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Long Live the Banner?

Dawn Anfuso
Long Live the Banner? Dawn Anfuso

The final findings from Dynamic Logic's AdReaction research show that consumers prefer Web ads that are in or around content over those that cover up content or interrupt viewing.

Dynamic Logic asked for consumer reaction to the major online ad formats. The top four most popular (or least unpopular) Web ad formats are:

1) Banners
2) Skyscrapers
3) Pop-in Between Ads/Interstitials
4) Ads with Audio

The research indicates that consumers prefer the least intrusive ad formats to more intrusive ones. This includes more tolerance for ads that pop in between Web pages (Interstitials) than for pop-ups, which are at the bottom of the list.

"It may be that consumers are more willing to tolerate advertisements when they are perceived to be around or in between content as opposed to feeling that the content is being blocked by the ads," says the Dynamic Logic study. "It is a subtle, but perhaps significant perceptual difference that impacts consumers’ acceptance of the formats."

However, the fact that pop-unders are next to pop-ups at the bottom of the consumer preference list suggests that frequency is also a factor of consumer irritation. Since a pop-under does not block content, it does not seem as “intrusive” as a pop-up. But pop-unders tend to spawn many layers, and consumers are often forced to close multiple ads in a row. This would suggest that with better frequency controls, perhaps pop-unders and pop-ups could gain greater acceptance if used sparingly.

Indeed, other findings from the study indicate that viewers will accept up to two pop-ups per hour in exchange for free content.

What is also worth noting is that ads with video and audio, while still relatively new in Web advertising, are roughly in the middle of the pack. Dynamic Logic suggests that improvements in technology have made video-like ads more possible and advertisers are starting to employ TV-like ads online.

Yet there has been a fair amount of controversy within the industry regarding ads with audio, specifically over the concern that they have the potential to bring attention to people surfing the Web at work. Some publishers require that audio is defaulted off with an opt-on feature. Dynamic Logic says this type of Web advertising is gaining interest from both the advertiser side, and to some degree, from the consumer side. It may be, as suggested in other AdReaction research analysis, that TV-like Web ads bring entertainment, humor and drama value to Web advertising, which increases consumers’ interests.

You're condescending

You don't mean to be patronizing. You are just trying to help and want to see a good job get done, but you come across as a condescending blockhead.

If you say to someone (as I admit I did just a few weeks back), "We really should have considered factor X before we did this," and they already did consider factor X before they did this, you are being condescending. Although you and I both meant to be helpful, we were not. There is nothing more repulsive to the people who work with you than some know-it-all implying they are idiots.

Arrogance is unattractive. No one wants to be sneered at. Before you go tell somebody how the work they did isn't as good as the way you would have done it, make sure you have context. This is not the same thing as having standards or caring about the work you do. Nor is this the same thing as sharing vital information that your co-workers need in order to do a great job.

This is about respect and professionalism.

Now, you may be saying to yourself, "How am I supposed to know if my co-workers considered factor X? I just know it needed to be considered."

Here's a simple tactic that might blow your mind: Ask.

Yes, it's a subtle difference. Yes, it may take you an extra 30 seconds. But by treating your co-workers with that little dash of respect, you build relationships instead of tearing them down. At the end of the day, what's important is that factor X is considered, not that people are impressed with how smart you are.

Because, believe me, they're not.

You talk before you listen

As the CEO of an interactive agency, I am constantly looking for bright, passionate, and creative individuals to join my team.

The problem with bright, passionate, and creative individuals is that they have a ton of great ideas that they just can't wait to share. They just-can't-wait so much that they wind up talking over the people around them -- other people who happen to have a few bright ideas themselves. There is nothing more irritating to the people you work with than being interrupted. It makes people hate you, and it is counterproductive.


When you have a meeting with your co-workers, the goal should be some level of collaboration. When you spend that meeting spouting your "brilliance" without making the effort to understand your co-workers' perspectives, they don't want to collaborate with you. They want to throw you out of the window. They will shut down on you.

You may not realize that I'm talking about you. But I am.

If you're wondering why your co-workers don't seem to care about the project you're on, if you're scratching your head about the hostility you seem to get every time you have a brainstorm, or if you feel like you care so much more about how to correctly do this task than everyone else around you and just can't understand why, take a look in the mirror. Observe yourself.

Do you listen to the people around you? Or do you talk first?

You set them up to fail

We work in a very goal-oriented business. We have deadlines we must meet, objectives we must surpass, and clients we must please. Performing in this environment is hard, especially when you don't have a chance of succeeding because some bonehead set you up to fail.

Are you that bonehead? If you are, your co-workers surely hate you. If you suspect you might be, keep reading.

There tends to be two ways that you can set your co-workers up to fail -- the tangibles and the intangibles.

The tangibles are the things that a team simply cannot succeed without. These are things like the right tools to do the job, enough time to do it well, enough resources to get it done, and enough budget pay for it all.

There's no escaping the fact that we sometimes have to make commitments that other people have to live up to in this business. But if you are making those commitments, there's no excuse for doing so unless you know your co-workers have the tangibles they need to live up to them.

