In Two Minutes You Can Skip This Column and Continue to Site
OK, I’m looking for guidance here that has to do with how I act, and how I’m supposed to act.
A little while ago, I went to CNET.com just to browse. Like any number of other Websites, an ad positioned itself squarely in the middle of my screen. I do not remember what the ad was for, but I did see a message at the top right that said, “Skip Ad. “
And so that is what I did. It was almost involuntary.
On Forbes.com. I’m greeted with a billboard at the very beginning. On the top right of the page is a graphic that says “Continue to Site.” But having gone on record once saying that for whatever reason, I tend to watch the Forbes intro ad, I stay good to my word, and see in the ad for Volvo, and an interactive possibility within it that says, “To watch our Swedish holiday how-to video and learn about exclusive holiday offer” and directing me where to click.
I stay for that, too. I interact. That takes me to, first, the exclusive holiday car offer. (Exclusive? How? There are 245 million Internet users in the US, at least. ) Then, there’s a place indicated that I can click to access several videos about Swedish ornaments and food.
Except for this job, I would have never have gone there. I can’t imagine how someone visiting a business news site, or shopping for a car, would. But I don’t discount the possibility. They’re nice videos and I was, I guess, engaged.
But I finally get to the Forbes home page I meant to be visiting all along.
Yes and no.
There is something on the left side. It is words and it is probably the main content. But I am distracted on the right side. A small video window starts playing. It’s an ad for someplace called Hiscox, which I believe is a business insurance firm. That is followed by a Presidential video tribute to Nelson Mandela, by which time, I think you are supposed to have paused the video forever so you can get to meat of the Website, back on the left side.
But if you let the video go, it will eventually segue into a short video interview in which a woman recalls her private meeting with Mandela (she was with Richard Branson and a part of a reality show) during which, she relates, Mandela leaned over, put her hand on her knee and said, “ ‘If you want to change the world, help the women.’ She continues. “And that really stuck with me and that was really a profound moment.” (I discovered now: That woman is Sara Blakely. She founded Spanx.)
The things you can miss...
Now obviously, like everybody else, everyday there are many other video ad opportunities either thrust at me. They are ads that I am invited to leave, or ads I can’t leave, and variations on those extremes. There are, in fact, so many ways to interact video online that it ends up being a negative feature, because much of what we are called on to do is maneuver around the situation. That is interaction, I guess, but in an almost wholly negative way.
But it seems to me that in most of these ads, the format and/or the advertiser is creating a situation that is so intrusive that you’re bound to leave or so irrelevant that no one would be surprised when you do.
And if, possibly, you’d like to stay and watch, there is language that in clean legible type will tell you that really, dude, you should leave. Only out of professional duty do I stick around. But I can understand why many don’t.