Last week, the online market research people at Harris Interactive released their latest findings in a pdf titled “LinkedIn Research Network/Harris Poll.” In findings that will come as a surprise to no one who has ever spent more than ten seconds on the Yahoo! home page, consumers find many aspect of the burgeoning world of internet advertising frustrating. They resent expanding banners, page takeovers, and video windows without the option to close or skip. And now the Harris Interactive people have the quantitative results to prove it.
But this is far from news. Bad is bad, whether it’s bad television, bad product design, or bad recipes for zucchini. Advertising is no different: to really engage people, it must prove useful or interesting or surprising. Generally speaking, people recoil at obnoxious behavior. And uninvited page takeovers qualify as obnoxious behavior. Too many advertisers believe silly stunts like sending bouncing balls careening from a small space out over the entire home page constitutes innovation, as if unaware that animation has been around since the late 19th century.
Pointlessly interrupting people is rude. Wasting peoples’ time is rude. If you are an uninvited drop-in stranger, I’m not gonna open my front door. However, if you are an uninvited drop-in stranger lugging an inflatable castle and offering free bouncing for the kids, I might open up a bit. Because that’s a lot of fun. Marketing works the exact same way, on or off line.
Essentially, this poll confirms a hypothesis most people in marketing should already consider painfully obvious. It takes great creative wherewithal to escape the bonds of mediocrity, but that’s the goal. Every day. In every medium.