May 28, 2001-- Newsletter #132

By Joe Burns


Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame

Goodies to Go (tm)
May 28, 2001--Newsletter #132

This newsletter is part of the internet.com network.

Please visit http://www.htmlgoodies.com

Greetings, Weekend Silicon Warriors,

Did you hear

AOL is upset at the owner of a new music swapping service, AIMSTER. AOL is claiming they own the name AIM as their instant messaging system. An arbitration panel voted two to one that the names should be handed over to AOL. This one I agree with. The owner of AIMSTER, Johnny Deep (think that's his real name, hmmm?) set up the site to piggyback AOL's AIM in order to share files. This one seems pretty cut and dry.

Speaking of AOL, it's now going to cost users just under two bucks more to get mail. The unlimited access fee is now going to be $23.90 per month. Users can't really complain all that much. This is the first increase to the unlimited plan in three years.

ID theft is becoming a big problem on the Web. In an attempt to put an end to it all, Representative Ron Paul of Texas is suggesting scrapping the entire Social Security number process over the next five years. He would like for people to be given a new number that would be kept secret by the government. Furthermore Paul would like a new system whereas a person's Social Security number would not be used as an identifier. It's a thought, but I'll bet that number kept secret by the government statement will be the death of the idea.

Now onto today's topic

So I'm rolling around my favorite online stops when I became interested in a story on a major news site. I'm happily reading along when, all of a sudden, a little animated guy pops up, walks across my screen and brushed up a bill for the movie Moulin Rouge. The little man wiped the bill with his long-handled brush a few more times, just to make sure it was nice and secure, and then walked past it and off the left side of my monitor's screen.

I folded my hands across my lap because the bill was pasted over the text I was reading and I couldn't scroll past it. It was attached to that specific part of the screen. After 30 seconds or so, the bill slid off of the left side of the monitor where the little guy walked off.


I had seen something like this before on USA Today's site where an automobile ad sat to the left of the USA Today logo and then an animated car drove behind the logo text. It was a neat show but nothing quite as advanced as this little Moulin Rouge guy.

Well! A newsletter in the making, I thought so I went looking for some information regarding this new form of advertising.

According to stories on Wired.com, this is the latest form of advertising and it's probably going to become popular with advertisersuntil it hits a critical mass and is no longer so effective.

The technically correct term for this new form of advertising is Active Advertising. A couple of less flattering terms are takeover and roadblock ads.

The stories I read were all about how Yahoo began running a few Active Ads last Friday. The Yahoo ad is for Ford. It begins with birds flapping across, and then landing, on your screen. Suddenly the screen shakes and a big Ford Explorer drives in and parks, sitting right over top of the menu listing. I haven't personally seen that ad. I'm just relaying what was in the story I read.

Nicki Dugan, a spokesperson for Yahoo, said the new form of advertising is simply a new option for persons and companies who want to advertise on Yahoo. I think that's code-speak for, If you hate these ads, don't blame us the client chose the option to use it. Dugan went on to say that Yahoo's research shows that people really like the ads.

So, what's going on? Is the Web site that uses an Active Ad attempting to make ads more fun for us? I'm sure that's a big part of it. If I think an ad is fun, I may stop and watch it. I folded my hands and watched that little guy, didn't I?

Well, yes. I did watch him. I had never seen anything like it before and it stunned me a little bit. I had to watch it just to see what was going to happen. However, even the 30 seconds the entire process took to run was too long in my mind. Once the bill was posted, it sat thereover what I was attempting to read. In just that small span of time, it bugged me.

I wrote about more and more banner ads popping up in new windows in newsletter 120 (http://www.htmlgoodies.com/letters/120.html). I made the statement that the reason more and more banners were popping up and off the pages was because inline ads were not causing as much active audience effect as they once had. By popping up the ad, it was put in your face. The advertiser could be fairly sure you saw it. Since the number of windows popping up proliferated, one can only deduce that the effect was working for advertisers since they all started doing it.

