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Banner Ads: Biggest Advertising Mistake Ever 241

While I know that the issue has been beat to death several times over, Charlie Hall of LinuxGram sent me a story from Silicon Alley Daily that's currently running concerning banner ads, and some editorial musings. The proposition of the editorial is good, but man, does interruption based advertising irritate me.
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Banner Ads: Biggest Advertising Mistake Ever

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I've never visited the Silicon Alley Daily site before today. I shall never visit it again.

    When I clicked on the bad link for the story (the article appears in *yesterday's* issue), I skimmed the page for the article. Since I didn't see any articles about banner ads, I figured,

    "Oh! How clever! They've riddled their own page with ads to prove a point! Sidebar ads! Text-only ads! Classifieds! Paid press releases posing as 'news'!

    "What a profound statement -- the page layout not only demonstrates that people ignore ads, but that they actually drive readers away from a site! Ha-ha! Okay, let's look at the previous day's version to see what the real site layout looks like..."



    *closes window*

    *posts site-design flame on slashdot*

    this is not a sig.

  • Galeon [sourceforge.net] has an "allow popups" option, as well as "open popups in tab". I have it set to the latter, so I can close the tabs whenever I feel it's overloading, and because you don't have to actually view the tab to close it, I deprive them of another set of eyeballs.
  • Try getting any information from shockwave.com [shockwave.com] if you are on linux. They not only filter you out via browser (mozilla/netscape6 and derivatives are denied) but they also filter by OS (they support any OS that has a name starting with "Windows"). The only way I could get in was by forging the user agent in konqeror (or is it opera?) to reflect an IE5/windows box. Funny thing is, the site worked just fine except for a couple of blank boxes where the shockwave plugin was.

    It really pissed me off.... wrote a nasty latter to a bunch of @shockwave.com addresses (as I couldn't get to the 'contact us' page).
  • by Skyshadow ( 508 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @11:35AM (#278974) Homepage
    The thing about banner ads is that I'll occassionally see one for something I'm interested in or for a company I didn't realize had a web presence, but usually I'll just make a mental note and surf there myself when I'm in the mood to shop.

    I wonder what would happen if companies started offering mild incentives to use the banners -- maybe I could get free shipping on my next DVD order at Reel.com if I clicked on the banner at Ebert's site or something.

    Of course, since so many online retailers operate so close to the bottom line already, this may not be feasible.


  • Not so long ago, it was mentioned here on /. that some spammer victim lists are edited to remove the most vocal anti-spam people, so as not to attract their attention. That basically means that by being a pain in the ass these guys have won as far as their own inbox is concerned.

    Now, someone who justs collects the cookies and otherwise doesn't do anything is not a pain in the ass. My cookie filtering works in a different way, though. I accept ad related cookies at first, but then remove them later on by means of a cron script. This means that each time they give me one, they think they've got a new customer to track. I don't plan on changing that, since it's an essential part of being a pain in their ass. What would be new if the ads become too anoying, is that in addition I'd be pestering not the ad companies, but their clients.


  • It would be simple enough to tie advertising to a time-span of site viewing using a cookie. You view one complete ad and your good for the day.

    I'm sorry but I will never allow ad related cookies on my accounts. They all straight go into the bitbucket today, and will do so in the future as well.

    If I find that I need one of those browsing habit trackers just to suppress the damn ads on site X, site X has seen the last of me. Well, almost: I'd send them a polite but firm (template) mail explaining the problem in detail and then never return.


  • Like hell!

    It's called COUPONS, and magazine, newspaper and direct mailing advertisers have often used them to gauge the effectiveness of ads. You can have one ad pull TWENTY times the coupon responses as another, simply because the appeal was correctly aimed.

    And this is the biggest thing idiot marketroids fail to comprehend: they do NOT HAVE A RIGHT to have people WANT to buy their product! People have to WANT to buy. Everywhere I look, there's some lunatic like this editorial author, or the head of the MPAA, or some RIAA maniac, or Microsoft, behaving as if they did not have to sell people on their product- as if it was a natural law that people must go out and get Product X, and therefore the only concern is how to stop them from copying it for their friends, or how to change banner ads to order the people more FORCEFULLY to go out and get Product X. It's goddamned arrogance, is all it is, and there's nothing particularly noble or clever about that.

    I remember having a similar feeling of 'this is ridiculous!' over dot-com hebephrenia and 'The Long Boom', and sure enough, reality went *WHACK* "Hi! I'm reality! Suck it down!". I think the absurdity of this 'advertising' situation is comparable.

    The fact of the matter is, advertising DOES NOT MAKE MONEY. What it does is tell people who you are and what you do: if THAT is appealing enough, then people might pay money for that. But the advertising itself is a supportive role- it's about maintaining a visibility before the endless procession of passing people (not 'consumers') who have a thousand other things to care about and don't owe you a DAMN thing. To me the most offensive part of the situation is the incredibly pervasive idea that consumers, websurfers etc. OWE the companies something, just for existing. Uh- no.

    A web site itself can be advertising- in the sense of something _you_ pay for, to maintain visibility. I pay $45 a month for not-that-much space to keep airwindows.com out there, and I've reworked the site several times during its life. It is never going to go out of business unless private ownership of .com sites becomes against the law, because _I_ pay for it in order to have a mode of communication that I can extend to anywhere in the world. There is no requirement whatsoever that the site 'pay its own way'. That's not what it's for.

    Now, if you look at sites like Yahoo- since they are not personal expressions or any one person's 'turf', and in addition do not offer any services besides internet stuff that people expect to get for free, does that mean that site is required to 'pay its own way'? That its users are obligated to pay for it? Of course not- it can just go out of business if it cannot find a way to keep operating without leeching off its users. What does it have to sell that's that much more deserving of payment than other sites that are free? And there will be free sites- if nothing else, for any such site you'll have one funded by Microsoft because they _do_ sell products and have the willingness to spend money for 'mindshare' without demanding an accounting. (At least, they used to be willing to do this, which is how they got where they are- possibly they will want to start demanding more returns, which will erode their position.)

    But the whole attitude of "this is my ad, therefore I am entitled to have people OBEY it!" is despicable and extremely stupid and uninformed. And the attitude of "gee, look at all these nice sites and fancy banners, maybe we're _obligated_ to pay directly for all this" is... naive.

    When you go to MSNBC or Yahoo or whatever, or see a banner ad- _they_ are the ones with hat in hand. Not you. They need to be respectful if they want your money- because the burden of sales is on them, not you. None of these people are selling oxygen on the Moon, or water in the Sahara...

  • If that is so, why shouldn't both the 'little free' sites and the 'horrific corporate pablum' sites pay the _whole_ bill for keeping their servers etc. going? Where's the need for having readers pay sites at all?

    I figure, if some corporation wants to get past my lack of interest in TV, past my lack of interest in radio, defeat my usual tendency to read books over magazines, and GET THEIR MESSAGE in front of my eyes, they can damned well pay for that themselves. I'm not paying them to do it. I don't care if it's the New York Times. They've got to prove to me they're _worth_ my attention. For the most part, sites on the web that think they deserve to be paid just for graciously deigning to allow my attention to rest on their splendiferousness... get a big *PHHBBBTTT!* and my undying contempt. They've _so_ got the wrong idea about the value of their 'content' versus the value of my attention. 30 seconds of sitting, stuck, in front of an interruption-based web ad is thirty seconds I won't have again. (this is why I hate spam too...)

    I've got all the time in the world for good people, or interesting people, or even just random maniacs who are fun to watch. Impress me. Interest me. But _don't_ get the idea you are _entitled_ to my attention, Mr. Marketroid, because you're n...

    What? Are we throwing a little snit because I'm not being a good consumer? So sorry please, so sorry >:)

  • Loads of 'click through'. Allow me to demonstrate:

    "Clip out this coupon and send it in and we will send you ten cases of our new triple-caffienated cola drink for free, just to get you to try it!"

    Hey presto, _lots_ of 'click through' from a plain paper ad. Hell, you'd get geeks photocopying the Times, or hunting down copies that are being employed wrapping fish ;) it's a question of, "How much do you WANT to respond?" It's easy to measure coupon pulls too, and many people have over the years. Scientific advertising draws heavily on such sources.

    The effectiveness of any sort of ad depends heavily on how much you WANT to check out the product once you've seen the ad. If the ad convincingly offers you gifts like free samples just to try and get you to like the product, then it's going to be very effective. "FREE" is the single most effective word in an ad. Then, it's all down to whether the product sucks or not, and whether you're lying to the customer or not :)

  • You might be hosing yourselves :) still, it's your funeral.
  • Obviously from those suckers who look at the ads or pay for the subscription. This doesn't mean that I have to do those things though, because capitalism is not charity: I don't care how you feed your children, I'm only concerned with minimizing my costs. That's how the system works.


  • Almost nothing comes free in this world.

    The best things in this world are free. The most information-dense sites on the internet come from academic or hacker volunteers, for free. The New York Times is completely free if you install webwasher. The most flexible computer software is free. An engaging usenet discussion is free.

    The fact that so many people believe that only expensive things can have value simply proves how effective advertising really is. "Buy more stuff and you'll be happy."


  • . In order to use the NY Times for free, you have go through the extra work of webwasher, and while not 'hard', it's work.

    Well, if that's your definition of "free", then indeed nothing is ever free, trivially. If I gave you my Mercedes, you'd probably complain "It's not free: I have to go through the extra work of driving it from your place to mine, and while not 'hard', it's work."


  • by Enahs ( 1606 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @01:25PM (#278984) Journal
    I mean, think about it. The author states that banner ads have a .2% click-through rate. In contrast,

    -TV has 0% click-through.
    -Radio has 0% click-through.
    -Newspaper ads have 0% click-through.
    -Magazine ads have 0% click-through.
    -Billboards have 0% click-through.
    -Transit advertising has 0% click-through.
    -Direct mail (not email) has 0% click-through.

