 PM EST

Anyone who understands how the WWW works is going to know that they don't really have to click on the monkey -- it's just a hyperlink, not an image map!

Actually, I have played with it once or twice, just to see what it was doing. It *is* interactive --- a little miniature game. (I haven't really loked at the details, but it's either an applet or Flash.) And if you hit the monkey, he gets knocked over or a black eye. And they have a new one that is shock the monkey.

It's an ad campaign for a silly game/giveaway/gamble site. The ads are obnoxious as hell, but they're actually pretty well done. I think if they *weren't* so pervasive more people would click on them.

[ Parent ]
More than one? (none / 0) (#57)
by greycat on Thu May 24, 2001 at 12:16:54 PM EST

Hmm... there must be more than one of these punch-the-monkey ads floating around out there, then. The one I remember was almost certainly an animated GIF. (I don't turn on Java or Javascript, and I'm fairly sure the original punch-the-monkey was around before I had Flash on Linux .)

I wish more people would use Java banner ads. Those gray rectangles don't bother me one bit! ;-)

[ Parent ]
slicker ads (3.00 / 3) (#13)
by ikarus on Mon May 21, 2001 at 06:18:53 PM EST

zdnet has been running some slick ads lately. they're either java or flash, and i actually kind of like them. why? well for one, they're smooth (a lot of todays ads are like abd slide shows), well designed and eye-catching. they can also be "explored" from within the page, meaning that if i'm curious, i don't have to leave the site. they're really neat little applets (maybe we should start calling them 'adlettes') and also, you can tell someone actually put time into them, i tried to make the functional, informative, and pleasant.

Bottom-line: (4.14 / 7) (#22)
by regeya on Mon May 21, 2001 at 11:18:46 PM EST

Ignore click-through. How many people have heard of ThinkGeek? Show of hands? Now, how many people have clicked on one of their web banners? Where'd you hear about ThinkGeek? Probably a web-banner...and it made you aware of the company, even if you didn't click on the banner.

My message to Internet advertisers: treat banners like TV ads and billboards, not direct-marketing tools. You'll lead a much happier life. ;-)

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]

One useful property (3.40 / 5) (#23)
by spacejack on Mon May 21, 2001 at 11:32:04 PM EST

of banner ads is that the more visitors you have, the more money you make on advertising (presumably, I've never worked on a banner-supported site so I'm not sure).

I was discussing this with a friend recently, and one of the things we were lamenting was the fact that so many cool sites with neat stuff have gone down because they wound up costing the original creators a lot more than they anticipated when they got swamped with attention. In one case, I heard a guy still owes $1000's of dollars in bandwidth charges!

Magazine ads & permanence (4.00 / 5) (#25)
by sigwinch on Tue May 22, 2001 at 12:53:39 AM EST

This (editorial) comment remarks that the reasons given for banner ads being ineffective apply equally well to magazine ads. Magazine ads, however, seem to be effective. So what gives?

My theory: permanence. As you are reading a magazine, you can look at a particular ad as long as you want. Even after reading through several columns of text, you can flip your eyes right back to the ad. If you're reading a trade or technical magazine where the ads actually have some value, you can rip them out and tape them up in your office. You can flip back through the magazine looking for the interesting product. If you're looking for a telescope, buy a copy of Astronomy and read just the ads.

Contrast this with banner ads: on a long, scrolling page, the banner ad disappears off the top and takes a significant amount of actual physical effort to recover. If you go to another page, you usually can't ever get that ad back again. If you reload the page, the ad disappears. I just did that here: SourceForge ad was replaced by a VA Linux ad. Because they are ephemeral, they cannot serve as a useful source of information, so people tune them out. Maslow's hierarchy of needs doesn't matter if people are trained that ads are futile.

Here's how I would solve this (creating other problems in the process -- so?):

