Quality Assurance Is Key
Answer: When its users are surprised when they see an error.
Just look at the buzz created when TV or print makes a mistake. Consumers are conditioned by high levels of past performance to think that their media is above error. What would happen if you find a newspaper full of stains or that was badly written? What if your landline phone made noises interrupting your communications? Would you keep paying for a car that keeps on breaking down? I guess not. The same happens with our medium. But we have a long way to go with online media for which we need a quick, but sustained fix: quality assurance.
Now that a substantial amount of money is coming into online, especially from advertisers, we are susceptible to being lulled into complacency assuming wrongly that because the Internet has become central part of everyone's life that we can let a mistake or two slip by unnoticed. Well, that's the kind of thinking that got GM in trouble and drove mistake-filled Yugoslavia Yugos off a cliff.
Have you ever asked yourself why big brands spend much of their budget on TV advertising or print advertising but only a little online? I strongly believe that the reason has to do with concerns about quality assurance (QA). Big advertisers cannot afford a single execution to run with errors, or to crash, or simply not appear in front of their promised target audience. The online industry does not have sufficient procedures to insure that advertisers will see their creative run exactly how they expect it, or, just as importantly, to insure that the user experience will be 100 percent enjoyable.
We may think that users are getting used to visiting Web pages full of errors or crashes, but each instance takes them one step away from thinking the publisher of that page is a reliable, trusted source of information.
You can ask any company that has an efficient QA team and they will surely tell you that they detect hundreds of errors in major Web pages (I would dare to say, in all of them). The buck stops with the publisher, but in fairness, publishers simply do not have the time or often, the resources to maintain an error-free site. But it's time we realize that we need QA teams. If we cannot make that investment, let's outsource. And QA isn't just for publishers, but every sort of Vendor Company. QA has to be in place if we want to move forward in the advertising industry and if we want to be considered more seriously and have a bigger part in every budget.