    There you have it--based on click-through, banner ads are the most superior form of advertising! (NOTE: No, I'm not being an idiot, just making a statement on evaluating banner-ad effectiveness solely on click-through.)
  • The New York Times has all of our demographic information already, and they are one of the only sites that could go to Ford and say, "Every single person who comes to our site will see your ad, and we will target the cars you want to promote by age, gender, or location."

    Yeah...and if I could actually remember what BS I put in when setting up my nytimes account it would be amazing.

  • they don't have any banner ads on THEIR pages?!?
  • Well, you just have to be careful about it. I'm certainly not for censorship, but that doesn't mean that I run around giving out my credit card information either.

    So perhaps advertising that exceeded certain guidelines could result in the permanent revocation of the trademarks and copyrights held by the advertiser and used in that instance?

    After all, advertisers aren't entitled to either - they're given by the government and it can take them away or attach strings. Do you really think that Nike or Microsoft would put their name in jeopardy?
  • Unfortunately pollution rarely works out this way. Firstly, there can be compelling interests to dictate what people may do on their own property - zoning laws tend to operate in this fashion. Secondly, due to the interconnectedness of things, what one person does on his own property may have dramatic effects on others: Imagine that you have a field of flowers and harvest them; when your neighbor spreads chemicals on his land that kill the bees that pollinate your flowers he's not directly touching your property, but is having an effect.

    In the case of incessant advertising, the government does have the power to control commercial interests and has used this power to effectively limit their freedom of speech in the past, and it's quite constitutional. It's not absolute, and I'm not advocating total silence, but you'd be surprised at the degree to which businesses depend on government largess. Through this, they can be controlled. Would I want the same for real people? No, not really. But I draw a distinction between businesses and people; the latter have inalienable rights, the former may merely be granted some at whim or not at all.
  • It is their option to do this, no argument there.

    I will say, however, that I'm disappointed that the people who are in a position to prevent the world from becoming saturated with advertising are unwilling to take a stand against it.

    The NYTimes does not _need_ to advertise that heavily; it's shortsighted, greedy behavior and is akin to a sort of 'psychic pollution.' When we let businesses get away with pollution, they did it and defended their ability to do so as 'necessary. ' Even today this is claimed, when it doesn't have to be so.

    It certainly wouldn't be impossible to enact legislation that barred some or many advertisements - it's been done before, and could simply be a prerequisite of having a business license.

    Personally, I will continue my practice of not only using advertising-supported services, but of avoiding the advertisements themselves. I owe publishers nothing:
    *I change channels on the tv and radio and kill the volume (mute buttons were hotly decried by advertisers when first introduced, I understand)
    *I fast forward through commercials
    *I flip straight past ads in magazines
    *I ignore billboards (though I do like the efforts of legitmate taggers)

    What's so special about the web? I'll be damned if they get _my_ eyeballs, or I pay a subscription. I really don't care if they like it, and believe me, there's relatively little that could happen to impact me. (they really imagine that the /. community wouldn't spring up elsewhere if Andover went bankrupt?)
  • Ah, well most of the replies to me deal with this issue, so I'll cover this here. (the cries of censorship merited their own responses of course)

    I'm not saying that the NYT can survive without revenues. What I'm saying is that I am disturbed by the incessant need by them, by the advertisers who pay them, and very nearly everyone up and down the chain for more money. It seems to be increasingly rare, at least in my experience, that someone is willing to say that they've got enough.

    While there are certainly great advantages to come out of capitalistic societies (though I don't think that this is a failing of capitalism exclusively) the exercise of moderation by the people who actually live within those societies also seems advantageous and desirable. Advertising is just one face of a much larger beast which generally is opposed to the moderation and consideration of external and long-term goods that we, as human beings, are capable of.

    And because this system which pushes us to consider short-term benefits and selfishness above a view for the future and selflessness seems so utterly huge and unopposable, I think that a lot of people simply shrug and give up their rationality.

    So when I'm saying that the NYT does not need to put more and more ads into their web site or into their paper, I say this because there are human beings who are capable of making that decision and weighing not just the immediate effects (loss of revenue) but the long-term effects (less masquarading of greed as a virtue, or unpreventable sin) yet are incomprehensibly absolving themselves of their responsibilities.

    From my current position, the company that I work for is in the final stages of bringing to market a service which I regard as an abhorrent invasion of privacy. Several people, including (unfortunately imho) my boss, are gung-ho about it. Others are upset but are not taking any position. I at least am absolutely refusing to even participate - I recognize that I could lose my job over it, but I certainly would not want to see the kinds of things that they propose come to pass. (I'm not willing to actually interfere with it, but I'm not claiming to have a logically absolute position either; I expect I'll still be trying to figure things out until I expire)

    Imagine if my brothers and sisters in DTP (I'm a designer) simply refused to go too far with advertising. Actually standing up for one's own beliefs, which indeed _do_ have a place in any activity one takes part in both personally and professionally, could have a dramatic impact. Although I was only talking about one particular instance of this earlier, a willingness for people to believe that they are capable of making things better in whatever way they think they can and a sense of personal responsibility for all of their actions could go far, imho.
  • I've bought stuff from ThinkGeek [thinkgeek.com] based on seeing a banner ad on Slashdot.
  • I, for one, am a big fan of links to "friends" (see fark.com [fark.com] for example). I think that, if I like this site, I'll probably like his friends, too.

    If that's too limited a scope (Yahoo couldn't do this, of course), having a given page be sponsored by someone as a method of advertising is reasonable to me. Just a basic text link of "This news story brought to you by Joe's Shoe Repair and Tattoo Shop - get your wingtips polished and some new ink while you wait!" - much less intrusive. I mean, really, I'm never going to click a banner. I might click a very basic, more-or-less informative link like that.

    Just my two cents.

  • ... interstitial ads and post-mortem popups are even more bloody annoying than banners!!!

    People will end up simply proxying them away in Junkbuster or whatever. If you need to prove you viewed the ad to access the gated content, you'll lose.

    Believe it or not, I'm a little disappointed in the online NYTimes, since they don't have the J&R ads from the tuesday edition :) Maybe an affiliate system (NYT is electronics affiliate of J&R, automotive affiliate of Potamkin, etc) would help, but I absolutely know that interstitials are the worst possible option.

    How many people hit the back button on a flash thing that doesn't have a skip button?

    Your Working Boy,
    - Otis (GAIM: OtisWild)
  • by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @12:37PM (#278994) Homepage
    What you've described is the classic model of print advertising. Advertising traditionally doesn't work by immediately creating a sale, it works by building a largely subconscious awareness of the brand and product that is being advertised, and associating that awareness with real (it works!) and imagined (it will make you popular, get you laid, and bring joy to your life!) benefits (also mostly subconciously.)

    That click-through has become the metric of the success of online advertising is an unmitigated disaster for on-line publishing. In other domains, no one judges the success of print ads by the number of people who stop reading the magazine and rush to the phones, they judge success by the overall increase in business. Likewise, no one judges the success of billboards by how many cars veer off the freeway and head towards the advertiser's business, nor TV advertisement by how many people shut off the TV and run to the mall. However, that is exactly what is used to judge the viability of banner ads - it is expected to provide instant business, and advertisers are loathe to pay for online ad campaigns that don't have a next-click success.

    Online publishers are partially to blame for this by promising the moon to their advertising customers, and by selling click-through instead of selling brand awareness. This may be fallout from the heady pre-bust days when no one worried about revenue, anyway - having big accounts (which produced no revenue) was seen as more important to attracting investors than the revenue stream was, so publishers would tell ad sales prospects that they wouldn't have to pay (much) unless there was a click through. Now, they are paying the price for that carelessness.

  • how the heck is a site like this going to be indexed on search engines?

    interstitial ads more or less destroy the one thing that makes the web valuable: the ability to link documents together. . the fundamental, underlying concept of the URL is "hey, here's some information.. come and get it." . not only does putting barriers between users and the information they want raise technical problems, but it *really* screws with your ability to make information globally visible.

    the kind of interstitial system this author suggests just doesn't synch up with the basic technology of the web. . the web is stateless, so it doesn't know which pages you've already seen. . that means you have three basic options when it comes to the delivery system:

    1 - you make the home page of the site an 'entry tunnel', and leave all your actual content on regular webpages, which leaves users free to circumvent your entry tunnel if they can find any other index that links to the content.

    2 - you can hide every single page in the site behind some kind of cookie-based 'has this user viewed enough interstitial advertising?' system, and dump a 20-second Flash ad on any page request that doesn't qualify. . and that would turn into an endless loop for users who don't honor cookies.. the page request prompts a redirect to the Flash ad because there's no cookie, then the Flash ad fails to set a cookie and triggers another request for the original page.. which fails because there's no cookie, so you get another Flash ad, ad nauseam.

    3 - you can do your whole site in Flash, which makes any content inside your site inaccessible to anyone who doesn't sit through their daily force-feeding of advertising.

    search engines will ignore any site that uses option 2 or 3, and will bypass the entry tunnel of any site that uses option 1. . and since search engines are still the single largest source of new eyes for any website, screwing the search engines means screwing any hope of building or expanding a user base.

    using a system like that would be actively hostile to linking from outside, because it amounts to the putting the message "click here for a royal waste of your time" on any site that *does* link to your content. . face it.. if it had been impossible to reach the article in question without forcing every /. reader who clicked on the link to sit through a 20-second Flash ad, do you think this story would have been posted? . can you imagine the torrent of complaints that would rain down if such a link had been posted without a warning?

    the whole article could be summed up as, "the web makes it *way* to easy for people to get information, and i can't compete with that using my current business model. . but i'm either too stupid or too cowardly to try searching for a new business model, so i want to make the web just as invonvenient and user-UNfriendly as the media i already understand."

