Commentary

Getting More Than Virtually Angry...

The traditional media world has learned a great deal from the Internet. It has learned how important immediacy and interactivity can be for advertising. It has learned how important is it is to stay in closer touch with customers, to acknowledge their business, foster their loyalty and LISTEN so that marketers can plan for and meet their needs.

But one thing it has NOT learned is that there is a limit to how much advertising consumers will abide.

The Internet advertising industry has begun to refine how, when, where and why it serves ads. What seemed like grand response-lifting ideas at first, often serve in the end to piss off our audiences and send them running to download software to block out particularly bothersome forms of advertising. As we collect audience data and learned more about who is on our sites and what kinds of ads they click on, we are beginning to serve them stuff users find useful and interesting.

We are getting more creative in our executions. For example, EyeWonder ran ads for Chevy last week with a function to save the ads anticipating users will want to save and replay its classic rock audio/video.

Meanwhile, television is cramming ads into every inch of programming running the very high risk of simply pissing off its audience.

Don’t know about you, but I find those constant promos for Fox shows running as virtual ads behind home plate during the World Series annoying as hell. It makes me want to download software to not only block out the ads, but block the programs advertised from ever being served on my TV.

Now I read that the NHL, NBA and NFL are all kicking the tires on virtual ads. Isn’t that great news?

I can already see where this is going.

“As Jordan comes upcourt (the court looking like the bottom of one of those swimming pools with a beer logo painted on it), he passes (a ball glowing with a virtual motor oil ad) underneath (where a virtual soda pop bear gives a thumbs –up from a seat just off the floor) to his power forward (festooned with so many sponsor logos, we are not sure who he is) who tips the ball off the backboard (looking to the audience at home like a giant TV screen promoting a new show) and into the hoop (which has been transformed to look like a tire).

Far fetched? Ever seen those racing cars tattooed with so many sponsor decals and logos you can’t even see the paint color? Or the dizzying maze of billboards on the outfield walls of ballparks? That stuff is already there. The networks are simply adding in MORE for the home audience.

Sometimes at movies or while watching TV, I get so caught up in wondering if the products used or the corporate logos featured are there to create reality or were paid placements, that I can’t follow the story. The saving grace being that most of what is on TV and comes from Hollywood is so idiotic that you don’t have to follow the story or think anyway.

I used to think that those futuristic movies with corporate logos pasted all over the place (2001: A Space Odyssey, for example) were kind of fanciful. But the more I watch TV; I realize that really is our future.

Network executives try to justify this wall to wall advertising by blaming it on consumers who have come to expect free content, er, programming (sound familiar?) But my cable bill is about $125 a month, ain’t nothin’ free about it.

No wonder the world is looking forward to getting its hands on TiVo and Replay TV.

Who can blame them?

- Adam Guild is President of Interep Interactive

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