Sunday, July 18, 2010


The answer is: Almost none. Almost no ads succeed big on the internet. The truth is, it's a lousy place to advertise. It's kinda sad because advertisers are throwing dollars at the net these days, and they're not going to get most of them back.

Okay: iTunes, ebay, Amazon, porn, airline and hotel booking agents, gambling and dating services are making out like bandits on the net....but, really, who else is? Try to sell detergent or coffee on the net. You can't.

Try asking your friends this question, and see what answers you get: "Can you name an ad for a product you discovered on the net, (but not on Amazon or eBay) that gave you an intense desire to own it?" I bet you'll draw a blank.  Nobody takes internet ads seriously. It's odd because we can all name print and TV ads that had that made us salivate. I'd kill to have TV products like AirHog or a Fushigiball or a bladeless fan. I'll bet my daughter is mulling over Boody Pop right now.

Maybe the net's a bad place to advertise because it's a bad place to tell stories.  Print and TV excel at stories, and the net doesn't.  That's important to know because fiction, or documentary that's structured like fiction, is what drives sales on TV.  You buy Donald Duck Orange Juice because you've grown to like and trust Donald Duck on TV, and you secretly believe that Donald will somehow know you've bought his juice.

 In my opinion advertisers made a big mistake in not supporting print and broadcast media, even when their audiences declined.  The net's not a great place to discover a new product, but it's a killer place to follow up on a desire that's been planted in your head by another medium.

BTW: John K just told me how he would advertise on the net if given the chance, and the ideas were brilliant. That prompts me to amend what I said here to something like,  SO FAR advertising hasn't worked well on the net.


Severin said...

Hmm, do these thoughts extend to just video ads like those you've shown, or would you say that the same is true of banner ads and (God forbid) popups?

I'm particularly curious about all this because I just finished designing my first banner ad not more than an hour ago. Overall I spent maybe ten hours on it, so I do hope it works out!

David Germain said...

It's not just advertising. I've noticed that ANYTHING that's even remotely successful on the internet was already successful in another medium such as print or TV. Would John K. have as successful a blog as he does had he not had some of his work broadcast on TV?

The only exception to this I guess would be all those viral videos, like the girly guy who wanted all of us to leave Britney alone or that fat kid dancing to his favourite electronica song. But, those are most often flash in the pan freak shows that noone cares about a month later. They don't have nearly the same amount of staying power that even the worst movies and TV shows have.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's also because most of these ads just plain flat out suck. The first one was so obnoxious, I could initially only watch 58 seconds of it before I got really tired of it. These web ads are just as stupid or even worse than the ones I already see on TV and usually have to skip when I'm watching a TV program on my DVR. Annoying announcers, rip-off prices, product that doesn't even work, and now BS like, "Visit us on," "become a fan of our product," or "follow us on Twitter," like the companies know us personally and what we do in our personal lives. Creepy if you ask me. That's why I never buy from those ads. They all play out like scams somehow. The really cheesy ones (ahem, the infamous ads, LifeLock, etc. ) are usually real life scams themselves.

Why can't we go back to the 50s style of advertising? What was wrong with it by the way that made the whole industry have to change? It's common sense that pleasant, entertaining ads are going to generate the most revenue for a company. Mind boggling how it isn't the norm in modern times. By the way, I'm sorry I'm not so fond of modern commercials as you are.

Kirk Nachman said...

Print is dying in spite of the decisions of advertisers to focus on the web. It's really quite something. It's affected my brother, who works in the production studio at an ad agency and has a niche in print layout. It's affected me a bit with print ad campaigns and editorials shrinking. We all must continue to adapt, even as we turn into old dogs.

By the way, I'd be very pleased if you'd peruse some of the animated "theatrical sketches" I've posted on my blog. Nothing grand, mind you. But I'm learning!- ever the dilletante, I 'spose.

Steven M. said...

Not to mention, some ads contain viruses, spyware, trojans, trackers, and other deadly things on the net.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Kirk: Haw! Funny stuff!

Severin: The best short infomercials, or carnival pitch commercials like the first Shamwow spot, are terrific in my opinion. They're literate and entertaining and, most importantly, they sell the product.

Sadly the quality of these ads has declined lately. The Booty Pop commercial succeeds, but could have been much better. It feels like a good idea gone awry. I wish I knew what happened.

The one for Fushigiball is almost perfect, and deserves recognition. The ball may be a ripoff because some professional jugglers say the same technique (contact Juggling...hard to learn) probably works better with an ordinary tennis ball, but the commercial is a work of art.