  • man you're so wrong! Like when I'm driving down the motorway I see plenty of roadside advertising ('banners' they're called) which I can't click on, yet work!

    I usually complete my journey with a new car, having seen a stack of car adverts, smelling great having bought some new CKone ads and pulling up to buy at a local perfumers, and completely shitfaced having seen a bunch of alcohol adverts.

    you're underestimating offline advertising my friend. it's costing me a fortune though, but at least i've made some new friends at the police station.

    lt-bs-joke-gt :)
  • pay $50 a year for membership or sit through a 20-second Flash-animated commercial

    20 seconds?? That's barely time to hit the restroom and grab a snack - but then you won't have missed anything when you get back, unlike commercial tv/radio.

    Another revenue model is to have free web pages, but twice a year remove most content and beg for donations for two weeks, complete with charts of progress toward goal and gifts.
  • What's so special about the web? I'll be damned if they get _my_ eyeballs, or I pay a subscription.

    And without at least one of these, the revenue that justifies a web (or physical) publication comes from where?
  • What bugs me is that several opinions seem to state the view that paying attention (and responding, even) to advertising is a moral duty to ensure a low, convenient price tag on publications.

    I make no such argument. I'm objecting to the idea that media should be completely free of advertising and fees, which is the implied or explicitly stated claim in a lot of the posts in this thread.
  • ...at least, as I recall from my hazy memory of an Advertising class I took over a decade ago in my misspent youth:

    Advertising, regardless of what a few minimally-clueful, megalomaniacal marketroids may think, is not about "getting people to buy something", nor even about "getting people to like something", but rather "getting people familiar with something" (e.g. a brand name).

    A successful advertising campaign should make its subject feel "familiar" to viewers, both in the sense of claimed values of the advertised product (e.g. "less filling and tastes great" [as compared to other brands] - obviously this aspect only applies until the consumer does the comparison themselves, but can at least help get the first sale...) and in terms of name recognition, because people tend to feel more "comfortable" with names they are "familiar" with.

    This is why, as many other posts have pointed out, "click-through" is a really bad measure of ad success. Since almost nobody (statistically speaking) is going to see an ad for something and immediately decide that they need to go buy "Brand X Thingamajigs" right away, it might seem as though the ad isn't doing anything. What they can't measure well is how many people, weeks later, decide they could really use a "Thingamajig", and go to the store and buy "Brand X" because that's the one they subconsciously feel the most comfortable with. ("I've never owned a Thingamajig before, but I remember hearing about Brand X somewhere, whereas I've never heard or Y or Z, so I might as well get X...").

    Of course, GOOD advertising should also avoid the "familiarity" including an association with feelings of annoyance. ("Brand X? Hey, that's those annoying jerks with those irritating ads! I think I'll try brand Y instead..."). For THAT reason, I would expect "pop-up" and other "interruption based" ads would be even more of a failure (especially full-page ones) on the whole, no matter whether the "click-through" rate goes up or not.

    Personally, in the bizarre never-neverland of my twisted mind, I think this presents an opportunity to kill two metaphorical birds with one metaphorical stone: <OffTopic>With the problems of mass media producers tightening the screws on what few 'fair use' and related rights individuals have while buying up and absorbing (and/or putting out of business) smaller, more independent sources of "content", I'd like to see more "GPL-style" content (independent movies, animation, music, etc.)</OffTopic>, but obviously, somebody's got to pay for production and distribution of it. So...product placement. Here's what I keep thinking: (See, this long rant really does get to a point, eventually...)

    Let's say Joe Schmoe decides to start up a daily web-based comic, initially for fun. It turns out to be pretty good and popular, and since Joe Schmoe doesn't sue people for setting up fansites, emailing copies of the comic to people, etc., word spreads quickly and soon Joe Schmoe needs to buy more bandwidth to handle the popularity. Now...one of Joe Schmoe's characters is, say, a cola junkie. Joe Schmoe might decide that this character seems like the sort who would like brand X, Y, or Z cola, so he emails the marketing departments of these real-world companies saying "Whoever offers the best sponsorship deal becomes this character's preferred brand of cola"...

    Of course, this will only work if the marketing people "get it", but it would be perfect advertising - it's non-intrusive [and is, in fact, associated with a pleasant and popular web-comic], it gets spread widely anywhere copies of the webcomic go [because it's part of the actual CONTENT, not a separate intrusion that can be filtered out], and helps fund Joe Schmoe's hypothetical "open" content which is free of mainstream-media control.

    End result - more "free" content, and less annoying ads. Could it work, at least on a small scale? Or am I just smoking crack?

  • by Stiletto ( 12066 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @11:49AM (#279002)

    "Advertising serves not so much to advertise products as to promote consumption as a way of life." - Carl Lash 1978

    People don't respond to normal advertising by mindlessly running out and buying things. Instead they become accustomed to the idea that buying things makes them happy. Why should online advertisers expect immediate returns (click-throughs) from advertising?
  • The must-watch-20-second-animation idea will not work, because the server has no guarantee that the user watched (or even saw) the ad...

    ...unless they make it interactive (e.g. have a quiz afterwards).

    I can think of nothing else that would jumpstart AI research so fast.

  • The problem isn't that people don't click through, it's that they are counting the click throughs. There are all these outragous statistics that say the internet doesn't work for this or that. Like 60% of web shoppers abandon items in their shopping cart and don't complete the sale. How many shoppers in the real world walk into a store and don't buy something after picking it up and looking at it? How many TV viewers go buy a Coke after the ad is on TV? The click through statistics have no perspective. They have no idea how well they build brand recognition or anything. How many click throughs is considered succesful? According to the guy who wrote the article, 1% wouldn't be good enough. I think 1% would be an incredible success. Banner ad execs put themselves out of business by selling statistics that don't look good even when they are good.
  • As many folks have said, the real failure of banner ads isn't in the medium, it's in the message itself.

    I click on lots of banner ads, when the ad looks interesting and I have a reasonable basis to believe that the ad won't take me to some popup happy fraud-site. Most banner ads, however, don't satisfy my criteria: If the advertisment itself is obviously trying to defraud the viewer (e.g. the "Your Internet Connection is not Optimized" ads that masquerade as an MS Windows dialog (I only use MacOS and Linux, so the stupidity of this approach is extra obvious)) what can you expect of the site that comissioned it?

    As I said, I click on banner ads all the time, on Slashdot, on MacCentral and MacInTouch, on Salon and a number of other reputable pages. I have learned that I can trust the ads I see on these pages to take me to vendors I can trust who are hawking wares that I might be interested in. Any time I see a banner ad masquerading as a dialog box or an interactive game or poll, I simply steer clear of it (and, possibly, of the entire site, depending on my irritation level).

    It's not banner ads that aren't working: it's the folks who think them up, and the folks who comission them.

  • Really? That's funny. If banner ads are the biggest advertising mistake ever, isn't it an even bigger mistake to cause outages because of them?

    Who knew, I was on topic after all.
  • Circumvention software will inevitably appear, and it is relatively hard to make ad circumvention illegal.

    I don't know about that, look to the DMCA. It allegedly made circumvention software - and reverse engineering - illegal. I still see a lot of circumvention taking place, and reverse engineering hasn't stopped.

    The corporate oligopolies could probably make ad circumvention illegal, but is the public going to agree to this part of the social contract? If they succeed in this, it will just be another uneforceable law on the books that will be ignored by most, prosecuted rarely and continue to degrade any possibility of respect for all laws. I would lump it in the same category as cohabitation, prostitution and gambling.

    I don't remember who said it, but "Nothing breeds contempt for the law like passing laws which are unenforceable."

  • Oh yeah... right. See, I filter those.

    About the time that banner ads started using animated gifs I got annoyed with them. I looked around and pretty quickly found I wasn't alone. Other people had already developed solutions to eliminate ads. Since that time every computer I use has had something in place to remove banner ads before I ever see them. These days my filters are good enough that I very rarely ever see a banner, and once I do I won't see another one on that site again.

    My approach was technical enough that a lot of people couldn't easily do the same thing. A lot of people I know have simply become desensitized to banner ads. They can read an article while ignoring the flashing, spinning, blinking, ads that surround it. The end result is that they don't notice the ads either.

    Advertising on the internet can work, but the problem is that people have^H^H^Hhad too much confidence in places like doubleclick.

    The creation of the "banner ad" was a double-edged sword. By making all the banners the same size they made it easy to rotate ads and not alter the look of a page. But they also made all ads look pretty much the same, and they made the ads less relevant to the page they were on.

    By using cookies companies like doubleclick tried to make the ads target the user. But unless I'm wrong they don't relate to the page they're on at all.

    Doubleclick's dominance in online advertising was another double edged sword. With most pages on the 'net showing doubleclick ads and serving doubleclick cookies they are able to profile a person pretty well. But at the same time they show this person the same ads on every site they go to. So the person quickly begins to tune them out.

    Ads work best when they:

    • Provide something of benefit to the person seeing the ad
    • Relate to the content that surrounds them

    The perfect example of this is the link to a book on amazon at the end of a book review. It provides value to the person seeing it because if they want to buy the book it's easy to do. It also relates to the content (the book review).

    There are drawbacks to this method, however. One is that the impartiality of the content (book review, news item, whatever) is now suspect, afterall there's a financial incentive to get more people to buy the book or whatever. The second is that it takes more work -- I think this is the one that matters. People are pretty lazy. It's much easier to drop a banner-generator into your web page than to figure out what kind of relevant ads you can drop in. But the easier it is for a web page author to put an ad into a web page, the easier it is for someone else to take it out.

    The fundamentally important thing that advertisers need to learn is this. If you're showing me ads on my computer is that I'm not a captive audience anymore.

