12 December 2006

Horrid flickering ads

Has a more counterproductive form of advertising ever been devised?*

There's nothing wrong with having ads on one's website. Most such ads display still pictures, not unlike the ads one sees in an ordinary magazine or newspaper. They are not excessively distracting. If one of them looks like it might interest me, I may even click on it.

Very different is the horrid flickering ad -- the one which displays moving imagery, especially if the movement is rapid or jerky. The irritating effect on the brain is so strong that whenever I see one of these abominations go into its act on my screen, I immediately reflexively try to scroll the site I'm looking at into a position where the HFA is not visible. If this would also move part of the text of the article I'm reading off of the screen, I'll speed-read that part. If a site is infested with several HFAs, unless the article content is extremely interesting, I often just abandon it and go elsewhere -- what's the point of trying to read when a barrage of flashing, flickering distractions makes it practically impossible anyway?

Almost as annoying is a type of ad which I have so far seen only on the website of the British newspaper The Telegraph (on individual articles, not on the main page). Like a snapping turtle lying immobile in wait for the passage of an unwary fish, it sits innocuously at the side of the page -- until you inadvertently pass your cursor over it. Then it suddenly balloons in size, widening out to cover a large part of the screen, including much of the article you are trying to read. Furthermore, the monstrosity often does not retreat from its ill-gotten territorial gains when you move your cursor away from it. Sometimes the only way I can get rid of the blasted thing is to click the "Refresh" button and reload the page -- and then be careful not to let the cursor pass over the ad, or one of its equally-fiendish Doppelgängers elsewhere on the page, again.

This kind of thing raises the same question as spamming: Since the whole purpose of ads is to attract people and make them want to buy what you're offering (or at least read your site), what is the point of using forms of advertising which antagonize everybody at first sight?

*Actually, maybe it has. See Joshua Minton's recollection of a dentist with an even more self-defeating scheme for promoting her religion.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those ads are the most abhorrent form of interruption marketing ever created. If these companies would invest in a good blogger who knew their shit and spoke with passion about their product or service, chances are they would sell to many more people who come looking for them for a fraction of the cost.

12 December, 2006 16:16  

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