Friday, May 2, 2008

Over the over the page (OTP) advertising

I see over-the-page ads as the nearest format we (online) have to a TV commercial, interrupting our regular programming with a forced advertiser message.

It’s a short-term shotgun approach to online advertising, agencies love them because they provide reach, publishers love them because they provide super CPM rates. Users hate them. If you ask a novice user what is “online advertising”, they’ll often mention these ads. In a digital world that offers so much, it’s a shame we still have to resort to these formats.

Like watching a great TV commercial, there are OTP’s that generally make good viewing (see Soap’s Jumper launch, great example of online specific video done well) however a majority are poor flash projects that add little value or fully exploit the medium. Red flags also to Virgin Money and Sony, who both have over-zealous marketers running over-the-page style advertising on their own sites. Crazy.

What’s made worse if their lack of standardisation – in size, in duration, in mandatory inclusions. Ninemsn allow up to 10 seconds for a full page OTP, a lifetime in online. The IAB goes further offering maximum 15 seconds. And there is no mention of ad frequency, as publishers continue to bump up their frequencies from one a month, to one a week, to frequency of one throughout a week. I’m sure the usability departments in all of these publishers have fought and lost the war when it comes to these formats – too much revenue at stake.

But it’s a short term strategy, he who wins the user, wins the game. Users can and will move, when competitors are only one click away. As RSS and News feed widgets continue to gain in popularity, back door entry to publishers content via these links will become increasingly popular, effectively avoiding the homepage onslaught.

As Dr Schmidt highlights, while Google’s astronomic revenue is derived from their advertising model, the “number one priority is end-user happiness”. Publishers needs to get smarter about their ad units and return more focus to the user.


Anonymous said...

Hey Glen - great post. Couldn't agree more, still colleagues and clients buy them and want them. User experience and context are strong arguments against the use of these. We're colleagues, I see. Might see you round when you are next in Sydney....