Wednesday, September 29

Putting Lipstick On An Ad Banner

Google has apparently milked the Long Tail of search advertising all the way to its itsy-bitsy tip. Their declaration this week to begin dominating display advertising (WSJ, NYT) was most interesting for its yawn factor.

The highlights of the announcement:
  1. Banners with video!
  2. Banners with video charged as cost per view!
  3. Banners with video that expand and are charged as cost per view!
They could have just bought VideoEgg. Oops, too late.

Their social activation of ad units received the most hype:
In five years, Salzman said 75% of display ads will be “social,” meaning people will be able to comment on them, share them with friends on social networks, or “subscribe” to them, implying that users could sign up to receive notices of when similar ads are available to watch.
Which might be a great way to keep those Superbowl TV spots chugging along post-game. But seriously, you expect me to become a fan of your banner ad? Assuming I even notice it to begin with? It better be damn good. Or at least appealing to the eye:
During a presentation during the IAB advertising conference, Google executives said the medium will become much more engaging. In past years, display ads were “static” and it was “tough to engage Madison Avenue’s most creative minds,” said Barry Salzman, a Google managing director for media. Now “display is bringing ‘sexy’ back.”
Ask any Art Director for their opinion about creating banner ads. Sexy is not the four-letter word at the top of their list.

Facebook has traction with their whole "your friends like this company" automated recommendation ad unit. But that's in a closed social environment where people are used to liking things out of habit. And they are raising their hand to be connected with your brand, not your 25K 3-loop animated Flash rectangle.

It is reminiscent of Digg's announcement last year allowing users to vote on their favorite banners. An initiative that hasn't been publicized much since.

The Internet doesn't need sexy banners. In my opinion, it doesn't need banners at all. There are much more creative (and effective) ways to spend your online media dollars. As more marketers and site publishers figure that out, display advertising's long tail will eventually get clipped. As will a wide variety of advertising revenue streams. Even the sexy ones.

1 comment:

Ben Pierce said...

Lots of eyebrow-raisers in this latest Google volley (Golley?). But one of my faves is their broad definition of what constitutes a display ad.

To quote, from a previous NYT article:
"Google also counts text ads that appear on Web sites other than search results pages as display ads."