  1. For a scrolly site, put the ad in its own frame at the top of the browser, to keep it on the screen. (Provide a way to turn off frames for people who hate them.)
  2. Put a little advertising text beside the image. Just like everything else on the web, no text == why bother?
  3. Animated text means that your message is invisibe for significant periods of time. People want instant gratification, preferably in a few hundred milliseconds. There's a ThinkGeek ad on my screen right now that takes *six seconds* to get the bloody message where I can see it, and then takes it away a few seconds later. That's about four fucking seconds shorter than my computer attention span. I WANT INSTANT FUCKING GRATIFICATION. AN ADVERTISEMENT THAT HAS A PERCEPTIBLE FRAMERATE MAKES ME WONDER IF I NEED A DRIVER UPGRADE OR A NEW GODDAMN VIDEO CARD! AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH! Cue cop saying "Sir, step away from the banner ad."
  4. A little subdued animation or blinkiness will attract attention and is OK. But if I can't read your message for the weird colors, or if your ad is a seizure-inducing flasher, I will learn to ignore it. If your ad is a strobe light that alternates between high and low luminosity, I will personally hunt you down and cut the DNS off your web server. This means you, Ms. Fawking DSL.
  5. Adbuster user's should be detected and punished. Detect them by headers, detect them by timing, detect them by images not being loaded, do whatever it takes, and punish them. If they don't want to pay your bills with advertisements, make them pay with a +6 blinking text advertisement. OK, maybe that's too extreme. This is why you should have the text advertisement.

(BTW, the OSDN "Advertising" link in the top right corner of K5 is broken. As the Prophet Nielsen ;-) tells us, content must live forever: 404s are simply not permitted. And just think that you didn't even have to pay for a $25,000 keynote speech to find that out.)

I don't want the world, I just want your half.

My Perogative (4.50 / 6) (#35)
by mcelrath on Tue May 22, 2001 at 10:17:46 AM EST

Adbuster user's should be detected and punished. Detect them by headers, detect them by timing, detect them by images not being loaded, do whatever it takes, and punish them. If they don't want to pay your bills with advertisements, make them pay with a +6 blinking text advertisement. OK, maybe that's too extreme. This is why you should have the text advertisement.
This is just plain out of line. It's not my responsibility to pay anyone else's bills. It's not my responsibility to click on anything, and it's not my responsibility to devote 10% of my screen space to your seizure-inducing, subtly coercive crap. It's nobody's business but mine what I do with your data after you give it to me. If you think it's worth your effort to detect banner-strippers and not feed them data then that's your perogative, but trust me, it's more trouble than it's worth, will piss a lot of people off, and won't get you a cent more.

I really fear your opinion. In the next few years we will see (have seen) programs to strip any and every kind of advertisement. Tivo-like devices that automatically strip commercials, banner-ad strippers, etc. I fear that someone will decide this is "stealing" and make a law to that effect. And that will be the beginning of the end of yet another freedom.

When I want to buy something I will go look for it. I don't want to be coerced into buying something useless. The web is a great medium for information exchange. Most "advertisers" haven't learned this yet. Let's face it, no amount of blinky, flashy, obtrusive Mt. Dew ad is going to get you to think Mt. Dew is "cool" and you want to be "cool" so you buy one. The TV commercials do this, but their bandwidth is orders of magnatude larger. Instead advertisers should be focusing on providing a useful, informative web site that tells me what the fuck their product is and why I should buy it. The web is not television, and the web is not a magazine. Get together with an indexer (a la Neoseeker) to catalog products in a way that is useful to people who actually want your product.

Of course, this only works for products that can be convincingly argued to be technically superior (or cheaper) to others. Those peddling sugar water, monkey-whacking games, and bad pop music are just shit out of luck. But good riddance. Pop culture is 99% defined by who has the largest advertising budget and the smartest marketing department. I prefer to define my own culture, thank you.

Remember, the existance of ad-filtering software is a symptom that the advertisers have already failed miserably, and pissed off their potential customers. Don't force everyone to accept advertiser's brute-force application of an outmoded advertising model to a new medium. It's their responsibility to figure out how to advertise effectively. It's is not our responsibility to waste our brains on their intrusive crap. (Hint: I still haven't filtered Google's adwords or OSDN's navbar -- but neither have I clicked on either of them)

1^2=1; (-1)^2=1; 1^2=(-1)^2; 1=-1; 2=0; 1=0.
[ Parent ]

Out of line? (3.00 / 1) (#41)
by sigwinch on Tue May 22, 2001 at 07:15:04 PM EST

Maybe. But my rant was presupposing a system of targeted *useful* advertisements which would actually be slightly counterproductive to filter out. Not useless blinky bobbles that profane the screen with their very presence.

I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

Sure... (4.00 / 2) (#44)
by cpt kangarooski on Wed May 23, 2001 at 01:46:01 AM EST

Your solution then is clear - make such compelling advertising that people will intentionally seek it out. Good luck.

I don't know just how likely this would be to happen. Personally, no matter how good the website, I absolutely hate advertising of any sort. I routinely filter it out and would never, never, for any reason at all, click on one.