    • I can selectively block cookies and choose who can identify me
    • I can blackhole doubleclick.com in my hosts file
    • I can hack mozilla source to not show animated gifs
    • I can remove ad displaying libraries in my applications
    • I can crack an application so it thinks it's registered
    • I can filter HTML before my browser sees it and strip out or change things as I see fit

    If you won't provide me with a value to seeing your ad, I'll make sure I won't see it.

  • by MadAhab ( 40080 ) <slasher@nOspam.ahab.com> on Thursday April 19, 2001 @01:53PM (#279023) Homepage Journal
    Thank god someone pointed this out. You are 150% correct that the problem was misstating the value of the product. I can't tell you how many Real Powerful Execs and hardass Ad Sales types I've heard complain about the fact that everything from web log analysis to banner ads was sold to them as the omniscient magic laser that would dispel the clouds of ignorance that lay over advertising for millenia.

    Those clouds are mighty thick.

    The clickthrough rate for billboards is 0.000000000000000000%. Neilsen statistics are barely better than educated guesswork, and often worse. I doubt anyone has non-voodoo statistics on the number of cars sold by a superbowl ad. I bet you'd have a hard time finding a magazine who got more dollars from advertisers if sales rose following the publication of the ad. More apropos, response rates on direct mail make banner ads look very effective, and even more so when you consider the cost, and companies still love them. The truly abysmal value of Spam hasn't kept it out of my inbox. But when was the last time you heard someone completely dismiss an entire arena of advertising?

    Banner ads are a great tool, but they were sold incorrectly by people who didn't understand them at all to people who understood them even less. They are a great tool the same way as many forms of advertising; they are an important part of making household names out of companies and controlling, creating, and promoting an image that helps the company sell its product. Banner ads should be viewed in this context, not as a robot army of magical sales fairies who work for $0.10 a day.

    The author of that article rightly criticizes the industry dweebs and ignoramuses who caused this mess, but he's not any better at understanding what the ads are for.

    Boss of nothin. Big deal.
    Son, go get daddy's hard plastic eyes.

  • ...doesn't revolutionize the industry has had their head in the sand for way too long. I remember going to 'warez' and 'crackz' sites years ago and getting popup window after pop-up window with ads in them.

    Now, just recently, it seems like this phenomenon has caught on overnight with every web site and advertising company on the 'net. It's really freaking irritating. Just go to yahoo! or somewhere and search for something random, and go to a few of the relevant sites. Notice that no matter what it is, there's likely to be at least one site that has those bloody popups.

    Time to write a nice little script to disable javascript and automatic popups.


  • I'm using Netscape 4.7x on Solaris, and I get frozen out of the site too... the funniest thing is, after I deliberately mangled the URL, it took me to a "page not found" page with alist of links. After that, I could navigate the site - it would render a page, then replace it with the "Sorry, OS not supported" page.

    So if I cared enough, I could read parts of their site by hitting Stop really quickly as the page rendered, or by looking through my cache.

    Sadly, I don't even care enough to send them hate mail.

  • Thank you

  • The article proposes a X second full screen flash display between pages.

    How hard would it be to leech the entire site and avoid being exposed to the flash applications? It would add X x Number of Pages to downloading it all, but you could get a coffee or something while its doing that.
  • Somebody needs to get a megaphone and shout "THERE IS NO WAY TO MAKE MONEY SELLING CONTENT ON THE WEB". I am so going to whine and cry if the big media mega-corps can't turn the web into TV...not. If I wanted to buy the New York Times, I'd go to a newspaper stand and just grab one, and NOT have to sit through 20 seconds of advertising. Independent and niche media organizations probably have a bit of a better time on the web because their dead-tree publications have a higher profit margin (or seem to live without such a high one) anyway. I would much rather have many independent new sites, subsidized by dead-tree versions, than just a handful of MegaCoNews.com with commercials.
  • What I would like to see would be whenever a website attempts to popup a window, the browser gives me an option window. ie, "Page hotnudepetrifiedgrits.com is attempting to open a popup. Allow?"

    Below the yes/no buttons, there should also be checkboxes. Always allow originating from this server, and never allow. Is this too much to ask?
  • > As many of you know, we started our dedicated e-mail program a couple of weeks ago. By now you've gotten a total of four dedicated e-mails, including one from a university and one from a local restaurant.

    Hmm. Guess too many beer-cans-and-chicken-bones spammers said "we're opt-in!" and too many non-DMA goons saw through the DMA's attempt last year to redefine "opt-in" as "opt-out".

    So now whenever I see the term "dedicated e-mail", I'll think "spam".

    Nice bit of newspeak, market00ns. Won't help you, though.

  • > There are all these outragous statistics that say the internet doesn't work for this or that. Like 60% of web shoppers abandon items in their shopping cart and don't complete the sale.

    Amen. Betcha most of those people are either:

    Trying to find out how much the site charges for shipping/handling/taxes which would require that the items be in the cart,

    Figuring out if that coupon they heard about on some site like hotdealsclub.com [hotdealsclub.com] applies to their purchase, or

    For some particularly brain-dead sites that don't list prices until you've set up a shopping cart, well, just looking at the damn price tag.

  • > pay $50 a year for membership or sit through a 20-second Flash-animated commercial.
    > There is a third choice. Get your news from somewhere else.


    I realized last month that I haven't read a print magazine in two or three years.

    When I want to find out what Wired thinks is happening, I go to wired.com. I get the news that day. (And I filter out the LAYER tag with the Doubleclick page for privacy purposes). But even if I didn't filter out the ad, the banner ads are a small portion of their actual content.

    Have you seen the ad-saturation of the print version lately? Sheesh! It's like there are about 3 times as many pages devoted to ads as there are articles.

    And I'd have to pay for the print version, no less! Double-sheesh! (Yeah, I know it'd cost $10 or more per issue if it didn't have the ads, but my point is that print magazines have lower S/N ratios than the most banner-laden web site, and cost more.)

    And last, but not least - I'd get the print version of Wired, umm, lessee, about a month after everything in it happened. The web site is same-day info.

    In the case of financial news and other time-sensitive stuff, I've found it to be almost the same deal - I watch the earnings get released after-hours, watch a message board that gets the analyst reports within an hour or so of publication, and by the time I go home at night to watch the same-day TV news, I know what the stories are gonna be that night.

    If I read the morning paper at the office, it's mainly as a way of confirming that the headlines in the morning paper - that reflect yesterday's news - are the same ones I thought they'd be, 16 hours earlier.

  • Of course, GOOD advertising should also avoid the "familiarity" including an association with feelings of annoyance. ("Brand X? Hey, that's those annoying jerks with those irritating ads! I think I'll try brand Y instead..."). For THAT reason, I would expect "pop-up" and other "interruption based" ads would be even more of a failure (especially full-page ones) on the whole, no matter whether the "click-through" rate goes up or not.

    We are seeing more and more of this. Bad ads are somewhat perversely driving people to buy TiVo like ad screeners. Which has the reinforcing effect of making ads even more annoying, because now they need ot eke out more views from the remaining people who don't have screeners.

    Personally, I'm not at all annoyed by good ads, but will go out of my way to avoid bad ones. I BUY magazines just for the ads. This is merely another extension of demographics. Johan hates the hit-the-monkey ads. Don't show him those. Hit me twice with cool design shit. That's a GREAT demographic. One I would volunteer information to build.

    Now, interruption based advertising is the pop-up of linear entertainment. As such, computer savvy people will apply technological solutions to avoid them. However, it is not clear to what extend a flash animation can be circumvented. Maybe hacked flash plugins that skip all the animation and just skip to the end?

    Anyways, the possibilty is there. What the advertising industry haven't yet realised, it seems, is that the key to their success isn't getting as much attention as possible to an ad, but rather to not annoy me into blocking all ads, and then only as a secondary aim to attract my attention.

    So a suggestion: Perhaps what is needed is a browser config that allows you to set your ad preferences. All you have to do is make it all sum up to 100 attention points. You get more points for accepting interruption based ads, or for giving better demographics...

    feedback, anyone?
  • So how long do you think these interruption ads will last? I figure when they fail we'll soon have them with a test at the end. Before you can go to the content you'll have to answer things like "What delicious flavors does product X come in?". They'll think this is a great way to make sure they have your attention throughout the ad.
  • Don't go putting ideas in their heads!

    "Smear'd with gumms of glutenous heat, I touch..." - Comus, John Milton
  • I mean, this is the time where people buy the TiVo specifically to avoid advertising. Annoying advertising that is. Now what would happen with this interruption based advertising is that people would look for solutions to avoid it. Other browsers, some modifications to the flash engine or whatever drives these ads. I would rather look at raw html code than to have those ads forced on me. It all becomes especially ridiculous when he starts to argue that the NY Times would be an ideal place for this. Hey, once the text is there i hit some equivalent of 'stop' and all the page can do is scroll. If they decide to cut up the articles into so many tiny parts, each headed with advertising i open two windows and read one, while the other loads/advertises in the background. So even with existing browsers noone would look at 20 seconds ads.

    On the other hand advertising in journals still seems to work. There are no "click throughs" in journals, so they should stop all advertising there anyway. I think these people confuse advertising with annoying. I would really like to have that guy locked in a room with tv-screens in all directions (even floor/ceiling) with sound he can't turn off and constantly running adverts of 'foo', then after 2 hours of this i'd ask him if he now would like some 'foo'.

    Sorry, annoying people until they buy the crap isn't working with todays technology. Because todays technology allows the people to avoid said annoyances. If they make the adverts louder i press the 'mute' button. So advertisers should better rethink their strategy and try to make people interested.
  • It's funny. Tivo is making the TV model of interupting advertising more and more irrelevant. I think the solution for TV will have to be putting ads on screen during programming, not too unlike a banner ad.

    Meanwhile this guy says the exact opposite about online ads. Is it just that the grass is always greener or what?

