I am embarrassed and angry about the rich-media industry (but mostly just angry).
For the last five years, rich-media vendors have been using Adobe Flash, and more recently HTML5, to irritate, frustrate, disrupt, distract, annoy, and torment the general public.
Using invasive rich media ads to capture a consumer's attention is like trying to save a man dying of thirst by drowning him in water.
Flash is a technology that, despite its flaws, has fundamentally increased the level of interactivity on the Web. It made Web-based video streaming, audio, and even applications a reality. Recently, the introduction of HTML5 took Flash one step farther by enabling developers to build rich applications that could work in browsers without plug-ins, and even render natively on mobile devices. Over the next few years, HTML5 will continue to blur the lines between desktop and Web-based applications with persistent storage among its capabilities.
We have the technology to produce brilliant, useful, meaningful, and functional ads, and yet we are squandering it.
I believe that rich-media vendors are doing tremendous harm to the online display advertising industry. We are enabling a generation of advertisers to believe that invasive is a substitute for persuasive.
(Please don't bother sending me an example of your great advertising, because the exception does not prove the rule.)
We need to demand something better.
As the CEO of Adventive, a rich-media provider, I can't stand by and watch it happen. I believe that we all need to be deeply passionate about user experience, because advertisers are best served when their customers have a positive brand experience.
We need to rid the display market of bad rich media. We need to educate advertisers and publishers alike that it is in their own best interests to use rich media wisely (and sparingly).
After all, if your goal is to sell something, not pissing off your customer is a great first step.
A Manifesto for Rich-Media Vendors and Publishers:
A rising tide in rich-media advertising is good for everyone. The ability to create ads that have entire applications embedded within them creates endless opportunities for rich-media vendors to build incredibly compelling ads.
As an industry, we need to agree on ground rules that we all live by:
1. We will only use rich media when it adds value to the user experience.
2. We will not use an ad to block or push down text on a content site unless a consumer explicitly clicks.
3. We will not make it hard to close an expanding window to drive artificial clicks.
4. We will try our best to help advertisers build great consumer experiences.
5. We will build ads that seamlessly integrate into the websites and applications they are served on.
Fixing rich media is good for advertisers, publishers, rich media vendors -- and, most important, consumers.
I am publicly committing that my company will honor this manifesto. I promise that with every single ad we build on my watch, we will work to enhance the user experience.
Will you join me in honoring this manifesto?