Let’s face it, no one clicks internet advertisements. Every now and then, while surfing a site I love, I’ll click a banner advertisement just to help out their advertising rates. But the sympathy click is the full extent of my interaction with web advertisements.
Yet, tons of websites earn a profit based solely on advertisements; the same ads that us web savvy folk avoid like the plague and fill us with frustration. You know, those awful web page ads that flash catchy headlines, use your IP to incorporate your location, perhaps even involve a little game element (shoot three ducks to win an iPad!). Or even just banner ads for mainstream products, services, and outlets like Best Buy, that may or may not obnoxiously expand to cover the entire web site you were surfing. How could those possibly be fiscally lucrative?
The truth is, there is a massive demographic of non-tech savvy AOL-type users who do click on even the most vile looking, spammy web ads. I learned this when my own mother, while surfing a site, vocally exclaimed, “Oh look, a woman from Stamford (where she lives) discovered the one secret to weight loss! I wonder what it is.” And yes she actually CLICKED that advertisement. I was horrified.
However, as the internet grows older and generations are born and raised in it’s culture, people will eventually stop clicking those awful ads. Purpose driven web surfers already spend mere seconds on a single page, quickly scanning it for what they’re looking for. Those kinds of ads will eventually become obsolete. Just like television shifted heavy emphasis to product placement with the popularization of recording devices, a different method of advertising is required for the web. Also, just as shovel-ware (legacy media ported straight to web) doesn’t work in an online environment, neither do print-inspired banner advertisements. Internet advertising requires a little more creativity.
One advertisement that I think does consistently well is the sponsored link section on Reddit. The ad looks like any other post but clearly says sponsored link. It appears at the top and users can vote on it and comment. What really makes this type of advertisement successful is the title slug. I’ve noticed when the title is too corporate or too corny, the ad is less successful as opposed to a title with more genuine desire to get the word out to the Reddit community about a neat product. This kind of ad is far more friendly in appearance and can easily go viral on a site like Reddit.
Integration ads are another highly successful type of web advertisement. Basically the product placement on the internet, these ads will insert products and brands into popular online experiences. A perfect example can be seen in Facebook games. Recently, 7-Eleven, Farmer’s Insurance, McDonalds, and now the upcoming movie Megamind have all been featured as engaging in-game advertisements. Interacting with the ad will earn you valuable items and bonuses in the game. This creative form of advertising gets millions of guaranteed viewers who not only glance over the ad, but actively engage and discuss the product. As an advertiser, what more could you want?
These are just a few of the web ads that I believe hold the future to maintaining fiscally stable websites. The types of ads described above will long outlast any boring banner ads.
Although, it is worth mentioning that AOL’s new Project Devil (terrible name IMO) has noted the issues with online advertising and aims to resovle them with single, massive ads on pages. These concentrate the attention of the user on just a single box, the big colorful canvases look far more interesting, and the sheer size of the ad makes it far more clickable. Already rolled out on sites like MovieFone, look for Project Devil and other new forms of web advertising to begin surfacing.