    I suppose in both cases people could work around the new ad modes using technology.
  • The totally flawed premise is that A) interruption-based advertising will somehow lead to higher click-throughs than banner ads-- why would that be true? And B) that Flash ads on a computer are like commercials on TV. Nope! Sorry, people like me who are impatient will just pop open another browser window and start loading/reading something else. Unlike TV, I don't even risk losing what I wanted to see when "changing channels" aka "popping new web pages".

    Sigh. More dumb wishful thinking. What the Internet ad guys should really do is get better tracking stats of how much time users's eyes spend viewing paper-based magazine ads or newspaper ads. Then do a nice correlation concluding that Internet ads get you nearly as many eyeball-seconds/impressions for a much lower cost.

  • What really makes my blood boil is having to endure advertising on seemingly any printable surface.

    I agree completely. The people who do this should be handcuffed to Bob Sagat[1]. People in advertising often consider themselves creative. But exploiting surface area is NOT a creative endeavor.

    I personally engage in unofficial boycotts of companies that have annoying ads. It would be great if people could get together and do some anti-marketing by identifying irritating advertisers and then encouraging people to use their competitors. Maybe a web site with some sort of nomination and voting mechanisms to identify offending advertisers. Eventually, the idiots would stop slapping ads on every conceivable surface.

    [1] Yes, I realize this is a violation of the Geneva Convention....

  • Funadmental to the nature of this debate is the definition of a banner ad. Is a banner ad:

    a) a gif/jpg at the top of a page


    b) a gif/jpg at the top of a page that leads you to a URL

    Well, the answer is both, depending on whether the advertiser is branding (which is usually paid for using cost-per-thousand views) or ROI (which is usually paid on a cost-per-click).

    BUT .. what about the advertiser that is neither branding, NOR has anything to offer at their website. This represents a sizeable portion of advertisers. Now, if you believe the web-centric model of current banner advertising IS indeed flawed (which I agree with), you have an option:

    c) an interactive gif/jpg banner which expands (java, flash, whatever) to offer you point-of-surf value (a contest, a 2 for one offer, a branded service offer a-la sports scores to your cellphone thanks to ESPN or whatever)

    Now, as an advertiser, are no longer worried about having to offer something on your website as a retailer which really can't offer any value in a web-centric medium. But you /do/ gain the ability to offer value and interactivity in a small space without the surfer leaving the page he or she is on, in addition to the web page not losing a surfer (which is a whole paradox in itself .. if a site has a great click thru rate, than its turn-over is also quite high, thus losing additional traffic and 'strickiness', which counts when bartering advertising inventory deals).

    So, as always, everyone takes the IT WORKS or IT SUCKS approach, when what is really needed is just a different way of looking and implenting the one thing we all know to be true. And that is that surfers will HATE supersitials and find ways around then; when offering content, interactivity and value add in exchange for consumer information and customer relationships by way of a direct, unobtrusive interactive banner touch point is within technological grasp. Indeed, my most memorable experiences with advertising have constituted advertising i have /requested/ (a la free product demo video, etc).

    The big thing I find ironic is that if the banner is dead, but superstitials rule (ie, TV-style commercials), why didn't it help all those .coms that blew their budgets on nation-wide prime-time advertising. Answer: because there was no value in the advertising. The next generation of advertsing MUST introduce the ability to offer point-of-touch value, and I can garauntee that if companies can offer compelling stories to foster customer relationships and communication (whether its customer aquisition or retension), this as-yet identified medium (the interactive banner being my best guess) will present better ROI and value to both advertiser, consumer, and inventory-provider (ie, website) than any advertising medium ever has.

    Again, the fundamental thing here is that people do not want to 'go' somewhere else when they wish to request advertising information; this is why a model like the interactive banner, ie a 'volountary' supersitial, if you will, is so crutial to the success of advertising online. Otherwise, people will just keep ignoring ....

  • From someone who works on the technology end for a major ad tech company, you are bang on. The ability to measure ROI is 'immediate' online, but also one big lie. Much like assuming that the guy who's slept with 50 girls is better looking than the one who's slept with 5. What did the girls look like? How many encounters did they all have, total? How good was the sex? When you ask a stupid question, you'll get a stupid answer; and if you're a stupid advertiser, you'll probably make a stupid judgement. Of course, the technology is still pretty new, so you cant expect a suit-industry like advertising to get it right away, but it /is/ pretty frustering to watch it from the sidelines, knowing what the average surfer is like and what truely constitutes a successful communicative session between a banner and a surfer.
  • Let me get this straight...

    What you are asking for is smaller, less intrusive ads. You also wish for the advertising to be informative, useful and entertaining.

    Please forgive my lack of understanding here. It just seems that it'd be pretty had to have all of that at once.

  • What if I'm not running on a system that supports Flash? Am I blocked from seeing your site? Or do I get to go straight on in, avoiding the ad?

    What if I write a "Flash" plug-in that says "Yeah yeah yeah, I've show the ad, now let me in"?

    Actually, I'd LOVE a subscription service that allowed me access to a fast server, no ads, and no intrusion into my personal life. Don't try to track me, just give me a way to get in (passwords e-mailed to my account that expire in a short period of time (with no spam as baggage?)) and let me go.
  • Why is the internet considered a big billboard in the first place? Is there any form of advertising that wouldn't be annoying and pointless?

    I can live with banners because I can mentally ignore them, I'm fairly sure "interruption" style ads will go nowhere (or if they do make an appearance I'll be first in line for blocking software ^_^).

    I guess I'm just sick of all the business analysts out there (at least the ones that work where I do) who bitch and complain about how fruitless web-advertising is. My only hope is that one day advertisers will realize that web-advertising is not unlike throwing money into lava; pointless and costly.

    I for one would not cry a drop if web-advertising "just went away", sure it'll never happen, but I can dream can't I?


  • "content providers have to pay for there site somehow"

    I disagree, having tried using banner advertising to suppliment income for a site in the past I can say that banners are a completely ineffectual form of revenue generation. The best way to make money for a site that requires expensive upkeep is to provide subscription based services.

    And yes, if I had to pay a subscription fee to the sites I visited to keep them alive I would.


  • Nuh uh! I don't know which "most" you're reading, but I know there are at least some who do indeed put ads in the middle of their columns. However, tons of major ones (like nytimes, latimes, cnn, and washingtonpost) put them in rows or columns at the top or side of the page. Of course you might also cut off a menu when you scroll this off the screen, you can view just the news column and no ads, generally. Or at least quite frequently.
  • by rkent ( 73434 ) <rkent.post@harvard@edu> on Thursday April 19, 2001 @12:01PM (#279063)
    Personally I'm sick of people like this who consider banner ads successful ONLY when people click through immediately! To me, that's a McDonald's manager saying "Gee, advertisin' bob, traffic through our drivethrough only increased 0.3% in the 5 minutes after our commercial was run... I don't think TV advertising works!"

    People aren't used to interacting with advertisements. In fact, I'd go so far as to say people don't WANT to. It's always "yup, there's an ad, I'm going on with my day." When I get up to read the news, I don't WANT to go buy a car, I want to read the %$#@ news!

    I wish they'd look at it more like print ads, where you could just buy space on a web page, and there was LOTS of space. I mean, the NYTims shouldn't try interstitials, but it SHOULD sell that 2/3 of the screen not filled by the column. That just makes sense. Then if you don't want to read the ads, shrink your browser; think of it as folding back half of the newsprint page :)

  • by rkent ( 73434 ) <rkent.post@harvard@edu> on Thursday April 19, 2001 @11:32AM (#279064)
    Oops, looks like they rolled out tomorrow's edition already. Er, today's. Whatever. Click "previous issue," or click here [siliconalleydaily.com].
  • by rkent ( 73434 ) <rkent.post@harvard@edu> on Thursday April 19, 2001 @12:09PM (#279065)
    The NYTimes does not _need_ to advertise that heavily; it's shortsighted, greedy behavior and is akin to a sort of 'psychic pollution.'

    Just for the record, yes they do. Any periodical does. That's how they survive. Take wired, for example. Just the print version, to simplify things. If you've every tried to publish a book or magazine yourself, you'd know that printing that many glossy pages and binding it that way costs at LEAST $3 per copy, and that's with a substantial volume discount. Yet they sell it for $1 to subscribers, and what? $4 on the newsstand? So there's no way they could ever, ever EVER subsist without "that many" ads. Just so you know.

    Now, ad a website to that. Hell, might as well start talking about NYTimes now since that's the example in the article. The digital edition does not SAVE money because it does not directly eliminate the need for any particular printed copy. Plus there's additional overhead like syncing it up to the print edition, typical web admin duties, plus additional editors/columnists/photographers for special "online only" stories. And since they offer it FREE, it can only drain the main New York Times budget.

    UNLESS, that is, they run more ads there. And actually persuade people to buy them.

    So, your argument is really flawed. I don't think you're evil for skipping the ads, we all do, but don't say the papers don't NEED to run ads.

  • Another revenue model is to have free web pages, but twice a year remove most content and beg for donations for two weeks, complete with charts of progress toward goal and gifts.

    This would only work for certain sites (like The Onion), but it's a great idea.

  • Rackspace, they advertise on Slashdot, A LOT.

    At my old job, we hired Rackspace to do our hosting based on a banner ad that I saw on Slashdot. Of course I did my research, but that's how I learned about them. Before the dot-com went under a few months later, they made maybe $10,000 off the account (we had two decked out servers).

    Now, with my consulting firm, we are a Rackspace reseller. We are delivering them a contract for $14,000. Of course this was because of my good experience before, but it worked.

    When looking for Linux servers, I know to look at VA Linux and Penguin Computing. The latter I only know about from Banner Ads and the occaisional mention on Slashdot, the former I know about from tech rags AND their constant presence on Slashdot.

    Banner Ads work for creating brand awareness. On the Internet, where competition is fierce, you either need to own keywords on search engines, or use banner ads to generate awareness.

