Sunday, February 17, 2008

Advertising on the Web

Advertising on the web has come a long way. What started out as simple banners that would appear at the top or bottom of web pages have evolved into many new forms. The most annoying is the talking animated advert. Reminiscent of a TV commercial-in-a-box, thankfully most of these have a mute button to silence them.

Then there are the "shoot-the-monkey" type ads. Basically you click on this moving monkey or something, and then it tells you you won a prize since you were able to click on it. But it actually ends up forwarding you to some site where they want you to buy something. Susan Kim (creative director at has an interesting article ( describing how the appropriate use of "rich media" (essentially anything beyond a simple .gif or .jpeg) can increase clickthrough rates by up to 14,000% or more. But do it wrong, and you'll simply turn away potential clickers.

It's a constant struggle between the advertisers and the consumers viewing the sites. Consumers don't want to deal with ads, and will use things like Firefox's AdBlock plug-in to automatically hide ads on pages. But advertisers want consumers to click their ads, and possibly end up spending money at their advertiser's sites as a result of that click.

Honestly, I find most forms of advertising annoying. But some ads are actually fairly clever and even somewhat useful/relavent. Like when I do a Google search for "National Rental" (trying to find the home page of National Rent-a-car, the first thing that shows up is a "Sponsored Link" to National Car Rental (essentially an ad for National that they paid Google to automatically place when certain search terms were entered). This is useful, since I was trying to navigate to the National web site anyways, and the ad provides a useful link to the place I was trying to get to.

Advertisers need to find that happy balance between "my head hurts from looking at this advertisement" and "I didn't even notice that, it blended right in." I think they are making progress, but as Web technologies evolve, I'm sure it will be an ever-changing field, especially since things web technologies advance so quickly.

1 comment:

Kishor said...

Adwords can be used for bad purposes though. Some months back when I searched the name of VP of the company I worked for, competitor's ad appeared on Google! right besides the search results.