Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
October 20, 2010 9:26 PM

Looking Beyond The Banner Ad

Banner advertising never had a chance.

And that's not a cynic of advertising talking, but rather someone who spent the bulk of the early Internet days selling banner advertising and cutting deals. Even during the heyday (before the dot com implosion), the cracks in the pavement were evident. Beyond the standard fare (technological limitations, issues with enforcing standards and so on), my major gripe was that the Internet is a different kind of media channel and platform, and plastering different sizes of boxes all over the content does not create a cohesive customer-centric product. It's not like a magazine where a page of advertising between reading doesn't really disrupt the flow, but rather ads some visual candy to the words. It's not like television where the commercials are used as breaks or ways to build a plot. Online, it tends be just a mess that usually makes the content harder to read and annoys the reader.

It's also more than one message.

Just head over to your favorite newspaper online. It's usually a mess of messages - ads, links, small boxes, big boxes, takeovers, etc... There no choice of differentiation for the consumer between reading content and then seeing an ad... it all takes place in one annoying blast. Trying to read text on a page that has things blinking all over the place and at different times/places murders the user experience. Beyond that, in a bid to prove that there are revenues in online advertising publishers do crazy things like stagger one piece of content over multiple pages simply to serve more banner ads and up their impression/revenue potential.

Things have to change. Things are about to change.

Google recently announced an initiative called, Watch This Space, which is looking to re-invent the banner ad (focusing on targeting, creativity and simpler technology to make it work), while Microsoft is also looking to change things up. In a MediaWeek news item published on October 18th, 2010 called, Microsoft's Everson Looks to Reinvent Display, the company's CVP of Global Ad Sales, Carolyn Everson, basically said, "banner ads stink."

According to MediaWeek...

"Microsoft is planning to set up a series of meetings with top creative agencies and executives across the industry as part of an Everson-led effort to reinvigorate online creative, and to attract more traditional brands in the process. Everson, who was most recently COO and EVP of U.S. Ad Sales at MTV Networks, wants to sit down with the current generation of Don Draper's and spark nothing short of a revolution."

What do you think? Are banner ads are on their last leg? Can that form of advertising work if it is re-invented?

By Mitch Joel