  • There's no way I'm going to sit through a 20-second commercial 5-6 times a day.

    Hopefully they'll have the brains to not require this. It would be simple enough to tie advertising to a time-span of site viewing using a cookie. You view one complete ad and your good for the day.

  • I think it's odd that they make no mention of affiliate programs. It's been my impression that this model still has some life in it and isn't nearly as annoying as banners. Typically the links are much smaller than banners and they pay more, but the payment is usually tied to more than just a click (like actually buying something.) Amazon probably has the most successful of the programs, but there are hundreds of others.

  • I think the failure of Banner Ads has more to do with large services like Doubleclick than it has to do with the nature of the medium itself.

    Advertisers are moving away from banner ads because they're not getting results they were promised and they don't understand it well enough to make their own arrangements. Services like doubleclick promised to make it easy for both advertisers and the sites by taking care of everything. That was fine when advertisers simply wanted to advertise on this 'Internet' thing.

    Now advertisers are questioning the results and the industry's answer is "We can make the ads bigger." Advertisers don't need bigger ads, they need ads that actually reach their target audience. Some advertisers, like the ones on Slashdot, are seeking out sites with a niche audience that matches their target. This works for some products, but not others. What advertisers need are demographics, and traffic, to target.

    Perhaps something like 'Neilson ratings' will come along for the Internet. In exchange for a few dollars, you download a program that gets some census type info from you and watches your browsing habits for a couple of weeks. These statistics are then anonymously correlated and then advertisers know things like site popularity by demographic group and they can target their ads accordingly.

  • Banner ads are perfectly fine as an advertising medium. The problem is that most of the dot-Bombs buying them don't know how to advertise.


    Advertise on sites whose user profile doesn't match their market audience.

    Measure their ads using immediate "click through" measurements, instead of building brand equity.

    Mismatch the pitches. Often the dullest banners hide the best deals, while the most eye-grabbing ones lead nowhere.

    Think advertising can make up for a company that provides inferior customer-value.

    ...now they're about to do another: think that annoying people by bringing up full screen ads is a potential way to make them your customers.

    If full-page advertisements become the norm, then junkbuster [junkbuster.com] and other such advertising deletion programs will become the norm too.

    If you want to see net based advertising work well, you need look no further than ThinkGeek, which targets its ads directly at.. well people like us.

  • The author of this article fails to get it just as much as the people promoting banner ads don't get it, but for different reasons.

    Banner ad promoters don't get it because they don't understand Web users. They fail to understand that the Web medium makes it possible to ignore ads in ways not possible in traditional media. And people will work hard to ignore ads. Finally, if people ignore the ads, ad buyers won't buy the ads.

    The author, however, doesn't get it because he does not understand ad buyers. Ad buyers really don't want to learn about the different demographics of different Web site users. While his approach might work for the New York Times, it almost certainly would not work for anything with a lesser name. Simply put, it is too much work for ad buyers to worry about all those details.

  • Subscripion: The ultimate opt-in.

    If the NY Times gave me a choice of either paying for access to their site or enduring more intrusive ads than they have now, I'd reach for my credit card.

    The problem here is that it works for the Times, whose content is consistently useful to me. I'm less likely to pay for thestreet.com, because I can't be as sure that I'll get my money's worth (this I learned from their free 30-day trial). But thestreet.com might one day have that golden nugget that makes the whole thing worthwhile.

    What really makes my blood boil is having to endure advertising on seemingly any printable surface. Now they're pasting ads on floors, gas station squeegee handles, and even baggage carousels (not above them, the actual segments your suitcase slides over--no way to look away).

    You have one guess as to why I never want an internet-connected refrigerator!

  • The whole idea of "interruption-based web ads" is based on the bogus assumption that there's a stream of action to interrupt. If you're just looking at more or less static web pages, it doesn't make sense.

    Interruption ads would work in streaming media, especially since most streaming media is played by closed-source players that could disable fast-forward. But streaming media has to be something people really want to watch before they bother. Most web sites are akin to print media. And interruption-based ads in print media will annoy more than they sell. (It's been tried; there was a period in the 1970s when most paperback books came with ads on stiff card stock bound in. People hated that so much the industry had to drop it.)

    If this were going to work, it would have been tried in streaming porn by now. Has it?

    Spamcop [spamcop.net], of all things, has "interruption-based advertising" now. If you use Spamcop to report spam, and aren't a paying member, you get a 5-second JavaScript countdown before the requested action takes place. (Although that's not why you want to become a member; it's the incoming mail filtering service that's useful.)

  • While I don't think that the average person is going to be switching to a virtual desktop or unloading their sound module it is a valid point. Advertisements in a "on demand" system doesn't really work so well. I end up watching some advertisements because I don't want to miss one second of the Simpsons or whatever. With interruption based advertising like that then it will be all to easy to avoid and with no consequence since, the webpage that you are trying to get to in the first place isn't going anywhere.
  • What if I'm not running on a system that supports Flash? Am I blocked from seeing your site? Or do I get to go straight on in, avoiding the ad?

    If you're not running on a system that supports the latest version of Macromedia Flash technology, NY Times Digital would be happy to sell you a new Duron-based PC for $1500, including a FREE LIFETIME SUBSCRIPTION to ad-free NYTimes.com.

  • We are having to modify some of the database parameters to take the additional load. This mainly involved getting the use that the database runs as (mysql) and upping some of its ulimits. The other thing was we had to up the number of conections MySQL allows.
    The frontpage without your id is something I put in place a few months ago. Basically in the past when we took the database down, the entire site went down. Now what happens is that everyone who is after a page that is generated by the database will get the front page rendered statically. Not great, but better then nothing.
  • try this one [siliconalleydaily.com]

    "Only amateurs attack machines; professionals target people."
  • If you recall back to 1994, or thereabouts, when banner ads started popping up in force, the big deal wasn't clickthroughs. The currency of the advertising industry is not and has never been effectiveness. Billboard adversising has never been rated by the number of people who make a purchase triggered by the ad. TV comercials have never been expected to generate instant revenue. Advertising just doesn't work that way, and there was never any expectation (at least not origionally) that banner adds would be any different.

    The critical measurement in adverstising is the number of "impressions" an ad gets. In other words, how many people drive past a billboard or sit through a compercial. In the case of print adversising, it's also important to note how many people will read a single unit (in some countries, magazenes get passed around among a few dozzen readers).

    The problem with this aproach is that advertisers always had to guess the actual number of impressions. Who's to say how many people actually read that billboard they drive past every day? Does it count that the same thousand people drive past it every morning and evening? These things are maddeningly difficult to measure, which is bad if you are trying to figure out how much an ad is worth.

    With banner ads, that's no problem - you can measure presicely, practically to a one, how many impressions an ad received. With a little extra work, some database code and a cookie, you can even identify individuals, and take note of how many of those impressions were duplicates. With a little more work, you can even test to see if a particular customer now buying a product on your web site has seen one of your banner ads (and when, where and how often they were seen).

    So what if no one clicks on banner ads? Who cares? It's still a decent advertising medium, as they go. As a matter of fact, it's even a little bit more valuable because you can actually say how many people saw the ad, as opposed to a TV producer saying "well, we think that this many people watch this show, and there is such-and-such a chance that someone channel surfing will flip past your comercial as it was aring..."

    Anyway, the dirty little secret about advertising is this: It Doesn't Work. At least, it usually doesn't. No one knows how much it might be worth, how effective it is, or even if it does more good than harm. Banner ads, however nifty they might be, quantitatively prove what advertisers have been attempting to conceal for generations - ads don't work, and in the rare cases when they do, there's no way of explaining or reproducing the results.


  • >> If you want reliability, you use a real language (C++/Java), a real database (Oracle) and a real Unix (AIX, Solaris, etc).

    IMHBTB(I may have been trolled, but...)

    I can agree that they would be better off with a "real" database, as krow in a previous comment basically stated they had to change parameters on the fly to accomodate the load. That sucks.

    However, you are full of shit on the other two counts. C++ is a great language, but I wouldn't write web applications with it, other than for backend components that can be called by the primary web language. Until there is a standard HTML library for C++, that will always be the case. You might, with great effort and lots of cash, be able to get better performance with Java than you can with Perl. However, I maintain the average Perl site runs better and faster than the average Java site. Mind you, this is a purely subjective opinion.

    As far as operating systems, you are dead wrong. The only redeeming features of AIX or Solaris are the systems they run on. Linux is a superior platform when it comes to developing and running your own applications. AIX in particular sucks unless you are running binaries. It has a shitty compiler(not to mention you have to pay extra for the xlC compiler, which to me is the ultimate sin on a UNIX system), and getting gcc to run on it, in order to compile C++ programs or other software, is a nightmare.

    Linux beats the proprietary Unices hands down when it comes to compiling your own software or web applications.

    Flame away.

  • All of this ad stuff is kinda cool/strange for me. I was working at an Internet adverstising firm [zedo.com] that tried to solve a lot of the problems of relevancy and targetting. It was a good initial idea, but never took off. Part was inexperience, of every member of the team. Part was plain ol' management incompetence (our arguments were legendary, and they'll be passed as oral history for generations to come). And we also got flattened by the Dow being shitcanned. I honestly believe if we were out 6-12 months earlier with the inflated and unrealistic stock market at that time, internal problems or not, we'd have IPO'd, and I'd be writing this from a beach and be trying not to spill my fru-fru drink with and umbrella on my laptop with cellular modem.

    It was a cool design, folks choose their ads. Majorly different than DoubleClick, which has to guess all the time what folks want. The more info they have, in theory the better guesses they can make but more DB crunching they have to do. In our system, they told us what they wanted (well, picked form what was available). I wrote the server, and it was all C array lookup tables. We served off of a single Dell 700 or so MHz box.

