With respect to the larger purpose of the prayer above, I will apply its meaning to online advertising as we close in on another fourth quarter marked by a bevy of conferences to discuss the state of our business, starting with the OMMA Conference here in New York next week.
I should start with those things about online advertising that I do not have the power to change and must accept in their current form given the spirit of the serenity prayer. Or not....
Here are the things I would change about online advertising tomorrow, with the understanding that I lack the wisdom to accept that these may be immovable obstacles.
1. Ads that float or pop. If companies like Eyeblaster, Eyewonder, Pointroll and others who develop ad creative that please online marketers and their buyers at the expense of the user experience went away, we would all be better off.
Boundaries establish expectations. When ads wonder, blast or roll beyond the boundaries of ad units, the users' expectations are compromised. But we, meaning buyers, sellers and clients, all pretend this is somehow acceptable if implemented on a 'limited" basis. Please. These ads are a joke, and the higher click-throughs and increased brand awareness these companies promote are even funnier. Of course we remember things that annoy us. The higher click-through yields represent the intensity of this annoyance--not an increased interest in the ad.
If advertisers and their agencies cannot generate consumer interest within the acceptable boundaries of the ad units themselves, they should reexamine their messaging instead of using these obnoxiously intrusive hammers. And publishers are not innocent either. If their pages weren't so cluttered, advertisers wouldn't need to resort to these creative options. The biggest loser in this attention tug of war is the consumer we are all vying to win over.
2. Ads that speak before spoken to. The Internet is a silent medium until the user decides differently. When ads start talking unexpectedly, users scrambles for their mute buttons. The multitude of third-party companies that develop ads with video and sound do so on a user-initiated basis, but somewhere along the food chain buyers and their clients are insisting that sound and video play as soon as the page loads. Hearing a voice through your speakers on your computer is creepy and contributes to the suspicious cloud over our medium.
3. The term "users." This term is no longer a proper description for those who visit a Web site. It also has such a negative connotation (users use us, we use them). If a Web site offers video, Podcasts, and online text, then technically the same consumer is a viewer, listener, and reader. Instead, let's refer to consumers reached by one content brand through various platforms as "brand ambassadors." I know it sounds funny at first, but it also sounds more appealing .
Publishers, the job of arresting these issues ultimately falls onto your lap. You can say no to running ad units that compromise the experience of your brand ambassadors--and if you do, they will reward you with loyalty and good will that can be monetized in a more thoughtful manner.
As we continue to mature, do we as an industry have the collective wisdom to change bad habits formed during our exuberant youth?