Except, well, it is different.
From decades of TV tradition, we have come to expect commercials between shows, after intros, and between acts. But until recently, online advertising existed only as an option on the side. Interruptive advertising is fairly recent, and we’re not yet accustomed to it.
Moreover, unlike TV, computers allow for interactivity, control and instant gratification. When you click a link, an online commercial temporarily relieves you of that interactivity and control. If you want to proceed to the requested content, you are powerless but to let the commercial play out. It also takes the instant out of instant gratification. All told, it can be a formula for breeding impatience and, with it, resentment.
This has some strategic implications for advertisers who would rather sell than settle for interrupting long enough to annoy:
- Keep it short.
- Make your commercial engaging. You cannot bore people into being glad you stood between them and the content they really wanted.
- THE MOST IMPORTANT, MOST-OFT OVERLOOKED TIP FOR ONLINE COMMERCIALS: Make sure they convey their point with the sound off. That has always been good TV strategy anyhow. TV is a visual medium. A good test of a spot’s viability has always been whether it gets the message across when you turn off the sound. On computers, where sound is likely to be off, that test is mandatory.
Online advertising is affordable, targetable and measurable. Direct marketers are still figuring out how best to marshall its power. In the meantime, a little common sense and empathy for the viewer provide a great starting point.