Category Archives: Online Advertising

Three Hundred Million

According to New Media Zero, UK online ad spend in 2003 could be as high as £350m which is very promising news indeed for those of us involved in the industry. The article doesn’t break down the money and I would be interested to know where it is being spent – I just hope it’s not on more pop-ups!

On this day…

2003: I Favour Legalisation Of Homosexual Marriage

What We Shouldn’t Be Talking About

Well, some good news for the online marketing industry at last:

Internet advertising is one of only two disciplines in the marketing services industry to report an increase in budgets over the first quarter of the year [Brand Republic] and if we all stop talking about these online ad topics, what will we say to each other?

The biggest percentage of responders (13.1%) thought that click-through rate discussions are a waste of time. The second anti-productivity prize went to Branding vs. Direct Response debates (7.9%) [Media Post]

Other links of note I have been pointed to today:

  • Whoever buys the assets of UMS – and there are companies sniffing around – they will be doing so when there are signs, albeit tentative, of a recovery in the bombed-out dotcom sector. There are plenty of undervalued companies around – and also a lot of money. However, investors are still nursing their losses from the dotcom collapse and are reluctant to part with it [Guardian via Plasticbag]
  • Craig Newmark observed people on the Net, on the WELL and in Usenet, helping one another out. In early ’95, he decided to help out, in a very small way, telling people about cool events around San Francisco like the Anon Salon and Joe’s Digital Diner. It spread through word of mouth, and became large enough to demand the use of a list server, majordomo, which required a name [craigslist in London via Kottke]
  • A huge advertising campaign focusing on heterosexual tourists risks ignoring the increasingly important homosexual visitor [Sunday Herald via Gay News Blog]
  • The new name for the Phoenix browser is ‘Firebird’ … In addition to securing Firebird, we’ve also got the OK from those contributing legal resources to use the name ‘Thunderbird’ for a mail client [via Mozillazine]

On this day…

2006: New Doctor New Earth
2005: Jack: Straight From The Gut

Has the tide turned for free online content?

Has the tide turned for free online content? AOL Time Warner has announced that a number of its properties will move away from offering free web-content. Much of that content is to move onto AOL:

We are making the move from the content being available for free, and (instead are) making it so you have to have a relationship with us, said Peter Costiglio, a Time Inc. spokesman [Source]

I’d love to see all web content free but it’s not practical and I take it as a sign that the industry is growing up and getting real. It will be interesting to see what happens in a year from now when, hopefully advertising revenues are up a little. Will it swing back in favour of ad-revenues?

Luckily, I don’t want to read them!

On this day…

2004: Gay Weddings This Week?
2003: Space-time continuum abused for financial gain
2003: Piccadilly Circus, March 2003

Online Advertising is a Nuisance

According to MSNBC earlier this week, 43% of users think that online advertising is a nuisance and, in another survey, 53% respondents said online clutter was a problem [both via Marketing Fix].

Of course, consumers do not like advertising. Nobody likes being advertised at, just as everybody believes that they are not swayed by advertising (but they know people who are!). Is this a big deal? Well, of course, no advertiser wants to believe their advertisement gets in the way and no advertiser wants to annoy users to the extent that they are turned off the product by the commercials. Yet, as noted in many places, TV advertising is the most intrusive advertising – the programme physically stops so they can show you an advertisement. So, why does online advertising come in for such a hard time?

Badly designed advertising can be a nuisance but I think advertising isn’t generally too much of a problem. What I am interested in is the concept of clutter. So many sites these days surround you with advertisements. Banners at the top, buttons down the left, a skyscraper on the right and some kind of rich-media thing walking across the middle. There’s a very large portal who does this kind of thing all the time. They’re making money but it’s very frustrating.

I’m sure cleverly designed advertising in the right place works – in all mediums. The online challenge is to make it work and make it profitable, at least profitable enough to pay for the sites we like.

On this day…

2005: Cabinet War Rooms

Commercial Free

There’s been an interesting discussion on the UK Bloggers discussion list today regarding online advertising and if it’s appropriate in the blogging world.

I need to put my position into context. I came to the web (and, therefore, to employment) because I truly believe that personal publishing can empower people. To me the pull of the medium was access to views and interests outside the mainstream. The ability to publish what you had to say without an editor’s red pen. That doesn’t mean that you can ignore laws of the land but, within an existing legal framework, it is relatively easy and cheap to publish. It’s not easy to guarantee the audience but that’s a different story. The message is out there and that’s a starting point (and should be a right in a democratic society). This is a good thing.

I also believe there is a need for a commercial web. The fact that we buy things online, read content paid for by subscription or advertising etc. helps pay for the infrastructure that allows the rest of us to publish. The commercial web is a good thing too.

Advertising is also a good thing, it pays for things so I don’t have to. I’ve made a career out of working in advertising-related industries. I have no objection to advertising.

