Sunday, September 17, 2006

# Posted 12:37 PM by Patrick Belton  

MEAN ADVERTS SUCK WATCH: I was just paused to think, after reading some Aussie (not Porter) mouthing off in the Sunday Times about being rather glad turbaned terrorists had not knocked over the Chrysler Building or Rockefeller Center.

But what stopped me in the midst of my hot cocoa (courtesy my £1.20 Dualit espresso maker's milk frother, the gift that keeps on giving) wasn't so much Robert Hughes's decrying of monumental architecture. (Though he does, and it did; while I agree with him on the Bibliothèque Nationale, which turned out terribly suited in its window design for its basic purpose of archival preservation of books, I think it's a bit much to disavow the whole project. For no other reason than 95 per cent of things done in any avenue of culture are a bit rubbish anyway, but it's the 5 per cent that matter). It had more to do with a falling twin towers colliding against several Land Rovers transiting eastwardly across my screen. What I'm more curious about today is the reorientation of the commercial economy of newspapers toward online advertisement.

As everyone knows, the New York Times is meant to lose money on straightforward sales from each print impression. Where they recoup is on adverts, and there the marginal added sale provides them with a basis for charging more from advert purchases. So far, so likely to keep the world in grey. With internet readership now displacing print, newspapers have turned to dubious ideas such as Times Select, watching an advert voluntarily as with Salon (or unobtrusively as with, say, the Washington Post), or - the proximate cause of my hot milk growing colder as we speak* - the Sunday Times's rather obtrusive use of automobiles chasing you around the screen, requiring you to click on their moving target several times in a way likely to provoke nostalgic memories of Space Invaders, but perhaps not pleasant sentiments toward Land Rover. This is the point I'm hung up on - is obtrusive advertising really likely to stir readers to enhanced chances of buying a product, or favourability toward its brand; or is it not as wont to provoke revenge selection of a product which has not been touted as loudly or with as poor manners. Somewhat in the way we're all more likely to buy our curry from the store without the tout outside, ceteris being paribus.

Just a thought. Readers, please correct me where I'm wrong. There have got to be people who know this market much, much, much better than I do.

* For the lacteal formal cause instead, see the Allen Ginsburg restatement of the laws of thermodynamics:
First law of thermodynamics - 'You can't win.'
Second law of thermodynamics - 'You can't break even.'
Third law of thermodynamics -'You can't quit.' (Because you can never get to absolute zero.)
(4) opinions -- Add your opinion

With internet readership now displacing print

I think that television started this 'displacement' of print long beforehand.

is obtrusive advertising really likely to stir readers to enhanced chances of buying a product, or favourability toward its brand?

Don't tell anyone, but the answer is no. Google stole Yahoo's lunchmoney by offering unobtrusive, well targeted advertising. Gaudy ads aren't particularly effective, but ad agencies will tell you differently.

Fundamentally, the Principle of Competitive Exclusion applies to newspapers and the Internet (but teaching the Principle of Competitive Exclusion amendment might be excluded in the Intelligent Design curriculum; please check with your local school board; hopefully you don't live in Kansas). Because of the competitive disadvantage, classified advertising is dying a slow, painful death on account of EBay and Craigslist. Stock pages are being trimmed back and eliminated because today people want to know the price right now, not yesterday's market close.

But technology is making weather pages much better and the Internet can give every newspaper an international distribution, and by aggregating, Google News gives the international perspectives of a first-rate university library only faster.

Finally, the Principle of Competitive Exclusion does not require the extinction of the 'inferior' species. Instead, there is an evolutionary shift of the inferior competitor towards a different ecological niche. Since newspapers are actually run by people with brains, they are changing and adapting, and they aren't going away, except maybe in Kansas.
Thanks for this anon! How are things in Kansas, by the way?

I was sufficiently intrigued by this and unintrigued by my other writing that I was looking, admittedly only online, for any research on counterproductive advertising - can it be so bad that it pushes people away? Or is that only the case on Brick Lane, and if you're a curry tout?

Didn't quite find what I was looking for yet, but did stumble across notes from a presentation made by an eBay and a Yahoo staffer in 2004. i.e.:

'Users not only dislike pop-ups, they transfer their dislike to the advertisers behind the ad and to the website that exposed them to it. In a survey of 18,808 users, more than 50% reported that a pop-up ad affected their opinion of the advertiser very negatively and nearly 40% reported that it affected their opinion of the website very negatively.

People are getting ever-more annoyed by pop-ups: During a fourteen-month period from December 2001 to February 2003, user ratings of pop-up advertisers grew more negative by almost one full rating point on a 1 to 7 scale.'

The notes go on to argue that contextual adverts (like gmail's, which sneakily know that I want to join meetings of conservative pensioners) and once which don't distract the browsing experience can leave pleasant resonances with readers.

Articles on the enormity of the switch of advertising money away from print and toward internet in Economist and Guardian. From the former:

Brian Tierney, who became owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer after Knight Ridder sold it last year, noticed that a popular item on the paper's website has been a video of Mentos mints causing a 2-litre bottle of Diet Coke to explode into the air. “We should do more of that,” he says.
Patrick Belton:

Maybe its just me but I have trouble reading your blog entrys. MOre than once I have to stop and reread what you have writte.
Too many big words for you, eh, Davod?
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