Finding Entertaining Ads Online

It used to be when I got together with far-flung friends and relatives, the conversation inevitably turned to offline entertainment. On a recent trip to a cousin’s wedding in Canada, however, I noticed a distinct difference with this inclination: the entertainment we discussed could all be found online.

Within a few hours of reuniting, my cousins and I had made our way to the computer where my husband was already busily searching for a “Daily Show” clip I’d described. The days contenting ourselves with a half-baked description of a perfectly crafted TV scene or commercial are over. Virtually everything can be located online, just waiting to entertain us.

How the Internet has changed consumer entertainment doesn’t concern consumers alone. It’s had a profound effect on advertisers and marketers as well. Novice computer users and the Internet-savvy alike now look to the Web to retrieve the material that adds humor and entertainment to their lives. To make the most of this trend, marketers should follow these rules.

Be Entertaining

Do something entertaining, unique, and memorable, and your ad will survive the ravages of time. Viral marketing taught us that, and the lesson is largely what provokes our obsession. Today’s successful ads are as much about the execution as the ad message itself. Well-executed promotions can live on in consumers’ minds and put both advertisers and their agencies on the map.

By the same token, the Internet ensures fumbled attempts can no longer be easily swept under a rug. There’s always someone waiting in the wings to turn your gaffe, whatever form it takes, into priceless Internet art. No one is safe from the embarrassment this new tradition can bring.

Before you unleash that clever or hilarious ad, test it vigorously. Test it among your target audience and other demographic groups. You never know what someone may see that could launch an agonizing viral backlash.

Make It Easy to Locate

It’s impossible to approximate how many ads could have enjoyed an extended life online had consumers been able to find them. My guess is many marketers have shot themselves in the foot in this respect. If you don’t make your material easy to locate, you miss opportunities to connect with your consumers and garner additional attention.

Today’s ad campaigns are such a huge part of brand image and identity they warrant their own place among your list of accomplishments, as well as their own piece of your Web site. Yet so few advertisers think to display their marketing efforts this way.

A great ad campaign that speaks to your target audience is just as interesting to consumers as the latest press release or annual report. It can evoke pride in association with your brand. It can encourage word-of-mouth promotion that can result in new customers. And, it can promote renewed interest in your organization.

Be Willing to Experiment With Mass-Market Sites

Stick with targeted niche sites, and you’ll reach a small audience of consumers who will likely be interested in your product. Branch out to portals that boast colossal traffic, and you’ll reach a large number of consumers who probably won’t. This has been a media buying mantra for years.

Times have changed. Thanks to improved ad technology and the option of including a viral marketing component to an online ad, purchasing placements for demo-specific products on mass-market sites can deliver benefits that offset the investment. Instead of ignoring ads that aren’t relevant to them, consumers can now pass them along to those who might be interested. Marketers, meanwhile, can determine their ROI (define) by tracking how regularly ads are forwarded and the number of consumers to whom they are sent.

With their high traffic volume and varied visitors, mass-market portals can deliver access to target consumers and convert non-target consumers into new customers. The more entertaining the ad, the better the chance your ad will attract visitor attention.

I know I’m not the only one who’s lamented not being able to locate a perfectly executed banner, commercial, or video online. Once the exception, the advertisers behind these ads are quickly making locatable ads the norm. My cousins will be happy to hear it.

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