If this makes it difficult to run some particular website, well I'm sorry about that. But personally that's not my problem. Aggressive advertising - that is, advertising that I actually see at all - is sufficiently counterproductive that I'll generally abandon a site rather than put up with it.

Of coruse, the real question to me is, why are you advertising at all? I really don't see that there's anything particularly good about advertising really. I find it offensive that there are ads on virtually every flat surface imaginable when I walk outside. Even people's clothing and language have become permeated by it. I can't imagine that this is somehow the next step in the continual betterment of the human species. Certainly I'd enjoy seeing my bretheren in the graphic arts simply not do advertising anymore... it would be surprising how rapidly it would crumble if people were willing to show some backbone.

All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]
Good Lord (3.00 / 1) (#45)
by rusty on Wed May 23, 2001 at 02:33:09 AM EST

BTW, the OSDN "Advertising" link in the top right corner of K5 is broken. As the Prophet Nielsen ;-) tells us, content must live forever: 404s are simply not permitted. And just think that you didn't even have to pay for a $25,000 keynote speech to find that out.

Well that's just embarrassing. Thanks for pointing that out. If anyone else notices something like that (like, say, if a link which appears on *every page* is broken) please do not hesitate to email me. :-)

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

yick (3.00 / 6) (#26)
by Arkady on Tue May 22, 2001 at 03:16:29 AM EST

Even if I thought you were correct, and I don't really think so, I could never bring myself to vote for something that would actually increase advertising. The death of the banner ad can't come too soon for me.


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.

Ads (4.00 / 4) (#27)
by StrontiumDog on Tue May 22, 2001 at 04:19:59 AM EST

You have to differentiate between two kinds of ads: general ads designed to raise the awareness level of a product ("Fly Elephant Airways For That Sleek Jumbo Sensation") and specific ads designed to sell a particular product ("Acme Fortran Compilers available - call 555 NOW!").

No-one reads the first type of advertisement: people tend to skip right over them and in fact magazines usually have crafty layouts to try and fool people into looking at these ads as often as possible, because they are sure as hell not going to do that voluntarily. These ads are placed all through the mag, often smack dab in the middle or at the end of a story, etc.

The second type is usually placed in a magazine with a specific audience, who are looking for specific products, and these ads are usually bunched together. Job offerings, electronic parts advertisements, apartments to rent, etc. This is done because people are (i) actually looking for these products and (ii) are not willing to hunt through the entire magazine to find ads for product X -- they'd rather make on-the-spot comparisons in the same place.

The problem with banner ads is that banner ads are of type (1). People just don't want to see them. Making the banner ads better won't alter that fundamental fact.

The problem with ads of the second type is that (i) they don't deliver much money per ad, and (ii) their function is usually duplicated for free by sites like ZDnet, freshmeat etc.

Duh. (4.20 / 5) (#29)
by Inoshiro on Tue May 22, 2001 at 06:10:47 AM EST

Quite frankly, you're toh saying anything most people who work with ad-supported websites didn't already know.

The people who come up with the ads are generally ad agencies who have no connection to the company or their product, aside from the corporate account. They design things based on old tested schemes for selling which may or may not work (tv has no click through system, or any other way of measuring if ads work or not).

So a company which devealops a product comes up with a fact sheet which is given to an ad ageny, around which they have to build a campaign. If the demo ads are liked by the buyer, it geos through.

The buyer of advertising for a company is generally a young female professional (25-30 years of age) who wears lots of black. Let's call her "Muffy the ad buyer." She uses Windows on her PC, and uses IE for the internet.

She sees nothing wrong with flash, javascrit, java ads, etc. They seem to jump out at her, and she thinks that might sell more product. Remember that most companies focus on R&D or support -- advertising is the first thing to get cut if the budget is tight, and generally is not overly cared about.

So because the advertising process is so decoupled from the product, you end up with horrible flashing animated things tyring to get your attention. The natrual response is to tune them out. I can't remember a single commercial from TV unless it's pointed out to me, for example. Then there are the banner ads which tell you nothing. "Click here for E-commerce solutions!" The same problem -- inversed -- affects movie previews. I can still remember "The Matrix" preview because it was so good. It gave away almost nothing.

