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Ideas

05

May13

Better Banner Ads – Part 4: Awesome

mousetrap

A better banner/online ad is one that does something really flipping awesome incredible wow BINGO…with purpose.

Note: My definition of a “better” banner/online ad is one that’s more effective in really achieving its goal.

On Super Bowl Sunday, people intentionally watch commercials. Right or wrong, they believe they’re watching really, really good ones, so they actually watch them. Otherwise, it’s unusual for TV viewers to delay their bathroom breaks or mute button activation for commercials during regular viewing. Add a DVR to the mix and commercials = fast forward.

Wether we like it or not, banner/online ads are commercials. When a webpage loads, visitors are looking at the incoming content, not the ads, and if they do notice the ads, smooth animation with perfectly kerned text that matches the same ads they see on TV aren’t going to make much of an impression.

Something awesome, however, may make that impression.

(Also, here’s where my “the intersection of creativity and technology” tagline fits nicely.)
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06

Mar13

Better Banner Ads – Part 3: Information

mousetrap

A better banner/online ad is one that offers free, immediate, up-to-date information in the ad.

Note: My definition of a “better” banner/online ad is one that’s more effective in really achieving its goal.

While working as Creative Director of Paragon Advertising in Buffalo, NY, one of the first banner ads I created was for the Buffalo Bisons, the city’s minor league baseball team.

Instead of a creative “go to a game” concept, I focused on when the games take place and the offers at each game (i.e. “free hats!”). So I created ads that started by checking the date and time. If there was a game that day and it hadn’t started yet, it promoted that game and the specific offer. If there was no game, or the game was well underway, a generic ad appeared.

So the ads told you there was a game TODAY, and that if you went, you might get a free hat!

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05

Mar13

Better Banner Ads – Part 2: Make It Easier

mousetrap

A better banner/online ad is one that will make it easier for a viewer to do something.

Note: My definition of a “better” banner/online ad is one that’s more effective in really achieving its goal.

One of the most successful ads I created while at Crisp Media was for Sam’s Club. It was a gallery of baby products with direct links to buy. It’s not fancy, but it is clear: Diapers at just $.19 each, and get them by tapping the big, obvious, green “BUY NOW” button. Tap, BOOM, and Papmers are on the way.

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02

Oct12

Better Banner Ads – Part 1: Research

mousetrap

The best place to start making more effective banner/online ads is to find out what works.

Note: My definition of a “better” banner/online ad is one that’s more effective in really achieving its goal.

One way is for an ad agency or production company that creates a lot of banner ads takes on a robust “A/B” testing program with live ads: Compare how one ad performs compared to a different version, rotated 50/50 in the media buy. Keeping everything but the ad the same will yield the most reliable results. Otherwise, statistics that compare different ad campaigns are anecdotal at best (i.e. the high number of clicks on a SHOE ad with animation running on a sports site can’t be compared to the low number of clicks on a static AIR FRESHENER ad hosted on a news site).

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25

Sep12

Better Banner Ads – Part 0: Preamble

mousetrap

I’m not a fan of banner/online ads.

Many of them are gratuitous, indulgent, ineffective, gimmicky, WAY too expensive, and miss their targets, despite a hearty belief in “throw enough mud at the wall and eventually some of it will stick.”

They’re the result of an obsession with details and changes, and an ignorance of how people surf the web. They’re neither TV spots not moving magazine ads, yet many “creatives” design and conceive of them within that limited paradigm. And I can say with experience that this is something that infects the mobile web space as well.

Sure, banner ads pump a lot of money into the web in an easy-to-justify system: Pay a lot, get a lot of clicks…”SUCCESS!”, right? I mean, even an accountant can see “this $1,000,000,000 ad campaign yielded 1000 clicks. HUZZAH!” yes? Well…

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20

Sep12

If I Worked at a Stock Photo House

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Stock photo sites must have some serious challenges. Between ever-shrinking budgets, armies of “free photo” sites, and a population armed with digital cameras in their phones, it must be tough.

If I worked at a stock photo house and I’d try these ideas to stay on top:

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15

Nov10

If I worked at Bloomingdale’s or Macy’s…

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If I worked at Bloomingdale’s or Macy’s, I’d create an interactive online Holiday Window Display feature. Visitors would make their own personal branded holiday window that’s fun to share with friends and family, with links to the online store and special offers for visiting a brick-and-mortar store.

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18

May10

Your Home, Your URL

Street Numbers

Street addresses make great URLs:

  • 437convent.com
  • 58wellington.com
  • 592madison.com
  • 8mainst.usa

None of those are taken, yet they’re all addreses I’ve been affiliated with somehow over the years. (Actually, the last one is registered, but it’s for sale.) If the domain is registered, or there are multiple “25 Main St.” addresses, adding the city or zip code or something similar can easily still make a unique address.

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21

Apr10

Interactive Presentation

Presentations are usually created in Microsoft PowerPoint (or Apple Keynote), and are shown as a linear series of “slides” that hope to clarify what is being said. Sometimes there are some pretty (yet superfluous) animations or transitions, and more often than not the slides have too much information, parrot what the speaker is saying, and are just plain ugly. I’m not going to talk about any of that here, but this site does: http://www.theslideclinic.com.

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16

Apr10

A Database is a Valuable Thing to Waste

Note: Unlike other ideas here, this is more vague than most, yet I still think it’s worth sharing in this category.

Databases are powerful, powerful collectives of information, and yet so few people really take full advantage of their power. Two specific opportunities are missed: allowing for searches with multiple parameters, and using them to further customize content for every visitor.
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