The Lost Principle

What if we took an online ad banner, a top performing one from several years ago, and put it back online for the same or similar product? Would it do just as well as before?

Would people feel get a warm, fuzzy feeling? Will tears come to their eyes when they see a flaming, spinning logo or a monkey in the crosshairs of a leaderboard ad?

I think not.

Yes, they may laugh, but not in a good way. Some viral videos, even old ones, can make you laugh. Online ads? No way.

Online ads are generally not an emotionally rich experience. Though rich in execution, they aren’t integrally emotional. Of course, there are exceptions. Sometimes the subject is too supercharged with emotion not to be moving, but there are always exceptions to the rule.

Enter online video. This stalwart tool conveys emotion in a familiar format with most of the noninteractive controls viewers are familiar with. Yet it’s small, visually degraded, and sometimes inaudible.

Regardless of the quality issue, people are looking. That’s a bit of a problem. What we can’t do at this stage is train the great mass of information consumers to be watchers. They must interact, or at least expect to have some experience with their advertising.

If they miss out and become a hoard of staring lemmings who only click on words, we may have failed to mature the medium to the next level.

A younger generation of users has high expectations for multiuse and an aptitude for multitasking on several levels. This is a good sign in some ways, yet in others it may train a whole generation to use the Internet badly. It’s sort of like the millions of people who were told smoking is good for you because doctors recommended a specific brand of cigarettes.

In the future, we could see attention deficit disorder increase with the proliferation of all these visual inputs. People will be put on stimulus diets to keep their brains in check.

This assumes the mass of screens still ignores the point of interaction, as well as how interaction can lead to a valued experience. We’re currently only in the very early stages of seeing that possibility.

It’s inevitable that everything will happen on a small screen. Yes, quality will increase, but that familiar emotional window will need to change as that warm and fuzzy experience older users are likely to recall will be reengineered for more active, interactive users.

We’re starting to learn why it’s better to be interactive. The “what” and the “how” are still dim lights on the horizon. Only when we bring a standard of valuing the online experience can marketers realize these benefits and, ultimately, mature this young adult into a older and wiser one.

Meet Dorian at ClickZ Specifics: Online Video Advertising on July 19 in New York City.

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