The most obvious solution is to have the people whe make the product do the ad. The Newsforge ad, or example, is kinda good in this way. It tells you what the site is about. When you click it, you are taken to the site. No forms or other crap -- just what the banner offered. Not that clickthroughs are a good metric (how aften do you buy a product after seeing the ad on TV? And if you happen to buy it, is it because of the ad, or because you already buy it regularly?).

[ イノシロ ]
Is there an article on the subject? (none / 0) (#30)
by slaytanic killer on Tue May 22, 2001 at 06:47:28 AM EST

Has anyone written an interesting article on the subject? I would think it's in everyone's best interest for ads to become more decent... Perhaps companies such as OSDN who sell banners could give it to their customers as a sort of guideline.

[ Parent ]
We've discussed it. (none / 0) (#50)
by Inoshiro on Wed May 23, 2001 at 03:43:40 AM EST

An education system for Muffy was brought up at the Boston meeting :) I'm going to see if I can learn more about it, so I can write a good article.

[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
(OT) A dvorak user? (none / 0) (#60)
by childlike on Sun May 27, 2001 at 07:41:38 AM EST

"toh" instead of "not". "whe" instead of "who".
Are you learning Dvorak, Inoshiro? Cool :)

[ Parent ]
Further Reading (4.20 / 5) (#31)
by codemonkey_uk on Tue May 22, 2001 at 07:30:36 AM EST

This is quite a popular topic on K5. Here a few articles that might be of interest to readers of this article:
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
Not that simple. (4.00 / 3) (#34)
by PlutoniumHigh on Tue May 22, 2001 at 10:00:03 AM EST

In my opinion, you are oversimplifying the solution to the problem.

Banner ads do not work for one reason. They are too easy to ignore. 99% of the time I never look at a banner ad. I have "trained" myself to not even look at a banner ad in the first place, and I feel fairly certain that most people do the same. I simply find the content in the web site that I want/need and tend to ignore the other "background noise" on the page.

The problem is not the content of the banner add but the presentation of it. Like in TV, you are interrupted in the middle of your show for commercials. Like it or not, you are somewhat forced to see them if you want to watch your favoite show.

Take a look at news.com. Instead of placing banners at the top of each page, they place ads in the middle of their articles. The reader has more of a chance of reading the ad because of location, not because of witty messages that appeal to Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

Another good thing News.com has going for them is content. A lot of their ads are not just messages about products, but contain a fair ammount of information within the ad. Something which the use of Flash/Shockwave has made possible.

Although far from perfect, News.com is a good example. You can have the greatest message, best slogan but one fact remains; you have to get people to actually look at the ads in the first place.

I never see banner ads ... (3.33 / 3) (#36)
by LQ on Tue May 22, 2001 at 12:40:58 PM EST

because I always run with graphics turned off. It's quicker and less distracting. Bob help us all when we have to start sitting through plugin ads before we can get to some content.

radio trottoir (4.33 / 3) (#39)
by mami on Tue May 22, 2001 at 01:09:21 PM EST

Without having read the many links I should study before commenting, just one thought. I almost never click on any banner ad, but I click on a lot of links, posted by commentators, whose judgement I consider more trustworthy than others.

Key element for people not clicking on ads seems to me being dependent on the following observations:

a.) the viewer or reader is oversaturated

b.) only if you are really searching for a specific info and you happen to run into a banner ad, which appears to exactly match and answer the question you had, you would actually click on it.

c.) you trust a friend's judgement more than an anonymous promotion of something (independent on the sophistication the ad designer uses to appeal to your subconscious emotions and needs) and therefore you trust promotion by word of mouth more than any ad.

d.) there is no trick in the advertisment industry, which hasn't been tried out. Innocence has been lost. The strongest images and funniest word plays in good ads are remembered for its artistery, but really don't do the job of promoting the idea or product itself. I enjoy some ads, because they are cleverly made. Not in the least thought they convince me of the product's quality or truth of facts they try to promote.

Basically "radio trottoir" is still the best ad.

I agree (3.50 / 2) (#40)
by Snugboy on Tue May 22, 2001 at 01:32:39 PM EST

Banner ads now remind me of ads on TV in the early days of the media. Dancing cigarette cartons and such pedantic images were soon suplanted by slick micro-stories and hilarious (if not annoying) imagery. I think that as soon as banner ads figure out that no one wants to punch the monkey, they will start to sell more.

I often wonder what would happen if Madison Ave. execs got involved with banner ads as a ligit form of advertising. The latest banner I clicked on was one for IBM. You know the ads that feature the guys in the space suits and such. Well the banner was flash, and seemed intreaguing, so i clicked it. Never have I clicked a static rolling gif.

