Archive for October, 2010
Former colleague Stephen Strong and I are co-chairmen of the committee to eradicate banner ads from the face of the earth. He recently forwarded me a couple of items that made me despise the little animated rectangles even more. First, Online Media Daily reports that “click fraud for online advertisements rose to 22.3% in the third quarter, ending Sept. 30 — up from 14.1% during the year-ago quarter, according to a report released by Click Forensics Wednesday.” These are astonishing numbers. In what other field is this level of fraud acceptable? In the advertising industry, apparently it doesn’t matter, because agencies continue to buy billions of dollars worth of banner ads, and the number goes up every quarter.
Now to the DoubleClick Report, “2009 Year-In-Review Benchmarks, which states that the overall click-through rate for image, Flash, and rich media campaigns was .10%. (By the way, static banners had slightly higher click-through rates than Flash banners.) That’s right, on average one out of every 1,000 people who see a banner ad click on it. That is, unless we factor in 22.3% click fraud, which would mean one out of every 1,223 people who see the banner would click . What’s that you say? Click-throughs aren’t important? The banner ads are making an impression on a significant percentage of the people who see them whether they click or not. Yeah, right. Consumers have become incredibly adept at not even noticing that banners are on the screen. The idea that some sort of passive branding is going on is farcical.
The interactive space is about participation and engagement. To say that mere proximity to content the consumer actually wants to see is good enough is to miss the point entirely. In order for agencies to begin focusing on the type of interactive marketing that will connect with consumers–and this is essential, because whether we like it or not, we are increasingly living in a world where consumers will have to choose to see our marketing messages–banner ads must die. At best, they are a form of strip mining. Sift through a million consumers, and a few hundred will stick. The point of advertising should be to increase the effectiveness of a client’s budget through compelling communication. Except in rare instances, banner ad campaigns don’t even attempt to do this. They are an unimaginative exercise in statistical probability. And we can’t even trust the statistics because of rampant fraud.
Is it possible to do a cool 30k banner ad? I suppose. Will they continue to give out awards for banner ads at Cannes? Sure (though the winners probably have massive file sizes and run only on obscure sites in Singapore, Brazil or Ninavut). Will click-through rates continue to drop and consumers get better at ignoring banner ads with every passing day? Undoubtedly.