Waiting for the banner to fall

While your publication has done an admirable job in sounding the death knell of banner ads (MW February 22) from an industry perspective, I believe that your articles failed to address the customer viewpoint. If a form of online advertising can be developed that actually enhances a consumer’s online experience, as opposed to interfering with it, then many of the corporate problems you cited will disappear.

Based on the assumption that the majority of your readership has Web access (a fair assumption, one hopes), they will be familiar with the shortfalls of banner ads:

They are intrusive. They can slow down your Web access (not everyone accesses the Internet from a high-speed corporate network the whole time). They are irrelevant – nine times out of ten you go online for a specific purpose and do not want to be bombarded with irrelevant offers. Online ads fail to accurately reproduce high quality offline display ads in a rapidly downloadable form. This means the advertiser cannot ensure brand consistency, which is inextricably linked to brand trust. If an online ad claims to be from Building Society X but looks different from all their offline communication, then consumers will be wary of it.

So what is the solution? In short, banish banners. But to adopt a more constructive approach

First, replace them with a solution whereby users opt in to view ads and “go shopping” at the end of the browsing session, once they have found what they were originally looking for. The number of impressions may decrease in the short term, but the quality will rise exponentially – remember, they’ve opted in.

Second, create an environment, replicating offline advertising, that customers actually want to view. The ad in the colour supplement should be identical in style to that online.

Third, ensure the ads are full screen, rather than just marginalised.

Fourth, ensure the ads change whenever the browser revisits the site.

Fifth, ensure the environment you create is searchable by product category and brand name.

And finally develop a technology that ensures these high quality display ads are streamed quickly and efficiently, even on a home PC accessing the Net via dial-up modem.

If someone can achieve this, it will banish banners and create an environment in which advertisers are willing to part with their cash for online campaigns and that has got to be good for everyone in the industry. And if you want to know what I would do to make such a system more attractive to marketers in terms of campaign tracking and accountability, you will have to draft another series of articles that prompt me to respond.

Charles Endacott

Managing director

Endacott RJB Marketing

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