2 Simple Reasons Web Ads Can Hurt Your Brand

March 25, 2010

Internet advertising is still in its infancy.  While it’s true that digital ad agencies are getting more creative when it comes to getting our attention, it’s hard to avoid some of the technological hurdles associated with the wild wild west of web marketing.

One of the biggest issues at the moment is bandwidth.  Because the US is still lagging when it comes to bandwidth, web browsing can run into glitches that either favor advertisers or hurt them.  I can’t even count the number of times I’ve watched The Daily Show online and, because of some loading error, been forced to watch a commercial multiple times in one designated break.  Regardless of whether we call this a deliberate tactic to play off of the inabilities of technology  or a simple error, having a commercial play six times on a 22 minute web program instead of the mutually agreed upon three times is extremely annoying.  From a marketing perspective, this glitch creates the opportunity for a product or message to be seen for a lower CPV than originally agreed upon by the program and the agency.  As for the program airing the commercial, they run the risk of pissing off viewers by playing the same Chase commercial over and over again.  In a world where content can be found anywhere, it might be in the interest of the site providing said content to ensure their advertising channels are working appropriately.

The second issue is once again outside the control of either content provider or ad agency and has to do with the perception and effectiveness of a web ad.  When a company commissions an advertisement, they are doing so with the understanding that they are giving a potential customer the opportunity to buy into their product or service.  Usually, whole campaigns are crafted to create a “brand identity” that aligns with their target market.  To do so, companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars to craft and perfect an image for themselves.  What I’m sure many companies haven’t looked into is the effect of slow bandwidth speeds that can either lag or disable a commercial mid stream.  You would think this would be a top priority seeing as the perception of a commercial is extremely important.  In a case like this, what does the viewer do?  Do they simply wait the couple seconds and continue to play into the image being presented?  Or does the magic and sway of a commercial lose its effectiveness after a five second pause between load times?  I would assume the latter.  Instead of receiving the self-expressive benefits afforded by using a service or product, the user is upset that their program is interrupted by a company trying to sell them something (even more than they would have otherwise).  This issue of lagging commercials kills the perceived realities they’ve set out to create, and instead turn into an invasive measure to sell them something.

Until web speeds match up with the capabilities, and possibilities, of advertising, I would suggest advertisers and digital firms alike consider the bandwidth of their target market before creating data heavy messages.  It might sound like just another metric to research, but It may save your companies message in the long run.

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