Home  › Marketing › Strategies

They've Hijacked Your Inbox -- Is Your Browser Next?

  |  April 8, 2002   |  Comments

It's called Ooqa Ooqa. Is it the most intrusive ad technology yet?

Let's take a quick poll: Who likes spam?

Hmm... I don't see too many hands out there, except you diehard email marketers who don't like anyone criticizing what you do and fear the "slippery slope" argument that regulating spam will infringe on your business. Yeah, right.

Although most hate it, the sad truth is spam works. It must, or I wouldn't keep getting the same lame offers flooding my email box every day. Nobody would bother if people didn't respond.

The same goes for pop-unders. They work, too. Who out there hasn't heard of X10? Now that we mainstream marketers discovered X10's success with its annoying tactic, pop-unders show up just about everywhere. Why? They work. They get responses.

Of course, much of that traffic, according to Jupiter, is "mass, undifferentiated traffic" -- not all that effective. Survey after survey shows consumers hate anything that interferes with their online experience. There's no question consumers hate unsolicited email. But people keep responding, and desperate marketers with dreams of Internet riches keep using these irritating formats. For now.

Why? Online advertising was oversold from the beginning. Its much-touted measurability was its Achilles' heel. In pre-Net days, advertisers knew instinctively the old saw is true: "I know that half my advertising isn't working... I just don't know which half." With the Net, we know exactly what isn't working. But nobody wants to hear it (least of all, those responsible).

Now we search for evermore intrusive models, hoping to create ads that can seize attention from increasingly jaded online consumers. Pop-unders, pop-ups, and other obscuring technologies may get noticed, but have we thought about what the long-term impact to the online experience will be?

A new, horrifying technology is coming out from United Virtualities (the same folks who brought us those irritating "shoskeles" that splash over our screens). It's bound to alienate even more consumers... although I'm certain UV's research will show it "works."

This new technology, the Ooqa Ooqa, allows advertisers to change the toolbar of a user's browser without requiring her to download anything. Details of how this works are sketchy at best. The gist is that Ooqa Ooqa lets ads appear in the browser's toolbar, underneath the buttons used to navigate. Worse, this tech also lets the advertiser change the buttons themselves, turning the "back" button into a "buy" button or the "home" button into one that takes the user to the advertiser's site.

Now I know many of you are salivating over this, and I don't blame you. Having that much control over the user's experience opens up a whole new world of possibilities. No longer do you have to worry that your quarry will back out of your site. No longer do you have to fear that your user might miss your message because it's merely displayed in his browser window. What an incredibly powerful technology!

So are nuclear bombs. But just because we have 'em, doesn't mean we should necessarily use 'em.

Your customers and prospects have a choice. They don't have to come to your site or buy your products or even go on the Internet if they don't want to. Over the past decade or so, most consumer trends have pointed to an increase in consumer desire for more control in their lives -- in their spending and in the choices they make regarding products and services. One of the great draws of the Web is its ability to provide a vast number of choices, allowing consumers to shop wherever, read whatever, and talk to whomever they want.

It's no news to anyone that we're all struggling to keep our industry alive. Though quick-fix trickery might seem attractive now, it's imperative all of us look to the long term and realize if we don't have any customers, none of us will have any businesses. The legitimate email marketing industry has done a fantastic job at policing itself for that very reason, realizing that spam damages the industry in the long run. As we look at new Web-based advertising technologies, we should all consider the lessons of spam and make decisions that work in the long term, not just for the quick buck.

Hijacking browsers is bad business.

ClickZ Live Chicago Join the Industry's Leading eCommerce & Direct Marketing Experts in Chicago
ClickZ Live Chicago (Nov 3-6) will deliver over 50 sessions across 4 days and 10 individual tracks, including Data-Driven Marketing, Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email. Check out the full agenda and register by Friday, Oct 3 to take advantage of Early Bird Rates!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sean Carton

Sean Carton has recently been appointed to develop the Center for Digital Communication, Commerce, and Culture at the University of Baltimore and is chief creative officer at idfive in Baltimore. He was formerly the dean of Philadelphia University's School of Design + Media and chief experience officer at Carton Donofrio Partners, Inc.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Marketing newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

IBM: Social Analytics - The Science Behind Social Media Marketing

IBM Social Analytics: The Science Behind Social Media Marketing
80% of internet users say they prefer to connect with brands via Facebook. 65% of social media users say they use it to learn more about brands, products and services. Learn about how to find more about customers' attitudes, preferences and buying habits from what they say on social media channels.

An Introduction to Marketing Attribution: Selecting the Right Model for Search, Display & Social Advertising

An Introduction to Marketing Attribution: Selecting the Right Model for Search, Display & Social Advertising
If you're considering implementing a marketing attribution model to measure and optimize your programs, this paper is a great introduction. It also includes real-life tips from marketers who have successfully implemented attribution in their organizations.

Resources

Jobs

    • Senior Paid Search & Advertising Manager
      Senior Paid Search & Advertising Manager (Smarty Had A Party) - St. LouisCompany Description: A warm, loving, [slightly wacky] startup, we view...
    • Technical Project Manager
      Technical Project Manager (Agora Inc.) - BaltimorePublishing Services, a subsidiary of Agora Publishing in Baltimore, MD is looking for a great...
    • Financial Research Associate
      Financial Research Associate (Confidential) - BaltimoreThe Financial Research Associate will be responsible for responding to research-level customer...