Restraint in Advertising
April 21, 2001
In an effort to "catch the reader's eye" some advertisers have
adopted techniques that irritate and deceive the user, causing
users to see little value in banner ads and thus mentally
ignore them or turn to ad blocking software. This ultimately
hurts the advertising industry, the publishers that rely on it,
and web site users who are subjected to escalating efforts
by advertisers to "shout" louder than the content on the page.
Such techniques rarely work for long, since users build up
a resistance to them.
Advertisers need to realize that click-through is not the
proper metric for measuring advertising effectiveness. While
deceptive or irritating ads may generate a click-through,
they are extremely unlikely to generate sales, brand recognition,
or goodwill toward a brand.
Publishers and ad networks should, to preserve the
value of their ad space and stem consumers' growing frustration
with online ads, refuse to accept ads that:
- Are Misleading Ads that are made to look like
modal dialog boxes used by the browser to indicate an error
(or "You have an important message!")
may succeed in generating click-throughs from confused
users, but those users are unlikely to be left with
a positive opinion of the advertiser or the content site
hosting such ads when they realize that their time has
- Pop-up Ads Ads that open a separate window
do manage to briefly catch users' attention. They
are also almost uniformly hated by users and many
users have learned to kill the pop-up windows before
the ad is even displayed. Additionally, some browsers
such as Opera 5 manage windows in way that makes
pop-ups especially disruptive (by default Opera shrinks
the content window when the pop-up ad window is created).
- Rapidly Animated in a Non-Smooth Way Ads which
use rapid animation to cause flashing (e.g. yellow caution
triangle signs) or spasming images are so distracting that
they can make it difficult for readers to focus on nearby
content. These seem to generate more animosity than
eagerness to buy a product. Ads that flash faster than
500ms should be banned.
Ads which use rapid animation to emulate smooth motion
Comment or vote on this proposal.
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