Friday, December 2, 2016

Ads, Yes, But....

(This started out as a reply to an e-mail asking for money to support an e-magazine.)

I'm actually in favor of ads--if they're not obnoxious. Ads in the margins are fine if they don't ooze into the text. I don't particularly like looking at pictures of phones or cars, but some people do; no problem as long as they don't interrupt the actual article. Ads that actually support the content, like an ad for a book that links to a quote from the book, or an ad for a car that links to a report about driving the car, are a plus point.

It's just the "If you annoy people enough they'll forget how annoyed they were and remember your brand name" type of ads I hate. I do remember the brand names, and the annoyance, and I avoid those brands! If everyone thought the way I do, it'd pay Coke to sponsor pop-up ads for Pepsi. I survive without those. (Not necessarily eating every single day, but I survive.) So can you.

There's a whole category of people in cyberspace who've been told since kindergarten that we were freaks, geeks, and statistical outliers. One way to identify us is that we spend a lot of time in cyberspace and used computers before the year 2000. I could be wrong but I suspect there's a consensus in this group that the Advertising Age as TV understood it is over, at least for us--if it ever did include us. The way to market things to us is to stop screeching for attention and earn our trust. This means good products and strategically placed, supportive rather than distracting, promotion of those products.

One friend's pet blog, two weeks ago, had an obnoxious pop-up ad for a pet product. Another friend's pet blog featured a paid advertorial for a competing pet product. Guess which brand I'm looking for the next time I buy that kind of product?

I like it when, if an article cites a book, there's a link to the Amazon page readers can use to buy the book or at least look for it at the library, right on the page. For instance, Florence King, the book reviewer from whom I learned that a book review can be short and sweet, snarky and ranting, or anything else the book brings to mind, wrote her book reviews for print-only publication...but many of them would actually have worked better if they'd appeared online with Amazon links to the obscure books FK made interesting. You can see what I mean in this book...

And it would have been cool if P.J. O'Rourke's manic Car & Driver articles had appeared with links to the cars he reported driving, too. Readers would've known that buying the Latest Convertible would not give them the experience of driving full speed through the tourist traps of Mexico, but they might have had their own ideas about where to drive a convertible...

See how easy it is? Ads can support content. Content can support ads. But let's all make a New Year's resolution to banish obnoxious pop-up ads from web sites.