The intangibles are murkier. They're easier to get wrong, but no less critical to get right. These are things like ensuring that a client understands the implications of a particular decision, that feedback is clearly communicated to your team, or that the person who is going to be making a commitment on your behalf knows if you don't have the tangibles you need.

That last one is key. If you see a train wreck coming and you don't speak up, you're just as guilty as your coworker who might be driving the train. After all, we're all human. We only see what we see. If someone is setting you, themselves, or someone else on your team up for failure, your goal should be to prevent that -- not to point fingers.

You waste their time

In 2010, Harvard Business Review reported on a multiyear study that overwhelmingly indicated that the single most important factor in keeping workers motivated on an ongoing basis was a sense of progress.

If that's the case, then surely the single most important factor in keeping workers de-motivated has to be some idiot wasting your time.

I'm going to make an assumption. I'm going to assume that since you're reading this article in a professional publication, you care about your job. You take pains to do it well. You strive to get things right. You spend time on the details. You put your heart and soul into your craft.

These are not just your billable hours we're talking about. This is your sweat. This is your commitment to excellence. Now, imagine you pour all that commitment into a project, and it turns out that your efforts were a complete waste of time -- and that waste of time was the result of one of your co-workers simply not doing their job well.

You're going to hate that person.

There's a fine line here. Sometimes we have to go through the motions. For every idea a client picks, there are two that wind up on the cutting room floor. They all have to be great and that requires work, which is not wasting time. That's the business we are in, and it's not what I'm talking about.

What I am talking about is wasting people's time because you are careless, lazy, incompetent, sloppy, or irresponsible.

That, my friends, is grounds for loathing. Don't do it.

You don't say please

You work in a fast-paced world with demanding clients to serve, or perhaps demanding executives to report to. You don't have time to explain every little detail of every little decision to every person you interact with.

People need to shut up, stop whining, and get done what needs to get done when it needs doing. Sounds good, right?
Perhaps. But people have dignity and self-worth, and they want to feel self-actualized. They deserve to be treated with respect. Sure, sometimes (or often) stuff just needs to get done, and you don't ask them to complete the task because "no" isn't an option.

Wrong. You should say, "please" anyway.

But why should you, other than simply to not be a jerk?

Remember role power and relationship power? Role power -- using the authority of your position to make others do stuff -- works great in the short term, but it quickly erodes in the long term. If you use role power as your long-term means of interacting with your co-workers, you will quickly find yourself surrounded by haters. They'll grumble. They'll do a haphazard job. They will do the minimum they need to do and nothing more. And, you'll wonder why.

Relationship power is a better tool for the long haul, and the path to good relationships starts with common courtesy.

If there's urgency, explain why there's urgency and say "please."

No urgency? Still, say "please."

You communicate everything and nothing

A friend of mine likes to tell the story of a creative director he once worked with that used to make a point with a rubber ball. He would sit across a conference table from a client and bounce a ball to the client. They would catch it. Then he would do it again, but this time he would throw three balls across the table. The client would miss them all.

Too often, I see people try to communicate everything and wind up communicating nothing.

Rambling is not an effective communication tool.

We exchange information constantly in business -- in emails, briefs, meetings, and hallway conversations. It is tempting to try to convey every nuance and detail -- to cover your tracks at the expense of actually communicating what's important.

But, the human mind can only grasp so much. It is worth the effort to pause and look at what you really need to say.

And that's all I really have to say about that.

You don't have their back

At my agency, we have three rules:

Do your best work.
Deliver it on time.
Always have your teammates back.

Ten years ago, when we were just starting out, bigger agencies would hire us as a creative SWAT team. Around that time, an agency in San Francisco was pitching a huge account. They brought me in for a week to put together their first round presentation.

As often happens when agencies pitch, the CEO of that agency was making big changes up to the last minute. When he left the office at 7 p.m., I still had a mountain of work to do before our deadline at 8 a.m. the next day. At about 11 p.m., I realized there was no way I'd be able to pull this off by myself, so I called my partner, Theo.

By 11:45 p.m., he had gotten out of bed, jumped in his car, and driven downtown.

By 5:45 a.m., we stumbled out of the office bleary-eyed, but satisfied that we had done our best work, and had done it on time.

My partner had my back. There is nothing that builds trust like knowing your team has your back. And there is nothing that builds distrust like knowing they don't.

I've seen great people just up and quit a great job because one co-worker decided, "it wasn't their problem" when another needed help.

You have a job. That job has a job description with neat little bullet points that describe exactly what your responsibilities are.

If you really believe all that matters is that you accomplish the specified tasks in your job description, you suck. If your first instinct is generally "not my problem," you suck. If you throw your teammates under the bus, you suck. If you leave them in the lurch, you suck.

And your co-workers should hate you.

Adam Kleinberg is the CEO of Traction.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

"Business men fighting" image and "Cracked wall texture" image via Shutterstock.

