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Can Some Advertising Hurt?



7:16 am on Jul 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I clicked on a link in a favorite forum, went to a resource site Iíve used often for a few years to read an article that I was interested in. On the page was one of those really loud blinking ads in black and white and other colors, with the strobe light effect. Now normally I can handle the smaller vertical banners of really garish ads, but this was a Big Skyscraper and it actually hurt my eyes to the point where I closed the browser tab on that page and found similar content elsewhere.

Ads that are offensive to the eye to grab attention are pretty pervasive ergo I would assume at least minutely profitable, but is there any measure damage to either the company doing the advertising or the website serving the ads?

I would assume, as most of the ads of this type are not branded, the damage to the ďreputationĒ of the product or the provider is negligible. At worst the only risk these ads pose to the advertiser is lower CTR due to users simply leaving the page. Publisherís however run a much higher risk of a loss in user retention and brand reputation. I used to think these risks were only associated with off color content or intrusive ad formats (popups and the like), but this broadens the issue to include the aesthetics of the ad itself.

Iíve tried searching for usability or other studies done that might reveal some basic concepts that are harmful in ads, but Iíve not found anything yet.


5:22 pm on Jul 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member essex_boy is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I dont know of a track record for these ads but you can imagine that they dont really work in the long.

Flashing ads and the ads that state ive won a time sensitive prize drive me mad and I leave the site straight away.

So you can kind of figure that maybe they dont work...at all.

The other style ad I hate are the ones that have sound, it wouldnt be the first time ive surfed late at night half asleep and jumped out of my skin when Ive heard the sound of maybe a dog barking etc.


8:40 pm on Jul 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Market efficiencies will dictate what types of ads remain in use. Types of ads, as well as merchants, that consistently fail to convert will vanish. As they say, survival of the fittest.

I'm actually more concerned with the people who are so annoyed by advertising that they block everything with Norton or equivalent software.


10:29 pm on Jul 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Users who block ads have probably been annoyed by these harsh, loud ads. This hints at an even bigger risk for all advertisers and publsihersn because the more users who block all ads the lower overall impressions and ctr's.


3:08 pm on Jul 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I think spam demonstrates that market efficiencies on the net are a few orders of magnitude different than in meat-space.

These ads are a blight on content sites, probably doing them more harm in reduced traffic than they help with increased revenues. Ignorant webmasters -or perhaps too clueless to think of other revenue models- keep signing up for these obnoxious banner ad networks. And old-school marketers that haven't grasped the fundamentals of a new media keep buying obnoxiously flashing ads in a desperate attempt to get noticed.

The best market efficiency is to have people systematically block those bandwidth-wasting ads, quit frequenting those sites and put those idiot marketers out of business.

Now don't get me wrong... I'm all for good advertising. You know, useful content and services that help people make a purchasing decision or contextual ads.

Oh, and since you were asking questions about usability, and not just requesting rants from people like me... [google.ca...]


8:42 am on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Well then from the discussion here, and reading elsewhere, the simplest idiom I can come up wth is that all image ads are bad.

Since there are plenty of text ads to revenize (is that a word?) most sites, the risk in serving image ads, especially through an automated system is unnessecary.


1:11 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have a merchant with a visual product (art widget widgetizers), wich will require advertising with images. I am hoping it will be possible to convince affiliates to at least try, and this will require making ads that don't have the problems of most of what's out there at the moment.

Basically, the rule of thumb I am using is that if it adds to the content rather than substracts, it will be good for the publisher. Since most of those sites that would advertise this product already are very graphic site, and that's the very reason people visit them, then there's a fit.

That's not really to contradict what you're saying stargeek- this is not automated, and this is a very particular case. The fact that an exception to the general rule that all text ads are bad has to be so precisely qualified is a sign that almost all the time images ads are bad :)

Michael Anthony

7:39 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Interestingly, on CJ it's usually the plain text links that come up with the highest EPC's in any given merchant's campaign, probably because these are the ones that can be woven into content so that they're less obviously ads.

So it would appear that most online consumers dislike banner ads too.


11:13 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Well then from the discussion here, and reading elsewhere, the simplest idiom I can come up wth is that all image ads are bad.

My $.02.

If you want people to visit your site more than once, make sure the ads are not annoying.

For example, I love weather.com but I hate their ads. Ads like those (the flash kind that block the screen) are just plain annoying.

I'm not an anti-ad kind of person but I did get a great utility called "No! Flash" (Google it) that doesn't block ads, it just prevents Flash ads from playing and prevents animated GIF ads from being animated. (By the way, if you're serving Flash ads to your users and they have it blocked/don't have flash, make sure you have an animated GIF alternative -- I've seen these come up on pages whenever I have No! Flash running).


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