Surprise Delivery / Banner Blindness / Forthcoming

Somewhat surprisingly I got a phone call this morning to say that the Panasonic was on its way. Despite being quoted 10-14 working days I find it's in my house within 3. Impressed.
Spent this morning having a think about online marketing. Specifically newsletters and banner ads. I'm shortly going to be required to assist on a banner ad project and I'm really cynical about their usage. I can't help projecting my own personal browsing interpretation on the experience. Personally I don't actually recall ever clicking on an ad - even if it's presented in a search engine. This kind of approach is affectionately termed 'request marketing' and the theory goes that you effectively sought out some information ('requested' it) and therefore you're more likely to use the ad to complete your goal. I think this model is wrong. I resent anyone telling me that their information is more relevant than someone elses or more useful than someone elses simply by virtue of the fact that they've paid for their ad to be optimised to a search request. I value Google's approach of page-rank (though I can't think of any users that actively vote on each page they visit) and web-designers that use META tags to optimise their page findability. A lazy effort to produce a pop-over or banner that glares in my face will not make me click.
But does it make other people click? Not according to Nielsen and the other supporters of the theory of banner blindness (and here). Users still follow the laws of cognitive primacy and Geshtalt ordering where the most important and relevant items are placed at the top and in semantically ordered groups. Imagine a 'real world' analogy where you're reading a paper. If someone was to throw an advert on your page and obstruct your view you'd be irritated and screw it up surely? This happens all the time on the web and you're forced to look around for the X or 'close window' button. The proliferation of pop-up blockers and the like are indications that users want to get back in control.
Trouble is. the client's going to want a banner ad - because they've had them before - and all they'll want to know is the click through rate. I'll have to start talking about loyalty and how much time the user is investing on the site and suddenly the issue swells. Perhaps it's time to take Jakob's advice (again!) and direct them towards a text based low-fi model and start thinking about click-through rates in a smarter way.
Anyway, future topics coming up include accessibility vs. usability (are they mutually exclusive?) and 'ho-hum' - how the web is becoming 'same old, same old'.
Have a good weekend. Oh, take a look at this link for some amusing management-style de-motivation pics.

1 comment:

Emmanuel Idé said...

I think that what you are talking about is the "old generation" of banners, the banners which are not integrated to the design of the page - advertisers have now understood that a banner must be as hidden as possible to be as efficient and effective as possible (blindness theory taken a bit further) : more you hide your banner within your text, more likely your visitors will click on it.

We have run recently banners campaigns reaching 1% conversion rate which far bigger than the common figures given nowadays for this type of advertising online. we achieved this by re-designing our partners banners to fit the theme of the site they were displayed on - if the message reflects the content of the page, even better.

We then put them in the middle of the text - just make sure again that they come up at the right time (between two main paragraphs for instance).

That's it - no need of flashy dhtml effects, or gif/flash animations - the design was simple, but integrated. design is important, integration is key.