The tv ads I remember were things that made me laugh or had great imagery. Merge that with banners and you have something people will tolerate.

Banner Ads Overpromised & Underdelivered (3.50 / 2) (#42)
by cod on Tue May 22, 2001 at 10:13:19 PM EST

I think the main reason banner ads failed is that the industry in general over-hyped what the advertisers could expect. Remember when they first got popular a couple of years ago? Advertisiers were going to get instant feedback - laser like knowledge of who was clicking the ad, the ability to narrowly target the user, blah blah blah. We all know now that banner ads can't do any of that and as the advertisers figured that out - the perceived value of the banner ad dropped, and so did the price. And a lot of business plans that depended on >$100 CPM banner ad revenues were screwed when the CPM was closer to $15 or $20.

Banner ads at a hockey game... (3.50 / 2) (#43)
by DrEvil on Wed May 23, 2001 at 12:14:04 AM EST

Look at banner ads at sports for example, I will use hockey because the ads on the boards are roughly the same size (at least in the TV perspective) and shape as a banner ad on a web site.

There seems to be no problem selling these ads and they don't even offer click through functionality! Although I don't know for sure, I'm sure they are fetching a good price to allow a company to advertise on the boards. Look at some of these ads, most of them are nothing more than the companies logo and they don't even animate. Now there is a bit of a difference here where most of the companies on the boards are well known, whereas on the net they might not be but all the ad needs to do is give a hint of what the company does and most importantly their name. Then when someone is actually looking to buy something they will remember the name in the ad and hopefully will buy from that company. Banner ads still give much better viewer feedback then every other ad medium out there, even if the user doesn't click through. Just because someone isn't interested in the product when the ad is first seen doesn't mean the company wont be remembered down the road when that person wants to actaully buy the product.

Why does banner ads on the net have to be different than banners at a hockey game? I believe ads should be designed with the intension of not having anyone click through, it should be only there to get your name out. If someone actually is interested and follows the link that is just an added bonus!

Banner Ads & Follow Through (4.00 / 1) (#51)
by Nitesurfer on Wed May 23, 2001 at 10:59:08 AM EST

How many times has this happened? You are browsing through the page and find a link for what you were originally on that page for. You click it.... and wait for the new page to load ( many 2 to 5 seconds if you have a nice connection ). In that time you scan the page and see a banner worthy of a click ( not meaning you plan on buying --- at least yet ). Then the link you went to loads . You press back to go to the banner and there is a new one that you do not care about. Here is the kicker.... was the ad done well enough that you could go to a search engine to find the site? Or are you out in the cold wanting more information.. with no way to find it? I view banner ads as almost subliminal. They are only there as a secondary purpose. The purpose to attract you away from what you were originally looking for. Just a thought

David Byrd

CEO --- Twenty First Century Technologies, Inc.
Home of the Nite-Surfer Illuminated Keyboard

[ Parent ]
Ads that work? (4.00 / 4) (#46)
by mkrus on Wed May 23, 2001 at 03:05:30 AM EST

What kind of advertising does work? Blue underlined text!!!

Argh... (none / 0) (#58)
by uXs on Thu May 24, 2001 at 12:25:43 PM EST

Must... resist... clicking... link...

You know, you're actually right. I haven't clicked on that link yet, but I probably will, after I send of this comment.


ps. I turn the underlining (is that actually a word btw?) off, so it's just blue text for me :-)

What our ancestors would really be thinking, if they were alive today, is: "Why is it so dark in here?" -- (Terry Pratchett, Pyramids)
[ Parent ]
A different perspective (2.50 / 2) (#49)
by Tatarigami on Wed May 23, 2001 at 03:35:41 AM EST

You can make a banner advert that's geared towards my individual psychological profile, in colours I like, with a tasteful Bach cantata playing in the background and scantily-clad supermodels offering me pitchers of lagar and I probably still won't click on it. Why torture myself? The high US dollar means I probably won't be able to afford whatever I'm looking at.

And the banner adverts promising free stuff are either very dodgy offers or OSS packages I'm not (yet) technically astute enough to make use of...

Banner Ads can not be compared to others (3.00 / 1) (#52)
by Nitesurfer on Wed May 23, 2001 at 11:34:59 AM EST

For example --- a good commercial captures your attention... but you still watch the bad ones too. Why? Your center of focus at that time is the TV. But on the internet as I said below a banner is secondary.... So comparing it to TV is like comparing apples to oranges. And other Billboards , or ads at games have more exposure. That is you see them in front of you for more than a brief period.

