Lying Ad Banners
Thursday, May 11, 2000
by Mark Hurst
One thing I can't stand is an ad banner that lies to the Web user just to get a higher clickthrough rate. As shown in this graphic, the ad banner poses as a Windows error message but is actually an ad for a commercial software program. (I greyed out the name of the software, since I refuse to give even negative publicity to the offending product.)
Ad banners posing as Windows errors are wrong. It's wrong to mislead the user, wrong to do business that way -- but especially on the Web, treating customers poorly is a bad financial decision. Remember, a good customer experience is the key to online success. Tricking Web users into visiting a site will not succeed. Even if the banner does generate some clicks, what happens when customers arrive at the site and find that they were misled? They click the Back button and never come back.
Which reminds me, measurement should be the subject of another rant. Clickthrough doesn't mean much, since people might click out as soon as they click in (yielding zero revenue). The important metric is the conversion rate. And conversion rate is driven EXCLUSIVELY by the customer experience.
Also read Jeff Veen's good piece on the same subject from this past January.
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