Sandy Marks, Internet ad director for political-advertising firm MSHC Partners, said that one client, a women's organization, recently ran ads on blogs for a voter-registration drive. But the format--text on a pink background, assuming that pink appeals to women--was boring. Because the creative units were lackluster, the campaign was ineffective, Marks said. "It's important not only to find your target demographic, but to speak to them in the way they need to be spoken to," she said.
Social networks are especially critical of bad ads, since reviews of poor or out-of-touch creative can be shared virally, said panelist Brian Clark, president of ad agency GMD Studios. "Social networking is far more punishing of bad creative," he said. New clues about online ads suggest we "don't tell the audience what they should believe, or give them a question that they can answer themselves."
Clark said that even presenting good creative in traditional units can be detrimental to their effectiveness. "When you take IAB standard banners and start migrating them to places like YouTube and MySpace, you find that the click-through rates are even more horrific than traditional publisher sites."
Panelist Frank Radice, senior vice president at the NBC Agency, said that even an edgier campaign that offends the audience could generate buzz. "If you get them to talk about it or go to the competition, as long as they're talking about it, and engaged by it, there's nothing wrong with that," he said.