    I think one problem with Internet advertising is a flawed model. Other advertising is there for brand awareness. There's no 'clickthrough' on a magazine page. You look, you're reminded of it. It's worked, the really ugly gym shoes I'm wearing as I type I bought because of an ad. Did I rush out to buy the shoes when I saw the ad? No. I was reading my magazine (and bitching about too many ads too). Digital Convergence and the Evil CueCat wanted to get away from this and actually link reading to a direct action, but will fail because it doesn't realize that it's interrupting people, making them turn on their computer and load some stupid software for the advertisers benefit.

    The "revenue by clickthrough" model has a serious flaw: it depends on counting people who were willing to be interrupted in their flow of work. If I'm on a site, I'm usually looing for something. I don't want to be distracted by shopping on eBay or whatever, so I'm not clicking on an eBay banner. Other times, I go specifically to eBay, because I'm there to buy stuff, partially because of seeing some ad earlier. Interuption based advertising (called interstitials) don't get around the basic problem of interrupting my initial task. Just distracts me more, and I'd be mad for it.

    And the net will survive. Certain sites will still be around, for love or whatever. Other sites will try various pay models, but the net isn't going away.

  • In general, I find your post to be thoughtful, but there are a few things a must disagree with.

    It's very easy to portray what the linux community does as theft of products, services, and a threat to the United States economy. As long as the community supporting linux has the reputation as thieves, it will also tend to give the product a bad name.

    I do not see where open source is theft of services. The packages I have seen included with Linux distros (for example Sun Office) are there quite legally. I can name many Windows programs (including Windows itself) that have been put up on warez sites, but I cannot name any commercial Linuz packages off the top of my head. I'm sure there are true Linux Warez out there somewhere, but not like Windows apps. How does this give Linux users a bad name?

    The DeCSS court case is the only major battle I can think of that involves Linux. Even then, the root of the case is the rights of 2600 to link to code that is "illegal" under the DMCA. The whole crux of DeCSS is that Linux users want to be able to watch purchased DVDs on their Linux system without having to boot to Windows. Yes, DeCSS can be used for illegal purposes, but then so can a hammer. I see no one wanting to ban hammers just because I can boink someone on the head with one.

    Instead, the linux community acts like freeloaders. They want to have good products, yet they are unwilling to give any payment to those who bring the products to them. They fight the rights and liberties of those who control intellectual property, but they want their rights and liberties protected by the government.

    Again I must disagree. The whole idea of open source is to put products and code out in the open where people can use and improve on them. Just becaause one uses open source software does not make them a freeloader.

    We are in the midst of a revolution with intellectual property and how it will be distributed in the future.

    Once upon a time, scribes created books. Books were rare, few people knew how to read, and life was good for those scribes. Along came Gutenburg and created the printing press. Suddenly reading material could be published in mass and made available to many people. Scribes no longer were in demand, but the printing press was not the end of Capitalism. New industries (publishers) were born. The scribes fought like made, but they were obsolete.

    We are in a similar situation with IP today. Let's face it - intellectual property is no longer a limited quantity. Perfect copies can be made and passed around. The current model of the RIAA may be on it's way out (just like the scribes were) , but new models will take its place. The only reason the Capitalistic model looks to be in jeopardy is that the RIAA does not want to change with the times -- they want to stay with the old paradyme of their way or no way -- you will buy our product our way, or else. This break down of Capitalism (buyers and sellers coming together) has resulted in Napster et. al. The mass trading of MP3s has nothing to do with Linux -- it has everything to do with the cost of CDs being too high. Everyone I have personally talked to that uses Napster still buys CDs - its just they have a fixed amount of money that can be allocated to buy music. If the labels were smart, they would lower the price of CDs and make MP3's (no copy protected crap) available from their sites for a fair price. This is what consumers want! Once consumers and producers come together in the market place, music piracy will no longer be a major problem. Yes, some piracy will always exist, but it will not serious impact the marketplace.

    The MP3 "movement" is far bigger than the Linux community. Many traders of MP3s have never owned a Linux box in their lives. Intellectual property issues are a hot topic in the Linux community, but that does not mean Linux users are pirates, freeloaders, or communists.

    End of Sermon

  • The main reason I don't click on banner ads isn't because they're annoying but rather because they almost never advertise anything there that interests me
    I agree. However, as soon as a website tries to show stuff that interests people (targeted ads), a lot of people (you know who you are, and some of you are /. readers) complain about privacy violations. Attempts to gather personal data to deliver effective targeted ads are treated like inquisitions ("why do they have to know my income when I read the news?!?").
  • Just for your information, I got on shockwave.com using IE5/Mac OS. But still your stuation sucks :(
  • is to motivate people to take action - be it buying a can of soda or a car or clothes or a new operating system. This is usually achieved by invoking one or more of our basic instincts - fear, envy, lust, pride, insecurity...In addition to these emotional aspects, there is also the matter of delivering the ad in the right place at the right time (little point putting up a LINUX ad on a site meant for senior citizens...) IMHO, most banner advertising seems to be focused on the "eye-catching" aspect of advertisements - and hence the monkeys, the oh-so-precious psychedelic-flashing icons, the cute MS Windows dialog boxes....but *none* of these seem to invoke the basic emotions... Tell me, what does that "can of whoopass" banner ad do for you? Doesnt even make me want to remember the advertiser's name...I think the brilliant designers who conceived that banner ad just ought to suppress their humor a tad and work on understanding what makes the /. crowd tick and then design an ad around it. Isnt this marketing communications 101? Isnt this the premise of ANY communication (including User interface design - first find out what your user does, then find out how he does what he does, then design your interface...)? Banner ads, while they are painful, are not necessarily a failure. The incompetent marketing folks who control the ad budgets, designers and copywriters should take up the blame for failing to understand their target audience. There are good banner ads that make me click on 'em or at least, make me remember the URL (tryin' to remember which ones...:P)
  • by sulli ( 195030 )
    the biggest advertising mistake is Silicon Alley and by extension blowhard idiots like this! Quit spending all your VC on fancy launch parties and useless extensions to your core product, and then I'll listen to your complaints about ad banners. A basic, useful site can survive on banners - it's just these bloated, useless sites like Abuzz that can't.
  • So you're saying that since you're one of the three people in America that doesn't drink Coke or Pepsi that advertising doesn't work?
  • Unlike TV where you just sit and munch with a greecy remote, the internet is an active medium in which users actually *have to* navigate. Unless every single news site has 20 second ads, people will just go somewhere else. How different are Fox, MSNBC and CNN anyway? Not that I even go to any of them, but really, if one site pisses you off, you are likely to find 100 others that will give you the same thing. You'll probably end up finding something better if you take the time to search.

    It is this kind of old thinking (refering to the article) that shows how new and primitive the current web is. Not even the smartest guys have figured anything out.

    What I would suggest is making more effective use of the space. Do people realize that most banner ads take up twice the space of the banner itself? Like look at the banner at the top of Slashdot. Whoever came up with this stupid standard? banners could be at least 600 pixels wide. Or you coule make them a bit TALLER so that you can actually fit an ad in the damn thing. Ya, make them 300 by 100 and put two next to each other. At least that is better than the current standard.

    Then you have news.com that has these huge flash ads. You would think they would have pictures of the new iPaq the story is about, or the new IBM laptop. But no. They're all ads. What a turn off. And of course, most of the articles are ads in themselves. The media is just a huge fad. The faster we get over it the better.

    But if you are a smart company you realize that ads don't do much. It is awareness. Not direct sales. How do you get people to use your product? EASY. You don't give them a choice.

    Free market? Competition? Any company that actually competes with others is already in trouble. The whole key to success is how not to compete, and how to get people to use your product without giving them a choice. One reason why it is so hard to do business on the web is that there is too much competition you can't get rid of. No matter what you do. Absolutely anybody can sell dog food online.

    Anyway, ads never do much other than raise awareness at a huge price. They are also much of an ad to you as they are to potential investors. The more ads an investor sees, the more they are led to believe the company is doing well.

    They should just make ads illegal. Civilization will probably move twice as fast, would be 100 times cleaner, and we wouldn't have to deal with so much disinformation. TV can just go away if ads are the only way to support it. In fact, that might be the true revolution that could turn this mess around. If it really is worth watching, we will pay for it.

    And TV isn't free to begin with. We all pay for cable. It is amazing how many of us forget that.

  • Taco is going to be pissed about this...:)
  • I've been using it for about 2 weeks now and it is wonderful. You can actually change what your browser reports for program and version, have it squelch or lie about your personal information, and just plain reinvent the whole Web experience for you.

    Proxomitron is also the cleanest Windoze program I have ever used. It does not use the registry, does not use or place any files outside of its install directory, and can be bypassed with a single click. Since it functions as a HTTP proxy it works with any browser.

    The only problem is that, once you configure your browser to use the proxy, you can't surf the Web unless Proxomitron is running. You need to set it to autostart or to start along with your browser. Since I have always-on broadband I just put a shortcut in Startup. (And I was wondering if it would work under Wine; I thought it would and am glad to find I was right.)

  • For Win9x boxes, WebWasher [webwasher.com] is free, and does just that. Anyone know of one for Linux?
  • by nanojath ( 265940 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @01:01PM (#279177) Homepage Journal
    It's good to see this discussion getting played out because it is opening a few eyes to a simple but generally ignored fact: The real customers of mass media. It isn't the viewer/reader/listener, in most cases: It's the advertiser. We are merely consumers, with someone else footing the bill. Sort of like Daddy buying you an ice cream cone, except usually doesn't harp on you to buy a truck or a taco afterwards.

    Someone has to pay for content, of course. You can visit my site for free, with no more advertising than a line of text on the bottom giving a prop to the friend who hosts me. Then again, the content on my site hasn't changed for 3 months and arguably contains nothing but the semicoherent ravings of a lunatic.

