Marketing & Branding

When Advertising Goes Too Far: An Online Lesson for Marketers

The first time I saw an ad over a urinal, I thought to myself: “Wow, what a creative place to put advertising” I felt: I’m standing here staring at the wall anyways, now I actually have something to read. But then again, I’m a marketer. When I came out of the bathroom, I remember talking about the ad with a friend, who seemed more annoyed than anything else. I was reminded: people generally don’t like advertising. Ads like this are seen as intrusive and ugly…even if they serve as entertainment where you might otherwise have none.

I also remember the first time I saw a commercial in the movie theater. I distinctly remember the people next to me (quite annoyed) saying: “Is there nowhere they won’t put advertising?” Personally, I was relieved that the awful muzak had stopped and there was something else to keep me occupied…but again, advertising can be entertainment to me… I sometimes need to remind myself: that’s what I do for a living.

The online world is really no different. If you try to get creative with your ads, people get annoyed. REALLY annoyed. Only now, with the power of the Internet, you’ll know about it. The online world is full of people with strong opinions. And these communities are more than just used to things working a certain way. Oh sure, you can get away with adding a few banners on the top and side of your website, but if you try to get more invasive with your ads (hold on while I close out of a pop-up), you might want to consider turning off comments (if you have them) because you’re likely to get an earful. Here are a two recent examples of this:

Digg.com

This week Digg.com, the popular social bookmarking news site, played with a new form of advertising where the background of certain submission pages was replaced with a large advertisement for an online game called Dragon Age. Less than a day later, a story hits the front page condemning the new ads. The submission hit nearly 10,000 diggs (a remarkably high number) expressing the communities clear disgust with these new ads.