Gianluca over at [mini]marketing has an interesting proposition about banners - what would happen if we made them more social?
When I looked into banners for digital advertising I was not impressed by the metrics - the number of views that translated into clicks is not at all as good as traditional trade print media. That despite, as Gianluca observes, online ads being increasingly bigger, bolder, more intrusive, dynamic and interactive. Why is that?
Could it be because we cannot interact with banners?
I just finished reading Herd by Mark Earls, a book that explains and demonstrates through stories how it is the interaction between people that makes things interesting to people, not so much the things themselves. A social event, a blog with critical mass, a Tweet that stirs more emotion at the right time are likely to draw a bigger interaction - and thus more interest than spaces without an existing conversation.
I see it here - the first comment is the hardest one. If nobody else is interested, I can hear you say to yourself, it must not be good. We had this discussion a long time ago.
What makes the banner stand out as an anachronism online? According to Gianluca:
- It is probably the last or near to last element of the Web that does not have a permalink or a feed. I like how he puts it - it's a door to door sales person. You either buy now, or forget about it. Somehow this image conjures Willy Loman and his attempts to hold on to the way things were in the face of change.
- It wants a one to one with you. You cannot share the banner across networks and with other people. That is a shame because applications are growing explosively on Facebook. What is your message doing there all alone? Wouldn't you like some engagement? Although Maurizio in the comments points to a Nike ad that does have a share button.
- The banner is antisocial. It does not want to connect individuals to others who have also clicked on it.
- It does not want to have a conversation. How about feedback in any form? I know we pay attention to the stars on Amazon with the reviews.
- A banner is usually not interesting. Would you tag a banner as favorite? How about linking to it?
Gianluca may be onto something with the social banner idea. Mostly because I do not think we have seen yet implementations that go much beyond mass marketing. Is the banner the :30 commercial of the Web?
Are we missing a fundamental idea of the Web here? Is there opportunity to create interactions with assets (banners and the like) that encourage engagement?
I'm warming up to the idea of using games both for educational purposes and immersion. They could be especially useful if your product is complex or your service is quite difficult to describe in less than a couple of sentences.
If it is true that online we are all one click away from each other, what are the implications for the micro? If the banner ad is antisocial, how can we improve it? I go back to the conversation we had on marketing by context building. Here's where I see the opportunity. Apparently, so did Google.
I'd love to hear your take. I could not think of one favorite banner ad. Do you have one? Have you an example of an online ad campaign - client or agency - that worked? Here's a perfect venue to toot your horn. Bring it on.