These active ads are, in my opinion, just the next step in the process. They are little more than a pop up ad that puts on a better show. Furthermore, the ad cannot be quickly dismissed like a pop up window. I had no control over the little guy on my screen. These ads have been given the nickname takeover ads because that's what they do. I was dead once the bill was posted. I couldn't read what was under it so I had to wait it outor leave.

From an advertiser's point of viewsuccess!

I have to believe that Web sites know that this type of advertisement will burn quickly but they will still use it. Why?

It's because the amount of advertiser money is getting smaller and smaller. There is less and less pie so one must become aggressive to grab a bigger piece.

For example, Yahoo's revenue dropped 20% in the first quarter of 2001. Twenty percent! That is an unbelievable financial hit. But it's not just Yahoo. The amount of global Web advertising is dropping dramatically. According to a story on Wired.com, global advertising prices have dropped by almost a third over the past year. In June of 2000, the average cost for 1000 banner ad page views was 30 euros, or around $26 USD. This month, the amount paid for 1000 ads is 20 euros.

The story stated that the reason for the drop in price was that there were simply too many ad spaces available for those who wanted to buy. Big deals were made to stop an advertiser from going across the street. Supply heavily outweighed demand. Furthermore, the story stated that many traditional advertisers weren't buying ads because the price was still too high.

That's all well and good, but there simply must be one more element to the story, banner ad effectiveness. If banner ads were effective, there would be no surplus and prices would rise again.

The Active Ad, to me at least, appears to be the latest in what will be a long line of attempts to force a Web user to look, and react, to an advertisement.

The problem is you cannot force me to do anything when I am surfing. Advertisers want the Web to be a mass- media model where the content providers are in charge and that a single signal is given or pushed to a mass audience. It just isn't so.

The Web is a one to one medium. A surfer is in charge of his or her own destiny and the vast majority will not be forced into looking at something they don't want to view. Sure, you'll catch them once and again, but not enough that a guerilla tactic will be effective over a long period of time.

I lectured to my HTML class regarding putting background music on a page and how people disliked it to the point where they would leave the page. A student was offended and suggested that some Web surfers were just petty and neurotic and stupid (his words).

No, they are not petty, neurotic, and stupid. They are in charge. That's the difference. Why would people place themselves into a situation they dislike when they can easily avoid it? They won't. Thus, forcing ads upon people will never be successful past the original novelty. I have no doubt these active ads will be very successful for the next couple of months. Once they start to proliferate and a surfer has seen the same ad three or four times, the novelty will wear off and the little man with the Moulin Rouge bill will not be so successful.

Look, we don't dislike advertising. We dislike bad advertising. We dislike ads that have nothing to do with us. We dislike ads that keep us from getting to the information we want. We dislike ads we are forced upon us. We dislike ads that give the impression they are more important than the content of the site.

We know that without advertisements, the Web will become a pay-for medium. We proclaim to want advertisements that are not intrusive, geared to us, and are interesting. That can certainly be done, but in order to do it, the advertiser must know a little about you in order to deliver the ad that is geared to you, right?

Until we, as a Web audience, are willing to offer the information that will better the ads for us, the advertisers must take their best guesses and try to force us to look. The battle will go on and we will get closer and closer to having to pay for services because the ads we dislike just keep popping up.

Yahoo is now running Active Adsand they're charging for listings.



That's that. Thanks for reading. I really appreciate it.

Joe Burns, Ph.D.

And Remember: How about some M&M trivia? Did you know that M&Ms are the only candy served on Air Force One? Green M&Ms are thought to be aphrodisiacs. Orange M&Ms are thought to increase bust size. The rock group Van Halen wrote into their concert riders that there be no brown M&Ms in the backstage area. If the band found some, they would have to destroy the room before going on. Red M&Ms never contained any of the Red dye #2 that caused a scare in 1976. Finally, how many colors of M&Ms are there? Six? Seven? How about 21? They are: black, blue, light blue, dark blue, brown, cream, gold, gray, green, aqua green, teal green, dark green, maroon, orange, pink, dark pink, purple, light purple, red, white, and yellow. No, they don't all come in the common M&M bag. Many you'll just see around certain parts of the year. I love the pastel M&Ms at Easter.

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