Where it starts to blur for me is when the three points above mix. When it’s not clear if an opinion blogged is really paid for commercial content being passed of as something else. It’s not a problem unique to the blogsphere but it’s something that I haven’t pondered a great deal until today. It is a problem other media have had to deal with for years – some have done it better than others.

I honestly believe that giving marketers access to a weblog audience (and you can see why they would want a mass of referrals) starts to compromise the reason why weblogs/journals etc. are so successful and such an important part of the landscape these days. Any media with access to an audience is bound to attract the attention of marketing men. Let’s face it, that’s how Amazon grew – lots of affiliates making small amounts of money and we’ve been linking away to them for years. Is the integrity of a weblog at risk? Well, readers should be asking if a link to Amazon is bourne out of genuine appreciation of the book or if it was placed purely for profit.

The idealist in me thinks the freedom to publish personal opinion shouldn’t be mixed with commercial interests. The realist believes people have to pay for server space and bandwidth so a little commercial involvement may help allow people publish what they want to say. Thus the two are intertwined.

As always, it’s difficult to come down on one side of the arguments. I would honestly like to believe not everything in the world needs to carry a commercial message. I would like to believe that bloggers did it because they had something to say, even if, like this site, it’s not earth shattering. The world, however, is much more complex.

UPDATE 10 March 2003: Tom Coates – who sparked the discussion – wrote (as always) a great piece on this subject.

On this day…

2005: Closer
2004: Graffiti Shop
2004: You Can’t Hear Yourself On The Tube
2004: Love Revolution
2003: A Quieter Life

Eggs and Spam (No Eggs)

I have spent a great deal of my working life involved with advertising online. I guess that online advertising includes the ability to mass-market by e-mail.

I have no problems with legitimate, professional marketing from reputable companies. For years I’ve never objected to direct postal correspondence – to a certain extent I don’t mind opening junk mail. Occasionally, very occasionally, it’s quite interesting (even if I am just trying to work out how the hell I got on the mailing list).

So, e-mail direct marketing is OK. I don’t mind getting the odd circular or if people I’ve encountered before in an online environment send me mail. I don’t mind those lists that I have signed up to. But, like many people I abhor spam. I use mailwasher to delete spam before it reaches my inbox and have always felt this is the best way of dealing with it. I am careful which e-mail addresses get out and have a couple of e-mail aliases which are just used on mailing lists etc. and therefore the spam does not collect in my most oft-used mailboxes.

Today, however, I noticed my work e-mail address is suddenly getting clogged with spam. Now I rarely sign-up to anything with work e-mail addresses (and they are only professional newsletters if I do). But I’ve only been at this e-mail address for a month and haven’t signed up for any lists at all yet. In fact, so few people know I am on this new e-mail address that I wouldn’t have thought it possible to be signed up to anything. Regardless, all this morning’s e-mail in my office e-mail account was spam. Every one. This is the first time that has happened to me at work. What would it say about my life if I responded to this motley collection of marketing messages:

  • Do you have problems with your septic tank
  • Hundreds of Lenders… WILL COMPETE For Your Loan!
  • Reduce the amount of sleep you need
  • The Truth About Gold And Silver
  • F*r*ee s*e*x on the web
  • Helping You Get A MOrtgage Loan
  • If you’re interested in *eliminating* up to 100% of your unsecured credit card debt, read the rest
  • Do you want for a prosperous future, increased money earning power, and the respect of all?
  • If you want to see a SERIOUS Opportunity then you need to check this out

Honestly, it should be fascinating. It really should. And every single one appeared to be from a US-based company targeting US consumers. I really wanted to reply to the lot explaining how they ware wasting their time but you know what that will result in!

On this day…

2005: Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle

Online Advertising Technology Issues

Eric Picard at Clickz posted an interesting article about online advertising before Christmas, discussing some of the major problems facing the online advertising industry, particularly the technology on which it runs. Today, he posts some possible solutions.

On this day…

2005: On Microsoft And Windows Digital Media
2004: Janet’s Malfunction
2004: Colourful Pages
2004: Alcohol Free
2003: An Email From Space

Is Bigger Really Better?

I guess it might be a little sad, but I have been thinking about online advertising sizes quite a lot recently (I guess it’s part of what I do for a living, which makes it marginally acceptable). Still I just found this, which puts it all my thoughts on useful ad sizes into perspective.

On this day…

2003: Hi We’re Your Weather Girls
2003: Customer Service
2002: End of a radio era

Pop Up (Up and Away)

There has been great discussion recently about pop-ups. Are they doomed? Well, it’s a subject close to my heart as, being in the online advertising/research business for many years, they have become an important part of my life.

I have to ask, how they can properly be controlled? They are a useful marketing tool and can be useful to site publishers outside the advertising arena but some companies have exploited them far too much. MarketingFix notes that Netscape has announced it’s going to start offering the facility to block pop-ups. Interestingly, the pop-up filter has to be enabled by the user and then “Once enabled, the filter is preset to allow pop-ups on some sites, including several of AOL’s own properties”

I only wish it was possible to stop the multiple spawning.

On this day…

2004: Paycheck