The problem

The constant introduction of new technologies, social networks, advertising avenues, and consumer preferences has hastened what many are calling "agile marketing." This is the inevitable result of the relentless forward march of the "new."

The term "agile marketing" comes from the agile software development process where instead of creating an exact blueprint of what every feature will do, how the user will interact with it, and having an exact timeline of what will be implemented when the new features are added in "sprints." Each of these sprints may be loosely or formally defined for what problems will be tackled in each, but exactly how they are tackled is more of an iterative process. This agile process allows developers to quickly solve problems that were not foreseeable at the time the project was started.

You can see how this easily relates to marketing. Gone are the days when we had the luxury of creating a plan that is set in stone and cannot be altered or modified for another calendar year. While we need to be careful not to simply make modifications to chase shiny new objects that might be temporarily popular, we also need to allow flexibility in our plans to safely try new things.

You must be careful when doing this because if you are distracted by adding new tactics to your marketing strategy, you could easily go against your strategy or even dilute your brand's communications.

For instance, you might be surprised how many companies jumped on the MySpace bandwagon too late. Who would want to be the last big brand to champion a failed social network? It means more than an embarrassing misstep for your brand, though. The time you spend on that failing property means time and money lost that could have been directed on better-performing channels.

With that being said, there are going to be times when you simply need to adopt a new tactic in the middle of a well-planned strategy. One caution is that this article assumes you have done some research on your audience and their usage of this new tactic, whatever it may be. Read on for a few ways to make this easier with a greater chance of success.

Four tips to start experimenting

Pick a short term or finite campaign to start
A great way to experiment with a new strategy or tactic is to test it on a campaign or event that has a finite existence. This might be the promotion of an upcoming seasonal sale, a weeklong event, or anything else that requires upfront promotion, but it doesn't necessarily require a long-term web or social media presence to support it.

This is a great way to test a new strategy or tactic because the unspoken "agreement" you have with your audience is that whatever you're doing to promote this campaign is by its very nature temporary. This way, if the new tactic you are trying out is not wildly successful, then you'll know not to use it for future campaigns. 

Integrate successful tactics for the best of both worlds
Make it easy on yourself. If you have a wildly successful Facebook presence but you choose to incorporate a new tactic into your arsenal, why not leverage a channel that is already working well for you? It's better to work with an engaged audience rather than users you know less about because you will quickly and easily see how an engaged audience responds to new channels. The other benefit is that the new tactic can look great if it works well, but it won't stand out like a sore thumb if it works less than perfect because you can easily direct traffic to the more successful channel -- in this case, your Facebook presence.

Be honest and get feedback
This is a very important one. Be honest about what you're doing with a new marketing tactic and be sure to have your customers' best interests at heart. If you're trying out a new tactic for a specific duration, tell your customers you're excited about the new communication channel you've opened up and that you want their feedback on how helpful it is. If you are planning to use the tactic in the long run, this feedback will be invaluable to incorporate into your larger strategy. This, combined with your measurements of their activity, is the best research you can possibly do.

If you've done your job correctly and figured out a good short-term strategy for the channel, your customers will more than likely love it and you can then work on your long-term plans of incorporating the new successful channel into your larger strategy.

If you're diverting energy from the rest of your strategy, you're doing it wrong
Remember that this is an experiment, not a permanent change to your marketing strategy. If you divert effort or energy from what was planned and what is working, it is not a fair test. That's one reason for the suggestion of making your experiment part of a short-term campaign. Chances are your efforts for something like that are kept separate from your traditional marketing strategy.

Now that you've decided that you're going ahead with the launch of an experiment, there are just a few more things you should keep in mind.

Commit to it

Whatever you do and however you approach your test of a new tactic, make sure that the organization fully commits to it. Just as consumers can separate hyperbole from fact and prefer recommendations from trusted sources as opposed to a company talking itself up, they can also tell when your heart isn't really in it.

Even with a short-term campaign, you still have the ability to put your full set of resources and the strength of your brand behind your efforts. This will go a long way in helping the success of your efforts.

You are being watched

Don't think for a minute that your competitors are not watching what you are doing. This is another reason to be careful about how you frame your experiment. If your campaign is wildly successful, don't be surprised if there is a copycat campaign or tactic launch by one of your competitors. If it's not successful, you might have just helped someone else save time and money.

Short-term measurement is key

Measuring your short-term results is probably obvious, but it's important to stress that your measurement needs to be tailored around seeing activity and results during the short term. Therefore, you need to build in measurements that can be quickly evaluated. Don't pick metrics that will take six to 12 months to fully evaluate if you are using a new tactic for a three month campaign.

In conclusion, while there are many things to keep in mind when launching an experiment like this, make sure to keep your approach agile and get as much customer feedback and data for its duration. Combine this with building in a way to manage expectations both within your organization and within your customer community, and you'll have a great platform with which to take some chances and not compromise your overarching marketing strategy.

Greg Khilstrom is principal, VP of digital strategy, of Carousel30.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

"Modern social media abstract" image via Shutterstock.


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