What's The Buzz?

Kim O’Connor called I-Advertising members’ attention to a growing problem — “banners that when clicked the visitor cannot hit the back button and go back to the site they were on” — and the members were all over it like the proverbial cheap suit.

“Preventing the back button,” or “a trap-door URL,” is what they call the practice at Wired Digital, according to Rick Boyce (I-Advertising’s guest moderator this week). “[It’s] not only offensive to users but ultimately dangerous to our industry’s well being,” Boyce wrote.

“We risk forever educating Internet users to not click on banners and to never trust a commercial site. None of us should be willing to trade off long term trust between publishers, advertisers and consumers for short-term ‘gains.'”

“I know that any ‘newbie’ who has gotten hijacked and couldn’t get ‘home’ is another lost cause when it comes to clicking on another banner ad,” agreed Eric Picard.

“We don’t lock the doors behind visitors when they enter physical spaces. Why should we attempt to do so in web-spaces?” wrote Donna Dare.

“And people whine about ad blocking software!” sniffed Akilesh Rajan. “Ads like this are certainly one of the reasons why such programs exist. Any company that has the unbridled temerity to prevent me from getting back to where I was after I have paid them the compliment of clicking on their banner — that’s a company I will never buy from or visit again. Web sites are supposed to treat prospects like VIPs, not prisoners.”

“We have a pretty sophisticated audience,” wrote Joe Schreiber, “and we and our advertisers get complaints about this practice all the time. We try, whenever possible, to suggest alternatives to our clients when we see we’re about to post this type of ad.”

“Many marketers seem to be incredibly insecure about the quality or worthiness of their message,” wrote ClickZ columnist Dana Blankenhorn. “That’s why we have trap-door URLs. That is why some are terribly agitated over ad blocking software. That’s why we’re seeing more spam masquerading as legitimate email. Too many marketers are demanding attention, rather than trying to earn it. What motivates this, I think, are Clueless measurement techniques that measure attention rather than sales.”

“I always right click on a banner and open the contents into a new browser window, and I think this is an excellent way to check out the banner ad while keeping your place on the original site,” suggested Paul Hancox.

CPMs Overpriced?

You may remember that in last week’s episode, Jeremy Swinfen Green contended that the majority of rate card CPMs are grossly overpriced. Rob Griffin pointed to research that said 80 percent of Americans can’t remember a typical TV spot a day after seeing it, 74 percent of viewers zap or mute commercials, and 60 percent of Americans throw out direct mail without opening it.

Yeah , Jeremy shot back. But how many Americans can remember a banner? And not everyone zaps or mutes commercials. And if 60 percent throw away their direct mail it means that 40 percent don’t and isn’t that better than the “0.2 percent” who click on banners?

Online Ads — Newspaper Says No

Wayne Kessler’s complaint to Online Ads members that his local newspaper won’t include URLs (since it doesn’t have a web site) drew Christine Ayman’s ire.

“Yes, Internet advertising is cutting into the newspaper advertising market, just as radio and television did way back when,” she wrote. “It didn’t make the newspapers disappear then, and it won’t now. They are only hurting themselves with this ridiculous policy.”

Time for Ads

Ramon Ray rejoiced that AdCast now enables advertisers to display banner ads for specified periods of time no matter where on a site a user may go.

Said Ray, “This is something cool — the reason why TV, radio and print have worked is that the user is captive — forget how long or that he can change the channel, turn the dial or flip the page… he’s captive for a specific slot of time.”


Markus Schneider commented on posts to Online Ads from Bob Gordon and Randall Vlahos, about targeted vs. general interest sites. Both are necessary, in Markus’ opinion.

Said he, “I don’t want to be forced to focus only on the topics and news of the fields of interest I’m interested in today. What’s up with all the other topics I still don’t know anything about, but which could also interest me if I only knew more about them?”

Word of Mouth

Responding to Jeremy Swinfen Green’s earlier Online Ads query about the web’s effectiveness for generating word-of-mouth awareness, Jeffrey Graham described his agency’s “email a kiss” campaign for Proctor & Gamble’s Scope mouthwash. “Letting consumers tell their own story within the context of a brand message is one way that marketers can adapt to the new communication environment of the Internet.”

Low Click-Through Rates

Mike Vaughn was appalled to learn that the current industry average click-through rate is a paltry 0.15 percent. “Remember when banner ads first came out? We were looking at a 50 percent click through. Apparently because it was a hot, new thing. The luster wore off and the rate went steadily down. Just a year ago I heard that 1 to 2 percent is average. Now 0.15 percent is average?! You’ve got to be kidding. Even a decent direct mail campaign gets 2 percent response.

“Banner ad sales are a joke,” he continued. “I don’t see any advertiser benefiting from this type of medium. Just the people selling the banner space. Never before have consumers filtered out an advertising message so quickly and so easily.”

News You Can Use

Tim Lee reported on an online targeting survey that showed that nearly half of web marketers say they have difficulty targeting customers online, though 87 percent say they can target customers offline. More info’s available at http://www.webCMO.com.

Keith Pieper announced that highlights from a report on interstitial advertising are available at http://keith.forest.net/freenotes/ InterstitialNotes.pdf.


Mark Beere asked Online Ads members about using email to test creative concepts. Ed Lake wants to hear from members who’ve tried to intercept visitors who leave a site prior to making a purchase. Jens Jokschat wants current stats on the amount of online ad space that goes unsold. Harshal Chhaya wants to know how CPS (cost per sale) campaigns track effectiveness. Thomas Kase is interested in knowing which tools Online Ads members use to analyze daily streams of traffic logs from servers.

Sign Up

Join Online Ads at www.o-a.com, I-Advertising at www.internetadvertising.org.

Related reading