Over the decades, advertising has earned a reputation for being intrusive, distracting, and just plain annoying. The phrase “commercial interruption” is a well-worn term that suggests that advertising has rightly deserved its place in the Hall of Cultural Infamy. Ad people don’t intend to create unpleasant moments in our lives, but they can’t help it. They’re forever embroiled in a keen competition for our attention and holding it long enough to sell us their wares. The results aren’t always pretty.
It shouldn’t be surprising that internet advertising has picked up where traditional media advertising has left off. At the risk of going off on a rant, allow me to…well…go off on a rant. I’m referring to the many web pages that contain ads that pop up, roll over, or otherwise appear out of nowhere. It’s as if some James Bond super villain is designing web pages filled with devious booby traps that are somehow triggered by you, the unsuspecting website visitor. In some cases you need to be as cunning as Rambo to keep those ads from exploding in your face.
When an online ad makes an unwanted appearance, my reaction tends to be, “What the hell is this?” and “How do I make it stop?” That’s not exactly the user experience that advertisers are going for. I think it’s worth mentioning because I don’t think I’m by any means alone on this.
Others may not go to the lengths that I do to avoid rollover ads. On some websites, I’ve become familiar with their “hot spots,” and I’ll gingerly move my mouse only in areas I know are safe from unwanted ad content. Yet it’s impossible to avoid the occasional inadvertent mouse-over that brings on another blast of Admageddon onto my computer screen.
If advertisers were only required to experience what we experience, I would think that they’d change their approach. Whether they neglect to test their own ads, or are just unconcerned with the effects they create, it’s bad advertising either way.