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Chris Miller

Those Annoying Online Ads

Sometimes, we dont have to go further than our own websites to find some incredibly irritating online ads. Digital advertising guru David Binkowski has pointed out on that online ads have often been less than effective "because their solution to reaching consumers has had little to do with being relevant or creative but everything to do with being annoying."

In todays digital world, you can hyper-target the best audience for your marketing message. Still, lots of online advertisers are trying to build business by getting attention. This is like believing that the secret to a long and successful marriage is a first date you just cant forget, no matter the reason.

So, here are some types of online advertising that are more effective at bugging us than actually selling product. How many of these have you accepted for your stations websites? How many of these make you, as a web surfer, think twice about visiting a site again?

HOVER ADS. These are the ones that you accidentally trigger when your mouse rolls over them. They pop up, take over part of the screen, or even play a video. When you have a minute or two to catch up on the morning news, thats exactly what you want, right? These are also called roll-over ads, and often feature an "X" to close the screen that doesnt work until the ad has been up for a certain amount of time.

HOME PAGE TAKEOVER ADS. You log onto a site, but instead of seeing the content you were seeking, you get an ad. Itll go away in a few seconds, but you dont have any choice other than just wait. Can we call this "TV ads on the web"? Theres only minimal targeting going on here.

AUDIO AND VIDEO SURPRISE ADS. Youre on a website, and a video image of a person pops up, interrupting your concentration, trying to sell you something. Meanwhile, you rapidly close your browser window so your co-workers dont know you were goofing off in your cubicle. Talking banner ads are just about as obnoxious and ineffective.

INTERSTITIAL ADS. These are the ads that pop up in between the page where you clicked a link, and the page where you want to end up. They almost always have an easy-to-find "Skip This Ad" link. Dont you always click that link? Have you ever hung around to pay attention to the ad? Not me.

POP-UNDER ADS. Sometimes, when you close your original browser window, you find these untargeted annoyances. Example: You could download lots of movies from Netflix, and still find their marketing debris in a separate screen inviting you to a free trial.

Many advertisers have learned the hard way about "banner blindness," where web users automatically avoid focusing on anything that looks like an ad. However, consider the low-rent "solution" to this issue. Have you ever clicked through and bought something from a blinking or chirping banner ad? I didnt think so.

"I want to get more attention" is the online equivalent to the oft-heard phrase, "I want to build some traffic for my store." Its a sign that you need to spend more time with your client learning their needs and formulating a meaningful marketing solution.

Next week, Ill focus on the most effective online ads.

Chris Miller has been a major-market PD in Atlanta, Portland, and Cleveland. He now operates Chris Miller Digital, which he launched. Visit his website at
Contact Chris via e-mail, or 216-236-3955.