We have a lot to learn from the truly tacky. Take the dancing cowboys from LowerMyBill.com. According to the New York Times, the “two-stepping cowboys, rooftop dancers and weird tattoos, have been hugely successful for company and led to $400 million purchase in 2005 by credit agency Experian”
We need to rise above that kind of trash, right? Umm. Not really. The ads tell you the benefit right up front. Better tacky that works than coy that doesn’t.
“You can’t mean online advertising no better than outdoor?” we in digital media wail. I first heart the comparison between online and outdoor in the mid 90s. CPMs for online, the argument ran, will stay comparable to outdoor because that’s what banner ads are like– billboards. We object. We rail. And yet, people click by web pages like cars exiting the Lincoln Tunnel.
We disdain the dancing cowboys and jeopardize our own futures.
Take Symantec. I hit a Symantec interstitial every day on the New York Times site. These ads expect me to stop, actually read, and engage with them. Oh, and there is an animation, that has to load and then do its thing. Are you kidding? When I’m trying to get to my article? You want me to stop and notice—better give me a dancing cowboy.
The current level of online advertising puts publishers at risk. Headlines are screaming the decline of print media. What will happen to the publishing business model if more and more content shifts online but advertising CPMs don’t shift as well? We have to leave our egos behind and come up with ad units that work. Furthermore, we need to partner with advertisers and resist running ads that we know won’t work.