I understand why you like the 50s and 60s commercials better. In many ways I do too, but these new techniques really sell the product, you have to give them that. The business model is innovative, too. You mail directly from a distribution costs!

Rooni: Good grief! I hadn't thought of that!

David: True!

Unknown said...
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Jennifer said...

I think that advertising initially didn't work on the 'net because it was either so easy to ignore (banner ads, "click here") or it was so annoying that software companies found ways to block it (the pop-up ads). I've noticed that advertisers on the 'net are getting a little more clever with their ad placement. A lot of videos are playing ads before the viewer can see the video. I'm also noticing that the many multimedia organizations (like MSNBC) are doing that.

Actually, I disagree with David Germain's statement about Internet success. There are quite a number of people who became mainstream celebrities because of what they did on the Internet. The three biggest examples are Justin Bieber, Andy Milonakis and Perez Hilton. The only exposure that those three had was on the 'net. From their 'net presence: Perez Hilton became a mainstream celebrity journalist, Andy Milonakis got his own TV show and a career as a comic actor, and Justin Bieber became the next big tween music sensation.

In addition, adult magazines like Playboy and Penthouse are looking to MySpace and Facebook to discover models for their magazines, and cable television networks are looking at YouTube and BlipTV to discover new talent. A few of the Playmates were discovered on MySpace, and Logo Networks recently gave comedy duo Jeffery Self and Cole Escola their own show.

I can even speak from personal experience regarding being discovered on the web. I've been approached by publishers to either republish my articles or write a computer science book because of what they found on the web.

Kirk Nachman said...

Thanks, Eddie!

Anonymous said...

I think Newspapers will never completely die cause it's so hard to do localized advertising online.

If you're a local mattress warehouse, auto dealership, restaurant etc. the internet is absolutely useless to you. Those advertising dollars will always be there to keep some kind of local print publication afloat.

I think the internet is in something of a transitional phase anyhow, I used to be cynical about the ipad but I think it's going to transform how we read content online and people will marvel that we ever used laptops and desktop computers to read magazines and newspapers.

Nick said...

One of my favourite online ads which shows up everywhere are the numerous "I GOT RIPPED IN 2 WEEKS - CLICK HERE TO SEE HOW I DID IT - ENTER YOUR CARD DETAILS IN THIS LINK", usually with a picture of a topless man who looks like a mad steroid pusher, often with a comparison of how he supposedly looked like before. What's hilarious is how unappealing that inflated muscle look is.

I think in cases like that is it more so that people are not stupid enough to be suspectable to obvious cons.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Jennifer: You got an offer to write a computer book based on what you wrote on the net? That's wonderful! Do it!!!!!!!! By the way, your site has what sounds like an like an indian name. What does it mean?

Anon: Murdock might be right. I hope he is.

Nick: One of the best internet selling strategies is the one for porn. Each site takes you to another, unexpected site, so you always end up being exposed to more content than you'd ever intended. I don't know if people buy the stuff, but the sites do a good job of getting your attention Who figured that out? It's brilliant!

Anon: True! the iPad, in this and later generations will likely be a real game changer. BTW: the latest Wired magazine has an interesting article which defends AT&T's treatment of iPhone customers.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Severin: I hate most banner ads, but I see the occassional one I like. Maybe I'll start collecting the good ones and do a post about them.

Nathan: Pretty Peace is a real product. I only wish I could attract more ads like that.

Andy Norton said...

That is some excellent theory about on-line advertising.
It does make you wonder why do companies rely on banners, slapped to one side of a web page, to get commercial revenue from people who access that page. But, if those companies are advertising their stuff on television, and in print, I suppose it is just 'extra exposure' for them on-line.

Severin said...

It's true! Why should they be so bad? Most look like they were scraped together in an hour.

pappy d said...

Booty pop!

"It'll look like you spent a fortune!"

It does! Only plastic surgery could create this effect in a man my age. If only it didn't make a big camel toe in front. I hope they do a men's version someday.;)

RooniMan said...

Not to mention, some ads contain viruses, spyware, trojans, trackers, and other deadly things on the net.

This is a good point in favor of advertising on the net. It allows local advertisers to target local customers & pitch you products according to your buying history.

Having said that, I'm a little hurt that still doesn't really 'get' me after all this time. It feels like this commitment is too one-way. I probably shouldn't have stored my credit-card information there so soon.