Banner ads on the net MUST captivate you, and give you enough info to bring you back. Not easy to do in 480 by 60 pixels

Just my 2 cents

David Byrd

CEO --- Twenty First Century Technologies, Inc.
Home of the Nite-Surfer Illuminated Keyboard

Banner Ads are Optional (4.50 / 2) (#54)
by localroger on Wed May 23, 2001 at 04:08:50 PM EST

This page itself has a banner ad.

...which I never realized, because I don't see it. My particular personal web rewriter is the amazing Proxomitron, but there are other similar tools of various degrees of usefulness. The more annoying web advertising becomes, the more people will find and use these tools.

I went and found the Proxomitron after a well-known troll on that other website suckered me into a false link that crashed my browser in a hailstorm of hostile Javascript. Now, I don't mind banner ads that much since I have DSL and they load quickly, but anyone with a sub-56K connection quickly learns to hate them -- especially the bloated animated ones. The default Proxomitron settings kill all banners, de-animate animated GIFs, turn popups into links, and filter out suspicious JavaScript methods like the OnClose event whose main purpose is trapping you or crashing your browser. Meanwhile the neat stuff usually gets through, and if I have a problem I can selectively disable the filters until everything works.

If advertisers try more hostile/intrusive methods, doodads like the Proxomitron will become more widespread. Just as many people now videotape all the commercial TV they watch so they can fast-forward through the ads, they will learn that they don't have to wait for your 30-page animation to crawl through their modem. It is, after all, their modem and their computer and their internet connection which they are paying for.

Much of the problem with Internet advertising is that the expectations are unreasonable and the funding model is all wrong. Folks who advertise on TV don't expect to get x phone calls immediately after every ad airs, and they don't pay the TV station on that basis. Many brands build their presence through ads that generate no direct response at all. But the companies who take out the ads understand this. Coca-Cola doesn't expect you to stop what you are doing and buy a Coke every time you see one of their ads. When Internet advertisers learn the same lesson, they may be inclined to shout less and people may become more tolerant of the ads, and they will work more like they have in other media.

I can haz blog!

Proxomitron (4.00 / 1) (#56)
by Mitheral on Wed May 23, 2001 at 05:23:19 PM EST

All Hail web proxy filtering programs. They make the web useable. I'd rate them right up there with kill files for news and email filters. And I love the Proxomitron. I'm forced to use IE here at work and the Prox makes it possible to do all sorts of nifty things because your can write your own expressions to filter the incoming html however you like. Hate the 5 second download pause at tucows?, no problem change it to 0 seconds automagically. You can make all cookies session only; explode frames; suppress midi opr convert sounds to links; and much more. I strongly recommend this program to anyone using a webbrowser under windows.

[ Parent ]
Following the gut vs. following the numbers. (4.00 / 1) (#59)
by mahlen on Thu May 24, 2001 at 12:31:26 PM EST

The company I code for is an advertising firm working on this very problem. One of our selling points to customers is that we measure what we can, and we dynamically adjust the campaign as it progresses based on what is actually working, rather than just on gut feelings.

One of the things I'm learning about the advertising industry is that it is largely dominated by "creatives". That what the people who dream up and create the images, TV spots, and so forth are called (confusingly, the ads themselves are also called "creatives"). Most of the names in the industry, such as David Ogilvy, Jeff Goodby, and Leo Burnett, are creatives. They start the companies, the companies are named after them, they tend to run the show. So structurally and politically it's very difficult to:

  • do focus groups, or otherwise measure how effective an ad is
  • tell the people who run the show that "this very funny/clever/heartwarming/uplifting ad just doesn't make people want to buy the product"
  • have the creatives (the bosses) actually act on this advice

This kind of measuring work is called "planning" or "analytics" in the industry, and it's rare that planning gets done and that the results are acted on. But it does happen; I met some of the principles at Goodby, Silverstein, and Associates (creators of the "got milk" campaign) recently, and their head planner told me that GS&A was structured from the beginning to listen to their planners, and they very much credit their success to it.


Half a man's life is devoted to what he calls improvements, yet the original had some quality which is lost in the process. -- E. B. White, American author (1899-1985)

Saving the banner ad system | 60 comments (43 topical, 17 editorial, 0 hidden)
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