While we all know that the shortest and simplest path to purchase represents a tactic that moves product, we should also know by now that all consumers aren't necessarily ready to buy when they interact with one of our online ads. This is where parallel information structures can help.
Let's say I'm a consumer that is in the market to buy a widget. I see an online banner for Widget Express Inc. and say to myself, "Hey, I've been looking to buy one of those." So I click on the banner and find myself at an order form on WidgetExpress.com. Since all I see is the order form, I find myself asking questions.
"Are these Widget Express guys on the level? How do I know this isn't just another one of those Internet rip-offs?"
"Does this widget come with the citrus juicer attachment? Or is that optional?"
"What if the widget breaks? Does Widget Express have a customer service department? Will they take it back?"
These are all questions that smart consumers might ask themselves before purchasing. But if all they're-presented with is an order form, they'll probably hit their browser's back button and skedaddle.
Don't get me wrong. Many consumers expect an order form upon click when they are presented with an Internet ad that presents a product offer. But other consumers expect information and answered questions before they feel comfortable buying.
That's where parallel information structures come in. You see, unlike broadcast media that are linear in the way they present information, interactive media can present information in parallel. A smart DR advertiser will not only serve up an order form, but also some links to important information that can help influence a buying decision. This information might include:
What's great about online media is that none of this information needs to stand between your ad and your order form. Broadcast media, like television and radio, can present only one concept at a time (which is why those DR ads have voiceover announcers who can talk a mile a minute). Thankfully, websites can present the information in parallel - the order form can come with a menu of options for those customers who need that extra little nudge to get them to plunk down their credit cards.