    So, you want games and frolics and pretty pictures that move and pretend to love you. So let's talk banner ads:

    1. The article is right. Banner ads suck and everybody knows it. I pay heed to about one in a hundred if that. And as soon as I click away from that add, it's content is forgotten.

    2. But an unstated problem is that a large percentage of banner advertisers are ill-conceived, cash-hemorrhaging dotcom fuckups, and who could tell if they could succeed even if they could get the internet to strap me down in a chair with Clockwork Orange eye-restraints and make me watch flash ads for hours on end?

    3. And no doubt there's still plenty of room for the well-placed, well targetted banner ad (porn site ads on teaser pages, ferinstance, or Linux gear on /.)

    So banner ads are probably not a thing of the past but let's get real: they can't pay for all the groovy content on the internet.

    Now, let's talk interruption-based flash ads or whatever of the same ilk: it's not gonna work. The internet isn't like teeveee, you don't plop down in front of it to go passive for three hours. It's active, and there are just too many ways to ignore an interruption based ad. Take the New York Times example. If I have the option, I'm going to shut the window. If I have to cycle through the ad to get to the content, I'm going to have another window open so I can do something else while it's running. Circumvention software will inevitably appear, and it is relatively hard to make ad circumvention illegal.

    And even if it does work, I will be avoiding sites that have interruption based ads like the plague.

    So. People are whining, "like, geez, so, what's the solution, Jath?"

    Here's a thought: Make the payment structure content-independent. Meaning, your browser pays for the content, and then you pay the browser however you want. You want ads, you get ads - you have to sit through your twenty seconds before you load your content. You want to pay direct, you pay a monthly fee. The site determines the entry fee. If it exceeds your threshhold, your browser asks if you're willing to pay a premium price. You could have a monthly limit, a charge account, or a bank of funds to draw from. Niche-market content providers could put together package deals. This could solve my problem, which is that I might be willing to pay for the Times online but I don't want to have seventy different bills for my internet surfing. This way, I'd have one bill, the size of which would be essentially determined by me. I think most of us might be surprised at how little internet content might cost if we went directly to the content providers with the same deal as a banner ad company: a small per-page payment.

    The browser might be enabled to block banner or interruption based ads for the paying customer. You could have a "tip jar" feature to toss a few coins to free sites you thought deserved a kudo or two. Of course, content providers could choose to advertise anyway - you could request a warning service to tell you who was going to enforce banners or interruptions regardless.

    It wouldn't have to work with every site, for those choosing not to opt into the system, you would simply get a little message that you were outside the toll zone, so you get what you get. The service could double up as a micropayment system for any kind of limited license software. It's generally recognized that the problem of making small payments on the internet is interfering with the potential to unleash the power of digital duplication and transfer of data: this kills two birds with one stone.


    Paying for content that turns out to suck

    Dealing with all the transitional content (already has ads, doesn't want to sign up)

    Too many interruptions for service options?

    Still, I think it's an interesting idea worth exploring. As the devices for viewing all kinds of content (Digital teevee recorders, computers, illegally hacked DVD players) make it easier and easier to avoid that "word from our sponsors," maybe we need to start seriously looking for alternatives to sponsorship, at least under the current model. Content providers will ultimately sell their product to anyone who pays. Either we address this issue directly or the taco and truck flacks of this world are going to force a solution down our throats. With teevee it could well mean that product placement becomes god - and programs become little more than glorified commercials (Survivor, anyone?). On the internet, who knows? in ten years there could be nothing but free but little and weird content and horrific corporate pablum.

  • Way to reinvent the wheel. Sites have been using sponsors for years, and while they're a very valuable way to advertise they too are slowly dying. You see, sponsorship is no guarantee of content flow -- it's only a bit more productive than a banner -- but the price is often much higher. Besides, sponsorship has different nuances than banners. You can have an advertisement for something on a page and it's considered to be unrelated to the content. A sponsorship is basically an endorsement from the content provider of the advertiser, or at least it seems that way to the viewer. Works fine for most advertisers, but consider this: your tech page is sponsored by Nvidia, and you decide to criticize their smear campaign against the Kyro II. Nvidia, when they find out, will surely pull the sponsorship unless you drop the critique. Now, it would be possible to run an advertisement (banner ad, flash ad, skyscraper, &tc) while running that article, because you're not endorsing the product -- you're just announcing it. Kinda like the full page GE "don't dredge the Hudson River because it'll cost us a billion dollars and we're greedy polluting fucks" ad in my local newsrag, which sits across from a dozen editorials criticizing their management. If, instead, GE was sponsoring the news media (as happens often with NPR programmes), there's no way those editorials would have been published.

    Advertisers have enough control over content already with their desire to reduce page sizes and limit subjects. Sponsorships just give them total power -- and since sponsorships are more difficult to get commitments for, this power is much more acute.
  • Um, as a worker for a bitchincool online newspaper company, I can say that you are WAY off track here. Newspapers *NEED* their advertisements -- that's where most of their money comes from. If they didn't advertise, your average paper would be between five and ten dollars more expensive, and the least of that expense is printing costs. When papers go online, they're at an even bigger loss because banners are so much easier to ignore than print ads. After all, when you look at the paper, the ads are always in your peripheral vision. While you're reading, a word in them might catch your eye -- let's say, for example, you're reading the comics and you notice the word "Furniture." If you need a new couch, you'll read the ad and hit the store if the deal looks good. Mission accomplished. But on the web, ads aren't in your vision...you scroll past them before you even get into the story text. Skyscraper ads aren't a bad idea to reduce this, but a lot of people use small viewports when they go online. Mine is 600wx300h so i can have textpad open in the back.

    Since people can ignore online ads, don't pay subscription services and most newspapers have no other revenue streams, the web is a very dangerous investment to them. There's just no cash. And whereas they understand that some users are like you and ignore them anyway, there are more than enough people who read and even respect advertisements in print to make the model worthwhile. Online...well, the userbase is different, the ads aren't as valuable and the danger for content leachers like webclipping.com is very great (a paper can make a load of money selling its archives to researchers like Lexis-nexus or MLA), even that disappears once you get people pulling all your content into their own databases.

    As much as you hate them, new media advertisements may be the only way for the web to work for content sites like newspapers -- they're easier on the user than the necesarily pricey subscriptions and easier to sell to advertisers. Subscription models won't work...consider that if you want to have a 40 person newsroom working for an average of $30k each (very conservative i think) to an audience of roughly 10,000 subscribers, you'd have to charge each of them $120 a year. That doesn't sound so bad...but remember that you have to fight with giant media sites like news.com giving away the same news for free, albeit with a few fancy ads taking time out of your viewing. I think I'd go for free...

  • wow

    <banner add 1>

    it would

    <banner add 2>

    really suck

    <banner add 3>

    to have to view

    <banner add 4>

    pages that took that

    <banner add 5>

    approach to

    <banner add 5>


    boobs and more boobs [antioffline.com]

  • ...which web-marketing company first proffered the meme that a banner view was worth dollars, rather than the mills it's actually worth?

    That guy owes me and my friends a few trillion dollars.

  • <Bogart>You hit the nail right on the head, sweetheart</Bogart>

    I do the same exact thing. Usually when I'm surfing for the sake of surfing, I won't click on banners, 'cuz the banners are 999 times out of 1000 unrelated to the topic at hand. However, I will remember the site, and when I am ready to buy a dvd/cd/book/pet fox/etc, I'll remember the site, and maybe give it a bit higher priority. Of course, if the banner pisses me off, like banners often do, I'm less inclined to view their sites

    Though I'm agreeing with you on the banner clickthrough rebates. Maybe put a special discount code on the banner to get a free upgrade go second day shipping when you use the code. Just something so that they can track the true utility of banners, instead of thinking they're useless because no one clicks through.

  • I can appreciate your position, but how do you propose the programming gets created and delivered if not for advertising (and occasionally subscription) revenues? Information may want to be free, but it still costs money to produce, broadcast & print those radio, television and magazine programs.


  • Advertising is a long-established science that is also largely art. Just because you advertise something doesn't meant that millions will immediately clamor for your product, however.

    People buy things. Food, cars, clothes, etc. The question becomes which food, which clothes, which beer, are they going to buy. The answer to that is varied - Price, image, taste, paste experience, all affect the choice. Advertising is how the company tries to influence the way you view their product - which (they hope) gets you to choose their product when it's time to buy it.

    It's all about image. It's far too big a subject to try and break down into a single /. post, but I assure you that advertising does work. Every ad doesn't work on every person, but it works.


  • by CoachS ( 324092 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @11:40AM (#279200) Homepage Journal
    While I agree that banner ads seem a weak solution - I practically never click through - interruption-based ads are maddening.

    Part of the problem with the 20-second commercial idea is that it assumes that web surfers come for a single prolonged reading session. Maybe some do, but I typically click to a news site, scan the headlines, read an article or two, then go elsewhere. I come back a few hours later to see what's new and I pop in and out a couple of times a day to look up some information or catch up on a story somebody told me about. There's no way I'm going to sit through a 20-second commercial 5-6 times a day.

    The model that's even more maddening to me are sites that spawn additional browsers without asking me. I hate clicking to a site only to have 3 more browser windows pop up with surveys and videos and ads -- even worse when you're trying to leave the site to have multiple, persistent, ads flung at you without recourse. This kind of browser-jacking is a fast way to get on my list of sites I'll never come back to.

    So what's the solution? I wouldn't mind a full-screen ad that I can click past (i.e. don't have to wait the 20 seconds). The main reason I don't click on banner ads isn't because they're annoying but rather because they almost never advertise anything there that interests me. Cheap long-distance and on-line casinos are most of what I see; no thanks.

    Make the ads relevent, let the users click past them with a minimum of hassle/inconvenience and make the site behind the ad useful and efficient (for those who do click through). Then you'll find success.

    Just my $.02. Keep the change.


"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll