Commentary

I Wonder

I wonder a lot about our industry from that proverbial 40,000-foot level. What I see worries me. I see two heavily charged currents traveling in opposite directions, causing our industry to feverishly tread water while appearing like we're moving forward. And I am afraid our arms are getting tired.

I wonder about companies like Eye Wonder. Their trade campaign has video ads accompanied by sound embedded into medium rectangles and leaderboards, played five times after reading and referring back to a wonderful and useful column written by Tom Hespos for Imedia (http://www.imediaconnection.com/Newsletter/15847.asp).

The video and startling sound were initiated by my own accidental "rollovers," which are meant to make it easier for me, the user, to engage the ad message in that format. To steal a recent bit from "SNL Weekend Update" -- "Really?" Actively clicking on an ad to start an embedded video is an inconvenience the good folks at Eye Wonder don't wish upon a single user exposed to the ads they are paid to create? "Really?"

At some point upon returning to Tom's article, sound began to emanate from the medium rectangle ad below the fold and not the leaderboard in front of me, forcing me to scramble for a close button I could not see. The fight was on -- I was determined to read this article again without hearing a single sound, and I did so until my Safari browser crashed. I wonder if the file size of these ads had anything to do with that knockout blow?

I wonder about companies like Pointroll. Do the people who work there expand to twice their size when they accidentally brush up against each other in the elevator?

I wonder how the people who buy and pay for pop-unders and "floats" would feel if ads like these from publishers, popped under their browsers and across their screens all day.

I recently read about how "clickers" don't matter as much anymore, and I wonder how those who sell the billions of dollars in search marketing reacted when reading that claim?

I wonder if click-through yields for display advertising have diminished because consumers are tired of clicking ads closed they never asked to be opened? Is it possible that consumers are revolting from clicking on ads because we continue to serve revolting ads?

Experiences with these kinds of intrusive displays of online advertising are not tragic. But do these daily battles consumers wage with these kinds of online display ads make users more comfortable or less, with clicking on any online advertising at all?

Before we throw the clickers out with the bathwater, maybe we should rub the steam off the mirror and take a look at ourselves, and ask why we continue to alienate the very people we are meant to serve.

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